Gary Brecher


The Exiled writer Gary Brecher, a.k.a. The War Nerd a.k.a. John Dolan, discusses his stint teaching English at the American University of Iraq Sulaimaniya, the pitched battles and million-plus casualties in “The War Nobody Watched” Iran-Iraq War, how the US used Saddam Hussein as a proxy for revenge against Iran’s Revolution and the Hostage Crisis, Hussein’s slaughter of Jalal Talabani‘s Iran-allied Kurdish faction and how Iran’s larger population allowed them to outlast Iraq’s superior military while still taking high casualties.

MP3 here. (37:15)

Gary Brecher a.k.a. The War Nerd a.k.a. John Dolan is a writer for the original Russia-based The Exile and the current US-based The Exiled. He is the author of War Nerd.

24 thoughts on “Gary Brecher”

  1. "That's something Americans have a real hard time understanding, I mean they've seen Red Dawn and that about it, they don't understand that it's not so cool to be a guerrilla – it means crossing off everyone you love and assuming they are going to die in a horrible way, and probably get raped before they die."
    -John Dolan

    That distaste is why the US military renamed their 'counter-revolutionary' operations as 'counter-insurgency'. and when 'counter-insurgency' became too tainted post-Vietnam they renamed those tactics 'low intensity warfare'.

    "The problem with this is that 'low intensity' is a description of violence from the military perspective. It is TOTAL WAR from a grass-roots level" – Col. Waghelstein, US Army

    Now the 'War Of Terror' has seen COIN reappear as the acceptable euphemism.

    No American soldier since the Civil War has to fight worrying that their enemies could kill their wife & children. Unlike the Vietnamese, Afghans, Iraqis, Filipinos, Guatemalans, Angolans, Sioux, Cheyenne, African-Americans ect.. bloody, ect…

    This is the simple truth that many Americans cannot speak.

  2. Oh puhlese, Scott. Read Manifest Destiny by Albert Weinberg, published in 1935. The U.S. has always had an excuse for its exceptionalism, along the same lines as Israel. The U.S. bears no relationship to the country you describe, and never did. (But always claimed to be the country you describe…..)

  3. The myth that Iran used kids as mine clearing is just that – a war myth. Throw that on the heap with Iraqis ripping Kuwaiti babies out of their cradles and stomping on their heads. Vietnamese eating people and all other goofy stuff that pops up during wars.

    The reason why the mine clearing myth has become so prevelant in western culture is because the west was against Iran in the war. And within Iran there were a lot of people who still throught they had a claim to power (communists mostly) and they tried to do everything to discredit the regime which was anti-communist.

    That enabled the media to have Iranians inside and outside Iran "testifying" of the Iranian atrocities.

    There is no evidence or anything that proves that Iranians used kids as mine clearing devices. Did Iran use the volontary militia (basij) in the front lines? Of course. Did they tie kids to a rope and have them march out in minefields? Of course not.

  4. John Dolan and Scott Horton — two (or is it three?) of my favourite living personalities — talking together for 37 minutes and kind enough to let me eavesdrop. It's enough to make me believe in Santa Claus.

  5. This show was thought provoking, it also charged my mind with all kinds of mixed emotions.

    I liked this guest ….. he reminds me of the pleasant (admirable) American hippies I knew, or heard about.

    I might sound condescending or ignorant but since he sounds honest I get the urge to share my thoughts as if I am talking with one of my friends.

    First of all, in my experience there is something missing in the arguments of SOME of the “Western Leftists Intellectuals” whenever they discuss about other nation’s affairs. Maybe these ‘thinkers’ are unable to fully feel the depth of the pains of others, maybe they are unable to escape from the ugly arrogance planted in their minds when they were kids (America is the BEST, Deutschland uber Alles, etc) something that wont allow them to put their feet in the shoes of their enemies. I think, in average,

  6. part 2

    I think, in average, I think, in average, I have observed less of this symptom in the deliberations of the Eastern freethinkers.

    However I found this guest a notch above those leftists, yet he still somehow lacks that unexplainable mysticism.

    As an example on what US did to Iran I remember last year in Charlie Rose’s interview with Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran implied “the list of Iranian grievances against the US is very long ”, Rose then quickly said something like “ also took Americans hostage..”. I thought Rose is unable to realize the fact that “if there was no 1953 coup, if there was no SAVAK, etc then hostage taking never could have happened”.

    1. Charlie Rose is "unable to realize the fact" because he is a propagandist,
      and he knew that is job was to quickly interject that crap about the poor, poor
      52 hostages who were held captive for 440 days. So no one could mention
      the 250,000 people tortured to death by the Shah, whom the US installed
      by using the US embassy as tactictal headquarters in 1953, with Kermit
      Roosevelt on the two-way radio, directing the tank attack on Iran's President.
      Those hostages worked to continue the US domination of Iran, so only a
      fool could see them as entirely innocent. Those 52 embassy employees
      all got out with their lives and no bodily harm. Right after the overthrow of
      the Shah, the Iranians had photographs of a small room full of arms and legs
      chopped off small children. That was standard practice for the Shah's Savak.
      I know these photos exist because a friend saw the glossies. The Iranian tried to get the local nespapers to run them and they wouldn't. It wasn't just that they
      were sickening photos, where the most that cold be done was to describe the gore in sanitized words. But of course that never happened because the newpapers were propagand outlets, too. I doubt there is any more effective propagandist in the US, apart from Rupert Murdoch obvious, than Charlie Rose.

  7. part 4

    To see additional differences pay attention to the following fact: There were tens of thousands of Americans in Iran during the revolution. How many Americans were killed during or after the revolution? As far as I know only two American military officers were assassinated by MEK crazies and two European Oil CEOs were killed in the south where some Iranians suspect the killing was carried out by rival foreigners.

    I am puzzled why there were no widespread sprees of revenge against the Americans.

    In my amateurish judgment I think overall, despite the fact that Iranians are no better or no worse than

  8. part 5

    average human beings in the entire world, there are couple of evolved traditions in their culture that makes them slightly different. One of them is every year at the time of the New Year (Novruz) those who have been feuding during the year are encouraged by friends or relatives to visit the home of their adversary as a gesture of making peace and ‘forgetting the past and starting a new beginning’. This in most cases works (after hugging and kissing cheeks while others cheer or applaud).

    I also see the influence of their favorite poets of philosophers such as Rumi or Khayam lingering in their daily life. In every text book of the elementary school the pupils must remember a poem by Saadi which is now inscribed in the Hall of Nations of UN. A part of that poem says:

    If you don’t have sympathy for human pain
    The name of human you can not retain.

  9. part 6

    All that said, in this radio show this pleasant man says during Iran-Iraq war the reason Americans were punishing Iranians was because of the hostage crisis. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians killed in appalling ways and so many other massive miseries were imparted on them just because of the hostages? (An event which was encouraged and prolonged by a single half-crazed man ie Khomeini). No one can discount the 444 day sufferings of the hostages yet can anyone in the USA fathom the colossal inequality of both instances when they are set on the same premise?

    Philip Giraldi (I respect him too) has similarly argued that siding with Saddam was in retaliation to the hostage taking.

  10. part 7

    (US did similarly in Iraq. For years the entire population of Iraq was sanctioned, depriving them from food and medicine just because of the behavior of a single despicable man… Saddam Hussein. According to UN the pains of the population was so grievous among over a million dead about half a million children died suffering agonizing deaths from lack of medicine or starvation).

    I have to stop now. If any American tries to explore the reasons for 911 or why American foreign policy is so strongly deplored he/she can find many other awakening examples.

    Now let me say what I think about WAR:

  11. part 8

    Long ago I watched an unforgettable National Geographic film on Jane Goodall and chimpanzees. The film for the first time showed how a chimp-tribe attacked another tribe trying to kill all its members. I was unusually astounded since the organization of their wars, the pains and cries and the similarity of human warfare with that of the chimps was so overwhelming.

    We now know about 99% of our genes are identical to chimps. We also know chimp’s brains do not have anything like our complex problem-solving Neo-Cortex. This not only shows wars are symptoms of a primitive destructive folly we have inherited from our ape-like ancestors ….

    But also shows:

  12. part 9

    In comparing the complexities of the scientific problems such as splitting atoms, building a super-computer or curing complicated diseases….to… difficulty of finding solutions for social / political or inter-tribal problems the latter appears to be incomparably easier and far far less challenging (of course if in both cases the powers of skilled rational minds are utilized)

    Then why we as the entire humanity, incredibly succeed in the scientific efforts but miserably fail in living intelligently, civilly and peacefully (happily)? I think the reason is mainly because in solving scientific problems often qualified scientists are in charge while in resolving international disputes either corrupt or cognitively weak, irrational (or psychopathic) individuals are makers of the critical decisions. In other terms for scientific or technological questions we always employ our newly ‘evolved’ brains while for resolving inter-tribal discords we often use our ape-like animalistic heads.

  13. part 10

    (However there exists a grand successful exception in our recent history that is when after WWII statesmen from Germany and France saw the insanity of the ‘war’ and decided to stop forever their centuries-old (perpetual) senseless blood-sheds and destructions. Soon that awe-inspiring event bore more fruit and resulted in the phenomenal creation of the European Union…no more wars in EU forever !).

    I think in this age of triumph of science over ignorance and barbarity, wars, threats of wars (especially with WMD), stealing weaker people’s lands or resources, bullying, abusing strength, siding or protecting evil ruling systems, remorselessly and sadistically sanctioning or torturing the innocents, bribing…. and dozens of similar atrocious actions are all deeply appalling.

  14. part 11 (last)

    New Genetic Research clearly shows as far as humans are concerned “the inter-race genetic variations are more drastic that variations among the races”. That finding is so profound exploiting its implications can change the whole structure of humanity. If that is well-understood it could make us feel we are all as a single race inhabitant of a single community. It makes us all feel we are like Thomas Pane for whom as his biographer David Frost put it exquisitely “the world is his village”.

    Too bad we are far from that beautiful mental evolution….most of human beings can’t see or never heard of what science shows us….ie what is possibly looming in the captivating distant horizons …only if greedy power hungry psychopaths prematurely do not destroy all life on earth.

  15. Another note for Gary & Scott

    When in 1979 the revolution frenzy was boiling hot, before the arrival of Khomeini, based on a complex plot, the Israelis flew dozens of their fighter jet pilots to Tehran. They managed to fly 48 of Iranian F4s to Israel. (Later the planes were sold to Taiwan for 100s of millions of dollars, of course Iran didn’t get a penny).

    The Iranian pilots of those planes (and some others) were arrested and sent to prisons. They are the ones who were asked to join the IRI’s air-force. (Most of them lost their lives and from a traitor became a martyr).

    Joke item for Israelis and Americans but agonizing sad one for all Iranians.

    Read this story in “Profits of War” by Ari ben Menashe (An Israeli insider & refugee). It partly shows how the wealth of Iran was so aggressively plundered by the outsiders.

  16. Dolan obviously created the persona so the hypocrite wouldn’t be called out on not fighting in Vietnam after he criticized Tom Clancy for doing just that.

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