Democrats & Liberals Archives

Political Games

Remember the games we played when we were kids? Monopoly and Scrabble and even Old Maid have survived. But when you talk about games today a whole new class of games dominates the discussion if you are talking to anyone under thirty. Video games are everywhere. Even my cell phone, which I keep as simple as possible, has multiple games installed on it. I would like to propose a new class of video game, the candidate game. We could easily do that today, just digitize Bush and Kerry and install them into the most successful video game on the market.

In order to really get things going though you would have to develop a game tailored to the election process. The two candidates would have to raise money by pledging their support to various constituencies. They would need to meet the requirement for televised appearances at which they never went off script. They would have to spend hard gotten dollars on advertising and divide up the money they have to cover the key strategic markets. At the end of the game the candidate that did everything right could still lose if the opposition player pushed the dirty tricks button, it could be just like real life.

You would have to depose the evil dictator, and start a war if you were playing in today’s backdrop but that is simple, just commit your troops. The only problem is there are a lot of evil dictators and too few troops today so you would have to choose your dictators carefully. You wouldn’t want to get into a quagmire and lose a lot of troops so you would try to pick a dictator to beat who was weaker than the other options. You know Rove and Hughes could write the script for this thing, maybe we ought to let them give it a try. Meanwhile we could get on with the real election process. The problem with even the best current video game technology is the computation capacity of the processor. The rendering of realistic backdrops and realistic characters is computation intensive.

The video games we have today have processors far better than the ones we were using for supercomputers in the 1980’s. The memories in these devices also exceed the memory capacity of any computer I could have afforded to use in 1994 when my small computer company was starting to grow. We had Sun Workstations and Silicon Graphics boxes in our computer room but nothing with close to the power of the new video games or their memory capacity. One gigabyte of RAM could be purchased but what could any small business not engaged in scientific or engineering tasks have used all of that power and memory to do? Hollywood eventually answered that question; movies and video games based on the same characters were born. During that same amount of time our leadership has lost the ability to predict outcomes accurately.

Meanwhile back at the Ranch, Bush is still bashing the evil former Terrorism Czar and Condi is still covering his backside while the opposing candidate just Ski Boards downhill in the polls. Of course the Ads running in the major markets developed by both candidates are having most of the measurable impact and the Electorate is still divided down the middle. One of the great things about our politics is that it would fit into a Gameboy Console quite nicely; the parts that won’t fit are the realistic deaths that are being died in Iraq. Blood and guts are easy but the smell of new violent death is something that never gets out of your nose once you have smelled it. That is one of the things left out of our newest video war, the real smell and sight of death at the level of reality that once it enters your mind never leaves it again.

We aren’t seeing the same level of death that we saw in Vietnam, thank God for that fact, but one human life is worth more than we can tell by watching TV or seeing a casket on screen. We are spared the screams of the wounded and the panting for breath of the dying boys and girls by our government’s policy preventing the televising of real events in this war. We wouldn’t want to alarm the folks back home with too much realism. Meanwhile the debate in our Nanny Government rages on about whether video games are too violent for our children. At the same time our children and Iraqi children are dying in real events a half a world away. Do any of you think that those Iraqi boys and girls dying in this war are any less precious to their parents than are our own lost children? Do any of you think that the ten to one losses they are suffering will end their anger or eliminate all opposition to our occupation? We are there now and we need to fix what we have broken over the last twenty five years in that nation but it will not be cheap or easy.

It has been twenty five years since we started to use Iraq as a foil against Iran. Our declared policy of democratization has come along at a time when we are reaping the hatred that we have sown over a half a century of manipulation and support for terrible dictatorships in that area. This is not all Bush’s fault no one ought to blame him for most of it. The problem with him relates to how he has handled his job in the last four years. He failed to utilize the sensible plans created by his own War College to prevent the chaos that has descended on Iraq. That was due to Rummy’s blind adherence to corporate practices of never using more resources than you absolutely need to accomplish the goals. So we won the war and the peace has become a problem. We could have used double the number of troops in the aftermath of our victory and prevented the looting and destruction that followed. It is all there in the record for those of us who care to read and understand. If we had established order then as our own War College suggested the chaos today would definitely be less today. Item two we should not have disbanded the Iraqi army after the war without trying the tactic of using the lower ranking troops to keep order.
The War College suggested that we pursue a lot of different courses than those we chose during this war. Many of the War College’s suggestions were based on historical practices developed in Germany and Japan. You see the difference between our professional military leaders and the current crop of fantasizers and fanatics in the Bush Administration lies in the fact that the professionals know all about war and success or failure. These boys in the White House today only know about turning real life into political success without paying the real price for that success. Our crop of CEO’s ruining things there today have a fantasy that business experience can always be applied to the use of warfare. Napoleon was the last person that vision totally destroyed, and along with it France’s Imperial pretensions. Hitler and the Thousand Year Reich came close but Germany had no Empire to lose. Russia under Stalin and China under Mao certainly had the element of trading human lives like they were dollar bills down cold. Russia has crumbled and China is on its way if the conflicts between its government and economic engine continue. The War College was not right according to Rummy. Basically Bush and Rummy and Cheney committed our troops to war on the cheap. How cheap is this looking today?

The truth is the estimates made by professionals before this little quick war started are looking better and better and those made by Rummy are looking worse and worse. It is going to cost us over one trillion dollars before we are done in Iraq. We still may not get a democracy any better than the one in Iran, if we get one at all. There is a problem with the one size fits all concept of warfare espoused by the brilliant little boys living in Neoconville today. It is the hard fact that the real world doesn’t work like a video game. When people start to die in the real world something called emotion comes into play. Then all of the unemotional planning done by corporate thinkers falls into the bloody mud of reality. That is what was wrong with McNamara’s approach in Vietnam and it what is wrong with the Rumsfield approach to this war. Another difference between video games and real life is you can’t just start over when you lose a round. You have to just go on from that point and lives lost and mistakes made cannot be fixed by pushing a button.

We are going to have to go on from this point and the bloody mess that has been made by ignoring the advice of the professional soldiers will need a lot of cleaning up. Part of that necessary cleaning up is to replace this Administration that constantly overreaches and fails and then leaves us with the bill. I have known a lot of professional soldiers in my life and most of them think war is the last resort of a failed government. Our government has failed to carry out its obligations in Iraq over twenty five or fifty years depending on which starting point you use. It now has, as Bush points out, an obligation to help establish a stable democratic regime on the shards of the broken society that are left there. Unfortunately the NeoCondis and the Rummies in this regime have failed badly in the one task they should never fail in, listening to the real experts. It is time to replace them and at least there will be a hope that a more nuanced approach will include that basic element of good government. Listen to the people who study war when you want to win one without making a bigger mess than you have to make. God bless and keep you all safe in this world of denied expertise and fantasy games. ©Henri Reynard/GoldenBrush Interactive

Posted by Henri Reynard at April 17, 2004 8:59 AM