Wednesday, December 06, 2006

In a Post-Diplomatic World

My generation sees a world our parents and grandparents are making increasingly post-this and post-that. We are skeptical about defining ourselves as beyond things past, like a frail old man or dissatisfied out-of-shape cubicle worker. We desire a firmer grounding.

Now there is a new term. The world has become post-diplomatic. (The official term is more respectable: transnational progressivism. But it means the same thing.)

The most important political distinctions are now about ideologies, not nations: Sunni, Shiite, European, Islamicist. In most political discussions, the term American is now about an ideology, not a nationality; the term Christian is about a political ideology, not a religious faith; the term democracy is about an ideology and no longer differentiated from a republic.

Nations can engage in diplomacy with nations, but not with ideologies. Ideologies are not accountable to diplomatic pressure. Thus tyrants say opposite things in different languages while being treated liked honest politicians, the U.N. is ineffective at shaping any nation's policies, and America follows "the Bush Doctrine".

Moreover, you can declare war on a nation, but must fight outside any conventions of war when combatting an ideology to promote other ideologies of democracy and well-being.

So, what should America do in a post-diplomatic world?

If we can no longer rely on support or strength from allies then we simply a single player in a tit-for-tat environment.

How do you beat the tit-for-tat strategy? As the saying goes, behave almost tit-for-tat but with a small and random chance of nuking the moon.

In other words, America needs to:
  • be very clear about describing its vital self-interests and how strongly it will fight to support each of these,
  • otherwise usually behave in a tit-for-tat manner,
  • with each tit-for-tat response have a public, random chance of a dramatic and disproportionate response.
These dramatic and disproportionate responses must be positive or negative, to match the corresponding tit-for-tat response. When offering in a tit-for-tat response, the president would describe the response and then roll some dice in a live broadcast. If dealing positively with an ally, maybe we would grant some special trade status or a lot of bonus foreign aid, just because of randomness. With dealing negatively with an enemy, maybe we would stop all our foreign aid for several years or help a third party conquer them, just because of randomness.

The idea is that tit-for-tat is a nearly optimal strategy, but can be improved by making use of human greed and fear.

This idea can be implimented through the procedures and rules of our republic. Politicians could determine which massive "carrots" and "sticks" our country would potentially use randomly, and how randomly they would occur, through their campaign platforms and in Congress.

Yes, this idea is deeply offensive to any ideals of fairness. Since World War II ended and significant regions were almost arbitrarily made into non-democratic nations, fairness has not been an option. Fairness is impractical until the U.N. is replaced by a union of only representative governments.

Aren't you glad our president is a cowboy and not a mathematician?

By the time my generation ages into political leadership, please leave us with a nicer political foundation than game theory.