Threats Are Less Effective When You Make Clear That They're Empty | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Threats Are Less Effective When You Make Clear That They’re Empty
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J.E. Dyer hones in on two paragraphs from this New York Times report:

“Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to govern, and it is time for him to go without further violence or delay,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters after a special meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. “No option is off the table,” she said, adding “that of course includes a no-fly zone.”

But officials in Washington and elsewhere said that direct military action remained unlikely, and that the moves were designed as much as anything as a warning to Colonel Qaddafi and a show of support to the protesters seeking to overthrow his government.

Comments Dyer:

A warning is about something you will actually do. When you tell the “warnee” that you’re probably not going to do it, that you’re “just” giving him a warning, he doesn’t take that as a warning. He takes it as a bizarre, perhaps annoying exercise in irrelevance on your part.

Indeed. Read the rest for a discussion of how the Obama administration is behaving as if this were an exercise in game theory, and Qaddafi is “bound by the rules of a game to be persuaded by mechanistic ‘warnings,’ as if other rules in the game somehow prevent him from knowing that the warnings are a ruse to probe his will.”

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