In January 1864, some strangely dressed men with odd accents arrived in the camp of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, whose troops had been reeling from shortages of arms and supplies. They demonstrate a new weapon – an amazingly high powered accurate “repeater” rifle – and offer it to Lee.
He accepts. And the arming of his troops with AK-47s brought to him from 2014 changes the course of the Civil War. As the reports read, “With the new weapons, the South wins the war and history is changed.”
In the genres of alternative history and science fiction, there is no greater example of a “game changer” that this example in Harry Turtledove’s novel “Guns of the South.” So today, perhaps with a nod to this high benchmark, we hear again and again the term “game changer” to refer to weapons or actions in the ongoing bloody fighting in Syria.
So let us ask now, and let us be clear: What really constitutes a game changer? How many times can the game changers change the game? When do they cancel each other out? And are they really game changers, or are we once again latching onto a catchy phrase that is rapidly becoming a cliché because of ease of use and needing little thought?
Here is what we have in the last few weeks.
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