A model for forecasting political choices and for explaining the perceptual conditions that lead to those choices is delineated. The model, based on the median voter theorem and on the axioms of expected utility maximization, is applied to the prospects for a multilateral peace conference in the Middle East. The analysis helps provide insights into the motivations behind recent actions by leaders in the Soviet Union, the United States, Jordan, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Israel.
By viewing multilateral negotiations in a rational choice context, it is possible to elucidate the contents of calculations that reflect decision makers' considerations if they are trying to do what they believe is in their best interest. By modeling the decision process and then using comparative statics simulations, it is also possible to discern when perceptions and reality are likely to deviate from each other and to gauge the hypothesized responses of all the actors to changed circumstances. In this way, the likely impact of Soviet moderation, Israeli intransigence, Jordanian vacillation, or U.S. intervention can be identified.