The Politics of Risk

World politics is a lot like playing the board game Risk with your siblings. Some will play nice, some will plot and scheme, one will manipulate the others and slowly win... and a sore loser will stomp off, kicking the board over on her way out. Having three sisters, I've seen my fair share of epic battles.

Risk is a strategy board game of world domination where your armies must conquer the entire world to win. I've noticed there are 5 kinds of players of Risk, and strangely, the typologies describe pretty accurately America's ties with Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela.

The first kind of player is the Diplomat. This player doesn't stage their armies on key borders to protect their territory and to advance. They move them back a step, to show opponents nearby that they don't intend to invade, but will protect against an attack.

America represents this player. If the Diplomat proves timid and refuses to retaliate after individual opponents attack, they will soon be the feasting ground upon which all other players seek to expand their territories.

America is currently being tested by the four other types of Risk players. I call them:

  • Eurasia Dominator (Russia)
  • The Behemoth (China)
  • The Vassal (Venezuela)
  • Australasian Death Marcher (Iran)

The Eurasia Dominator, Russia, ambitiously tries to hold the largest, most reinforcement-rewarding territory in the game. The problem is, it's nearly impossible to conquer and hold early in the game. Players will actually stop fighting each other to prevent someone from getting the Eurasia territory.

The Eurasia Dominator generally hangs around causing trouble in that area until other players' reinforcements are too depleted from battling each other to stop him. Once he can hold the large Eurasia territory, victory is only a few turns away.

Russia aims to become an imperialist superpower again and wants to hold vast amounts of oil territories. Due to our unwillingness to drill domestically for oil and President Obama's premature alternative energy plans, Russia sees weakness in its former Cold War enemy. With America bogged down in two wars, Russia is moving boldly and unchallenged to consolidate power in their region to secure additional oil fields.

The Behemoth, China, builds its interests slowly and with heavy reinforcements throughout its territory and conquests. Their armies encroach slowly, deliberately onto a specified target. They're in it for the long haul, attaching themselves parasitically to an opponent and slowly consuming it. Losing to this guy is slow and painful.

China wants to become an economic superpower and sees an opportunity in America's need to sell its debt. Until Congress reins in spending and balances the budget, there will be no capped amount for American financial liabilities. It will continue to run until the nation is crippled.

China is consuming America through its debt. As the chief financier, China is now selling off holdings of U.S. debt as America is running deeper into the red. Dumping debt into a market unwilling to purchase it forces America to have to buy back its own debt by printing more money (monetization). Monetizing the debt inflates currency supply and devalues the dollar. This is causing the U.S. economy to shrink and in effect, China is "consuming" our economy.

The Vassal, Venezuela, is a weak player who either fought too much early on or who couldn't secure a whole territory. They are weak and have very few reinforcements. A Vassal pretty much does the bidding of the current winner to stay alive. He usually stays around by helping to take down his "Master's" opponents -- that is, until his usefulness is exhausted.

The Vassal cuts deals to hang around long enough to come in second place. He usually makes a nuisance of himself by attacking other embattled players. Vassals are the quintessential "dog pilers" and when the going gets tough for a player, they'll come out of the woodwork to attack.

Venezuela will dance with anyone that brings them to the (communist) party. Hugo Chavez is making nice with nearly every American enemy and appears to be willing to serve as a staging area for direct attacks on the US.

The Australasian Death Marcher is a weakened player, similar to the Vassal. He's the one who "kicks the board over" in defeat and ruins the plans of other players. Instead of doing the bidding of another player, he worms his way over to the smallest, easiest to defend, least rewarding territory on the board (Australasia) and builds his army.

Just as other players start to make their move, he combines his reinforcements into one big army and leaves a line of destruction across the board to disable players from earning troop bonuses for holding whole territories. He ensures his own defeat when doing so because he expends all troops in this last, vengeful act.

Iran, under Ahmadinejad, wants to hasten the emergence of the Twelfth Imam. To bring about this Armageddon, mass destruction and chaos must be created in the world according to Twelver Shi'as. So, naturally, they are developing weapons of mass destruction.

Iran is fighting a proxy war with America through Iraq. They are also securing nuclear weapons to hand off to terrorists and to vaporize Israel. It's hard to stop people like this because the threat of mutual destruction does not deter them. They're suicide merchants and they must be stopped from getting weapons of mass destruction because they will use them.

When you look past the U.N., diplomats, politics, political parties, taxes and all the mundane decisions and battles in every day life, you realize that we are still a continuation of thousands of years of civilizations:  Plagues, wars, and miraculous events; whole empires rising and falling. Genocide, oppression, starvation... all of these things are still going on today.

How have the tendencies of civilizations changed just because we're here? We've got cable internet, tv dinners, daycare, retirement plans and a false sense of security.  We seem not to be able to comprehend history past our own lifetimes.

What President Obama and many other Administrations fail to realize from a simple board game is that the politics of a nation should be pretty clear when taking into account the "end game." Winning or losing are the only two options.

In the grand scheme of things, an empire (or country) goes and goes until it has "lost" and collapses. Most countries today are trying to survive to fight another day by joining and becoming vassals of the U.N. and other world government alliances. International treaties are the "in thing" now, apparently.

Whatever happened to the days of "Peace through Strength"? America was a stabilizer in the world, as well as the freest nation on the planet. On the whole, we as a single nation "won." But now, America has sold its status as a superpower, for the assurances of living to fight another day as a vassal of a world government. Is this who we are now? And... to what end?

Andie Brownlow blogs at