The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Bolton needs to re-read Arms and Influence

August 9, 2009

Sandeep Baliga of Cheap Talk channels Schelling to point out how skewed John Bolton’s understanding of foreign affairs is:

…John Bolton thinks every international interaction is the game of Chicken, not just the recent episode with North Korea. Schelling thought a lot about Chicken and here is what he said in Arms and Influence in 1966:

Is a Berlin Crisis…..mainly bilateral competition in which each side should be motivated mainly towards winning over the other? Or is it a shared danger – a case of both being pushed to the brink of war – in which statesmanlike forbearance, collaborative withdrawal and prudent negotiation should dominate?

He classifies the Cuban Missile Crisis as the second sort of game and the Hungarian Uprising as the first. He points out that it can be hard to tell which kind of crisis a country is involved in. So, we have different games and uncertainty about the game one is playing. This is level of knowledge from 1966. It disappeared in the last 40 odd years. Hopefully it can be recovered.

Elections do have consequences, and we are lucky for that.

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Petti is Associate Director of Insights and Analytics at Alexion . Previously, he served as Lead Data Scientist in the Decision Sciences group at Maritz Motivation and a Global Data Strategist and Subject Matter Expert for Gallup.