The Great Gamesman
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a professor at NYU, looks back at Ronald Reagan in this extended audio interview, as practicioner of "heresthetics". Heresthetics was a term invited by William Riker to describe ways of shifting the terms of reference and restructuring a political argument so that it became a zero sum game where the opponent was put at a permanent disadvantage. De Mesquita recalls how Reagan outflanked the playing field by imagining an entirely new framework for dealing with the Cold War: not by managing it, but by winning it. He describes how Reagan forced Jimmy Carter to embrace the concept of detente to his increasing cost; a process in which the more Carter conceded to the Soviets, the more cruelly he was cut by the endless betrayals which his peace partners seemed determined to inflict on him. Reagan set things up so that Carter would have no option but to walk into the maw of the bear. And Jimmy, rather than concede Reagan's point, cheerfully complied.
Reagan's approach is a particularly interesting contrast to that adopted by President George W. Bush whose alliances with Arab allies have entrusted the outcome of his War on Terror to elements he could not fully control. Could there have been an alternative?Nothing follows.