MNA | Javad Heirannia: According to game theory, the type of Iran-US behavior can be studied in the form of models. This theory also enables us to create a model for their behavior. Based on this, in the critical circumstances of two countries chicken game can indicate the behavior of Iran and America behavior and determine their strategy towards each other.
Chicken game is an effective model for studying intersections of two players in Game theory. The worst result is gained when none of two players – who are not inclined to give up – stop fighting. I this game two drivers with high speed drive towards each other, one of them must deviate from the way otherwise they will clash with each other and will be killed. The driver that has deviated from the way because of being coward is called Chicken and is the loser and the driver who still remains in the path is the winner.
In fact, the status and reputation that you gain because of this game are very high; continuing and not continuing it the game both leads to a lose-lose result. In other words, the players will be trapped in a vague situation. If they continue the game, then death or perpetual palsy will be inevitable. And if they continue competing despite being survived, they will lose their reputation and status which somehow is equal to death.
Trump’s behavior towards Iran is something like this game. On another hand, Trump in this game has tried to pretend himself an unpredictable and moody person who might behave in various ways (Madman Theory). In this way, his baselessness words mostly seem realistic rather than a bluff.
In order to show Trump a madman or (based on necessity) a man with whom we can negotiate, he uses some people such as John Bolton. He during the time of President Bush presidency had also played this role and now again is playing this role in Trump’s presidency period, too. Trump aggressive position creates an unstable and frightening atmosphere for his opponents, especially for Iran. Exactly in such an atmosphere, Trump starts to talk about negotiations in order to pretend that he wants to negotiate but it is Iran that rejects. In this way, he also seeks to make Iran endure damage because of not negotiating. At the same time, the aggressive atmosphere that has been created by Bolton is continued.
The recent example of such action is John Bolton’s action according to which he said that Pentagon in order to the “confrontation with Iran” has dispatched “Abraham Lincoln” aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. As it became clear earlier sailing this aircraft carrier was planned a long time ago, but Bolton intended to use it to show the situation critical.
“Ilan Goldenberg”, the previous chief of Iran program in Pentagon and senior fellow in “New America,” think tank believes that the US provocative acts in the region is not anything but trying to influence Iran to change its accumulations.
In response to a title in the New York Times which said: “Pentagon was gathering forces against the potential attack to Iran”, he tweeted that it was necessary for media to report the armed deployment in the region with responsibility and avoid to exaggerate about war with Iran, which is the goal of aggressive fractions.”
‘’Goldenberg’’ has written: “I was Iran program chief in Pentagon for three years. Such arrays cannot change the game equations extensively. New York Times must not use such a title for dispatching Patriot missile system, especially because over the four previous months the US has dispatched four of such missiles to the outside of the region.”
Paying attention to the US facilities in the international area which can be seen in sanctions imposed on Iran, armed confrontation with Iran can damage it heavily. Although Iran also can revenge by activating regional leverage and threatening it. Professor Nader Entesar believes that, however, the game of diplomatic chicken game can serve President Trump’s goal but it will a disastrous game for Iran.
Trump’s’ behavior towards Iran in another way is like another game in which he pulls Iran near the edge of a cliff and then changes Iran’s position according to its own interests.
But considering time scheduling it might lead to sharp weakening or strengthening his presidential campaign. It also depends on the possible successful or unsuccessful deal with China and North Korea.
Paying attention to the damaging effect of the continuance of trade war with China of which Beijing is completely aware and the importance of economic factor for American electors, Trump would try to halt trade war with China and compromise with them.
But considering North Korea and Iran the situation is different. These two issues can be bargaining chips in Trump’s foreign policy. In this field being able to compromise with North Korea can be a bargaining chip in his foreign policy or at least not considered as his Achilles heel. But the process that negations go through which and Trump’s expectations from Pyongyang make a future view of these negotiations vague, especially because Pyongyang knows the significant role of these negations in presidential campaigns very well. If Trump cannot compromise with North Korea, then with the starting of the new campaigns work he will be more fragile considering Iran deal.
In this meanwhile even taking a memorial photo with Iranian officials regarding propaganda can be considered as a big triumph for Trump. However, Trump in this way will not achieve anything special practically and a new potential deal with Iran might not differ significantly with the previous one.
Even regarding China, a well-known theorist like ‘’ Graham Allison’’ believes that just a few months ago Chinese carefully studied NAFTA (between the US, Canada, and Mexico) and its success and realized that the previous NAFTA deal and the recent one are different just by 10 to 15 percent.
So, they understood that changing what Trump calls ”the worst trade deal that has ever concluded” to a ” big deal” is not a very complicated task. In such a situation, Xi Jinping without anxiety and comfortably can continue its game. In other words, China has already realized that with such a change (10-15 percent) in the current trade situation they can make Trump satisfied. Once one of my Chinese friends told me a long time before Christopher Columbus explored America, Chinese hypocrisy and deceitfulness.
Beginning of the presidential electoral campaign in America help Iran to play this game with Trump more freely. Some believe that even at that time Trump might start a war with Iran. It is unlikely that Trump can operate freely at this point. Especially since he in his presidential campaign had criticized Middle East wars and the funds that the US had devoted to such wars. Thus starting a war on the threshold of the presidential election is just a dangerous gamble for him. Particularly because convincing the public for starting a war with Iran which according to IAEA reports has committed to its commitments is not an easy task.
In the game of ”Prisoner’s Dilemma” if two prisoners do not attest against each other (cooperate) with each other than both of them gain benefit. But how the US and Iran can trust each other in the current situation? At first glance cooperation of the two countries may seem impossible but if this game repeats and if the two prisoners have ”detailed” and correct information of each other and each other’s intentions then the possibility of cooperation will rise.
One of the fields that can help these two countries to have detailed information from each other is international regimes. And Iran nuclear deal as one of such international regime in the field of non-proliferation which was based on the information of IAEA could give the US detailed information about Iran nuclear program, but the US preferred to withdraw from this security regime.
In addition, (with the help of this agreement) the US could find a more detailed and reliable channel than Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and People’s Mujahedin of Iran. Each of these countries and groups due to their hostility against Iran pursue their own limited and antagonistic goals towards Iran which are not necessarily in accordance with the US interest. American Iran studies discourse is deficient and disorganized discourse.
One of the fields that can help these two countries to have detailed information from each other is international regimes. And Iran nuclear deal as one of such international regime in the field of non-proliferation which was based on the information of IAEA could give the US detailed information about Iran nuclear program, but the US preferred to withdraw from this security regime. In addition, (with the help of this agreement) the US could find a more detailed and reliable channel than Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and People’s Mujahedin of Iran.
Each of these countries and groups due to their hostility against Iran pursue their own limited and antagonistic goals towards Iran which are not necessarily in accordance with the US interest. American Iran studies discourse is deficient and disorganized discourse. Thus if the US intends to smooth the path of cooperation with Iran in international and regional issues should make some correction to this discourse.
Continuation of ”Prisoner’s Game” and increase the correct information on both sides provide both countries with the possibility of achieving their utilities and being in a win-win game.