What War Games Really Reveal

A war game simulation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., April 2023 Last January, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives created a special committee to examine the economic and military challenges China poses to the United States. Mike Gallagher, a Republican representative from Wisconsin who is one of Washington’s most vocal China hawks, was an obvious choice to lead the panel. For the past year, Gallagher has used the committee to sound the alarm on China and rally support for new measures that could hinder Beijing in its competition with the United States. In his quest to build political consensus around a tougher approach to China, Gallagher (and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Raja Krishnamoorthi) has employed one particularly effective tool: the war game. In April, Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi convened a bipartisan group of lawmakers to spend an evening playing a war game that simulated a conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan. In Gallagher’s opening remarks, he said he hoped that playing the game would impart “a sense of urgency” and demonstrate “that there are meaningful things we can do in this Congress through legislative action to improve the prospect of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” Players were asked to act as advisers to the president, recommending diplomatic, economic, and military responses to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. These members of Congress gathered around a campaign map, their foreign and domestic moves adjudicated by a war-gaming facilitator from a Washington think tank. Their goal was to deter China, represented by a team made up of think-tank staff members. According to Gallagher, the game revealed that the United States needed to “arm Taiwan to the teeth”—a strong endorsement for a multibillion-dollar package of Taiwanese military aid that his China committee was considering at the time. Since […]

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By Donato