via DK, we get [drum roll] ...
The creators have opened a thread on a Board Game Geek forum, where a storm has subsequently blown up [you might want to choose another metaphor - Ed] in that little tea-cup. Amongst some sense-of-humour-failures of positively United-Statesian proportions, there is a serious charge of moral equivalence in respect of some of the material on the website. Aaron Silverman writes (second comment from bottom):
I'm not offended by a satirical game, even if it's in poor taste.
However, I do find some of the material posted on your website to be thoroughly ignorant and offensive. If you don't understand the difference between the attack on Fallujah and the 9/11 attacks (regardless of your general opinion of the war in Iraq) then I can only say that I pity you.
Andy (one of the creators) responds thus:
I don't want to get TOO much into a political debate here, because I believe it's largely explained on the website, but drawing a parallel between a sanctioned military act which results in the fore-known deaths of innocents and a non-sanctioned, terrorist, act which results in the same is not mere sophistry. There are many attrocities committed in this world and many would be called acts of terrorism, were it not a recognised state power committing them. I think this is a totally valid and debatable argument.
I don't. This is an attempt to suggest that the causing of any and all deaths of civilians is illegal. It is simply not true because it is simply not sensible. This argument leads DIRECTLY to the situation where party A deliberately hides amongst civilians so that party B either cannot attack or gets the blame for the collateral damage. It would not be in party A's interest to do anything else. Result: all parties hide amongst their own civilians and, because nothing has been done to address the reason why the two sides are fighting in the first place, BINGO: MORE civilians get killed.
The Geneva Conventions are perfectly clear on this. It is party A's responsibility to ensure that it does not endanger civilians in the area in which it operates. If party B attacks and civilians die, the blame lies squarely with party A. Party A is thereby incentivised to protect its own civilians - or it would be if Party A gives more than a flying f*ck about civilians' welfare, something that cannot be assumed in all cases.
Thus, the difference between
... a sanctioned military act which results in the fore-known deaths of innocents and a non-sanctioned, terrorist, act which results in the same ...
is the existence - or even intelligence suggesting the existence - of a legitimate military target.
Let us assume, just for the sake of argument, that our board game creator believes either that a) the Twin Towers represented a legitimate military target for ... um.... the Taliban? - OK maybe he doesn't believe this - or b) that there were no legitimate military targets in Fallujah. We are already in total moonbat territory here, but even with this assumption, there are still crucial differences between our two cases, differences which I submit are not
If we take him at his word, that word being "sanctioned", then we have an accountable, elected politician or senior officer who can be identified and hauled over the coals. Further, where the second case would be an act of terrorism, the first would be a war crime. There are mechanisms for dealing with war crimes and chains of command that allow the decisions to be traced and individuals prosecuted. These mechanisms act as a strong disincentive for individuals to commit the crimes in the first place - even in the heat of battle and despite the hideous pressure under which our troops operate. Dealing with terrorism is, well, a little trickier. Maybe that's the whole point of the board game, let alone the "war on terror".
P-G Verdict: This would appear to be moral equivalence. My manifesto is pretty clear on the sentence to be handed down here. I am willing to hear a plea bargain though. A complimentary copy of the game might persuade me of the merit of the accused's legal argument...