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Game Theory of Neocon Strategy

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.
Head NeoCon Theorist Grover Norquist
Head NeoCon Theorist Grover Norquist
Name: Tim Kane
Hometown: St.Louis
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.

homepage: homepage: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3449870/

Sneaky underhanded defeatist propaganda 12.Sep.2004 23:11


Up until the last paragraph, the article is simply misinformed. Then it becomes a vicious lie.

Game-theory explains nothing.

A game-theorist states some simple rules, some trivial initial conditions, then reveals to the breathless multitudes some obvious conclusions. It is actually difficult to choose rules complicated enough that the average cretin cannot see the conclusions immediately.

One rarely sees a scenario with more than two actors. The rules are always rigged to favour cheaters. Game theory simply cannot encode situations where the various parties evaluate the 'goods' differently or where the evaluations are not simple and clearly known. Despite the short-comings and biases, people frequently create ingenious ways to cooperate.

In short, game theory is an poor model of reality.

Game theory is useful for impressing the gullible. It is also useful as a pseudo-scientific patter to distract attention from fraudulent evaluations of real goods. It is frequently used to trivialize complex problems, in ways profitable to the experts' masters.

I mentioned the last paragraph. The last sentence actually.

First note that game theory is not mentioned. Game theory is, in fact, prominent in every paragraph, except the first and the last. There is good reason for its absence.

Game theory says nothing to explain why 'extremism' is so useful for Bush and Putin and the rest of those thugs. To shout loudly about the evils ones on the other side of the hill, and to kill anyone who hesitates to join in, is the second oldest principle of government, right after to carry a bigger stick than anyone else.

Nor does game theory say we should hide in a hole and pray for rain. Indeed, the single-minded zealotry of its perpetrators to disparage cooperation should be understood rightly to say the opposite.

The article uses game theory as a pseudo-scientific patter to distract attention from the lies in the last paragraph.

Don't hide in a hole with your naked butt in the air.

Don't pray for someone to stop Bush and Putin from screwing you.

Go out and find a way to cooperate with everybody you meet.
And with the folks on the other side of the hill, too.

moderation in pursuit of the truth 13.Sep.2004 00:35

is no way to learn anything about the real world

"Moderates" have no ideas of their own. Their political careers are based on fence-sitting and playing other players off each other. Accordingly moderates couldn't exist, or do what they do, without "extremists," which is what they call anybody with actual ideas and goals of their own. If today's "extremists" disappeared, some moderates would discover their positions were suddenly no longer considered "reasonable," and the others would scramble toward the middle to try to maintain their positions as swing players.

Moderates like game theory because public policy is just a game to them. They're scoring points, and we're the pieces.

Moderates are easily confused about the actual state of the world because they don't care what's really going on outside the game room. They depend on "extremists" to do all their research and argumentation for them, and then they just count pages and noses to determine what might plausibly be considered a "reasonable" position in the middle somewhere.

The big problem with this is when some of the "extremists" stop caring what's really going on as well. It's a lot quicker, cheaper, and easier to make up and propagate Big Lies than to refute them. When BushCheneyMurdoch decide Osama Saddam Hitler is sending unmanned nuclear aircraft to blow up your mama in the morning, and sane rational people say no, none of that is true, and "moderate" politicians then conclude that well, probably HALF of it must be true -- Our Dear Leaders wouldn't just MAKE SHIT UP, would they? -- the whole system breaks down.

The neocons do their homework 13.Sep.2004 08:56


One would have to conclude from the article posted and from the replies that there is no place in the world for *reason* or *reasonableness*, let alone truth. Moderation is just fence sitting between extreme camps? I'm not buying that.

Apparently, anyone with ideas (the extremist) can just put those ideas out there, and if they have the power and the psychological savvy-- as the neocons do: they have internalized the most pragmatic tools of NLP--  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-Linguistic_Programming -- then their "ideas" become truth.

Well, we will see.

If only death and destruction passes for reality, then human beings have exceeded their evolutionary potential and will be consigned to the evolutionary trash bin.

If cooperation and the ability to find a common vision are really a significant part of the human psyche, then another world is possible, and the future holds something other than Gingham Dog and Calico Cat.

There is no a priori way of choosing between these scenarios-- we just have to pick one and go with it. I am betting on cooperation with the Other as being a stronger principle in human behavior than destruction of the Other. That is what I call "hope." Derek Jensen calls hope a "narcotic." I disagree.

In the end, the great marketplace is the world itself-- the sun will go on shining, with or without people.

A herring by another name 13.Sep.2004 22:24


Inventing a trivial slander and calling it "moderate" is the same as inventing a trivial theory and calling it "game". Both are attempts to distract people from the fact that behind all the the shouting and arm-waving there is no substance.

cute use of language 14.Sep.2004 20:51

A in English, D in reality

"reason" is very different from "reasonableness"

reason = original research, observable facts, skepticism, critical thought

reasonableness = politeness, going along to get along, not rocking the boat too much, being nice

they're not the same thing ... clearly they're not really related at all

"explain your reasoning" means tell me how & what you think

"be reasonable" means c'mon, just go along with what I think, I've got more juice than you & unity is more important than standing up for your own conclusions

everybody who ever "resigned in protest" must have had a compelling REASON

nobody who ever resigned in protest was "being reasonable" by doing so