Prisoner’s Dilemma

The Cold War between the East and West was a lasting period of mutual distrust, animosity, and fear. It was the time when two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, threatened themselves and their allies by targeting each other with atomic bombs. In this state of impasse, the Warsaw Pact and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) faced a choice between armament and disarmament. Mutual disarmament—no doubt—would have been the best solution for both parties—saving money, reducing fear, and promoting trust and peace in the long run.

Unilateral disarmament, however, was tremendously risky because it put the disarming party at undue risk of being attacked by the superior, nondisarming rival. Thus began an inconceivable arms race costing billions of dollars. This costly state ...

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