A Pawn’s Concern

by Roman Skaskiw


     In his discussion of America’s strategic concerns throughout the world, Gary Kasparov suggested a strategy for American foreign policy in the Middle East, namely: “Attack!  Attack!  Attack!”

     Of course, he used milder language, saying “the potential to go after Iran and Syria” is a requisite of our three-and-a-half-year-old invasion of Iraq.  The particulars of this logic elude me.  Should somebody be asking about the requisites for invading Iran and Syria?

     Like Mr. Kasparov, I am a chess player.  In fact, I happen to be the president of my University’s chess club.  Unlike Mr. Kasparov, I am also a veteran. 

     While I have never played in the international circuit, or for the world championship, or against a super computer, I have played games with fellow service members in a safe house in the mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and, a year later, in my battalion’s forward operating base near Fallujah, and while chess offers rich metaphoric possibilities, my experiences have given me an appreciation for how staggeringly little chess has to do with warfare. 

     As one of the pawns who’d been thrust forward in our failed and failing experiment to transform the Middle East, and who may yet be forced to return to active duty (though for the moment, I am a civilian, and free to speak my mind), I’m appalled by the flimsy reasoning of the well-heeled hawks who seem to be selling us a broader war in Middle East with increasing enthusiasm.

     My concerns include Mr. Kasparov’s reasoning: “We might not know what works, but we have many fine examples of what doesn't,” and “Pre-emptive strikes . . . may or may not have been a good plan, but at least it was a plan.”  I’m terrified to think that this is the extent of our reasoning.

     Our wars in the Middle East may seem like a great game from a distance, but up close the consequences are infinitely higher. 

     If Mr. Kasparov is interested in “never losing sight of the big picture,” his discussion should include what is arguably the greatest cause of America’s eroded reputation in the Middle East after the war in Iraq: our policy toward the Palestinians.