March 21, 2005

Game theory clinic  

This angry piece by Georg Mascolo suggests that the mechanism for naming the head of the World Bank (as well as the IMF, apparently) may be changed as a result of the Bush administration's recent selection. I don't know if the threat has any teeth, but it certainly portends a move away from international institutions by the Europeans. Unilateral action is getting to be the order of the day, and that's not a good thing for the United States, no matter how much you hate the idea of international cooperation.

Meanwhile, here are some striking thoughts about nuclear proliferation in a unipolar world.

MORE: Just to clarify in response to a comment below: I wouldn't say that I agree with Waltz's ideas. But I do like the insight that the dynamic between a single superpower and the rest of the world may have implications for the way we look at questions like nuclear proliferation. From the DPRK's point of view, nukes have brought more stability (security-wise) than anything else they could have done. A serious model has to take that kind of motivation into account and try to address it (rather than just label all proliferators evil).

More and more I'm thinking about nuclear proliferation in the same way I think about the drug war. The unlimited financial resources of the drug war (ie due to addiction-powered demand) aren't there, but the incentives to proliferate nukes are nevertheless enormous, especially in a world where the single superpower has demonstrated its predilection for invasion. The harder we push on proliferators, the bigger the incentives to find some nukes to hold us at bay.

barrett  {March 21, 2005}

I can't agree with the nuclear proliferation article. If we've proven anything over our long past, its that when man makes something he uses it. If more countries have nukes, eventually someone's going to let them fly.

I do recognize that we're talking abut 50 year old technology here. Were the Chinese or Europeans able to keep the secrets of cannon-making away from their rivals so long? Did the English keep the longbow from the French for 50 years?

War is a struggle between offense and defense. Right now offense is way ahead of defense. I'd like for defense to catch up (though god help me if I can figure out any defense against nukes).

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