Call of Duty Director Says U.S. Should Station Soldiers in Schools

Call of Duty Director Says U.S. Should Station Soldiers in Schools
The video game franchise and the U.S. government "are both the best in the world at what we do," says Dave Anthony, but only one knows what to do about it (Photograph by Treyarch/Activision-Blizzard Inc. via AP Photo)
Photograph by Treyarch/Activision-Blizzard Inc. via AP Photo

Dave Anthony, former writer and director for the megahit video game franchise Call of Duty, wants the U.S. government to explore stationing soldiers in schools.

“The threat now, the invasion, comes from within,” Anthony said Wednesday at a forum hosted by the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington where he is a fellow in international security. Anthony said the soldiers could operate like air marshals on commercial flights. “Imagine the concept of something like a ‘school marshal,’” he said. “Now these guys are U.S. soldiers who are in plainclothes, whose job and part of their responsibility is to protect schools.”

The Call of Duty author said he anticipated objections. “The public won’t like it, they’ll think it’s a police state,” he said. But, he went on, “All of these are solvable problems.” Anthony’s address, which was punctuated by videos depicting such future threats as a U.S. drone hacked by Iran and a hotel massacre in Las Vegas, included repeated exhortations to policymakers to learn from the examples of corporations and creative artists in selling potentially unpopular ideas. “When we have a new product that has elements that we’re not sure how people will respond to, what do we do as a corporation?” he asked. “We market it, and we market it as much as we can—so that whether people like it or not, we do all the things we can to essentially brainwash people into liking it before it actually comes out.”

Anthony repeatedly emphasized the magnitude of the domestic threat posed by Islamic State, the extremist group in Iraq and Syria. “It could be that you have 100 of these guys who may be on our soil right now, who may even be U.S. citizens, who could legally walk into whatever gun store they choose, buy some assault rifles, and start attacking soft targets,” he said.

Anthony has rubbed elbows with foreign policy veterans before. Call of Duty: Black Ops II, whose plot features hackers hijacking U.S. drones to assault Los Angeles and threaten China, was informed by meetings with experts who included Oliver North, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps who was a Reagan-era National Security Council staffer and Iran-Contra icon. Anthony recently told Foreign Policy’s Justine Drennan that North agreed to help because he’d seen that U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq “play the game sort of religiously.” They aren’t the only ones playing: A British ISIS fighter told the presenters of an ISIS podcast that being part of ISIS was “better than that game Call of Duty,” the BBC reported in June.

“I look at the U.S. military and government, ironically, as having some of the very same problems as what the Call of Duty franchise has,” Anthony told the crowd Wednesday. “We are both on top of our game. We are both the best in the world at what we do. We both have enemies who are trying to take us down at any possible opportunity. But the difference is, we know how to react to that.”

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