Bolivian War Crimes Against Llamas: A Review of Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands

“serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict” and “serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in an armed conflict not of an international character” – Rule 156. Definition of War Crimes, International Criminal Court

Oh…I’ve committed war crimes. While deployed to Bolivia as part of a shadowy SpecOps unit (Ghost Recon), I have shot, run over, and thrown grenades at an alarming number of Bolivian civilians and at least 6 llamas. The reason I was in Bolivia and raising hell is because a Mexican drug cartel, Santa Blanca, has become a pseudo-Bolivian government entity…the Bolivian government’s paramilitary forces, Unidad, are working with Santa Blanca. Bolivia is a narco-state in every way except in name. Bolivia is fucked up…and my team and I weren’t there to fix it…we were there to kick ass and take names…we were there to win. To win AG Session’s war on drugs…and avenge the Santa Blanca’s torturing and killing of an undercover DEA agent…my team and I deployed to and royally fucked up Bolivia…

Well this happened in a video game…Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands…and it was fucking glorious. It was glorious because the game is an almost unbelievably large open-world game that seems to be about 50km x 50km and the game makes the country of Bolivia come alive…for the record Bolivians have their cars and trucks blessed by priests because the fucking roads are so dangerous…curving paved roads quickly turn into muddy mountain llama trails. GRW replicates the dangers of Bolivia roads in such a way that I was unable to drive any vehicle no more than 50m before I had hit another car, a llama, a Bolivian civilian walking on the side of the road, a tree, a guard rail, or a dog (I only saw one dog in the game and I, of course, ran it the fuck over…naturally my PS4 controller vibrated and there was a distinct “thud” that all of us who have hit a dog in real life know so horribly well). GRW kinda feels and looks like what you imagine Bolivia is…mountainous…deceptively beautiful…and full of fucking llamas that run amok.

Sunrises, sunsets, rain, thunderstorms, and fog engulf and enrich the game. After the first few hours of game play (where you are basically learning how to play the game), you start slowly recognizing the details of this digital Bolivia…and start being astonished at how perfectly rendered it is. As recent as two years ago, games of this size, or at least games that attempted to be this “big,” would have had significant issues with rendering…distant objects like buildings or mountains would be muted or fuzzy…odd glitches would constantly remind you that you were doing nothing more than playing a video game that teased you with size but only gave you a few hundred meters of detailed “play area.” GRW gives you kilometers of play area. When flying or riding in a hijacked, helicopter…the distant mountains…and fucking power lines…are easily seen but rarely avoided. This game is a feast for the eyes.

Of course, it is a game that has gotten mixed reviews…and of course, the criticism of the game is the same criticism that all games receive that are large and filled with missions that require repeated tasks. “Game play becomes rote.” “After 10 story line missions, all other story line missions become boring and familiar.” Well of course…because it is a giant ass game that requires numerous missions that feel and look the same at times…it’s not fucking real…and the game has a finish line that some players drive for immediately. To get to that finish line, you have to follow the long story line…

But…if you want to really to enjoy GRW…recruit 3 of your best friends…travel to this digital Bolivia…suit up in your favorite private military company attire…arm yourself with your preferred rifle, sub-machine gun, and silenced pistol…and start fucking some shit up.

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This ^ is one of my favorite private military contractor outfits…it is Trinity from The Matrix…and she is a known war criminal with at least 5 llama kills and 15 assassinations (by grenade) of captured Bolivian POWs. You don’t wanna fuck with a woman that doesn’t bat an eye when killing a llama…trust me.

You don’t have to kill every cartel thug or Bolivian soldier you see…you can sneak up (or run up) to them…grab them in a choke hold and then…you can use them as a bullet shield…you can walk around with your own private hostage/POW…you can push their asses into the trunk of a car (after slamming the face into the car’s side-paneling of course)…basically you can do anything you fucking want…short of sodomizing them…but don’t think that my gaming BFFs and I didn’t laugh about doing that. The reward of taking and abusing prisoners vastly outweigh the punishment…which is the game “kills” you…and then you have to start whatever mission you were on…but only after you have killed too many civilians or prisoners. I have no fucking clue what number of wrongfully killed civilians and prisoners is…but I can say that I have only been “killed” for abusing the Bolivian people about 2 or 3 times. Trust me the reward of fucking Bolivia up outweighs some minor setback of having to restart a mission.

This cooperative game play (you know…you and your buddies fucking up Bolivia) is what makes GRW so splendidly stupid and childish. I would be lying if I said that my gaming BFFs and I played GRW in a manner that reflected our actual age…because in reality…we play like we are 12 year-old boys. We cackle, giggle, scream, and curse (like any 12 year-old boy does when he is alone with BFFs)…and all of us are over 40 and all pretty much decent human beings with jobs, families, and responsibility. GRW allows full grown men to act childish…and I guess I have just written a review for a video game that is basically a ringing endorsement for violence and committing war crimes against llamas…and yeah…because the fun in GRW is the violence…and the freedom to exercise that violence with little or no repercussion.

It is a game…we know it is a game…but if you want to bring out your inner Blackwater mercenary, circa 2007 Blackwater merc…then GRW is the game that lets you raise digital hell. GRW lets you shoot llamas in the fucking face…GRW lets you grab drug cartel thugs and kill them in ways that are primarily only limited to your imagination.

Here is a list of the war crimes my gaming BFFs and I have committed in GRW:

  • purposefully run over civilians on and near roads;
  • purposefully shot or threw grenades at civilians both outside and inside vehicles;
  • purposefully captured and executed prisoners with every weapon available;
  • purposefully captured prisoners, placed in a vehicle, and then destroyed the vehicle using grenades and plastic explosives;
  • purposefully captured prisoners, placed in an airplane or helicopter, flown the aircraft to a very high altitude and then jumped out of the aircraft with a parachute and then watched the aircraft fall and crash while still containing the prisoners;
  • purposefully captured prisoners, knocked them unconscious in the middle of the road and then watched the prisoners be run over; and
  • purposefully captured prisoners, knocked them out on a rail road track, and then waited for the train…the train then ran them over.

Like I said…your personal list of Bolivian war crimes is limited only to your imagination. What is unfortunate…like a lot of idiots…we felt the need to document our war crimes.

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The above photographic evidence shows me (in camouflage) and my BFF (code named HappyDingo) knocking out and placing drug cartel thugs and Bolivian military members on train tracks…naturally we hung around to see the train pass by. This is why GRW is a great game…you get to play in a big “sandbox” and do the shit you would never do in real life…war crimes be damned…this is fun.

*Note: The real government of Bolivia formerly protested the making of this game because they felt it depicted their country in a not-so-good way…they’re right.

Dysfunctional Strategy: Trump’s Foreign Policy

Captain Willard [Martin Sheen]: Hey soldier…who’s in charge here?

soldier: ain’t you?

Apocalypse Now

Low hanging fruit is the sustenance of anyone who is either professionally or personally driven to write. The low hanging fruit that has caught my attention over and over…especially in the past couple of weeks…is this growing narrative that Trump may actually be learning a little about international affairs and that his foreign “policy” platform of America First…that he campaigned on heavily…is starting to emerge. Stop…just fucking stop…regardless of those who work on US foreign and national security policy and their almost innate desire to find some sort of pattern within the chaos of Trump’s foreign “policy”…there is no policy…there is no strategy. There is no order in Trump’s foreign “policy”…it is just ever-increasing chaos.

Let’s pretend that you have 15 minutes with Trump to talk foreign policy…you might want to talk about intelligence reports, you might want to point out DoD concerns and studies on threats and near-peer competitors (Russia…China). You might talk about US treaties, trade agreements, and allies. This would be a wasted 15 minutes. If you realize that would be 15 minutes of wasted breath, you may choose to go academic on Trump. You might start talking in pedantic phrases and discuss the national security strategy (NSS) environment and the preferred process in which a NSS is developed, reevaluated, and then amended. Again…you just talked for 15 minutes and Trump is looking at you as if there is a dick growing out of your forehead. If you had 15 minutes and wanted to break foreign policy and NSS down for Trump you might resort to an oversimplification of US national interests…US national interests are the reason why you have to have a foreign policy and a NSS…and then you find yourself talking in simple terms and phrases.

The accepted standard for simplifying why nation-states do the shit they do is based on Terry Deibel’s Foreign Affairs Strategy: Logic for American Statecraft.

The national interests of the United States, indeed of any state, seem to fall naturally into four broad categories. [p.125]

Simply…and specifically…the national interests are:

  • physical security;
  • economic prosperity;
  • value preservation at home; and
  • value projection overseas. [p.126.]

All of these are basic and understandable concepts. Physical security means the nation, its citizens, its interests, its allies, and its infrastructure are secured from physical (and now cyber) attack and destruction. Economic prosperity means that the nation’s economy and the industries and services that provide America’s wealth is protected and nurtured in a manner that ensures profit and prosperity (ideally for all of the nation and not select individuals or industries). Value preservation at home is…and it is a little tricky at first to get…the concept that the governing political body defends and preserves the ideals that we, as a nation, identify as our values…the very things the Declaration of Independence espouses and the Constitution guarantees. Finally, value projection overseas means that we, as a nation, project our values and ideals through interaction with other nations and people…a perfect example is the ideal that the US promotes the concept of democracy abroad.

If you had 15 minutes to educate Trump, explaining why there is a need for a coherent foreign policy and a viable NSS may be the best route. Unfortunately, regardless of your 15 minutes of breaking complex shit into bite-able pieces of shit…Trump would still go forth and be completely tone-deaf on foreign policy and NSS.

Evidence of Trump’s inability to even remotely form a coherent and rational thought on foreign policy begins with the fact that there are individuals…smart foreign policy/NSS individuals that get more than 15 minutes of his time. SecDef Mattis and NSA McMasters are both very-well read and very-well educated on foreign policy and NSS. The mere fact that these two men have had multiple opportunities in the past 100+ of Trump’s administration to educate Trump and that he still fucks up every foreign policy issue is a testament to the horrifying fact that Trump has no fucking clue…and either he is purposefully ignorant or he is mentally unable to grasp foreign policy. A quick summary of some of Trump’s foreign “policy” statements and actions shows idiocy that masquerades as foreign policy.

  • Korea…North and South…Trump swaggers about (as does members of his cabinet) talking about dealing with North Korea if “China doesn’t.” Trump and cabinet make statements about deploying a US aircraft carrier strike group to show the seriousness of US resolve, when in fact, the strike group had not been deployed for that mission at that time. Trump then makes statements about South Korea needs to pay for the US missile defense system that protects it…then Trump meets with China’s president and claims that there is a common understanding…
  • Russia/Syria/NATO…Trump’s administration, campaign, and potentially his personal connection to Russian influence and blackmail is a developing story. Even without this cancerous and ever-growing stain on Trump…US foreign policy right now is a tossed boat among the rising waves close to a rocky shore. Trump says Russia will get out of Crimea and Ukraine…Trump talks about working closely with Russia on the Syria/IS issue…then Trump launches Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase…after informing the Russians of the attack…who in turn informed the Syrians. Within the last 24 hours, Trump has reiterated the idea that the US and Russia should and will start working closely on the Syrian issue. While Trump and his surrogates tell NATO to start paying their bill on defense of Europe…while handing…literally fucking handing…German Chancellor Merkel a fucking bill for what he says is the past and current amount Germany owes. With friends like us, who needs enemies?
  • Iran…Trump rattles his sword at Iran…yet continues to either ignore or accept Russian-Iranian ties…or in other words…Trump and his surrogates either prattle in bellicose terms about Iran and its nuclear weapon ambitions…or it is dead silent.
  • Trade/treaties…what trade deal or what treaty has Trump not promised to renegotiate? At what point did Trump come to the self-aggrandizing conclusion that is midnight musings on the “business” of foreign policy are a perfect substitute for decades of evolving US foreign policy?
  • Regional relations…Mexico pay for the fucking wall! Brazil, please give a good deal on a Trump Tower. Canada…your milk is spoiled and your lumber is full of termites…trade war muthafuckas! Fences make good neighbors as Robert Frost wrote…don’t be surprised when Canada and Mexico build their own fucking wall.

Of course, articles in the Washington Post may talk about Trump’s evolving or learning curve toward the new GOP conservative concept of isolationism and dubbed “America First.” If conservative foreign policy experts and analysts want to believe that Trump is learning how to be a president and that his latest actions are examples of him seeing the light…then I am perfectly fine with watching them fool themselves. If flag-waving, chest-thumping Trump voters want to believe that this jester of a man…this fool…is America’s champion in the post-Cold War world…then fine (but first I want to ask these voters what the fuck “post-Cold War” means…because I’m willing to bet a year of my salary that most cannot articulate the paradigm shift in international relations which was the result of the Soviet Union’s demise and the expanding stature in which the US found itself in the late 90s).

In the end, we will all…every American…be better prepared for a long line of national security crisis after crisis that is happening now and will continue to happen as long as Trump is making the final decision (NATO you’re fired! Russia…wanna try to be our apprentice?…oh you want America to be your apprentice?)…and as long as Trump is shadowed by a US military officer carrying the nuclear football…there will be no peace of mind…there will be no breathing room…there will be no reduction in stress.

Unfortunately, America (with, what is beginning to appear more likely every day, Russian assistance) has elected a complete and utter idiot as its president…a man who cowardly avoided military service…failed…repeatedly…at his life long profession of “business.” At 70+ years, an idiot doesn’t suddenly become a stellar student of international affairs…at 70+…an idiot remains an idiot. Trump is in charge here…he just has no ability to lead or learn how to lead. Don’t hope for anything better and quit believing it might get better…it isn’t going to get better. We.Are.Fucked.