“Tell Me How This Ends,” a war game released by the Truman National Security Project, begins with a message on the screen: “Intelligence now indicates that your red line has been crossed.” The game simulates several scenarios that might follow an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities with the game’s player taking on the role of the U.S. President. The title is based on David Petraeus’ words as the Iraq war began in 2003. Michael Breen, Truman Project’s executive director, believes the question should be asked once more, this time about Iran. “General Petraeus’ simple question is one that every leader should ask before committing U.S. troops to battle,” Breen said in a press release.
The game features distinct scenarios and potential consequences of an attack: high gas prices, rising military costs and civilian casualties. Former high level U.S. defense officials consulted on the game’s creation. Following every decision, your advisers, including secretary of state, national security adviser, and chief of staff, greet you with advice: proceed with caution, escalate, wind down your presence. Video reports from around the Middle East detail casualties and the Iranian response. Current oil prices and military spending per day are displayed on the side of your screen. Not surprisingly, no matter what the player’s decisions, the game doesn’t end well.
Stephanie Dreyer, Truman’s media relations director, hopes the game spurs: “an honest discussion of both the cost of war and the exit strategy from any military engagement in Iran.” Dreyer adds that: “policy simulations are very common inside the D.C. beltway and we wanted to bring that kind of experience to people across the country. It’s our goal to accurately simulate the choices a President would face during a military engagement with Iran and provide players with the choices and costs.” The organization will air two ads Monday evening on CNN, one before the presidential debate, and one afterward. Justin Ford, an Iraq war veteran, says in the ad: “There’s a lot of guys on TV, talking about a war with Iran, nobody can tell me how this ends. My friends and I think we deserve an answer.” Watch it:
In September, a bipartisan group of former U.S. defense and diplomatic officials published a report laying out some of the consequences of an attack on Iran. The report, which served as the basis for the Truman Project’s game, states:
“Serious costs to U.S. interests would also be felt over the longer term, we believe, with problematic consequences for global and regional stability, including economic stability. A dynamic of escalation, action, and counteraction could produce serious unintended consequences that would significantly increase all of these costs and lead, potentially, to all-out regional war.”
The Obama administration has repeatedly made it clear that a nuclear armed Iran is a threat to world security. Together with its European allies, the Obama administration has enforced several rounds of crippling sanctions against Iran. At this point, U.S., Israeli, and U.N. officials do not believe Iran has made the decision to pursue a nuclear weapon.