By Dominic D. P. Johnson Alistair Buchan Professor of International Relations Department of Politics and International Relations
Competitors hardly visit warfare with out pondering they could win--and truly, one part needs to be mistaken. This conundrum lies on the center of the so-called "war puzzle": rational states may still agree on their modifications in strength and hence now not struggle. yet as Dominic Johnson argues in Overconfidence and warfare, states aren't any extra rational than humans, who're prone to exaggerated principles in their personal advantage, in their skill to manage occasions, and of the long run. by means of taking a look at this bias--called "positive illusions"--as it figures in evolutionary biology, psychology, and the politics of overseas clash, this ebook deals compelling insights into why states salary conflict. Johnson strains the consequences of confident illusions on 4 turning issues in twentieth-century background: that erupted into battle (World struggle I and Vietnam); and that didn't (the Munich predicament and the Cuban missile crisis). interpreting the 2 wars, he exhibits how confident illusions have filtered into politics, inflicting leaders to overestimate themselves and underestimate their adversaries--and to inn to violence to settle a clash opposed to unreasonable odds. within the Munich and Cuban missile crises, he indicates how lessening confident illusions may perhaps permit leaders to pursue peaceable suggestions. The human tendency towards overconfidence can have been favourite via ordinary choice all through our evolutionary historical past end result of the benefits it conferred--heightening wrestle functionality or enhancing one's skill to bluff an opponent. And but, as this ebook suggests--and because the fresh clash in Iraq bears out--in the fashionable global the implications of this evolutionary legacy are very likely lethal.
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Extra resources for Overconfidence and War: The Havoc and Glory of Positive Illusions
I only attribute to positive illusions instances in which information was good and available and yet the decisionmakers neglected it or made decisions inconsistent with it. To do this, I examine decisionmakers’ reactions to incoming information. Do they have a tendency to disregard it? If not, do they actually absorb it? Do they actively seek new information?
14 44 O V E R C O N F I D E N C E A N D WA R Dunning also found that, when judging others, people do not invent criteria favorably tailored to those others, as they do for themselves. If they did, others would be perceived as above average. Instead, people seem to impose their own self-criteria on other people, so that they perceive others as worse than they actually are. 15 In the complexity of war, the traits to be assessed and the appropriate criteria of judgment are likely to be ambiguous, all the more so because opposing sides have incentives to conceal them from each other.
S. ” Shenkman concludes: “We like to pretend that normal people should be elected president. People, that is, with a normal amount of ambi- 25 25 War and Illusions tion. S. government as “increasingly dominated by a modern class of professional politicians, people who work full time at getting and holding ofﬁce. ” Ehrenhalt labels this phenomenon “self-nomination”: presidential candidates essentially nominate themselves by being unusually willing to make the enormous efforts and sacriﬁces required to seek ofﬁce.