What's interesting is that research has shown that when people actually take part in this experiment they choose co-operation more than would be predicted by simple rational self-interest. However, this is probably because the stakes aren't high enough in simple psychology experiments. A country's policy on nuclear weapons is never going to be cooperation. The risk is too great.
I read an amazing paper when I did my BA...I wish so much I could remember what it was called. It was an expert sociologist on WMDs. She spent a lot of time with strategists and policy makes on nuclear weapons. What she found was, she was unable to use realistic terminology as they had replaced the terms with very neutural language.
WMD became "rounds"
Target city became "objective"
Civilian deaths in the millions became "units of collateral"
A stock pile of 1,000 weapons (enough to wipe out the worlds population) was 1 "pile".
Whenever she tried to use realistic terminology, she was dismissed as some child...as though she was a blabbering kindergarten student. When she brought up the fact that both the US and the USSR had enough weapons to wipe out the planet 100 times...they looked at her as though she was some imbecile. They could not engage in rational discussion...as they would not be able to work as they did otherwise. This made sense in terms of the sanity of the strategists and workers...but it was disturbing in the sense that it was very difficult to make objective decisions.
The effects of the largest yield weapon covers a radius of 250km.
If you detonated it in Philadelphia...the city would be flattened, half of those in NJ and Baltimore would die of radiation and people in Washington and New York city would certainly feels the shock and some would die. If the bomb was detinated 100km in the air, the fall out would cover 1000s of km. That is one bomb.
If you detonated in Brussels, the city would be flattened, half of the rest of the country would die and people in Amsterdam and the West of England would feel the shock and some would die. That is one bomb.
And the stock piles are in the 1000s.
This is insanity and you cannot discuss this with policy makers...as they would all have psychological meltdowns if they had to face the reality on a daily basis.
I agree with the guy (wish I could remember who) who said "I don't worry about the nation with hundreds or thousands of bombs, I worry the madman with one bomb." MAD seems to work.
I really doubt there will ever be total nuclear war between two major powers. I think it's highly likely some group like Al Qaeda or ISIS will get one and use it in Tel Aviv or New York. Or that some minor power might use an atomic weapon. Pakistan or North Korea come to mind.