Game Theory and the Clash of Civilizations

An interesting attempt to apply game theory to the conflict between Islam and the West. Many Western leaders seem committed not only to avoiding retaliation but to responding to defection on an opponent’s part with forgiveness and even more extensive cooperation. Let’s call such a strategy flaccid. Christians with the attitude I spoke of yesterday seem to view flaccidity as ethically required. But the problem is obvious: strategies without retaliation lose. The thought seems to be that, by setting an example, one can induce an opponent to adopt a nice and even flaccid strategy. But that requires the opponent to abandon voluntarily a strategy that’s winning in favor of a strategy that yields a draw. An opponent might be willing to do that if the fruits of cooperation are large enough. The difficulty, when it comes to Islamic radicalism, is that what Westerners view as fruits Islamic radicals view as decadence. If the only fruit the opponent is interested in is your submission, prospects for getting the opponent to change strategies voluntarily are dim.

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