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30 Oct 2009

Have we won, yet? (What's happened to the War on Terror?)

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It's been a while since our last blog post and now is as good a time as any to reflect on what the 'war on terror' has become; what it means these days.

We've been attending a few corporate trade shows, over the past few months, trying to get our games into gifty-type areas (it's all pretty dull and hence no blogs - we have been busy, just nothing worth writing about!).

It's been tough at times, not least because on more than one occasion, we've fallen victim to what I'll call the 'Obama Effect'. That is, people believing that everything's changed and our games are now a little obsolete. The 'war on terror' was neatly wrapped up when Obama took office and announced plans to withdraw some troops from Iraq and now, infuriatingly, the economy's recovering too. Does that mean we're left peddling anachronisms? Nostalgic souvenirs of a former, nastier time?

As far as the economy goes, we're not really in a position to make any predictions, however a few facts are undeniable and should dampen any "Farewell to the Recession" party:

  1. The system broke. We can't lend ourselves to richness and we can't have unbridled, short-term greed without paying for it at some point. We're still demanding exponential growth from finite resources. None of this has been 'fixed'.
  2. The thing that all shocks have in common (and this applies to both financial and physical) is that they have after-affects and are followed by further shocks just when you think the worst is over.
  3. The economists who are now telling us that things are recovering are the same economists who (if you can cast your mind back just 18 months) couldn't forsee any of this happening. That places economists and remedial children together as the only segment of the population who were unable to predict the financial future.
  4. Assuming this is a total recovery with no ill after-affects, we've still just devalued some major currencies by trillions virtually overnight. Your pound/ dollar/ whatever is now weaker, so it will buy less, so you have to work more, just to maintain the level of wealth you previously had. Quality of living just took a nosedive. No, more like a belly flop.

We're not doom mongerers. We don't revel in Armageddon fantasies. We don't want you to cancel your "Farewell to the Recession" party. Especially when it coincides so neatly with your Windows 7 launch party. It's just frustrating how short our collective memory is.

Rather than blather on endlessly though, we recommend instead that you take an hour or so out of your day to watch Chris Martensen's Crash Course. It neatly links the economy, energy, resources and the environment together rather than dealing with them as the separate issues that news organisations like to treat them as.

How cute are these bunnies going to look when it comes to the Abu Ghraib scenes and rabbits are stripping other rabbits naked, hooking them up to electric wires and letting dogs loose on them, while posing for trophy photos? And then there's the War on Terror; the eternal war that's patiently awaiting a rebrand. A brief digest of mainstream media reporting on the issue will reveal that Iraq is officially over. It's not a war any more, it's a fledgling democracy. Afghanistan has replaced Iraq as the conflict zone du jour and is proving stubbornly difficult to win. Not that anyone has mentioned what winning entails or what the current goal is (something the Americans are rapidly shifting as we speak, since military defeat seems almost inevitable). Ironically, Afghanistan kicked off Bush Jnr's infamous 'war on terror' and yet you won't hear the phrase used in news reports today unless it's in the past tense.

Sadly, while the phrase is becoming scarce, the ideology that spawned the war on terror has far from vanished. In fact, quite the opposite, it has grown in scope, thanks largely to the US. The president that was elected on a mantra of "change" has disappointed critically in this area. Firstly, there's been no meaningful action on Iraq - Obama's not willing to challenge the present (the massive military presence still remains, as does the world's largest US military base) and even less willing to confront the past. That speech about "Iraqis needing to take responsibility for their country" was disingenuous in the extreme. A rapist blaming his victim would come across as more likeable.

Then there's the war in Afghanistan, which has not only seen both troop numbers and civilian casualties escalate but has been expanded aggressively into Pakistan with the chilling (and outstandingly illegal) use of unmanned drones (by the way, you should watch this film about the surreal Playstation lives that the pilots of these things lead back in Las Vegas while carrying out remote assassinations on the other side of the world). Welcome to the future!

And don't get me started on Iran. The relentless and aggressive ratcheting up of pressure on Iran is depressingly reminiscent of the ardent drumbeat that lead to the Iraq war. How does the mainstream media shake a million dead and 4 million refugees from their conscience so quickly? Some are positively relishing the prospect of another war. Luckily, a notable few have diligently highlighted the supreme irony of Israel complaining of Iran's (perfectly legitimate) pursuit of nuclear power, while they themselves hoard upwards of 300 nuclear warheads that have never officially been declared. In fact, just last month, Israel refused to sign up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and thus open its nuclear sites to inspection by the IAE. What's that sound? Oh, it's the complete silence created by no journalists demanding action be taken to force Israel to comply - no "increased sanctions", no "tougher measures", no "keeping all options on the table". Just deafening silence.

Mr. Obama, a copy of War on Terror is in the post, as a reward for being such a secret war merchant. You should do well at our little game.

Meanwhile, the war on terror is gradually going through the transformative stage that all wars since the 2nd World War go through - that is, they are re-interpreted and re-remembered and re-evaluated until they are "good" wars (like WWII) and not "bad" wars (like Vietnam). Playing a disturbing part in this process is a Japanese animated film currently in production that puts the war on terror in the hands of cute, fluffy bunnies. I searched the whole of Google for words to express the WTFness of this short clip and found just one: "wrong". I mean, for a start, bunnies just aren't that tough. We had a pet one die just this weak - it died from a full stomach. I can tell you now, no animal that can eat itself to death so easily is going to be very effective in fighting animal terrorism. Secondly, how cute are these bunnies going to look when it comes to the Abu Ghraib scenes and rabbits are stripping other rabbits naked, hooking them up to electric wires and letting dogs loose on them, while posing for trophy photos. Actually, I kind of want to see it now. That's morbid curiosity for you. I just hope they have the sense to rename it "Watership Black Hawk Down".

Thanks for bearing with me. I feel better now. Normal service will be resumed presently.

 

Posted by Andy S on 30 October 2009 - 3 comments

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Comments so far:

  1. Keep at it guys!pete um from uk - 5 November 2009
  2. Great blogging. I love the CatShitOne film, it looks awesome, the film about remote warfare was super too. Don't worry, TWOT will rage for years to come I am sure! Big love, Nick xNick Barr from Da SW15 Massif! - 6 November 2009
  3. Nick, that's kind of our worry - that the war on terror *will* rage for years. We'd rather it didn't. But the most offensive scenario is it going on, unnoticed, in the background.TerrorBull Games - 6 November 2009

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