Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Role of Game Theory in Eliminating Terrorism

This article focuses on evaluating the two primary categories of counter-terrorism policies, the offensive and defensive counter-terrorism policies. The authors explain why most countries rely on defensive efforts rather than offensive activities. According to the authors’ game theory is an extremely useful methodology to examine terrorism because it demonstrates strategic interactions of opposing interests of terrorists and the governments being targeted. Game theory characterizes interfaces among terrorists and their targets based on offensive and defensive activities between both parties. Game theory can be applied to negotiations between terrorists and governments.   

The authors focused on further analyzing whether a government’s policy of not negotiating with terrorist hostage takers will prevent other terrorists from taking hostages. The idea behind this is that if the terrorist know they have nothing to gain, then they will not resort to this type of activity. This belief has become one of the four pillars of US policy regarding transitional terrorism. Based on game theory, this type of ideology characterizes failure because past concessions indicate that the government has special consideration depending on the situation and some terrorist organizations may still benefit from failures through heavenly rewards or through media exposure. Through global networking, terrorist organizations have managed to limit the effectiveness of countries defensive efforts. The authors emphasize that international corporation among the government is necessary to combat terrorism.     

This article provided five advantages of the game theory for intelligence purposes. However, the authors’ did not have enough examples to properly show the effect of game theory in reducing terrorism.  Only two examples were presented that managed to portray the role of game theory in combating terrorism through negotiations. Additionally, I disagree with the idea that terrorists will naturally seek the weakest link or most unstable countries to target for attacks. By targeting the weakest link, the terrorists will only gain pleasure in thinking that they will gain a heavenly reward for committing such an act. Also, the weakest link may not have the capability to provide ransom money for hostages. Therefore, the terrorists will not gain any monetary benefits from taking hostages. Lastly, the authors’ failed to mention the limitations of the study.

Mangladevi, M., & Dhaigude, R. (n.d.). Role of game theory in eliminating terrorism. (2013). International Journal of Advanced Computer and Mathematical Sciences, 4(1), 685-689. Retrieved from http://bipublication.com/files/IJCMS-V4I1-2013-15.pdf


  1. I agree with your comment about terrorist organizations only targeting the weakest link. The terrorist organization as an entity would gain more notoriety and media coverage if it choose to attack a nation of larger magnitude like the United States. However, I found it interesting that the author utilized game theory as a manner to see the effects of a government's policy of not negotiating with terrorist hostage takers would prevent other groups from doing so. I think that the author could have made his study more credible if he choose different countries and applied game theory to different scenarios if they negotiated with a terrorist group and if they did not. It would have been interesting to see what each action would make the terrorist hostage takers commit according to the principles of game theory

  2. Your critique of the study is very good, especially your reasoning for why terrorists would not always seek the weakest link. I also find the purpose of the study to be interesting, but the findings to be disappointing. Suggesting more cooperation between governments seems to be the generic go-to recommendation.

  3. To make this study more credible the application of game theory analysis to weak states as well as strong states would strengthen the argument that terrorists will target weak states. For example, terrorists have attacked the United States and Europe in the past.

    Additionally, more extensive information should have been mentioned in terms of the effects of negotiating or choosing not to negotiate with terrorists. The study seemed to focus on too many issues, such as offensive and defensive measures and the idea of negotiation. The study would have been more effective and detailed if the authors would have narrowed their focus.

  4. This was an interesting study. I agree that there should have been a more in-depth analysis of the issue as well as the application of the study. It would be interesting to conduct a comparative study that looked at different targets of terrorist groups and apply game theory to those potential differences. Looking at both "strong" and "weak" states would provide some context for the outcomes, as well as deeper insight into the effectiveness of apply game theory to the terrorist actions as. Similar to what Angie noted, the study would have been more credible had there been a more narrow topic that was explored in greater depth.