The perspectives of two people sitting in the same room, looking at the same scene, can be vastly different. Why, then, is it so very hard for us to understand the differences in the perspectives of the leaders of two countries, looking at the same circumstances?
Their perspectives, informed by their own observations, are coupled with information delivered to them through filters designed to exclude information deemed irrelevant by other’s perspectives and to include information deemed critical by others. The quality of opinions so shaped can only be as rational as the data that helps shape them; it helps if the data are clean.
Bias finds its way in to leaders’ perspectives, even if they are free of bias, through the bias of others. For example, the views of Putin and Obama (and Abbot and Harper and Merkel, et al) on the Ukraine issue are formed in large part by information fed to them through porous data delivery networks that soak up bias like a sponge. The purity of information reaching the leaders is almost certainly reduced, dramatically, at almost every level as it flows up the chain of command. Yet we expect them to make decisions on the basis of this biased and impure information. Worse, still, they willingly accept the obligation to make decisions under those circumstances; they most certainly must understand that bias clogs their information resources, yet they accept that state of affairs.
As I sit here this morning, reaching the realization that world leaders are almost pawns in a game of misinformation olympics, I consider whether anarchy is preferable to obedience to flawed forms of government that thrive on bias and self-interest.