Name: Tim Kane
A Game Theory Review of the Neocon/Israel problem is most disturbing:
The overlooked and most troubling aspect of the Israeli/Neocon phenomena is the fact that Neocons benefit from extremism. Moderation and rational policies are going down the tubes in a self feeding frenzy of extremism begeting the need for more extreme policies untill we end up in tyranny. And extremists on both sides cooperate to keep extremism going at the expense of moderates.
All of this is best understood through the eyes of Game Theory:
Most lay people were introduced to Game Theory by the movie "A Beautiful Mind," a story about the mathematician John Nash who's work provided proofs for certain aspects of Game Theory. The major concept behind Game Theory is explained in simple language in a seminal work titled "The Evolution of Cooperation" by Robert Axelrod, an economist at University of Michigan. Axelrod asks, then answers, the question, "When (under what conditions) does it pay cooperate?" In short cooperation is a rational response when two egoist (parties) are in a prolonged game (relationship) with an indeterminable end.
Axelrod demonstrates that cooperation will often break out (and is a rational response) under these conditions between two parties, even when they do not communicate, even when they are hostile to each other, even between species in nature. Using a simple game scenario, he then asks the question, "What is the second best strategy to cooperation under these conditions?" The answer is the similarly simple "tit-for-tat" strategy which often will lead parties back to cooperation. Another and very important finding is that if one knows that a game will end (that is if one can foresee the game ending, even if it is many moves from now) it pays to stop cooperating immediately. Those who see their end coming are thus likely to be the first to end cooperation. (It is important to point out that Game Theory explains much about human behavior, but not all, ideology and belief systems can alter otherwise rational responses).
Game theory explains a lot. It explains why I can trust my grocer, or the person who cuts my hair, or a neighbor to not cheat me, but why I have to be guarded about someone selling me a used car: ongoing relationships encourage civility and cooperation, short term relations don't. It explains why religion can cause persons who might otherwise not be virtuous to be virtuous: relationships between each other and between the self and God don't end at death, without a determinable end, the rational reaction is to be civil, cooperative and virtuous. It explains why term limits have spawned animosity in my state of Missouri's state politics: All politicians know that there is a future determinable end to their relationship in the legislature, so their is little reason to cooperate.
Game Theory also explains why Mutually Assured destruction theory in the cold war facilitated detente: Since neither party could prevail against the other party, and both parties rationally pursued survival, it meant that both parties would be in a continuous relationship with an indeterminable end -thus bringing about cooperation and a lessoning of tensions. Game Theory also explains the animus of domestic politics characterized by the neocon movement: (Perhaps) they saw their (near) end (extermination) in the 1964 election - facing termination they abandoned civility (cooperation) in political discourse and started playing an extremist game of elimination or hegemony over their opponent (a hallmark of arriving at this point is when one suddenly characterizes the enemy as Evil [singnaling a desire to terminate] [as Grover Norquist has of the Democrats], and reacts by going into a fundamentalist world view).
Game Theory also explains why hostility breaks out or can't be solved: In the Israel/Palestine situation - events are being driven by extremists (meaning end game strategists) that want to eliminate the other party. In fact extremist on both sides seem to be cooperating to eliminate moderates, as when an extremist Israeli Jew killed Prime Minster Rabin. Worse, in the Israeli/Palestine situation we get little to no news on the active efforts there towards nonviolent, civil disobedience and moderate efforts at peace that are currently going on both sides (following the Gandhi/Martin Luther King model for peaceful nonviolent change). There are sizable numbers, if not majorities, on both sides that seek a rational Game Theory accommodation, sizable because this is a rational approach to the conditions there. The lack of news coverage of the nonviolent civil disobedience movement there implies that extremists are emplaced in the establishment, blocking awareness: nonviolent civil disobedience's power is the appeal to a broad, almost universal, collective conscience. If it is denied publicity it cannot succeed - condemning the participants to a bloody "tit-for-tat" outcome.
The most frightening thing is that extremism is in Bush's best interest - as demonstrated by Cheney's "Vote Bush or Die" platform. We see now that Putin is leaning towards this same position. Create war to generate job security. It seems there are no reasonable problems to deal with real issues today. Just a fanning of the flames of extremism. Most troubling - nothing for the white rabbit to do but run and hide in a very deep hole and pray for rain to put the flames out.