Since this week is on nukes, and the most recent Nobel laureate won for his work on game theory...Here is something to "bake your noodle."
What should be our strategy in regards to Iran's development of nuclear weapons?
Everyone remembers the prisoners' dilemma, and in case you don't here is a quick recap.
When the US and USSR were deciding on whether to cheat on nuclear weapons disarmament (remember SALT?), this a reasonable example of the payoffs each country faced. (C stands for cooperate and D for defect)
United C 3,3 -3,10
States D 10,-3 -1,-1
Given that the USSR is going to cooperate, the US should... Defect because 10 is better than 3
Given that the USSR is going to defect, the US should... Defect because -1 is better than -3
This implies the U.S. should cheat and build nukes regardless of which strategy the Soviets pursue. But does this same set up work for US and Iranian relations?
Here the set up is different...
In the C,C cell (US cooperates, Iran defects) everybody gets something out of the deal whoopee. Payoff is 4,4.
C,D We sign treaty and the US says be a good boy to Iran. And then Iran screws us. They have nukes, and we don't have a way to stop them. We take it. In addition, they can have a much more aggressive foreign policy -5, 10
D,C The US invades and they don't have weapons or a program. Iraq redux if we're lucky. Domestic and international community is pissed. Iran likely becomes a long term problem. -3, -3
D,D The US and Iran both try to undercut each other, we invade but they were screwing us and had plans to use 'em. 10, -5
United C 3,3 -5,10
States D -3,-3 10,-5
Given that Iran is going to cooperate, the US should...
Cooperate because 3 is better than -3
Given that Iran is going to defect, the US should...
Defect because 10 is better than -5
The prisoners' dilemma has a equilibriumlibruim, that makes policy choices easy, ie defect. But in the case of Iran, there is no cleequilibriumibruium.
So given those outcomes, the new question is how likely is Iran to cooperate?
Even if we assume they are rational, are they believable?