Axelrod highlighted in Vox on Republican Benghazi dilemma

May 13, 2014

Ford School Professor Robert Axelrod's research was cited by Zack Beauchamp in the May 12 Vox article, "Benghazi is a prisoner's dilemma, and the Republicans are the prisoners." Beauchamp argues that the newly formed House Republicans' special committee on the Benghazi attacks is a political prisoner's dilemma.

"From [House Republicans'] point of view, the best outcome for the party and themselves would be to drop the issue or, at the very least, confine it to the fringier parts of the party's delegation," Beauchamp explains. "But if one mainstream representative ignores Benghazi while another pushes it, the one peddling Benghazi gets an advantage in the internal competition" for valuable press and money from the Republican base.

Beauchamp describes Axelrod's cooperation theory, a widely cited recipe for deescalating conflict in a prisoner's dilemma, but says Republicans aren't taking the approach, instead falling into the classical no-winner outcome of the dilemma.

Robert Axelrod is the Walgreen Professor for the Study of Human Understanding at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan. He is the author of the highly acclaimed Evolution of Cooperation (Basic Books).