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Application Of Game Theory For Nuclear Deterrence History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Since the beginning of human life, two main reasons for the war amongst men has been ones survival, or the urge to gain territories. Recently, our rapid advance in the field of science and technology has resulted in greatly improved tools of warfare. This has made these wars more and more deadly. The development of better technology has brought a revolution in the field of military warfare and also in our personal lives.

2. The word ‘deterrence’, variously described as ‘avoidance’, ‘prevention’ and ‘preclusion’ is as old as the origin of mankind. It evolved along with the capacity of the human beings to inflict pain and to anticipate the other person’s capability to inflict such pain. But, this term – ‘deterrence’ is accredited to Bernard Brodie through his book ‘The Absolute Weapon’, in which he stated hat the main purpose of military was not to win wars, but to prevent it. The holocaust of World War II as well as the conventional forces of Soviet Unions presented a credible threat to the existence of Western Europe. The political and social cost of attempting to defend Western Europe with conventional forces being prohibitive led to the adoption of nuclear deterrence strategy by the USA.

3. The unstable peace and chaos of the post cold war era are caused by innumerable instabilities. The causes include increasing poverty, starvation, widespread disease and lack of political and socio-economic justice. The consequences are seen in such forms as social violence, criminal anarchy, refugee flows, illegal drug trafficking, organized crime, extreme nationalism, religious fundamentalism, insurgency, ethnic cleansing and environmental devastation. These conditions tend to be exploited by militant reformers, civil, military bureaucrats, terrorists, insurgents, warlords and rogue states for their narrow purposes.

4. Game Theory and its Application. Game theory is described as a mathematical theory of decision making in a conflict situation. It provides a precise way to describe the key elements in situations where there are many actors, with different goal resources and information, each with only partial control over the factors determining the outcome. How the rules of game theory can best be applied to the aspect of nuclear deterrence is the challenge for this dissertation.

Statement of the Problem

5. The most essential issue which the world faces today is thus the search for a security system which shall replace the nuclear deterrence strategy of the cold war era. Does the global security lie in replacing nuclear weapons with more precise and highly lethal conventional weapons in the matrix of deterrence logic? Have nuclear weapons become un-useable and thus irrelevant? Are their any other emerging strategies? This dissertation propounds the hypothesis that the present world matrix will not permit the nuclear war, therefore will India’s nuclear deterrence loose its relevance in the 21st Century and the role of conventional forces and weapons in the overall deterrence framework shall continue to grow.

Aim

6. The dissertation attempts to analyse the relevance of India’s nuclear deterrence vis a vis developing a strong conventional deterrence in the Indian sub continent and application of Game theory as relevant to nuclear deterrence.

Hypothesis

7. Possession of Nuclear Weapons is likely to provide a deterrence to India against potential adversaries.

Scope

8. The hypothesis proposed above will be discussed under the following heads:-

(a) Evolution of deterrence doctrine.

Flaws in deterrence doctrine.

Issue of future conflicts and nature of future wars.

(d) Role of conventional forces.

(e) Deterrence in Sino-Indo-Pak context.

(f) Application of Game theory in Nuclear Deterrence

Methodology

9. The process of data collection commenced with the scanning of literature on the subject and research papers / thesis by the premier Service institutions like College of Defence Management, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis and United Service Institution of India. Websites were accessed for the Concepts and Relevance of Nuclear Deterrence since its evolution during the World War II and changes it has undergone over the history coming into the 21st Century. India’s draft Nuclear Doctrine and that of the nuclear weapon states like USA, China and also Pakistan which were available in the open domain were examined for relevant inputs. The literature on Game theory and its applications has also been collected for research and relevant analysis.

Chapter 1

10. Introduction and Methodology.

Chapter 2 : Evolution of ‘Deterrence’.

11. Deterrence is a relation between parties (individual, institutions, or groups) wherein one party (explicitly or implicitly) indicates benchmarks of behaviour and expresses a commitment to use force, if the second party’s behaviour does not match to these enunciated standards. The object of deterrence is to persuade an adversary that the cost of non-adherence to the laid down norms will far outweigh the benefits. Deterrence is an important factor in international diplomacy. There are many acts of deterring that rightly are considered morally acceptable; including making threats of lethal action. In simple words, as long as a State can anticipate the pain that can be inflicted on it by another State, and therefore in anticipation of the pain, it modifies its conduct, that is deterrence.

12. The chapter shall explain the meaning of ‘Deterrence’ before the nuclear age and in the nuclear age and a brief study of deterrence in cases of asymmetry and in cases of near symmetry. It will also analyse the meaning of perception, since in ensuring deterrence and removing risks it should be clear that a misperception can occur either in International relations or, more importantly, in deterrence theory. It also explains the types of misperceptions that can cause deterrence to fail. Subsequently some of the deterrence related terminologies and deterrent philosophies afloat today are also elaborated. From nuclear deterrence philosophies have evolved a number of nuclear targeting philosophies and they too are explained in detail.

Chapter 3 : Deterrence in Sino-Indo-Pak Context and Role of Conventional Forces.

13. The nations of South Asia share geographical contiguity and historical, cultural and religious ties. However, the region has a long history of war and insurgency, civil strife and ethnic rivalry. Poverty and illiteracy, an increasing gap between rich and poor, violence between castes and creeds are posing threats to state and society. Minority discontent often explodes into armed insurgency. Endemic poverty is another common feature throughout South Asia. India’s security environment is not a self-contained region. The power asymmetry and the geographical Indo-centricity of the region make it a brittle strategic environment. Our territorial disputes with many of our neighbours complicate the situation. The strategic environment in South Asia has been remarkably conflict laden, characterised by wars or hostile relations between each other and especially between India and her neighbours.

14. India is in the unenviable position of having two nuclear armed neighbours with both of whom it has fought wars in the past. China and Pakistan are the two important players who affect India’s security environment. The nuclear stands of these three nations are directly related to their mutual threat perceptions and security concerns. To understand and analyse India’s nuclear environment in the future, it would thus be appropriate to analyse nuclear threat from China and Pakistan. This would in turn dictate the thrust of India’s nuclear policy. This part shall include:-

(a) India’s Nuclear Environment.

(b) Threat perceptions of India, China and Pakistan.

(c) Nuclear threat to India from China and Pakistan

Chapter 4 : Game Theory Model for Selecting Optimal COA

15. This Chapter encompasses:-

Evolution of procedure for preparation of payoff matrix including a brief examination of ten step procedure for preparation of a payoff matrix suggested by Lt Col Gregory L. Cantwell, United States Army.

Quantification of Pay Offs with Key Decision Factors (Seven Step Method).

Case Study examination of seven step method for preparation of payoff matrix.

16. A Seven Step Procedure as given below has been evolved for aiding selection of CsOA amongst competing CsOA by Decision makers:-

(a) Step 1. List out own and enemy CsOA based on mission analysis of the decision situation.

(b) Step 2. Selection of KDFs by Decision Maker.

(c) Step 3. Establish inter se priorities to KDFs by allocation of AWC by Decision Maker assisted by experts / advisers employing AHP technique.

Step 4. Examination of own CsOA actions for the KDF with respect to enemy CsOA. Allocate values on scale of one to five. Decision Maker can seek inputs from experts / advisers and also allocate values as per his judgment.

Step 5. Prepare a Synthesized Matrix of AWC and Values generated at Step 4.

Step 6. Translate values from Step 5 in to two person ZSG matrix of payoffs.

Step 7. Solve the two person ZSG.

Chapter 5 : Hypothesis Testing

17. Hypothesis has been validated with the help of case study of OP PARAKRAM. Competing CsOA for India and Pakistan were listed in questionnaire. Participants of HDMC – 7 were asked to determine the payoffs of various outcomes from interaction of Indian and Pakistani CsOA. AWC of KDF has been obtained from experts (three members from Department of Strategic Management). Case was solved with Seven Step Process.

Chapter 6 – Conclusion

18. This study seeks to extrapolate Game Theory precepts in the domain of military decision making process in the Indian Armed Forces. The study has attempted to address one of the key challenges of building a pay off matrix for competing CsOA. This concluding chapter summarizes the research and the final outcome as it emerged from the arguments presented in the research paper / survey of participants. Examination of nature of Game Theory features which favour its application and key challenges in its application have been included in the chapter besides recommendations on areas for further study and research.The nations of South Asia share geographical contiguity and historical, cultural and religious ties. However, the region has a long history of war and insurgency, civil strife and ethnic rivalry. Poverty and illiteracy, an increasing gap between rich and poor, violence between castes and creeds are posing threats to state and society. Minority discontent often explodes into armed insurgency. Endemic poverty is another common feature throughout South Asia. India’s security environment is not a self-contained region. The power asymmetry and the geographical Indo-centricity of the region make it a brittle strategic environment. Our territorial disputes with many of our neighbours complicate the situation. The strategic environment in South Asia has been remarkably conflict laden, characterised by wars or hostile relations between each other and especially between India and her neighbours.

19. Is practicing nuclear deterrence prudentially preferable to not practicing it? Does prudence in the end counsel maintaining or abandoning nuclear deterrence? This is the central question in any examination of the fundamentals of nuclear weapons policy. The relevance of nuclear deterrence in the Indian context and to suggest if any change is required in its present nuclear policy is but an exercise in the choice of ends and means on the part of the nation state and being a dynamic process will keep changing as per existing scenario. My dissertation will just be a process of putting forward a few known facts and their relevance, to come to, in my opinion, a viable nuclear option.

“Autonomy of decision-making in the developmental process and in strategic matters is an inalienable democratic right of the Indian people. India will strenuously guard this right in a world where nuclear weapons for a select few are sought to be legitimised for an indefinite future.”

“India should remain in a position to retaliate if nuclear weapons are used against us.”

Brajesh Mishra

(Former National

Security Adviser)

INTRODUCTION

Background and Justification for the Study

War, is presupposed and predetermined by many psychological theories, as being innate to human nature. Hence, there is little hope of ever escaping it. Psychologists argue that human temperament allows wars to occur only when mentally unbalanced people are in control of a nation. They are of the opinion that leaders who seek war like – Napoleon, Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Stalin were mentally abnormal. Yet they fail to explain the thousands of free and sane people who wage wars at their behest. Some psychologists believe such leaders are the product of the anger and madness repressed in modern societies. As people elect and support such leaders, suggestions have been made that very few people are sane and that modern society is an unhealthy one [1] .

Game Theory (or more appropriately Games of Strategy) which entails interactive decision-making is relatively new field of science having come to fore only in later part of 20th Century. However, it has found vast and varied application in diverse fields such as economy, politics and social sciences. Its application in military decision making process and in examination of politico – military strategic issues has been at low ebb, more so in the Indian context. Decision making is one of the most important roles of military commanders at all levels and they often face decision dilemmas to choose from competing CsOA. More often than not their choices in such situations are based on intuitive quality judgements based on experiences of individual commanders.

Game Theory is the science of interactive decision-making. Decision making is one of the most important facets of military commanders at all levels as decisions are essentially the means by which a Commander translates his vision of end state into action. The process of decision making entails, knowing if to decide, then when and what to decide [2] .

The First World War, its resulting ideologies like Communism, Fascism, and Nazism, and the Second World War, saw such devastation that the thought of war became taboo. This resulted in the Treaty of Versailles, and the formation of the League of Nations as an attempt to form deterrence against such carnage. Though these proved unsuccessful, they did give rise to an idea.

The word ‘deterrence’, variously described as ‘avoidance’, ‘prevention’ and ‘preclusion’ is as old as the origin of mankind. It evolved along with the capacity of the human beings to inflict pain and to anticipate the other person’s capability to inflict such pain. But, this term – ‘deterrence’ is accredited to Bernard Brodie through his book ‘The Absolute Weapon’, in which he stated that the main purpose of military was not to win wars, but to prevent it. The holocaust of World War II as well as the conventional forces of Soviet Unions presented a credible threat to the existence of Western Europe. The political and social cost of attempting to defend Western Europe with conventional forces being prohibitive led to the adoption of nuclear deterrence strategy by the USA [3] .

Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev announced together in November 1985 at Vienna, that a nuclear war could not be won and hence must never be fought. Subsequently both the USA and USSR initiated substantial measures to reduce the possibilities of war in other areas. But this has not eliminated war elsewhere.

The unstable peace and chaos of the post-cold war era are caused by innumerable instabilities. The causes include increasing poverty, starvation, widespread disease and lack of political and socio-economic justice. The consequences are seen in such forms as social violence, criminal anarchy, refugee flows, illegal drug trafficking, organized crime, extreme nationalism, religious fundamentalism, insurgency, ethnic cleansing and environmental devastation [4] . These conditions tend to be exploited by militant reformers, civil, military bureaucrats, terrorists, insurgents, warlords and rogue states for their narrow purposes.

Statement of the Problem

The most essential issue which the world faces today is thus the search for a security system which shall replace the nuclear deterrence strategy of the cold war era. Does the global security lie in replacing nuclear weapons with more precise and highly lethal conventional weapons in the matrix of deterrence logic? Have nuclear weapons become unusable and thus irrelevant? Are their any other emerging strategies? This dissertation propounds the hypothesis that the present world matrix will not permit the nuclear war, therefore will India’s nuclear deterrence loose its relevance and the role of conventional forces and weapons in the overall deterrence framework continue to grow.

Aim

The research attempts to analyse the relevance of India’s nuclear deterrence vis a vis developing a strong conventional deterrence in the Indian sub continent. This shall be attempted by exploring application of Game Theory for nuclear decision making with focus on its usefulness in facilitating selection of optimal COA by decision makers.

Hypothesis

Possession of Nuclear Weapons is likely to provide a deterrence to India against potential adversaries.

Scope

The hypothesis proposed above will be discussed under the following heads:

Evolution of deterrence doctrine and inherent flaws.

Issue of future conflicts and nature of future wars.

Role of conventional forces.

Deterrence in Sino-Indo-Pak context.

Hypothesis testing using Game Theory.

Methodology

The process of data collection commenced with the scanning of literature on the subject and research papers / thesis by the premier Service institutions like College of Defence Management, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis and United Service Institution of India. Websites were accessed for the Concepts and Relevance of Nuclear Deterrence since its evolution during the World War II and changes it has undergone over the history coming into the 21st Century. India’s draft Nuclear Doctrine and that of the nuclear weapon states like

USA, China and also Pakistan which were available in the open domain were examined for relevant inputs. Advise and valuable inputs from the mentor DS and guest speakers visiting the college have also been obtained on the subject. A survey of participants has been undertaken to gauge awareness, aptitude and inclination of officers in adopting Game Theory in decision making.

Case Study Method. A case study approach has been adopted to place the subject in perspective and keep the arguments interesting, thus, avoiding monotonous reading. A Seven Step process envisaged for application of Game Theory has been validated with a Case Study based on a conflict situation between India and Pakistan.

Hypothesis Validation. Hypothesis has been validated with the help of a Questionnaire. A real life case of OP PARAKRAM situation was painted to the respondents who were asked to determine the payoffs of various outcomes from Indian and Pakistani CsOA. Thereafter, the problem was analysed with ‘Seven Step Process’.

Preview

The research paper will be covered in the chapters as shown below:-

Chapter- 2. Evolution of Deterrence Doctrine.

Chapter – 3. Deterrence in Sino-Indo-Pak Context and Role of Conventional Forces.

Chapter- 4. Game Theory Model for Selecting Optimal COA.

Chapter -5. Hypothesis Testing.

Conclusion.

CHAPTER 2

EVOLUTION OF DETERRENCE DOCTRINE

Deterrence

Deterrence aims to prevent an enemy power taking the decision to use armed force; put in more general terms this means compelling him, when faced with a given situation, to act or react in the light of existence of a set of dispositions which constitute an effective threat. The result which is desired to be achieved is therefore a psychological one and is sought by means of a threat [5] .

This psychological result is the product of combined effect of a calculation of risk incurred compared to the issue at stake and of the fear engendered by the risks and uncertainties of war. The fear springs from complex psychological factors of a political, social and moral nature. These factors are closely linked to the material calculation but, on occasions, may be independent of it [6] .

First Official Mention of Theory of Deterrence. The idea that atomic bombs could be used in a strategy of deterring an attack was broached by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of USA in June 1946. This declassified document reads,” It is remotely conceivable that the atomic bomb provides its own deterrent – in that fear of retaliation by atomic bombs against a violator who uses them will make the potential violator pause and consider before he decides to go ahead. “

Strategy of City Bursting (1947). This strategy was evolved during the Truman administration in 1947. It involved deterrence of attack on US vital interests by drastic threat of atomic destruction. It was supported by plans to use Strategic Air Command bombers to destroy largest soviet urban-industrial centers. Major advantage of this strategy was that it played to US strength and Soviet weakness. The Soviets knew that they could not be prevented from seizing all of Europe, but they also knew that mother Russia could be destroyed in bargain. It thus offered relatively cheap way (politically and economically) to maintain peace and freedom of Western Europe. A national policy of deterrence was formally approved by the National Security Council of USA on November 1948.

Berlin Crisis. During the Berlin crisis in 1948 USA dispatched its B-20 and B-29 squadrons to Germany and UK. Although US government press release described the B-29 flown overseas as atomic capable, they were actually not modified to carry the atomic bomb. Although this was a military ruse, it established the practice of nuclear deterrence in advance of its theoretical enunciation by US war planners [7] .

Extended Deterrence [8] (1948). This involved the use of nuclear power by US to protect non nuclear allies. This was developed to protect Western Europe against Soviet Union. The final victory of communists in the Chinese civil war, and the first atomic explosion by the Soviet Union made America more anxious about their relative security.

Strategy of Massive Retaliation [9] (1953-54). This strategy implied deterrence by threat to launch all out nuclear retaliation. US experience of Korean War was also responsible for bringing about this change.

Strategy of Graduated Deterrence [10] (Post 1954). The local aggression was to be deterred by making it sufficiently costly to the initiator so as not to be worthwhile. It aimed to develop a form of limited nuclear war that would deter future Korean sized offensives but, it never became an official US doctrine.

Strategy of Flexible Response [11] (Early Sixties). US wanting more options in conflict, reduced reliance on nuclear weapons. The US administration also accelerated spending on achieving second strike capability. The USA also adopted a Triad strategic force. In 1980 US deployed the fourth leg of the triad –

the cruise missile.

City Avoidance [12] (1961-62). Adversary was to be deterred by threatened destruction of his military forces, not his civilian population. This gave US more options in conflict, for example US could respond to soviet nuclear attack in Europe without necessarily initiating mutual exchange of attacks against cities. It was said to provide more credible threat because USSR was seen as placing higher value on its military forces.

Assured Destruction [13] (1964). Deterrence rests on retaining capability to inflict unacceptable damage on adversary even after absorbing surprise nuclear attack. The growing US missile superiority allowed US planners to establish quantitative criteria for determining size, characteristics and effectiveness of US nuclear forces.

Mutually Assured Destruction [14] (Mid Sixties). Deterrence now rests on ability of both sides to destroy each other even after they have been attacked. This concept was economical as US did not have to strive for nuclear superiority. It provided incentive for seeking arms limitations agreements.

Sufficiency [15] (1969). To destroy USSR and China, Nixon administration inherited much larger nuclear force than needed. Policy provided rationale for not having constantly to increase nuclear power.

Finite Deterrence (Minimum Deterrence-1970). Deterrence to be achieved by maintaining only a minimum level of nuclear force, which would inflict “unacceptable damage.”

Flexible Targeting [16] (1970-74). Deterrence to be achieved by developing wider range of strategic options against military targets. This

provided ways in which US surplus of warheads could be put to `good’ use.

Countervailing Strategy [17] (Late Seventies). This strategy was adopted in the hope to convince Soviets that no use of nuclear weapons and at any stage of conflict could lead to victory. New policy was seen as more ‘moral’ (people not targeted directly).

Horizontal Escalation [18] (1983). Soviet attacks against vulnerable US military interests to be deterred by threatening to retaliate against equally important and vulnerable soviet interests.

Simultaneity [19] (Late Eighties to Nineties). US had fear that in major conflict with soviets, it might not have time to shift forces from one region to another. The capability to fight on all fronts could only deter Soviet aggression.

Emerging Strategic Environment. With the dismantling of USSR, USA emerged as the only superpower. The campaign in Iraq followed by Kosovo and subsequently post Sep 11 events in Afghanistan demonstrated the awesome power of the USA. Its global strategy from Prevent, Deter and Defeat has now shifted to that of neo-imperialism wherein USA abrogates to itself the global role of setting standards, determining threats, using force and meting out justice. Proponents of nuclear deterrence argue that it remains a recessed feature that continues to impart stability in relations among China, Russia and the West.

Flaws In Deterrence Doctrine

General. Nuclear deterrence doctrine is the main stated reason for proliferation of nuclear weapons. It suffers from doctrinal flaws, vague notions, some questionable assumptions and diverting scarce resources away from development. Misgivings about it stem from doubts that balance of terror actually served to deter than in the manner often assumed by proponents of nuclear deterrence.

Deterrence and Defence. Nuclear deterrence strategy replaced the conventional force deterrence prior to the invention of nuclear weapons. This was done without giving adequate thought to the fact that the conventional and the nuclear situations are fundamentally dissimilar. In the past and even today, conventional weapons were amassed to deter an aggression before actual war and they were used to defend against that aggression if deterrence failed. Today the practical utility of nuclear weapons which can wreak havoc at an unparalleled state is highly questionable should deterrence fail. Conventional forces are still required to defend.

Rational Actor [20] . The second serious problem with nuclear deterrence has to do with the notion of rationality. Considerable evidence has been accumulated which suggests that the rational actor model does not prevail across the board in international politics. High level decision makers frequently do not act rationally, particularly under the stressful conditions inherent in crisis situations. Even if decision makers were to be rational, nothing can be said about the accuracy of information employed in rational calculations.

Problem of Credibility. Proponents of nuclear deterrence strategies argue that the threat must be credible to work in the way it should. Henry Kissinger stated the case even more strongly in 1979 when he said,” It is absurd to base the strategy of the West on the credibility of the threat of mutual suicide”.

Notions of Sufficiency. Development of nuclear weapons is often justified by invoking the strategy of deterrence, yet no strategic thinker can say with any degree of certainty as to how many and of what kinds of weapons are sufficient for deterrence. The result is an upward spiral of the arms race which was frequently justified on the need to continue to deter the other side.

Uni-Dimensional Character. The nuclear deterrence theory relies on instilling fear in an opponent to change his behavior. So, it disregards all other factors which may influence a foe’s behavior.

Inherent Danger. Policy of deterrence relies on threat and people can react differently to threats. Ironically the very weapons which intended to deter war could well accelera


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