The best American strategy is Napoleonic: Take advantage of the central position and concentrate forces on a single opponent at a time, most likely by first attacking the Euro-Socialized Medicine Pact. Fortress America often goes down to the wire, with the Americans clinging to a last-ditch enclave around the Great Lakes. If America doesn't surrender by Turn 10, it wins, though with three foreign armies on its soil it would appear to be a Pyrrhic victory at best.
The lesson of Fortress America? Obviously, never get involved in a land war in North America. But the most interesting takeaway from the game is that it is American history reversed. Americans are huge consumers of military history; just look at the lineup on the History channel. Yet the wars on U.S. soil -- the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War -- were fought by pre-mechanized armies over a small fraction of the country from Texas to New Hampshire. Modern U.S. military history is all about conflicts in other lands, from France and Germany to Vietnam and Iraq. How different it is to contemplate Kansas and Oregon not as suppliers of wheat and wood, or as red and blue states, but as strategic positions to be defended or abandoned.
Metaphor is an overused word, but here it's both intriguing and tragic. Fortress America is American fear stripped down to cardboard form. When the game first appeared in 1986, the country was still gripped by Cold War paranoia. Some 26 years later, things haven't changed as much as we might imagine. The rise of China, fears of an undeclared invasion by illegal immigrants, a sense that America's might is declining -- all these political narratives are very much at play. America was assaulted on 9/11, and since then Americans have been bombarded with messages that enemies -- be they al Qaeda or China -- wish to do them harm. Fortress America may be a game, but one need only to see the TSA airport checkpoints to be reminded that the real America has become a fortress.
Fortress America is built on the classic theme of America the Embattled, always threatened by Germans, or Soviets, or illegal immigrants. Fear of invasion is the byproduct of American exceptionalism: If you inhabit a shining city on a hill, somebody will want to take it from you.
Meanwhile, the remake of Red Dawn is scheduled to hit the big screen in November. The invaders were originally supposed to be Chinese, but have been changed to North Koreans to protect the film's prospects in the Chinese market. Ah, the times we live in. Happy July Fourth, everybody.