Page 14 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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MAY 2013
was named to
magazine’s Hall
of Fame, alongside Monopoly, Clue and
Players representing seven European
powers at the beginning of the 20th
century forge and break alliances in
their bid to achieve world domination
in as many hours (or days, or years) as it
takes. Unlike most board games, there
are no elements of chance: no dice to
roll, no pointers to spin, no cards to
shufe. Te game relies solely on the
players’ strategy, cunning and verbal
Te death of its creator, Allan Cal-
hamer, on Feb. 28 presents an opportu-
nity to review Diplomacy and its impact
over the years. Calhamer developed
what was originally called “Realpolitik”
as a Harvard law student in 1954.
Not surprisingly, as
Te Foreign Ser-
vice Journal
pointed out in a November
2000 report (“When Diplomacy is Fun
and Games”), several generations of
FSOs have also been fans of the game.
During the late 1960s, it was even played
as part of some A-100 courses.
FSO William Armbruster used the
game at Embassy Kuwait during the
1991 Persian Gulf War to demonstrate
to less-experienced colleagues how
size and geography can afect a nation’s
choices. Tere are “few tools better for
issues that approximate zero-sum situ-
ations,” Armbruster told the
More than 300,000 copies of the
game have been sold, and it is also
played on the Internet. It has inspired
international tournaments and online
competition. Te game is now published
by Wizards of the Coast, which also
makes Dungeons & Dragons.
For its creator, Diplomacy was a labor
of love, inspired by a childhood fascina-
tion with a book of old maps of bygone
empires, a college class on 19th-century
Europe and an interest in world politics
and international afairs.
Born in Hinsdale, Ill., in 1935, Mr.
Calhamer attended Harvard University
on a scholarship. He majored in his-
tory, graduated cum laude in 1953 and
went on to Harvard Law School, but left
RENEE MONTAGNE: There’s no question you were a great
proponent of going into Iraq and getting rid of Saddam
Hussein. Ten years later, nearly 5,000 Americans troops dead,
thousands more with wounds, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis
dead or wounded; when you think about this, was it worth it?
RICHARD PERLE: I’ve got to say I think that is not a reasonable
question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was
necessary to protect this nation. You can’t a decade later go back
and say, well, we shouldn’t have done that.
— From a March 20 National Public Radio interview,
“Perle Looks Back on the Start of the IraqWar.”
before graduating. He lived for some
time at Walden Pond in veneration of
his hero, Henry David Toreau, and then
joined the U.S. Foreign Service, serving
briefy in Africa.
Mr. Calhamer left the Service after
his frst tour to join Sylvania’s Applied
Research Laboratory in Waltham, Mass.,
where he did operations research.
Uncomfortable in corporate culture,
he left Sylvania after six years and took
a job as a park ranger at the Statue of
In 1967, he married Hilda Morales,
and the couple settled in LaGrange,
Ill., Calhamer’s hometown, where he
worked as a postman for the next 21
years. On the side, he continued to
develop board games, like one described
by his daughter Tatiana Calhamer in
which players move through dimensions
of the space-time continuum, but those
were never brought to market.
“He was brilliant and iconoclastic,
and designed this game that’s played
around the world,” another daughter,
Selenne Calhamer-Boling, told the Asso-
ciated Press on March 2. Since Calham-
er’s death, e-mails had been pouring in
from fans around the world wanting to
convey how much the game meant to
them. But the messages were not at all
what she expected.
“I always think of it as such an intel-
lectual game because it’s so strategic,”
Calhamer-Boling said. “But what I’m
seeing over and over again in these
e-mails is: ‘I was a really nerdy, awkward
kid who had trouble relating to people,
but because Diplomacy required inter-
personal skills and required you to get
people to do what you wanted them to
do, that’s how I built my social skills.’”
Mr. Calhamer is survived by his wife
and two daughters.
—Susan Brady Maitra, Senior Editor