Robert Aumann describes why calls for peace result in greater warfare.

Calls for peace signal weakness. A pro-war party will become more aggressive, knowing that the pro-peace party will back down. Robert Aumann is a Nobel-prize winning game theorist, if you are not familiar with him.

He advises Israel to show greater commitment in the face of its adversaries.

Roadmaps, capitulation, gestures, disengagements, convergences, deportations, and so forth do not bring peace. On the contrary, they bring war, just as we saw last summer. These things send a clear signal to our “cousins” that we are tired, that we no longer have spiritual strength, that we have no time, that we are calling for a time-out. They only whet their appetites. It only encourages them to pressure us more, to demand more, and not to give up on anything. These things stem from simple theoretical considerations and also from straight thinking. But it’s not just theory: it has been proven and re-proven in the field over thousands of years. I returned today from a trip to India, where we heard about historical stories that illustrate the same. Capitulations bring about war; determination and readiness bring about peace. Ladies and gentlemen, we must tell our cousins that we are staying here. We are not moving. We have time; we have patience; we have stamina. Understand this and internalize it. And we must not simply say it to our cousins but feel it within ourselves. This and only this will bring peace. We can really live in peace and unity and cooperation with our cousins. But only after they understand and internalize that the Zionist state will be here forever.

Here’s an analogy:

Take a game of Chicken. Two cars run at each other. The loser is the one who turns away first. Each agent has two strategies – Turn or do not turn. If neither turns, they crash.

Here’s the payoffs for agents A and B:
Turn/Turn = 0,0
Turn/No Turn = -2,2
No Turn /Turn = 2,-2
No Turn/No Turn = -5, -5

Neither strategy (turn or no turn) dominates over the other. There is no natural equilibrium in the game where both players will settle on a single strategy.

A Risk Adverse agent may believe that the “turning” strategy is superior, but a Risk Acceptant agent will refuse to turn and win. A risk adverse player actually narrows his possible payoffs to 0 and -2. He eliminates any possible chance of winning.

Thomas Schelling demonstrated that steadfast commitment to a single strategy improves your odds of winning. If player A reduces his probability of turning to 0%, then Player B will have no choice but to turn.

A decised to never turn, no matter what Player B does. A does so in a way that B understands (e.g. throwing the steering wheel out the window). Player B makes a rational choice based on the two remaining outcomes: a -2 outcome if he turns, or a -5 outcome if he refuses to turn and crashes.

B is rationally forced to turn, so Player A always gets a payoff of 2 and B always has a payoff of -2. Without commitment, Player A would face worse outcomes.

Diplomatic Negotiations must be backed up with credible threats. They provide an “escape” from conflicts of interest. If you desire a diplomatic response more than a military response, you are signaling weakness. This weakness erodes your position at the negotiating table. A pro-war party will make greater demands and will become more belligerant. They gain greater payoffs by reducing the probability that they will accept a diplomatic peace settlement.

So the more a pro-peace party requests peace, the more belligerent the pro-war party becomes. On the other hand, two pro-war parties have a greater probability of diplomatic settlement. It works like the game of chicken.

Diplomacy is asymmetrical, so power and commitment will determine the end result.

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