Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Many thanks to USIP (while it’s still there)

We’ll have a summary of the recent NDU Roundtable on Strategic Gaming up on PAXsims in a day or two, as soon as we’ve had a chance to mentally digest all the rich discussion (which continued in the halls, over pizza, by email, and in other ways long after the event was officially finished). In the meantime, however, I thought I would post a quick thank-you to the United States Institute of Peace for acting as gracious host for the event, and for sharing their extensive experience with simulation as a teaching and training tool. Thanks are due too to the NDU Center for Applied Strategic Learning for organizing this and previous roundtables. It is always a pleasure to be in a room extracting wisdom from so many experienced professional gamers.

Unfortunately, it would appear that USIP’s very existence is once again under threat from continued budget politics in Washington. Sheesh.

After all, why would the US need a nonpartisan research and training institute that brings together expertise from the academic, military, diplomatic, aid, legal, NGO, media, business, and other communities so as to strength capacities to manage and resolve international conflict? It’s not like the US ever gets involved in counter-insurgency and stabilization operations; has global interests that span fragile and conflict-affected countries; is concerned about terrorism; is ever called upon to exercise global leadership in the face of war, humanitarian disasters or human rights abuses; has a $30b development assistance program that it wishes to spend wisely; or is the world’s top refugee resettlement country….

Side note to Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), who sounded the warning in the piece linked above: don’t make this a Democratic versus Republican issue, because it is neither accurate nor very helpful. After all, the last misinformed attempt to cut USIP’s budget was cosponsored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). And for those of you who didn’t follow the earlier debate on the issue some months ago, have a look back at Anthony Zinni’s take on it in the New York Times.)

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