Gary Brecher

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Gary Brecher is the pseudonym of John Dolan, author of The War Nerd, a twice-monthly column discussing current wars and other military conflicts, published originally in the eXile, then NSFWCorp,[1] and currently in PandoDaily[1]. A collection of his columns was published by Soft Skull Press in June 2008 (ISBN 0979663687).

Brecher analyzes military strategy, tactics, and contexts of ongoing and past conflicts. Brecher has participated in radio interviews including a April 5, 2008, interview by Chuck Mertz on the Evanston/Chicago radio station WNUR [2] and a May 25, 2008 interview by Steve Paulson on Wisconsin Public Radio.[3]


Other than the Steve Paulson interview, the only non-eXile source of information about Brecher is an email interview with him conducted by Steve Sailer and published by United Press International.[4] The image at the top of each War Nerd column supposedly representing Brecher is actually that of Roger Edvardsen of the Norwegian rhythm & blues band Ehem.[5]

Brecher claims to have been born in 1965 and to have attended community college after high school, dropping out before graduating.[6] He claims to be employed as a data entry clerk in Fresno, California and deeply unsatisfied with his job.[7] Around that time he met Mark Ames, editor of the Moscow-based, English language newspaper the eXile, who offered Brecher a column. He wrote in his first eXile column that life in Fresno is a "death sentence" and that he spends 15 hours a day in front of a computer ("6 or 7 hours entering civilian numbers for the paycheck and the rest surfing the war news"). The War Nerd has since established a large following of its own, and Brecher's work is a regular subject in the eXile's letters to editor.

No one outside of the eXile has proven any direct interaction with Gary Brecher. Brecher's reclusive nature and the lack of information about him have raised speculation (e.g. during his email interview with Sailer) that Brecher is a pseudonym for another eXile contributor. The use of invented characters is not unprecedented for the eXile.[8]

A Buffalo Beast review [9] of eXile editor John Dolan's novel "Pleasant Hell" states that "a faithful eXile reader [would] have to be as dense as young John Dolan not to realize you’re reading about the birth of 'Gary Brecher' - nome [sic] de guerre of the famed 'War Nerd'." In the memoir, Dolan writes of obsessively studying military history and Jane's manuals while binging on junk food in the basement of a UC Berkeley library building in the mid-seventies. In one War Nerd column, Brecher writes, "I used to spend every free hour, back before there was an internet, going over those big heavy reference books in the library: Jane's Tanks, Jane's Missile Systems, Jane's Combat Vehicles."[10] Also, one should note that in an 2001 eXile article, "Cleanse the World", John Dolan openly admits being a 'war-nerd': "Oh, my poor naive war-nerd brothers, how could you ever have dreamed that Bush...".[11]

On June 25, 2008, the following revelation is made on citypaper.[12] in the course of a review of the War Nerd book: But the War Nerd is, in fact, neither of those things. He is not even Gary Brecher! Brecher is the creation of John Dolan, a poet, novelist, lecturer in English at the University of Victoria, and The eXile co-editor. That's very exciting news for the War Nerd's regular readers: The columns you've been dissecting and debating for the last six years were written by an English professor who writes poetry!

On November 2, 2010, in an interview with Scott Horton for Antiwar Radio,[13] John Dolan spoke for the first time about his Gary Brecher alter-ego which he described as being strongly based on his younger self. During the interview, he described Gary Brecher "as a more honest version of who I really am".

War Nerd writings[edit]

Every two to five weeks, Brecher publishes his War Nerd column in eXile. In each installment, Brecher offers his idiosyncratic analyses of armed conflict from a military, political, or (rarely) social standpoint. In his first eXile column, Brecher declared that The War Nerd was to be "a column on how all the wars are going, kind of a war reviewer." He has acknowledged an aesthetic or perhaps even fetishistic pleasure in the study, observation, and intimate knowledge of armed conflict (again from his first column):

"American peace truly sucks (That's what I live in and work in: American peace. Fresno. Townhouses in a dry riverbed. Scrub acreage with fancy British names. America the hot and stupid)."
"That's why we need a war now and then. You can drain your dick at every bondage site on the web, but you can't really drain your head there, it takes something bigger like a decent war and some of those guncamera shots. I figure about one a year. Which is why this was already a good year."

Brecher describes himself as a Nationalist "who just wants America to kick ass." While typically enjoying war as a spectator, Brecher has been highly critical of the foreign policy of the Bush administration. One basis of his critique has been that Bush has gone to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and possibly planned for war in Iran and North Korea, without publicly defining a sound strategy or acknowledging the ruthlessness required for victory.

Following publication of Brecher's article "Victor Hanson: Portrait of an American Traitor", Hanson responded with an article accusing Brecher of being an anarchist[14] In the September 9, 2005 of the eXile, the editors announced that the War Nerd would be suspended without pay for one issue as a result of these accusations. It is doubtful that this was a serious reprimand. Nonetheless, the subsequent issue of the eXile did not contain Brecher's regular column. Another similarly themed Brecher article, 'It’s All Greek to Victor Davis Hanson', appeared in the December 19, 2005 issue of the American Conservative.[15]

On June 24, 2006, Newsday columnist James Pinkerton appeared on Fox News and referenced Gary Brecher's analysis of the alleged Haditha massacre, in which he took the view that, in any war, Haditha-like events are to a great degree unavoidable, as a position held by a distinct "minority" of commentators, but nevertheless "correct".[citation needed] In that column, Brecher stated that massacres like Haditha were a staple of counter-insurgency warfare, but doubted that this particular instance would be of any use to the effort, characterising it as 'too little or too much'.

Brecher has summarized his view of modern warfare as follows:

  1. Most wars are asymmetrical/irregular.
  2. In these wars, the guerrillas/irregulars/insurgents do not aim for military victory.
  3. You cannot defeat these groups by killing lots of their members. In fact, they want you to do that.
  4. Hi-tech weaponry is mostly useless in these wars.
  5. "Hearts and minds," meaning propaganda and morale, are more important than military superiority.
  6. Most people are not rational, they are TRIBAL: "my gang yay, your gang boo!" It really is that simple. The rest is cosmetics.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About NSFWCORP". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "To the best of our KNOWLEDGE". To the best of our KNOWLEDGE. 
  4. ^ War Nerd's Interview with UPI - Sailer, Steve - United Press International, March 2003
  5. ^ "Roger Edvardsen". Archived from the original on 16 March 2004. 
  6. ^ Conceived in Sin: The Online Audience and the Case of the eXile - Dolan, John, April 2005
  7. ^ Meet The War Nerd - Brecher, Gary - the eXile, 2002
  8. ^ Feis the Music! - the eXile, 2003
  9. ^ Review of 'Pleasant Hell' - Buffalo Beast, 14 Dec 2005
  10. ^ Most Valuable Weapon: the RPG - Brecher, Gary - the eXile, 2001
  11. ^ Cleanse the World - Dolan, John - eXile, 2001
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Gary Brecher «  Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton". 
  14. ^ Hanson, Victor Davis (August 26, 2005). "The Paranoid Style". National Review Online. Retrieved February 26, 2010. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "THE EXILE - The Doctrine of Asymmetrical War - By Gary Brecher - The War Nerd". 

External links[edit]


  • Archive of Brecher's columns at The Exile (April 2002 - May 2008)
  • Archive of Brecher's columns at The Exiled Online (April 2011 - September 2012)
  • Archive of Brecher's columns at NSFWCorp (September 2012 - November 2013)
  • Gary Brecher on PandoDaily (his articles after November 2013 have appeared here)