Today Israel honors the memory of its soldiers killed during its wars; tomorrow we will celebrate the 64′th year since our independence in 1948. On this occasion Benny Gantz, Israel’s chief of general staff, that is, the head of the Israeli Defence Force, was interviewed. Concerning the nuclear threat of Iran Gantz said (in Hebrew; the following is my translation):
“Iran advances step by step to the point where it can decide if it wants to build a nuclear bomb. They have not decided yet whether to advance the extra mile. In their mind , as long as their nuclear facilities cannot withstand bombing, the nuclear program is too vulnerable. If the supreme leader Ali Khamenei wants, he will proceed to obtain a nuclear bomb, but a decision on this issue is still to be made. It will be made if Khamenei believes that he can withstand the response. I think he will do a grave mistake if he does so, and I do not think he wants to do the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership consists of rational people. But I agree that such an ability in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, who at some moments might make different calculations [and reach different conclusions], is dangerous.”
Leaving aside the issue of whether or not Iran should have nuclear weapon, I wonder what Gantz means when he says that Iranian leadership cosists of rational people. If he means that their decisions maximize their utility, then howcome at some future time they might make different calculations and reach different conclusions? Are they rational now yet they might stop being rational in the future? Why are rational religious fundamentalists more prone to irrational decisions than secular liberals? Or maybe the utility function of a religious fundamentalist is so different than that of a secular liberal, that the secular thinks that that some choices of the religious person cannot maximize his utility, though from the religious person point of view they do maximize his utility function? I wish decision makers had to take courses in decision theory and game theory, so that they would understand strategic interactions a little better.