The impact of the Dunning-Kruger effect against Peace

US Secretary Kerry
US Secretary Kerry

In his last August 8 Jerusalem Post column, “Savir’s Corner: Left, Right and Center”, Uri Savir, former architect of the Oslo Accords, describes the Israeli political forces by identifying the Right to a bunch of bullies who value only the use of force, and the Left which prizes Equality. Deliberately distorting the reality by omitting the ethical philosophical background of Realism in International relations, embellishing the Left as the exclusive advocates of Peace, the article attempts to confuse the readers by mixing half-truths, concluding that if the Israeli Left does not stand up now, the Right will win and lead the country to war.

While the failures of the Oslo Accords are today evident, including among the Left, Mr. Savir persists by promoting the path which led to the failed agreements. Clearly, his heuristic reasoning leads him to systematic deviations from balanced analyses. In Psychology, this evident cognitive twist could indicate a Dunning-Kruger effect, when the inability to recognize mistakes due to an illusory sense of superiority, leads to biased cognitive shortcuts. Mr. Savir’s irrational perception about the road to Peace in the Middle-east generates suspicions about the validity of his suggested recommendations. He should recognize that the Oslo Accords and the “two-state” solutions have failed and that continuing onto their abortive trail is unreasonable.

Yet, led by President Obama and Secretary John Kerry, the “two-state” solution as the exclusive way to solve the Middle-east conflict is in full operational mode. Pressures and coercive diplomacy maneuvers are intensifying to convince the Israeli public that if you disagree with this path, you are one of the bullies singled out by Mr. Savir. On July 22, 2013, Roger Cohen’s New-York Times’ column (“The Two-State Imperative”) clearly indicates the vector of these pressures. A few days ago, Secretary Kerry’s meeting with the American Jewish Committee’s leaders sent the same message: “Peace is strategic imperative”, he stated, warning of negative consequences for Israel if the peace talks were to fail while ignoring questions from the audience about the seriousness of the Palestinians. An AJ Committee Director promptly agreed with the Dunning-Kruger line: “The elusive goal of two states remains the best option” (Kenneth Bandler, “On my mind: The two-state solution requires vision, courage, determination”, the Jerusalem Post, August 10, 2013.)

US Secretary Kerry
US Secretary Kerry

Israel is convinced that Peace is a strategic necessity; it has been on the agenda of its leadership since 1948. It is written in the Declaration of Independence, in the priorities of the current government, in the hearts of the people. Israel is not opposed to Peace, but about the way to reach it properly, durably and with a fair partner.

Alternative options to the “two-state” solution exist and its supporters are neither war fanatics, nor even inevitably mapped on the right side of the political spectrum.  Serious research has proved that the “two-state solution” became a “zero-sum game”, and that in the very improbable scenario that it should occur, it would lack stability and endurance. To reach Peace, regional alternatives to the “two-state” solution have been suggested; in 2008, Giora Eiland, former National Security Advisor to Israeli governments, authored a leading document where two solutions (Jordanian-Palestinian or regional including Egypt) are methodologically analyzed. The document demonstrates obvious advantages for the Palestinians and for the Middle-east states, and describes how both scenarios end the zero-sum game of the “two-state” solution, ensure a concrete resolution of the Palestinian issue, provide regional stability and terminate this venomous conflict. A renewed version was also published in 2010.

The aggressive pressures in favor of the unsuccessful “two-state” paradigm partly result from a Dunning-Kruger spiral-effect, trying to justify past errors. Alternative itineraries exist and should be offered to the peoples of the region, for them to reach the quiet and happy lives they dream of. Errare humanum est sed persevere diabolicum.

About the Author
Dan (Jerome) Vitenberg is an international political analyst. He has taught Political Science and International relations for the LSE via the University of London's International Programs at DEI College, Greece. He holds a BA in Political science and International relations from the Hebrew University and a MA in Political science (International political communication) from Tel-Aviv University. Through years of experience in International Business, he developed a multicultural expertise in Asia, Africa, Europe and Middle-East.
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