Author Topic: DIME wargame at West Point  (Read 261 times)

bayonetbrant

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on: May 01, 2020, 08:34:39 PM
https://mwi.usma.edu/game-dimes-power-strategy-west-point-classroom/

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In our game, students formed four countries with natural resources (represented by the letters W, X, Y, Z), military resources, and ambassadors. The game models trade, diplomacy, information sharing, and military conquest. Students used resources to create diplomatic, military, or economic advantages for themselves. We also introduced a strategic espionage option using combined resources to create disadvantages for other countries.

What transpired in the classroom showcased the challenges of the international environment. Some students attempted to craft a strategy by privileging political deal-making and economic cooperation—a reflection of the liberalist paradigm of international relations they learned about in class. However, most resorted to strategies aimed at military domination, seemingly reading the game’s international environment through a realist lens. The self-centered, competitive international environment painted by some realists today dominated in our classrooms. The majority of students did not seek an economic or a diplomatic victory, but instead exhibited a shortsighted desire for military victory. Defense spending increased while groups formed alliances that offered their competitors Athenian-esque terms from what Thucydides’ recorded in the Melian Dialogue: “The strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.”

To curb the prevailing bloodlust among the students, the game was altered during later iterations to simulate terrain and great distances, increasing the time required to attack neighboring countries. Adding economic infrastructure and trade agreements helped as well, making an economic victory far more lucrative. This dovetailed with the classroom discussions on the economic element of power. The resulting focus allowed the students to put the “E” in DIME and better understand the benefits of a nation which leverage their economy on the international stage.

The final iteration of the DIME game incorporated aspects of maritime power. Previously, the class sections studied Alfred Thayer Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power upon History and debated its relevance in the twenty-first century. The integration of merchant fleets and warships into the game provided a complex dynamic of economic and military focus, as student teams vied for information via diplomacy or alliances to overpower opponents. Mimicking true international relations, poor relationships between countries from previous conflicts (or iterations of the simulation) affected the psychology and politics of the present. Some teams were unable or unwilling to forget old grievances from previous iterations of the game when deciding how to formulate grand strategy. In the end, the students realized that strategy itself focuses on the difficult problems of national policy, in the areas where economic, political, psychological, and military factors all begin to overlap—just like their textbook says.

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