Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Beautiful Introduction to Schelling's Thought

Seeing Around Corners - Jonathan Rauch - The Atlantic: Small and relatively insignificant differences at the individual letter can have huge consequences at the group level.

One interesting finding is that the law enforcement approach of punishment after the fact may be ineffective in preventing ethnic violence even when the population is practically saturated with peacekeepers at a 1 to 10 level:

Epstein concludes that simply throwing forces at an ethnic conflict is no answer; intervention needs to anticipate trouble. That, of course, would not have come as news to the reactive and largely ineffective peacekeeping forces in, say, Rwanda, Bosnia, or Sierra Leone. In Rwanda frustrated peacekeepers pleaded for permission to seize arms caches and intimidate extremists before large-scale killing could begin. Their pleas were denied, at a cost apparent in Figure 6. (See "Bystanders to Genocide," by Samantha Power, September 2001 Atlantic.) 

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