Dangerous Minds

As a follow-up to the last blog post about “Game Theory” and how it plays into the upcoming talks between the United States and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program, one should reiterate the basic assumptions of game theory. For one, the assumption is that both sides are rational in their decision-making. Rationality can perhaps be defined as acting in one’s own benefit and interests. The other basic assumption is that interactions between the two sides are strategic, in the sense that the interactions between the two sides are aimed at prompting the best outcome possible, or the optimal outcome.

            The United States perhaps sees Iran as something other than a rational actor. But is that merely a case of self-projection? Rather than perceiving Iran as a non-rational actor, what if the conventional thinking on this matter can be flipped on its head and seen as being flawed all this time? What if the United States is the one that is actually the non-rational actor in this matter? Iran actually has a decision and a strategy going into these talks. But does the United States actually have a national interest to be represented in these talks? And does rationality, science, and strategy actually factor into the psyche of the Biden Administration as they approach these talks with Iran on November 29? Flea market haggling over centrifuges and microchips does not amount to a strategy aimed at an optimal outcome in the long run.

            Moreover, the track record shows that the United States has done a lot of irrational things throughout the course of its global hegemonic period, which spans over the course of the last twenty to thirty years. Would a rational actor consider spending trillions of dollars and killing thousands (if not millions) of people on a failed policy which led to the creation of ISIS in the heart of the Middle East, the rise of Donald Trump, the resurgence of Russia, and the rise of China a rational act? Also, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and India all have nuclear weapons as non-P5 countries. What is it that makes Iran less rational than the other non-P5 countries that have nuclear weapons?

            In essence, American policy towards Iran is hostage to a small foreign lobbying group. If America were to devise a policy towards Iran on its own, perhaps there would be little to no friction between the United States and Iran. Thus, having your policy hostage to a foreign lobbying group that represents foreign interests is not the rational, scientific, and strategic route. As a result, it is the Iranians who are approaching these talks in a rational, scientific, and strategic manner, not the United States. Furthermore, Iran has the upper hand going into these talks because of its resolute decision-making and strategy, whereas the United States is left in a position where rationality, science, and strategy are absent after two decades of corruption and war crimes, in addition to having its foreign policy hostage to a foreign nation.

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