Tit-for-tit, tat-for-tat

This is to convey my appreciation of Erik Poole's remarks about Prisoner's Dilemma and its relevance to the present sorry state of our species.

I also take this opportunity to dispel a widespread misunderstanding about the TIT-FOR-TAT strategy, often mistaken for the "eye-for-an-eye" rule of vengeance, which, as Gandhi once pointed out, eventually makes everyone blind. TIT-FOR-TAT is an unfortunate contraction of TIT-FOR-TIT, TAT-FOR-TAT. That is to say, every defection (every TIT) is immediately punished, but also that every peace initiative (every TAT) is immediately reciprocated; this is not included in the "eye for an eye" vengeance policy. TIT-FOR-TAT is not observed in Israel.

This, however, is only one misunderstanding, and one that is easily corrected. The other, more important one, is more subtle. Soon after the news spread that TIT-FOR-TAT, the simplest strategy submitted to Axelrod's contests (round robins playing iterated Prisoner's Dilemma), won both times, many got the impression that TIT-FOR-TAT was practically "unbeatable." The opposite is the case: it is eminently beatable. It either ties with or loses to any other strategy it is paired with in a one-to-one iterated play. This, too, was clearly explained in your article and illustrated by another paradox of the "truel," in which the poorest shot has the greatest chance of surviving, whereas a small child or a Pentagon national security expert would say the best marksman would "obviously" have the best chance. In fact, if the worst marksman threw away his pistol he would practically be certain to survive. The cardinal principle here is, "Let's you and him fight." (I say "his" and "him" instead of the politically correct "him/her" since I can't imagine a woman participating in a truel.)

Anatol Rapoport

Canadian connection continues

The Ploughshares Anti-Nuclear War Fund (Conrad Grebel College, Waterloo) provided financial support for a Nuclear Weapons Treaties Day School organized at the London School of Economics (London, UK) on February 16th. Emphasis on international law and the need for binding treaties is especially important now. Dan Plesch (Royal United Services Institute but ex-CND) and Merav Datan (from IPPNW, New York) gave talks (Merav is the principal author and editor of the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention).

Workshops were presented by representatives of the numerous British "think tanks" that cover these areas and myself, representing Scientists for Global Responsibility and Science for Peace. Friendly views were exchanged at a round table. In addition to peace activists and members of the sponsoring organizations (including Abolition 2000), students from LSE and the University of Kent (Canterbury, UK) were there.

Dr. Peter Nicholls
University of Essex, UK

Study Peace in Norway

The University of Troms, Norway, is offering a two-year master's degree program in Peace and Conflict Studies starting autumn 2002. All literature, teaching, and student work will be in English. The teaching and learning methods will be problem based, and student work and problems of current interest will be a central part of the study.

Fredrik Heffermehl

Abbey's "Preventing Terrorism"

Nicholas Abbey's article "Preventing Terrorism" is well written and contains wise teachings on terrorism and its prevention. However, it lacks advice designed to punish terrorists who have gotten away with illegal acts. Two examples are Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr., who supported the murderous CONTRA terrorists and who killed 20,000 innocent civilians.

When will these innocent victims get justice? When will the criminals be brought to trial and what sentence will they suffer? What compensation will be given to the people of Nicaragua? How will such terrorism be prevented if a North American government can get away with such wanton acts of evil? Is justice a one-way street?

Richard Sepulveda
St. Paul, MN

A Festival For Peace

Between April 21-27, a Festival for Peace will be held in Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania for 100-150 youth. This conference will promote a culture of peace, human rights, and multi-culturalism. We will combine training programs, workshops, interactive panel discussions, and artistic celebration. The festival will provide a forum for youth participation in democratization and human rights. For further information contact <patrir@ transcend.org>,

Kai Frithjof
Cluj Napoca, Romania

Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2002

Peace Magazine Apr-Jun 2002, page 5. Some rights reserved.

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