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March 11, 2006

Just A Big Game of Risk

-- by Dave Johnson

AMERICAblog: NYT outgoing Baghdad bureau chief says US effort in Iraq will likely "fail", pointing to this story,

Asked if a civil war was developing there, Burns said, "It's always been a civil war," adding that it's just a matter of extent. He said the current U.S. leaders there--military and diplomatic--were doing there best but sectarian differences would "probably" doom the enterprise.

Burns said that he and others underestimated this problem, feeling for a long time that toppling Saddam Hussein would almost inevitably lead to something much better.

I was talking to a believer last week, who said to understand our invasion of Iraq you need to look at a Risk game board. Iraq is "the key to the Middle East" and pins Iran between itself and Afghanistan. So you have Iran surrounded, and bases in the middle of the region. Etc.

Reality is so damn inconvenient. You get the whole thing mapped out according to a board game you played a lot in college, and it all looks like a winning strategy. So you finally get control of the government, and want to show how good a Risk player you are, so you invade Iraq.

...and then these darn things that never came up in the board game start happening and just mess everything UP for you. Like private sectarian militias - where are THEY in the board game, anyway?! And civil wars! There's no civil wars in Risk! And IEDs. And car bombs in the middle of crowds of police recruits. And you don't even NEED body armor in Risk. And post-traumatic stress disorder. And dead children. And the smell of burning flesh. And needing another $100 bilion dollars that you have to borrow from the Chinese. And not having enough troops so you have to call up the National Guard and keep them oversees for an extra year.

These people just don't understand the GAME!

Posted by Dave Johnson at March 11, 2006 11:54 AM

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Tracked on August 5, 2006 1:25 PM


I played Risk in the sixth grade. That must be why, by the time I was an adult, I knew that the world was a complex place composed of a few billion people and all manner of thing and ideas, good and bad, safe and dangerous, and not a flat, multi-colored board with tiny pastel cubes of wood and dice that was designed to engage and amuse my adolescent fantasies.

Playing games like Risk, or even more sophisticated games like Diplomacy, is poor preparation for the student of foreign and military affairs. Better preparation might be a few years spent in trauma centers and funeral homes.

Posted by: James E. Powell [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2006 4:03 PM

God, how depressing! A game of Risk, eh? So the most powerful country is being governed by a bunch of drunken ancient schoolboys who figured they could win at Risk, so why not risk a few wars? Bush is rattling his sabers again at iran and Syria. So why not?

Too bad we can't recall the current government and start over like they can in other countries. Maybe we need a constitutional amendment?

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2006 4:52 PM

Reality...hell, who want's to go there.

Posted by: knras [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2006 7:59 PM

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