Monday, November 15, 2010

PeaceMaker Reflections: A Game translated to Reality

So tonight I got a chance to play the peacemaker simulation. I have to say, I really enjoyed the game. I thought it gave a broad view in the different options and actors all part taking in the conflict. Through playing the game, it illustrated quite a few important themes which I think serve to be true of the situation in general; the Israeli government's need to satisfy multiple blocs in the government in addition to the different sectors of the public, the P.A.'s internal struggles with Fatah and Hamas for power, the lack of an adequate taxation system in  Palestine, and the need to balance peace and security in Israel.

For both states, I had it on the "tense" setting.

Let me first start with my Israeli experience. At first glance, the Israeli PM already has more options available because of the development of Israel and a proper taxation system. Using social initiatives always bring your points with the public up. When responding to violence, I slowly learned that beefing up extreme security measures doesn't help the peace process. However, making smart use of police and prisoners are helpful. One of the main objectives first is to procure the support of the U.S. to help mediate. One also has to talk to the Palestinians and use cross-cultural initiatives; these are really key.

Let me talk about the different sectors of the population though. This is what I thought was the trickiest part to winning on the Israeli side. At first, I tried to really appease both the public and the settlers. This didn't work out too well; I eventually got kicked out of office. What I found out was the more I just focused on the P.A., aid, making the Israeli public happy with police, and disregarding the settlers, the game went well for me. The theme the game is trying to communicate is that for an Israeli leader to appeal to all parts of the government and still achieve peace is nearly impossible. In stead the leader has to be flexible and willing to make difficult choices and ignore a small but vocal segment of the population. By freezing settlements, I was able to get world support, eventually get the public's support, and finally achieved peace. So I guess the lessons are stay mainstream, ignore far extremists, pamper the public, and keep dialogue open.

Next I played as Palestine. Lets just say I had an 0-3, I got kicked out of office each time. I thought the Palestinian mode was much more difficult. There were less options, threat of losing power to factions, and most important, reliance on funding from outside sources. I couldn't implement any programs or security measures without outside funding. The Arab states, Europe, the U.S., and the U.N. would meet with me, but funding wasn't consistent.  Fatah and Hamas were gaining power because I couldn't provide for my citizens. Thus, more violence happened and it all went downhill.

Its important to note that these are the conditions President Mahmoud Abbas has to deal with. Without infrastructure, he cannot have an adequate tax system. Without taxes, he cannot have infrastructure for a state. It gave me greater insight into the peril of not having enough money to secure one's own population. That is why it is imperative to continue giving aid to Palestine. Without aid money, a two-state solution will dissolve and violence will continue. Perhaps with further infrastructure, the P.A. can do a better job in caring for its population, decrease the influence of Fatah and Hamas, and there can be a Palestinian state.

Overall I thought it was a great exercise which brought me into making decisions with real consequences. Sometimes you have to give a little, to get a little.

After watching Ted beat his first game in the time I tried 6, I was relieved to finally achieve peace as Israel. A great, and enlightening exercise.

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