Posts Tagged ‘The War Nerd’

The War Nerd on silence and genocide

July 27, 2020

Racism and oppression are not perpetuated by insensitive language.  Racism and oppression are perpetuated by making some topics off limits to talk about at all.  The best PR for genocide is silence.

John Dolan, writing as “Gary Brecher,” the War Nerd, illustrated this point by pointing to the silence of the Victorians on the famines in Ireland in the 1840s and India in the 1870s.

Most of Dolan’s writings and broadcasts are behind a pay wall.  Maybe I should subscribe.

LINK

The War Nerd: Amateurs Talk Cancel, Pros Talk Silence by “Gary Brecher” for Radio War Nerd.

The lives that don’t matter

May 24, 2020

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.  (George Orwell, 1946)

The War Nerd: How Many Dead Yemeni Nobodies Does It Take to Equal One Washington Post Contributor?

Memorial Day 2017

May 29, 2017

Memorial Day was originally a holiday to honor the Union dead in the Civil War.  They should not be forgotten.   The painting below illustrates the Battle of Gettysburg, with Union defenders on the left, Confederate attackers on the right.

A Memorial Day War Nerd: Gettysburg Was The Finest Fight Ever in the World by John Dolan, aka Gary Brecher, for The eXiled.

The Irish in old New York

March 17, 2017

orange_riot_1871_crop_featured

I strongly recommend Slaughter on Eighth Avenue: a St Patrick’s Day Commemoration by John Dolan (aka Gary Brecher, the War Nerd) for Pando Daily.

Yorktown 1781: Glory to the French

July 1, 2015
Lord Cornwallis surrenders to French and Americans at Yorktown

Lord Cornwallis surrenders to French and Americans at Yorktown

As we Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it is worth remembering that we didn’t win our freedom all by ourselves.

And when an American mouths off about French military history, he’s not just being ignorant, he’s being ungrateful.  I was raised to think ungrateful people were trash.

When I say ungrateful, I’m talking about the American Revolution.   If you’re a true American patriot, then this is the war that matters.  Hell, most of you probably couldn’t name three major battles from it, but try going back to when you read Johnny Tremaine in fourth grade and you might recall a little place called Yorktown, Virginia, where we bottled up Cornwallis’s army, forced the Brits’ surrender and pretty much won the war.

Well, news flash: “we” didn’t win that battle, any more than the Northern Alliance conquered the Taliban.  The French army and navy won Yorktown for us.  Americans didn’t have the materiel or the training to mount a combined operation like that, with naval blockade and land siege.  It was the French artillery forces and military engineers who ran the siege, and at sea it was a French admiral, de Grasse, who kicked the shit out of the British navy when they tried to break the siege.

Long before that, in fact as soon as we showed the Brits at Saratoga that we could win once in a while, they started pouring in huge shipments of everything from cannon to uniforms.  We’d never have got near Yorktown if it wasn’t for massive French aid.

So how come you bastards don’t mention Yorktown in your cheap webpages?  I’ll tell you why: because you’re too ignorant to know about it and too dishonest to mention it if you did.

via Gary Brecher – The eXiled.

Expressed a bit harshly, but true.

His whole article, which is about French military history, is worth reading.

LINK

The War Nerd: Glory to the French by Gary Brecher for The eXiled.

Ben Grierson, a forgotten hero

May 25, 2015

Originally Memorial Day was a holiday to honor the fallen soldiers in the Civil War.

The war was fought by the South to preserve slavery and by the North to preserve the Union.  But although the North had the better cause, the South to this day has more glamor.

Benjamin Grierson

Benjamin Grierson

So on this Memorial Day, I remember a Northern hero—Ben Grierson—who conducted the most impressive raid of the Civil War, who never turned his back on black freedman afterwards and who, in the words of Gary Brecher, did not have a weak or a mean bone in his body.

I didn’t know anything about Grierson, except for an old movie starring John Wayne I saw years ago, and brief accounts in Shelby Foote’s The Civil War, and James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, until I read Brecher’s article about him.  Brecher is the pen name of the author of PandoDaily’s War Nerd column, and he is not easily impressed.

Grierson was scarred by being kicked in the face by a horse as a boy, and grew up with an aversion to horses.  But when circumstances put him in command of a cavalry regiment, he adapted.

Grierson’s first assignment was chasing guerrillas in Tennessee, where his kin came from, under Gen. Lew Wallace. The one thing everybody knows about him is he wrote Ben Hur, which I had to watch as a child because it was supposedly “Christian,” but Wallace was a pretty good officer, and he set Grierson to work hunting fellow Tennesseans.

Here again Grierson is like this ridiculously perfect officer-and-gentleman type; he crushed the local bushwhackers but the Tennessee ladies loved him for his perfect manners. You don’t get that a lot from ladies you meet while hunting down their kin, but that was Grierson, Mister Ridiculously Perfect.

What he was famous for was Grierson’s Raid.

Grierson left Tennessee in mid-April 1863 with a brigade of about 1700 men from two Illinois and one Iowa regiments. From the beginning he was in enemy territory, which like MacPherson says, is one handicap Forrest never had to face.

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What I was taught about the Civil War

May 25, 2015

civil-war

When I was growing up, I believed that the Civil War was the result of a tragic misunderstanding, brought on by the radical abolitionists of the North and the radical fire-eaters of the South.

I believed that the Southerners were better and more chivalrous fighters, and had better generals.  I believed that the North won only because of greater numbers and better supplies.  I believed that black people were bystanders in a war between white people.

I believed, too, that Reconstruction was tyranny, dis-enfranchising the white people of the South and putting them under the rule of ignorant black people and corrupt Northern carpetbaggers.

I learned that the Reconstruction Ku Klux Klan was the liberation movement of the Southern white people, and not to be confused with the 20th century Ku Klux Klan, which warred on white Catholics and Jews as well as black people.

All this coincided with a strong belief, which I got from my parents, teachers and Sunday school teachers, that all people have equal rights and that people should be judged as individuals and not on the basis of their color, religion or nationality.

Our history was written to make possible the reconciliation of the white people of the North and South, and to conceal the fact that the price of reconciliation was to sacrifice the freedom of the black people in the South.  In all my high school and college experience, I was never assigned a book by a black author.

This may have been the result of growing up in Maryland, a border state, where people had fought on both sides, although a friend of mine, who grew up in Brooklyn, recalls being taught the same version of American history.

The fact is that the Civil War was fought over slavery.  It was not a war for the abolition of slavery, but in defense of slavery.

President Lincoln said that slavery was a bad thing and should not be allowed to spread.  The white Southern leaders said that slavery was a good thing, and should not be restricted.   The white Union soldiers fought to preserve the Union, but the white Southern soldiers fought to preserve slavery.  There also were black regiments fighting for the Union, and their members had no doubt they were fighting against slavery.

Reconstruction was a noble but half-hearted attempt at nation building, and it was a tragedy that it was stopped by means of terrorism—terrorism that was still in place during the civil rights era of the 1960s.

That doesn’t mean that Southern white people were individually worse than Northern white people, as Abraham Lincoln was at pains to point out, or that the Confederates did not fight bravely against great odds.  It means they were part of a bad system whose effects linger today.

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Kurdistan, haven of religious freedom

June 24, 2014

kurdistan_people__2007_12_20_h0m58s56Not everybody in Iraq is a Sunni Arab or a Shiite Arab.  The country is full of other religious and ethnic groups, including Assyrian Christians who’ve been in Mesopotamia longer than the Arabs, and their hope of survival is the continued semi-independence of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Overall, I think the invasion of Iraq was a disaster, but one good thing to come out of it was freedom for the Kurds, a valiant people who’d been fighting for independence for generations, and without terrorism against civilians.

The Kurds are mostly Sunni Muslims, the same religion as the murderous I.S.I.S. militia, but their attitude toward freedom and tolerance is exactly the opposite.  And the Kurds are willing, able and armed to fight.

Military analyst Gary Brecher, who’s lived in Kurdistan, wrote:

The men and women of the [Kurdish] Pesh Merga—the Middle East’s only truly gender-neutral fighting force—are the only thing saving all the terrified, dwindling minority communities of Northern Iraq from the savagery—yeah, savagery; why lie?—of a new zombie generation of Wahhabized Arab/Sunni jihadis.  [snip]

Let me tell you, for a Sunni Kurd to say, “I have Shia friends, I have Christian friends” is about as brave and radical as it gets, short of suicide, in the Middle East. I never heard any of my Saudi students say anything remotely like it. Well, how could they?  By law, Shi’ism and Christianity are banned in the Kingdom.  So they didn’t have the opportunity, even if they’d had the mindset which they didn’t.

Something wonderful came out of the horrors of 20th century Iraq, among the Kurds of the Northern hills.  They became the only non-sectarian population in Iraq, and perhaps the only such group between Lebanon and India.

All the hill peoples, the few who’d survived Sunni pogroms, were kind to each other. When violence came into the hills, it came from the plains to the South.

All the vulnerable minorities in the Northern hills had been hit by waves of violence from the Sunni majority to the south: the few remaining Assyrian Christians who held out in little mountain towns like Zakho, a pitiful remnant of the genocides perpetrated against them by the Ottomans, and then by Sunni militias in the 1930s; the Turcoman, who are Sunni but Turkish-speaking—in other words, not Arab—and don’t you ever doubt that Arab chauvinism has a HUGE part in what passes for Sunni jihadism.

via The War Nerd:  PandoDaily.

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