Below lies the fifth installment of Make Love, Not Statecraft, a tale of want and woe in which budding student-dictators use Game of Thrones as a guidebook for political intrigue and everlasting glory. For in the Game of Statecraft, you either win or your GPA dies. For those who are just joining us, you can either start from the beginning, check out last week’s episode or plunge headfirst into this tale now.
We had found the fall guy for our illicit nuclear affair at last. The moderately strong, non-aligned communist state of DACT had the power to produce nuclear weapons. And the right people knew it. Whether they developed it randomly out of their own volition or prodded by intel of other nuclear-armed states was besides the point. The atomic horse was out of the barn and the world had entered crisis-mode.
As the third turn came to an end, a hurricane of condemnations, diplomatic missives and thinly veiled threats ripped across the email inboxes of all the players of Statecraft. DACT had been ‘outed’ publicly as possessing nuclear technology. However, they hadn’t actually built nuclear weapons yet.
To this day I do not know whether it was the pressure or it was their plan all along, but in the face of international condemnation DACT actually built a nuke. Durendalian and Styrkuri intelligence found it immediately at the start of turn 4, much to Freuden’s horror and my hidden delight. As expected, Styrkuria’s foreign minister Phoebe found DACT members spreading ‘rumors’ of the northern powers possessing nuclear weapons in order to justify their own production. They weren’t wrong, but that wasn’t the sort of message Freuden wanted going around.
A few threatening missives from Phoebe and an emergency UN meeting hosted by Freuden herself would set things straight. We had a diplomatic way of resolving it: the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This international organization (IO) would monitor nuclear activity among states and set internationally accepted rules on nuclear proliferation. We would all get points if we managed to ratify the IAEA rules. Not only that, we’d all earn even more points if we all abided by those rules by the end of the game. Who’s to say that geopolitics has to always be zero-sum?
Power-hungry maniacs, that’s who.
This whole ‘IAEA’ was problematic, however. The drafter of the IAEA rules was Ennor, our NOTO ally. However, as they didn’t know both Styrkuria and the Durendal Khanate had nuclear weapons, they wrote rules to reflect that. In those rules, only DACT would be allowed to have a nuke, mainly because they’d already built it and it’d be the only way to get them to sign on.
Problematically, the Durendal Khanate and Styrkuria were in favor of the IAEA and restricting DACT...but we couldn’t sign the rules without inadvertently breaking them and thus losing points for everyone. It made for a very tense negotiation, but Freuden’s diplomatic skill and my careful choice to not call for the head of DACT’s foreign minister on a pike led to a tabling of the issue. A tacit truce was called, DACT pinky swore they wouldn’t build any more nukes and we’d amend the IAEA rules over the course of the turn.
We bought ourselves some time, but not much. We had to get those rules up sooner rather than later -- there was a game time limit on them. Not only that, the rumors of nuclear armament were spreading like wildfire. We didn’t want any more folks going nuclear -- for Freuden, to ensure world peace and for me, to ensure easier future conquest. But, we also knew we’d have to come out of the nuclear closet eventually. The only question was: when?
Still, the crisis had served Durendalian aims. The diplomatic heat was (mostly) off us, buying us time to make the final big investments in our economy without prying eyes. We built one of the best big projects that turn, much to others states’ alarm when they finally realized it. We built the Transcontinental Railroad, granting us a guaranteed 1500 extra steel, food, and gold -- a truly gargantuan bonus. This massive infrastructure project provided us with the resources necessary to fuel our coming military machine. Sure, we leveled a few mountains and polluted half of our country in the process, but that would be a problem for future generations.
Turn four ended with a tense, but still intact world. The fifth turn that followed would shake us to our foundations...again. The IAEA rules still hadn’t passed and convincing people to arbitrarily give Styrkuria and the Khanate the ability to have nukes out of nowhere wasn’t a compelling argument. Eyes were back on us and I had the brilliant idea of saying screw it. Rumors hung in the air and folks weren’t budging. So, I decided to shake things up.
On a dreary Wednesday, I stood up in the front of the classroom at the beginning of the period. I had drawn a crude radioactive symbol on the whiteboard. Our lord and savior, Kyle, gave me the go-ahead and I made my announcement. As much as I wanted to come off boisterous as usual, I was internally terrified. I was playing with fire, being this bold. Still, heart beating fast in my chest, I spoke loudly and clearly. It was time to reveal the secret of Kyle’s Blessing.
“The Durendal Khanate and Styrkuria have an announcement to make,” I said, looking out into the audience. I saw Freuden bury her head in her hands in response. “We have nukes. Plural.”
With that, I dropped the metaphorical mic and went to my chair. As I did so, the class erupted into uproar. I can still remember the shocked and appalled look of Tamar, a member of DACT. Can’t say I blamed her: we’d put their country through the ringer the past turn for having one nuke. And there I was, announcing we had an unknown plethora of doomsday devices.
This announcement put the fire under their asses and by that Friday another UN meeting had begun. I stayed out of it: the Khan of Khans would have only fanned the flames and the agreement would have turned to ash. Jeremiah went in my stead, joining Freuden and the rest in a separate room. Ever the technologist, our god Kyle simulcast the meeting in the other room into our classroom.
Freuden went through hell in that meeting. Everyone had suspected that the Khanate might have nukes, but the supposedly diplomatic and peaceful Styrkuria? Folks had out their torches and pitchforks. Despite that, she tanked most of the vitriol like a champ. Even so, it unsettled me. She didn’t deserve that treatment -- I did. Yet instead of taking that heat, I stayed back for diplomatic reasons. However, Freuden’s deft, diplomatic hand and Jeremiah’s unabashed, hegemonic realism tamed the non-aligned powers. By the end of that meeting, we had a signed IAEA agreement, as toothless as we had wanted it to be. It came at a high social cost, but “victory” had been achieved.
The results of that victory? DACT’s nukes were limited to one, our’s to five and everyone else to zero. Perfect. We didn’t even have to reveal how many nukes (three to be precise) we had. Hell, we had room to produce more if we wanted and still be within IAEA guidelines. Points gained and Kyle’s Blessing sanctioned, we’d made off like bandits. Not only that, while folks were distracted we had garnered the resources to build two big projects. We completed the “Moon Launch” big project, which garnered us another couple free technologies. All it cost us was an arm, a leg, and a few stranded souls on the moon. Nobody said we actually had to bring them home, just get them there.
However, our second project was the most game changing. We completed the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as Reagan’s “Star Wars.” By the following turn, this network of laser-equipped satellites would render the Durendalian homeland completely immune to nuclear strikes. Which meant nuclear-armed rogue actors like DACT and potentially recalcitrant allies like Styrkuria couldn’t possibly harm us. Or strike back from a nuclear attack of own…
A few more turns, we figured, would suffice to create our army and eliminate our enemies with impunity. As the fifth turn came to a close, all seemed right with the virtual world. Our Khanate was ascendent and nothing could stop us. In the real world, however, all wasn’t quiet on the front. Much of it was my fault.
At the time, I tried to put it out of my mind as the turn drew to a close. But, minutes from the end, I received an urgent notification. A surprise attack was imminent.