Here is a refreshingly rational approach to knotty conflicts that defy reason (by Atran, Axelrod, Davis):
Efforts to resolve political conflicts or to counter political violence often assume that adversaries make rational choices. Ever since the end of the Second World War, “rational actor” models have dominated strategic thinking at all levels of government policy and military planning. In the confrontations between nation states, and especially during the Cold War, these models were arguably useful in anticipating an array of challenges and in stabilizing world peace enough to prevent nuclear war. Now, however, we are witnessing “devoted actors” such as suicide terrorists, who are willing to make extreme sacrifices that are independent of, or all out of proportion to, likely prospects of success. Nowhere is this issue more pressing than in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The reality of extreme behaviors and intractability of political conflicts there and discord elsewhere—in the Balkans, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, and beyond—warrant research into the nature and depth of commitment to sacred values.
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