In 1994, John Nash received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his original work on Game Theory. His story was adapted to film in 2001, when Russell Crowe portrayed Nash in "A Beautiful Mind". The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
In film and life, Nash is both brilliant and delusional. His genius as as a mathematician earned him fame "in game theory, differential geometry, and partial differential equations have provided insight into the forces that govern chance and events inside complex systems in daily life. His theories are used in market economics, computing, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, accounting, politics and military theory."*
Nash struggled with schizophrenia during his career. It is perhaps debatable whether his insight stemmed from his love for mathematics or his mental disease. Irrespective, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences recognized the value of his thinking to human knowledge.
Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize for Game Theory, which is described as follows:
Game theory is a study of strategic decision making. More formally, it is "the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers." An alternative term suggested "as a more descriptive name for the discipline" is interactive decision theory. Game theory is mainly used in economics, political science, and psychology, as well as logic and biology. The subject first addressed zero-sum games, such that one person's gains exactly equal net losses of the other participant(s). Today, however, game theory applies to a wide range of behavioral relations, and has developed into an umbrella term for the logical side of decision science, to include both human and non-humans, like computers. Classic uses include a sense of balance in numerous games, where each person has found or developed a tactic that cannot successfully better her results, given the strategies of other players.**
The salient points of Game Theory are these:
1. Cooperation for common interests produces greater outcomes than conflict.
The goal of negotiation is to achieve parity between the parties. The balance thus achieved may require isolating one or more points of mutual interest, and segregating these interests for future negotiations.
2. No better deal.
Game Theory suggests the time for ending conflict is achieved when the parties have maximized theirs gains. The strategy then shifts toward cooperation on those points in which the process has drawn a stalemate and thus there is no further chance for strategic gains.
Sometimes silence is in fact negotiation. No talk is a form of communication, but perhaps a form less pliable.
Negotiations assume many forms: direct, indirect, face-to-face, back-channel, multi-party, etc. It is mistaken to think there are no negotiations unless leaders are meeting in person. Leaders should meet after there is a significant break-through in parity between the parties, not customarily before then.
As stated, modifications of Nash's Game Theory have been utilized by politicians and the military to help resolve conflicts. There is no reason it cannot serve as the basis for resolving the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.
Consistent with Game Theory, I have long proposed segregating the Holy Basin on the premise that all parties win together or lose together. The Holy Basin is comprised of the City of David, Old City, and Mount of Olives and constitutes less than one square mile of territory.
The Holy Basin should be segregated as a special international regime under the supervision of an independent Governor. The Holy Basin is unique to the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Because of its religious appeal, it should be de-politicized and preserved for its advantages to the faithful of all three religions.
The goal of a shared space is a model of cooperation as an alternative to confrontation.
According to Nash's Game Theory, the Holy Basin would lose its appeal as a source of conflict if the parties agreed to share it.
Apart from the religious arguments favoring the segregation of the Holy Basin, Nash's Game Theory offers an entirely secular rationale for it as a means of resolving at least one major issue in the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.