Steven Den Beste has an interesting post today in which he credits much of his understanding of military strategy and tactics with wargaming. As a formerly avid wargamer (geek!) myself, I found myself nodding my head in agreement. He cites several of my favorite games, from Go to the excellent Microsoft WWII simulation Close Combat (which I've been playing again lately).
One quibble, though: In his discussion of capabilities and intentions, Den Beste notes:
Iraq developed nerve gas probably some time in the late 1970's, and used it in combat several times in the 1980's, both against Iran and against the Kurds. American nerve gas is much more sophisticated than Iraqi nerve gas, but it's evident that Iraqi nerve gas is more dangerous because Iraq has demonstrated the willingness to use it.
...but in an analysis of capabilities and intentions, it's obvious that Saddam Hussein has demonstrated his willingness to use chemical weapons against opponents incapable of responding in kind. During the Gulf War, Iraq was probably at its peak of weapons of mass destruction capability, and even went so far as to fire Scuds at Israel--yet those missiles did not contain nerve gas or biological warheads. The reason is simple--he may have had the capability and perhaps even the desire to do so, but he did not have the ability to survive the massive retaliation such a gesture would provoke. Whatever Saddam's capabilites or intentions today, he has no better ability to survive such retaliation, and simply asserting that he's some kind of mad dog doesn't prove that deterrence doesn't work on him.
Update: Den Beste has a new post responding to an email raising the same question.