Saturday, February 14, 2015

Why do the Ukranians and the Rebels continue to fight even when a cease fire is only hours away? Game Theory might tell us.

Ukraine crisis: Fighting rages as ceasefire nears
I read this headline and the accompanying story and wondered why the fighting remains at the same level when ALL the soldiers/rebels know a cease fire is just hours away.  Where is the "Invisible Hand" to direct the soldiers to do "what is in their best interest!" :)

Seems like simple Game Theory would come into play.  Both sides have full information that fighting will cease at a near pre-determined time.

If both sides continue to fight, they both will suffer high fatalities.  If the Ukrainians stop firing but the Rebels don't the Ukrainians will suffer deaths but the Rebels won't. The inverse is true it the Rebels stop firing.

Seems like the BEST outcome, since both sides know what the other could choose to do, would be for both of them to stop fighting and suffer no casualty's.

I made a simple Game Theory matrix to illustrate this.  You can see, with cooperation, the best outcome for each side is to cease hostilities (Lower Right Quadrant)....However...

...what if each side is a little "fuzzy" about the other sides intentions and does not know for sure they will stop firing?  If one side takes the initiative to stop firing they will suffer larger casualties relative to if they continued to fight. So, given the lack of information as to what the other side will choose, BOTH will continue to fight even though is seems the less rational thing to do. (Upper Left Quadrant below)

Or it could be they just hate each other so much that the "rational" human being in them is quashed. 

War is hell and human rationality is temporal...

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