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Saturday, Feb 17, 2024 - 03:10 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

Samson's Last Sigh

"...Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these [Abrahamics] believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them."

- Barry Goldwater, senator and wise libertarian

Formal photo of Twilight Struggle: New Moon hall
[Original size]
[N.B. If you think this is impressive, OpenAI has just released Sora, which can generate videos from text prompt; while the underlying tech is not overly advanced from static images (since videos are essentially temporally-linked images, the model largely adds a "time" dimension to their latent space, as far as I could see), I give it ten years before Hollywood comes under threat.]
(Source: DALL·E3 via GPT-4 prompt)

There is an unanticipated interruption, as American Speaker of the House Mike Johnson attempts to force his way to the table, while waving some papers and exhorting on "nukes in space" - only to be intercepted by security officials. Sir, it's not your time yet, all moves to be played in order, please join the queue, sir!

Bibi can barely wait for the anonymous Red representative to be done, what with his administration unavoidably copping the bulk of the blame, for allowing the Hamas attack through. Whatever his political fate will be after this, the consummate electoral survivor understood well that only one option was left to him: War, and the utter destruction of Hamas.

Turn 15, Headline Phase (Team Blue)

Netanyahu steps up, grim-faced, in a blue tie and backed by the blue six-pointed star of his people. It is the evening of the Seventh, and Israel has declared.

What's old is new again
(Original sources: twilightstrategy.com, youtube.com, adda247.com)

This would then also be the seventh Arab-Israeli War (or fifth, depending on whether the Lebanon Wars are counted), and as soon described by various Israeli ministers such as Gallant and Gantz, one that is avowedly existential (as hinted in Turn 13, Action Round 4). That there had been at least four before already speaks of Israel's ability to emerge victorious against the combined (if not very effectual) might of the Arab states, thanks to the superiority of IDF conventional arms. The wild success of Hamas' sneak attack then represents a personal failure of Netanyahu's propping up of the Palestinian extremists as part of a divide-and-rule strategy, and a disastrous stain on Israeli intelligence elements given Hamas' unprecedented organization in the face of assumed complete surveillance.

The main question left, then, was whether this would be limited to a Hamas-Israeli War, or expand into a repeat edition uniting the entire Arab world against them. While Team Blue netizens have largely comforted themselves by parroting that Arab leaders have no will for such a fight, most public indications from the likes of Iraq (3/1), Kuwait (4/4; as part of Gulf States), Syria (3/3) and Lebanon (2/0) etc. are towards blaming the Israelis for bringing it upon themselves by oppressing the Palestinians, a stand echoed by bigger players such as Saudi Arabia (4/4), and of course Iran (0/7). Even were these statements only to quell domestic passions, there is little doubt that Arab public sentiment remains solidly against Israel.

Iran's backing of Hamas has certainly been more explicit than most, and with their President Raisi (re)asserting that Israel's end is inevitable, the warnings of an existential war - and Israel's most dangerous crisis since 1948 - seem justified. Iran's hotchpotch but infuriatingly slippery "Axis of Resistance" aside, Israel are now confronted with a very real dilemma on the ground, despite largely Dominating Hamas' irregular forces; according to the settler-colonial model of governance, Israel requires considerable manpower to pacify the natives, so to speak, which is not forthcoming. Worse, support for Hamas and the October 7 attacks remains remarkably high amongst the Palestinians themselves, with 75% expecting Hamas to eventually win the war in Gaza.

The vibes at the table are getting a little... hostile, and there's no chance of the Blues yielding their right to go first, at this point in time. With the U.S. Controlling Lebanon and Jordan (both 2/0) for now, the Ayatollah's roll of 5 is reduced to a 3, resulting in a nominal - if perhaps Pyrrhic - Team Blue victory in the Arab-Israeli War... for now, as Israel remains in their camp.


"If there were no Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect its interests in the region. The United States would have to go and invent an Israel."

- former U.S. Secretary of State, Alexander Haig
(repeated by Biden)

Israeli military prowess is of course in large part due to longstanding support from the U.S. (and by extension, Team Blue), a position that has thus far been firmly maintained by the Pentagon - if with concerns that the initial global support could soon erode due to Israel's heavy-handed response. Still, with all G7 countries (excepting Japan) coming out in support of Israel, and China together with Russia, Iran, South Africa and Brazil (including much of Latin America and the Global South) expousing views ranging from backing the Palestine cause to an uneasy neutrality, it is fairly easy to recognize the conflict as merely part of The Greatest Game that is Cold War II.

In this Game, then, Israel are simply coming under the attrition, diversion and irregular operations Zugzwang playbook that has been applied by Russia against Ukraine, with Team Blue unable to keep up their ammunition manufacturing output by all accounts, and this in a peer conflict in which sheer numbers and production tend to eventually prevail. Iran's threatening Israel with a possible one-on-seven is then mirrored on the global scale by Team Red's setup for a three (to five) front conflict, with Ukraine (European theatre) and Israel (Middle East theatre) well in progress, and Taiwan (3/1)/South Korea (5/2)/possibly the U.S. being telegraphed. If so, the obvious strategy would be to distract Team Blue from being able to coordinate a coherent response to multiple simultaneous flashpoints (whether explicitly orchestrated or not), and thereby unequivocally cement a transition to a multipolar world with Team Red bigwigs gaining their desired spheres of influence - which is equivalent to winning Twilight Struggle: New Moon.

This is then reflected by the resolution of Team Red's Terrorism, and the Event has Team Blue randomly discarding two cards - representing attrition and the loss of the peace dividend - due to Iranian Hostage Crisis being in effect from Turn 14, Action Round 5. Bibi and pals can't be pleased at losing SALT Negotiations, although a returned Middle East Scoring is probably a dead draw anyway. As it is, Team Blue has enough on their hands with Israel and Iran's Axis cooking up their own brand of Mutual Assured Destruction, hardly an empty threat with the former continuing to play coy about the Samson Option as their last resort, having already possibly invoked the Hannibal Directive to minimize leverage by hostage.

The Zoomer vs. Boomer divide presents itself again
(Source: kengan-manga.com)

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