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Tobin Harshaw

US Could Defend Taiwan From China — at Great Cost

A war-game exercise showed heavy casualties, but ultimately a victory for the allied forces of Taipei, Washington and Tokyo.

An island unto themselves.

An island unto themselves.

Photographer: Sam Yeh/AFP

The phrase “war game” has always struck me as a particularly unfortunate oxymoron. War isn’t Dungeons & Dragons, and any language that takes away from its absolute horror only makes it more likely. (And don’t get  Dr. Strangelove started on “nuclear game theory.”)

That said, massive military operations, from the failure of the Spanish Armada to the success of D-Day, are largely about variables, including luck. And one of the best ways humans have to look at variables and luck is to play games, over and over, until a pattern emerges. That’s what a small team at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington did recently with a very scary and all-too-possible scenario: a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.