Crimea Through a Game Theory Lens

          In the New York Times article entitled, “Crimea Through a Game Theory Lens”, author Tyler Cowen raises some interesting points about the developing conflict.  First, he explains Thomas Schellings nuclear deterrence game theory, which states that countries with nuclear weapons naturally have a deterrence to pursue conflict with each other.  However, after the separation of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s, Ukraine decided to give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for a memorandum that supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity, signed by Russia and the United States.  However, when Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons, it lost a tremendous deterrent for conflict with other countries, and Russia has proven that it has not honored the memorandum that was signed by the occupation of Crimea.  Although nuclear weapons are extremely dangerous and threaten the security of the world, they have also provided a nash equilibrium, steering countries away from conflict that have nuclear weapons.  I personally do not support the development of nuclear weapons, as their use affects civilians in a terrible manner; however, it is interesting to see that the existence of nuclear weapons plays a major role in keeping a strong deterrence for large military conflict.  Russia provides the evidence that countries with nuclear weapons have extraordinary power over countries that do not have nuclear weapons, and it provides a tense and stressful situation that has to be addressed with extreme caution by the rest of the world, because history has proven that conflicts can arise very quickly, and with dire results.     

2 thoughts on “Crimea Through a Game Theory Lens”

  1. In this situation would working towards gaining a nuclear weapon a dominant strategy? Even though have a nuclear weapon can deter a invading nation the process of gaining one can prove dangerous and surly the invading countries will know this fact.

  2. I would agree that building an arsenal of nuclear weapons is a dominant strategy from the viewpoint of international affairs. I wonder what the building of alliances between nations would, however, change the payoffs between building an arsenal of nuclear weapons or not. Would alliances effectively allow smaller countries like the Ukraine to be protected from Russia’s force? Sure, Russia has taken Crimea with swift action, but could it do the same with the rest of Ukraine? What would the result be from the other superpowers of the world with nuclear weapons? I guess this would depend on the relations between the allied nations. Something to consider….

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