Towards a resolution of terrorism using game theory

In Luke Ashworth & Maura Adshead (eds.), Limerick Papers in Politics and Public Administration (2003)
Abstract
Both terrorism and game theory are contested concepts within the social sciences, but in this paper, I will show that a rational approach (game theory) towards the emotion-laden idea and practice of terrorism does aid understanding of the “terrorist theatre”. First, an outline will be provided on the type of actors (game players) that are, or may be, involved to a more or lesser extend in (supporting) terrorism. Then several game models will be assessed on their applicability. This includes averting the joint bargaining paradox when asymmetric actors cooperate to achieve a joint goal, governments who may fare better from their point of view when dividing up refugees into geographically separate areas to decrease the possibility of cooperation between aggrieved groups and recognizing two-speed negotiations, which can have a (detrimental) effect on (deadline) negotiations. Further, an adaptation of the audience cost model explained the “war of nerves” of the terrorist theatre involving the generation of fear amongst its targets and the updating of information on moderate actors by action of extremists. Several mutations of the Prisoner’s Dilemma were discussed as options to prevent mutual harm.
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