FP: On several occasions I referred to game theory’s Blackmailer Paradox, primarily in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but also the Iranian negotiations. Prof. Aumann received the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics for his work on this subject. His analysis provides an understanding of conflicts in general, but it particularly explains the core reason for the Arab-Israeli conflict continuing for 80 years without a sign of resolution in sight.
I mentioned before his paper on the subject: Game Theory and negotiations with Arab countries. But for those interested in a shorter summary here is a video presentation. There is some introduction to the game theoretic insights into war, which are then applied to the Arab-Israeli conflict at about 20:00.
Here are also some comments on the Blackmailer’s Paradox as it applies to the conflict:
Melanie Phillips: Israel and the Blackmailer Paradox
Evelyn Gordon: The Blackmailer’s Paradox
Solomonia: The Blackmailer Paradox
ShrinkWrapped: Islam and The Blackmailers’ Paradox
On the other hand here is an exchange in which I participated and agreed with others who, for various reasons, thought that game theory is not critical or adequate for understanding the Arab-Israeli conflict:
Augean Stables: What’s in a Game? Aumann on the Blackmailer’s Paradox
Since then I’ve changed my mind somewhat. I still think that one can understand the way the conflict is handled by the protagonists without resorting to game theory--indeed, Aumann himself in his Nobel Prize lecture said that he just codified common sense, for which he wouldn’t have awarded the prize--and it simplifies what are otherwise more complicated situations. But that is how theories are developed and this theory is very helpful in that it provides a sound and rigorous formalization of the core of the process and makes it more obvious and predictable. Formalizing common sense is hardly trivial: if it were, everybody would do it.