Sunday Levity: Wars between nations and wars between gangs

Lacking the ability to appeal to higher authority

Thomas C. Schelling won the Nobel memorial prize for Economics in 2005 for his work on game theory. His book, The Strategy of Conflict, is considered a classic in the study of international conflict in the era of nuclear weapons. Here’s an extract:

Gang war and international war have a lot in common. Nations and outlaws both lack enforceable legals systems to help them govern their affairs. Both engage in the ultimate in violence. Both have an interest in avoiding violence, but the threat of violence is continually on call. It is interesting that racketeers, as well as gangs of delinquents, engage in limited war, disarmament and disengagement, surprise attack, retaliation and threat of retaliation; they worry about “appeasement” and loss of face; and they make alliances and agreements with the same disability that nations are subject to — the inability to appeal to higher authority in the interest of contract enforcement. [Thomas C. Schelling/The Strategy of Conflict]

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