What follows is the final chapter of Make Love, Not Statecraft. If it has been awhile for you, feel free to check out the previous episode or start from the beginning. Otherwise, prepare for the end of the world...of Statecraft.
We weren’t afforded much time to bask in our glory. We were the colossus, the last power truly standing. It would have been easy to grow complacent after emerging as the semi-benevolent hegemon after defeating the Pandemic. At this point, there existed no single nation that could truly challenge us for supremacy. We were the world’s sole superpower after the dust had settled. The only powers that could hold a candle to the Durendal Khanate were those with nuclear weapons, which were now limited to one: our frenemy, Styrkuria.
Bolstered by a doctrine of mutually assured destruction, as well as the Isten Kardja and a whole slew of cruise missiles, any semblance of military threat from Styrkuria had vanished. All they could do would be to jeopardize a few of our competitive goals. There was something far more pressing to worry about.
Just about everyone wanted nukes now.
Folks had learned a valuable lesson: if you want to defend yourself from the military hegemon, let alone potential rivals, being part of the nuclear club makes you virtually untouchable. After all, the only way the Khanate could safely launch our punitive war against the nuclear DACT was through our Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Without SDI, DACT would have bathed our capital, Rocamadour, in nuclear fire. Once we lost SDI in the Pandemic, we went to incredible lengths to get rid of DACT’s arsenal.
Leaders had gotten the message: if you could get nukes, you could get the hegemon to listen. Thus, it was imperative for us to make sure nobody got any more nukes. We’d have to send a few messages of our own to make sure that was clear. After all, an increasingly nuclear world would make for an increasingly unstable one. Our foreign policy doctrine was clear: stability and safety was our goal.
Thus, when President Nicolas of Maldonia came to me to discuss the nuclear question, alarm bells went off. As a fellow member of the Alliance of Enduring States (the secret alliance meant to undermine the existing NOTO arrangement), he deemed it wise to discuss the proposition with me. Apparently, one of his secret, bonus goals for the game had been to produce a nuclear weapon. If his country accomplished it, they’d earn a substantial amount of points.
The only problem was that we had our own secret goals: The Durendal Khanate had to make sure that both Maldonia and Degostan did not produce nuclear weapons. Short of invading Maldonia, our ally, there wouldn’t be much we could do to stop them. Besides, if we did so we’d lose their valuable intelligence services and our fallback in case of Styrkuri treachery.
I came up with a compromise. I informed him that I couldn’t stand by any more nuclear buildup, secret goals or not. However, I had a plan in mind that would provide him more points in the end than if he built a nuclear weapon. A simple quid pro quo would be in order.
Nicolas wasn’t the only leader that had been considering nuclear armament. The leader of the confounding, island nation of Davy Jones’ Locker had floated the idea before, and Chairwoman Masha of Degostan had even asked me in the past if I’d sell her one. To provide a safe, nuclear-apocalypse-free world, a simple partitioning would be in order.
I told Nicolas that I’d look the other way if he decided to annex his neighbor, Degostan. In return, he’d cease nuclear production. To sweeten the deal, I even offered to raze Davy Jones’ Locker to the ground. This deal proved incredibly attractive to Nicolas--after all, Maldonia was competing directly with Degostan and Davy Jones’ Locker for various end-game goals. In theory, the points he’d gain from beating both of his rivals would be higher than those he’d get from going nuclear.
All the while, the Khanate would achieve its secret, bonus goals and ensure a safe world, (largely) free of nuclear arms. Of course, there were just two small problems with the plan: first, that Davy Jones’ Locker was protected by Styrkuria’s nuclear umbrella and, second, once Maldonia had taken Degostan, it might decide to make nuclear weapons the turn after anyway.
Solving those problems would prove conceptually easy, albeit politically costly. I would have to play chicken with Styrkuria, launching a surprise attack against Davy Jones’ Locker and hope they (read: Freuden) wouldn’t overreact. To ensure Maldonia was on the level, I’d have to make an example of those who didn’t play ball. The pacifist nation of Ennor would do nicely.
Although nominally a member of NOTO, Ennor had been largely isolationist, recalcitrant and even defamatory towards the Khanate publically. Their foreign minister, Miles, had made many provocative statements in UN meetings, even calling for the creation of a counterbalancing coalition against the Khanate. Although some members of Ennor had assured us that they meant no harm, they hadn’t been doing us any favors to tell us otherwise. Finally, they were a rich nation, profiting in part from the disarray of their competitive rival, DACT. As such, they were the cultural capital of the world, possessing a dizzying array of Big Projects and other Quality of Life (QOL) building.
With all of this in mind, a quick annexation of Ennor would serve Durendalian interests nicely. First, they would serve as an example for our other allies, Styrkuria and Maldonia, for the consequences of recalcitrance. Second, Ennor shared a border with the soon-to-be annexed Degostan. If the Khanate was in control of Ennor’s territory, we’d finally share a land border with the bolstered Maldonia. It’d be far easier to deter Maldonian ambitions if we had several thousand men on their border. Finally, Ennor’s abundant infrastructure and QOL buildings would be a wonderful addition to the Durendal Khanate, further ensuring our QOL would be higher than our rival, Styrkuria.
Now, all of this had to be accomplished in one turn. If we couldn’t take over both Davy Jones’ Locker and Ennor in one fell blow, they (along with Styrkuria) might have a chance to respond and take us out. It had been one thing to take over DACT in one turn. It was the mid-game, when they lacked much of a military and their borders were easily penetrated. It was a whole other ballpark to launch a two front war in the late-game, requiring both amphibious and air invasions for each. Davy Jones’ Locker was a heavily fortified island, while Ennor was a mountainous hellhole, replete with defensive installations and anti-air turrets.
Of course, my paladins had been busy at work turning the Isten Kardja into a highly mechanized horde of destruction. We had enough of an air force to establish air superiority over both nations, along with enough army divisions to take over both countries entirely. But, it would take a bit of luck and precise timing. We just had to hope Styrkuria wouldn’t freak out -- if they did, we would be caught utterly off guard. In launching this final operation, we’d be using the vast majority of the Isten Kardja. Only a few army divisions could be spared to defend the homeland. Any error in deterrence could give our enemies an opening to attack.
At last, the day of reckoning came. We had fashioned a study-room in Watzek library into our war room. There, Jeremiah and I plotted our masterstroke, the operation that would finally secure our complete control over the simulation. If all went well, in further turns both Styrkuria and Maldonia would be completely deterred from offensive action and our complete supremacy would be achieved. The only other surviving state would be the defanged DACT, a minuscule threat in comparison to our “allies."
In the final moments before the end of the turn, we readied the Isten Kardja for mobilization. Before we launched our attack, we made sure to bring along a representative from Maldonia. The representative, Ellery, handed over control of their armies to us, to make the invasion of Degostan go more smoothly. Jeremiah ended up taking the reigns of the Degostani invasion, while I handled the invasion of Ennor. Lastly, we made the invasion of Davy Jones’ Locker a joint-effort.
With fifteen minutes before zero hour, we began. In short order, we flew thousands of men across the sea to land in Davy Jones’ Locker, aided by attack helicopters, fighter planes and enough cruise missiles to blot out the sun. Meanwhile, Maldonian troops, led by Jeremiah, marched over the border of Degostan, quickly laying siege to their capital. A smaller contingent of Maldonian troops were then moved by sea to attack the Degostani flank, finishing them off with a combined-arms pincer maneuver on their center. Lastly, I moved the Isten Kardja through the frozen wastes of Styrkuria towards the border with Ennor.
This proved to be a problem. You see, as allies with Styrkuria, we technically could station troops in their country...provided we let them know in advance. Our tiny surprise attack against Ennor eliminated that option. Also, to make sure we could even attack Ennor, we had to break the NOTO expansion treaty with Ennor...which included Styrkuria as a co-signer. Even with that treaty broken, the core NOTO treaty still stood, nominally making Styrkuria still our ally.
But that’s not what Freuden of Styrkuria saw. Instead, she saw notifications of a NOTO treaty being broken, as well as a Durendalian horde trekking through her backcountry. Within minutes of crossing the border, my phone rang. It was Freuden, of course.
Before I answered, I told Jeremiah to have his finger on the nuclear launch button. We had to be prepared. Afterall, we both knew Freuden wouldn’t be messing around on this one.
When I answered my phone, an incredibly irate Freuden greeted me. She wanted me out of her country that very instant. She was furious that we hadn’t consulted her about the troop movements, let alone the invasion of her nominal ally, Davy Jones’ Locker, and our mutual ally, Ennor. She demanded that if we didn’t exit Styrkuria immediately, she’d launch a nuclear missile towards Rocamadour.
I informed her, as nonchalantly and calmly as possible, that Styrkuria was not under attack and that we were just passing through. Styrkuria had nothing to fear from the Durendal Khanate...at that moment. Furthermore, I made it clear that I knew she wouldn’t risk mutually assured destruction over Davy Jones’ Locker nor Ennor. We both knew that both Durendalian and Styrkuri lives were not worth sacrificing on principle.
After a few moments of silence, she relented. The phone call ended and the Isten Kardja was out of Styrkuria in moments. The horde of troops washed over the mountains of Ennor, quickly tearing through their bunkers and defenses. Our remaining missile arsenal went to work destroying Ennor’s air defenses. Once eliminated, our air force came in, establishing air superiority and leveling their cities to the ground. Soon after, our soldiers marched on their burning capital. By the end of it all, the Durendalian Flag was raised over our former ally.
The turn came to an end. The Statecraft system busied itself making calculations, seemingly overloaded by the sheer carnage that had been wrought during that turn. Davy Jones’ Locker had been crushed, Degostan annexed and Ennor burned. At last, the final calculations came in and, officially, we were in control. Maldonia had new real estate and our remaining foes were vanquished. The dark flag of Durendal dotted the ravaged map, digital evidence of our conquest. We were finally victorious.
And then it was over.
A simple message was left on the front of the screen: “The simulation has completed.”
I felt deflated. It was just...over. We’d won, but hadn’t a chance to savor the victory. More than that, the sheer fun of diplomacy had ended. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. I remember receiving a message from Freuden sharing the same sentiment, moments after the simulation ended. We’d spent hours upon hours of our lives during that past semester on Statecraft. And all we had left was a little message saying it was over.
The Durendal Khanate had sought to bring order to the world. Bridges had been burned, friendships tested and social relationships neglected all for that goal. We’d achieved our world peace by the sword. But it was a hollow peace. We were petty conquerors, like the Romans. In the words of Tacitus, “[t]hey plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name Empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace.”
But, as hollow as the victory was, the pursuit of it was intoxicating. The feeling of wielding such power, digital and abstract as it was, was as enrapturing as it was disturbing. Yet the decisions we made in order to safeguard that power were coldly rational; we’d made it our goal to be as utilitarian and Realist as we could.
Indeed, even though my group was acutely self-aware in all of our decisions, it was still easy to morally rationalize our clearly Realist actions. We made the “best” decisions whenever a quandary was presented...although, if they were morally right decisions is up in the air. Even so, we slept easy. After all, we were “providing stability,” “maintaining order,” and following the “national interest.” Even so, as E.H. Carr said, “International order and international solidarity will always be slogans of those who feel strong enough to impose them on others.”
We certainly were strong enough to do it, time and again. We were the model state of Thucydides, finding pessimistic truth in his Realist adage: “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
Following the Realist paradigm of international politics, we had utterly dominated the world of Statecraft. Of course, it was still just a simulation. One can only hope that actual leaders wouldn’t be as coldly calculating and ruthless as a bunch of college students. They’d care what others thought, about the human costs of their means to their ends. Right?
But then again, why would they care? We certainly didn’t.
As wrong as it may be, to us and to them, might made right.
After all, as John Adams said, “Power always thinks it has a great soul.”