1979 – 1992
In an era of seemingly increasing Soviet hubris, the USSR reverted to old patterns of power politics by meddling in the affairs of Afghanistan—the battleground country in the “Great Game” rivalry between imperialist Russia and Victorian Britain. The Soviets considered Afghanistan part of their natural sphere of influence. However, when Soviet troops directly intervened in an Afghan power struggle and deposed the existing president, they greatly miscalculated the reaction of world opinion. Smarting from defeat in Vietnam by seemingly inferior forces, the Reagan Administration sought to make Afghanistan into an equal nightmare. Over a ten year period, the United States provided over $2 billion in assistance to the Islamic resistance or mujahideen in Afghanistan.
Time: Mid War
Removed after event: Yes
I almost always space Bear Trap. Note the crucial difference between Bear Trapping yourself and being Bear Trapped: when the US Bear Traps you, you usually just get out on the first discard, and nothing of value was lost. But when you Bear Trap yourself, you guarantee the US at least one set of back-to-back Actions, and possibly more. (Note also that when you Bear Trap yourself, the US gets to know in advance when you will be emerging from the Bear Trap.) There are simply too many things a strong US can do to you with a set of back-to-back Actions to risk self-Bear-Trapping.
There are exceptions however. Sometimes you have too many problematic US events in hand and the Bear Trap discard is the only way to escape. This is considerably more common than a US player needing to self-Quagmire, but still somewhat rare. A better instance is when your last two cards are CIA Created and Bear Trap and you can’t hold a card; here, Bear Trapping yourself is the only way to avoid DEFCON suicide, because by skipping your Action Round with nothing to discard, you are “holding” CIA Created to next turn.
Bear Trap has two main uses.
The first is to hope that the USSR rolls really poorly and gets stuck in the Bear Trap for an extended period of time. If they fail their rolls, you get to conduct back-to-back Actions, one of the Holy Grails of Twilight Struggle. The benefit of consecutive Actions is almost always immense: it can let you flip a battleground, get into an otherwise inaccessible region, set up a vital realignment, score a region undeservedly advantageously by temporarily breaking control, or a whole host of other possibilities.
Of course, the odds are against you. If you play Bear Trap and they successfully discard and roll, then nothing has really been accomplished, except you gave up a nice US event and probably so did they.
The real point of this is when you can tilt the odds towards you with Red Scare/Purge. Timed correctly, you can deprive your opponent of many Action Rounds in a row, and as a bonus, strand them with low Ops cards that they must hold in hand for next round. For example, if you headline Red Scare/Purge, and then spring Bear Trap halfway through the turn, they might have no 3+ Ops events left. In that case, not only can they not discard to Bear Trap and be forced to skip a whole bunch of Actions (allowing you carte blanche to take over the world), those low Ops cards stay in their hand through next turn as well. (If you are really lucky or sadistic, you can use SALT Negotiations or the luck of the reshuffle to grab another copy of Red Scare/Purge to do it all over again next turn …)
The second is to time Bear Trap so as to force the USSR to skip a crucial round. For example, you can play it as an AR7 play or headline, which causes the USSR to skip their AR1. This is not really as nice as when the USSR headlines Quagmire on you, though.
In general Bear Trap is worse than Quagmire. It doesn’t cancel NORAD, there are fewer “timing” opportunities for the US to play it, and there are more US events for the USSR to discard. Accordingly, I usually hold Bear Trap as US until I draw it with Red Scare/Purge, or some kind of opportunity presents itself. And if I still don’t have Red Scare/Purge by Turn 6 I will just play it for Ops, so the USSR at least has a chance of drawing it in the Turn 7 reshuffle. Without Red Scare/Purge, you would much rather add this to the USSR headache list than play it yourself.