Friday, October 15, 2004

Game Theory and Terrorism

Foreign Dispatches discusses terrorism in the context of game theory:
...a certain amount of irrationality and a willingness to engage in excessive retaliation are perfectly valid tactics to adopt in dealing with the problem...
Terrorism and Game Theory: An Economic Analysis
Their primary motive of the government is the preservation of peace while staying in power. Compared to the terrorists, they are in a more complicated position. Unlike the simple game in which two cars driving head on to each other, the simplest way to win is to wave the steering wheel at your opponent. However, this option is not available to governments, because it is absolutely necessary to balance their goal of keeping the terrorists at bay with other considerations, such as concern for the well being of the hostages and the reaction from other nations and this is the way politics happens to be.
Also - Terrorism & Game Theory
This keynote paper examines how game-theoretic analyses of terrorism have provided some policy insights that do not follow from nonstrategic analyses. Some new game-theoretic applications are indicated that concern terrorist targeting of businesses, officials, and the general public, where targets can work at cross-purposes as they attempt to deflect the attack. Other novel applications involve government choice among alternative antiterrorism policies, and government concessionary policy when terrorists are either hardliners or moderates in their viewpoint. Directions for future research are also indicated
Terrorism Prevention: A General Model
In this paper, I present and discuss a method for modelling an important trade-off faced by terrorism prevention policies: the trade-off between, on the one hand, trying to reduce people's inclination towards terrorism, and, on the other hand, trying to protect society against existing terrorists. In general, cause-related policies reduce inclination towards terrorism (first goal), involving measures such as raising the standard of living, and symptom-related policies reduce the power of terrorists (second goal), involving measures such as capturing and detaining terrorists. But, crucially, symptom-related policies also affect the inclination towards terrorism, through (desirable) deterrence and (undesirable) 'hate effects'. If 'hate effects' dominate over deterrence, more toughness overall increases inclination, possibly overcompensating the 'capture success'. So, symptom-related policies may face a trade-off between capturing terrorists, and thereby possibly creating new terrorists. Through the modelling method presented, both policy goals are simultaneously taken into account.

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