I don’t think I was missing that element. The way I think about it is: There is some balance that must be struck between making commitments sooner (risking making foolish decisions due to ignorance) and later (risking not having the right commitments made when a situations arises in which they would be handy). A commitment race is a collective action problem where individuals benefit from going far to the “sooner” end of the spectrum relative to the point that would be optimal for everyone if they could coordinate.
I agree about humans not being able to make commitments—at least, not arbitrary commitments. (Arguably, getting angry and seeking revenge when someone murders your family is a commitment you made when you were born.) I think we should investigate whether this inability is something evolution “chose” or not.
I agree it’s a race in knowledge/understanding as well as time. (The two are related.) But I don’t think more knowledge = more power. For example, if I don’t know anything and decide to commit to plan X which benefits me, else war, and you know more than me—in particular, you know enough about me to know what I will commit to—and you are cowardly, then you’ll go along with my plan.