A Faux War is no War

I’d like to discuss the popular use of warfare comparisons to games, chess in particular. Fischer was a fan of such analogies and I suspect that this is the source of such phrases’ popularity in the chess world. Just know that your carelessness makes you sound as ridiculous as this. I can’t agree with you here Big Ticket! When I play chess I don’t go into combat with children, the elderly, and the infirm. If you feel that your next chess antagonist is your enemy, I’d say the potential for checkmate is not your biggest problem.

When you atomize the chess-warfare comparison, using it without regard for its consequences, you get something mind-numbing. If chess is war, then it’s acceptable when 7/8 of your army dies. As long as you win, your Pyrrhic victories still net you a rating bump. I get called out by my chess coach when I do not sacrifice¬†enough material. The easiness of such an analogy means we must be ever on our guard.

Comparing a pastime to war breaks down the distinction of the latter as something primal and ugly. War must remain a thing apart from everything else. It’s not to say that it should completely leave our consciousness, but it cannot be fun while remaining an option of last resort. The victims of our little language breakdown include a sitting U.S president himself.

Lost in a boyhood fantasy, one erstwhile GOP leader decided to tip over a “king.” It’s instructive to look at his language, as well as that of the military high command, from 2003-2008. You’ll find plenty of language that sounds suspiciously like the type chess players use without thinking. Don’t “tactical shot”, “psy-ops”, and “smoke ’em out” speak of something dark and deep? Let’s not encourage their use without true context.

I haven’t charged any machine gun nests, stormed houses, or held a bridge by my lonesome; I only served with people who did. Most, not all, came back thanks to advances in battlefield medicine and technology. But none returned quite as they left.

Veterans hate war analogies because we never want you to experience life as we have. The human animus is often dark and people die because of that darkness. The point of our going overseas is so we can make your comparisons baseless. Let us do that so you can play your games.

Back to veteran’s hospitals, they have them (under different names) in all developed countries. You ought to stop by sometime to see what truly happens to your nation’s soldiers when they get put back in the box.


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