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Game Meant to Oppose War on Iran Builds in Pro-War Propaganda
Veterans For Peace supports the abolition of war. We therefore have mixed feelings about opposition to a particular war when that opposition supports the institution of war making as an acceptable tool of public policy, and when the opposition builds into its assumptions much of the propaganda it should be exposing.
The Truman National Security Project has created at http://tellmehowthisends.com a game intended to encourage opposition to the launching of a war on Iran. The video at the top of the page begins with a young man saying, "I served in the United States Army as an airborne combat engineer. Serving my country was one of the greatest honors of my life." We see an image of this young man posing with piles of weaponry. Following this war promotion, he goes on to insist that an explanation of how a war on Iran would end is owed to him and "his friends."
Of course it is. But isn't it also owed to every American and even more so to every Iranian? The idea that a war must be justified merely to the soldiers of the aggressor nation leaves us open to the idea that drone wars require no justification at all. Legality and morality have been brushed aside in this game of choice in which one must design a war of choice. Is the young man in this video still "serving" in wars? Why are his friends doing so? Why must we have learned from the war on Iraq merely that wars should be planned? Why can we not also insist on drawing out the lesson that blind obedience is dangeorus, or the lesson that national sovereignty should be respected, or the lesson that war is nothing other than mass murder on a more intense scale than that of the sanctions that precede it?
Step One of the Tell-Me-How-This-Ends game does, for thoughtful participants, point out the danger of having promised to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. For other participants it simply presents that promise as a given. It also builds in without commentary the unconstitutional idea that a president rather than a Congress can make war. You, the game player, are asked to decide as president whether to go to war alone or with a coalition of nations. "A multinational coalition will give your decision legitimacy and unite others against Iran," the Secretary of State supposedly advises you. Legitimacy must be distinguished here from legality, which is just not considered by the Truman National Security Project. Meanwhile a fictional Chief of Staff advises you: "You don’t want the public to think you’re putting America’s security to a vote at the UN." In reality there is no evidence that the U.S. public believes America's security depends on attacking Iran and doing so quickly.
Whether you pick the "correct" multilateral course, or the unilateral one, the costs of war tick up on the right-hand side of the screen. They include the financial cost of the operation and the increased price of oil. Apparently nobody gets killed, as that is just not factored in. No deaths. No injuries. No trauma. No environmental devastation. No poisoning of populations. No birth defects. And no blowback in hostility and future violence. The question comes down to whether we think the absurdly low price tag of $170 million is a price worth paying for our supposed security (what sane person could deny that?) and whether we object to the price of oil increasing -- whether or not we're aware that oil consumption is itself endangering our security.
The game, to its credit, reasonably points out that the result will also be a decision by Iran to actually pursue nuclear weaponry, as well as to close the Straight of Hormuz and probably to attack U.S. forces. Now all the advice offered the "president" by his advisors in the game becomes purely sociopathic. And every choice leads to disaster -- measured as financial expense and the cost of oil. The game concludes with an "Epilogue" offering alternatives including isolating Iran, imposing sanctions, and attacking Iran's computers. There is no recognition that these approaches kill people, that they build pressure toward war just as do the later steps reviewed by this game, that in the past -- in Iraq for example -- isolation and sanctions have accomplished nothing worthwhile, and that cyber attacks are already producing blowback.
This anti-war game does not inform participants of the basic facts behind the so-called crisis at hand. We do not learn that Iran is in compliance with the Nonproliferation treaty, while Israel has refused to sign it and the United States is violating its terms. We do not learn that Iran has a legal right to enrich uranium. We are not told that, while the United States has threatened war on Iran for years, Iran has not threatened war on any nation. We are not educated about the history and context of this fabricated crisis, including the U.S. overthrow of Iran's government in 1953, U.S. support for Iraq's war on Iran in the 1980s, or the threat inherent in the presence of U.S. bases and ships currently surrounding Iran. Palestinians are presented in this game as terrorists.
If you "play" this game, you will probably come to the conclusion that the United States should not bomb Iran, but for the wrong reasons! And you will come away still ignorant of the realities, imagining that there is a nuclear weapons program in Iran, imagining that Iran is a threat, and imagining that murderous sanctions are an alternative means of addressing these fantasies.
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.