“Beware the nested game.” It is one of the least-known but most useful adages to keep in mind when following international affairs, and it is especially relevant now that Lithuania has announced a blockade of sanctioned Russian goods.
A nested game is what it sounds like — a game within a game. It recognizes that the actors in most real-world settings are not unified and have conflicting motives. The classic example is the failure of a proposed Middle East peace deal because some hard-line faction sponsored a terror attack or an assassination. The agreement was never just the two sides dealing with each other; each side was also dealing with its own internal conflicts.