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H. Gintis: Game Theory: Basic Concepts

Game Theorie is the study of strategic decision making. It uses simplified models to explain the strategies actors (or “players&rdquo can choose in a situation (or “game&rdquo and though can give hints on the possible outcomes of a strategic situation. Game theoretical models usually require, that all players act rational and that a lot of information are available about the players and their available strategies. Originally used in economic contexts, game theory can also be used in political issues.

 Currently the conflict in the European Union between the government of Greece and the Troika can be explained as “chicken game”. The chicken game is a hypothetical situation of a test of courage between two car drivers who are heading against each other. If none of them tries to avoid to hit the other, a mortal crash will be the result which is the worst outcome for both of them. If one drives straight, while the other one makes an avoiding manover, the avoider will be a coward, which is still much better than death, and the other driver will be the brave hero. If both try to avoid a crash, both will appear as cowards, which is better than being the only coward and much better than being dead of course.

The current negotiations between Greece and the European Union can be seen as a chicken game. The “grexit” would be the worst outcome for both actors, since an uncontrolled exit of Greece of the euro zone would have unpredictable consequences for Greece and the European Union. Grexit will be the outcome, if both players don´t change their position at all. If one of the actors gave up its negotiating position, it would be embarrassed (the EU in front of its member states and other international actors, the Greece government mainly in front of its voters, who expected a consequent implementation of the election pledges). A compromise between the both actors (For example an extension of the period in which the credits have to get payed back and the implementation of a few social programs to contain the bad humanitarian situation would be equal to both drivers avoiding a crash since Greece and the E.U would give up their position at least partly.
According to game theory, the solution of the chicken game is, that both players, if they act rational, have to “mix” their strategies, meaning that there´s not one strategy, which is always dominating the others. Mixing the strategies means, that both players should for example drive straight to 30% and avoid a crash in 70%. The actual probabilities of mixed strategies depend on the pay-outs the model suggests for the several outcomes. To give all the outcomes of a strategic situation accurate pay-offs is an important part of game theory. That´s why its use is more based in economics than in politics, since in economics the traded currency is usually money. But how can you quantify the meaning of the exit of the euro zone, the loose of credibility, good relations to different countries, the strengthening of democracy, the risk to end up in a war, the importance of overtaking the Crimea? And how can u compare this outcomes on a reliable base?

Since the finance minister of Greece is a well-known game theorist, you can be sure, that considerations like that are influencing his actions. Since both players have emphasized a lot of times, that they will not move their positions, the damage of credibility would be very strong for both, the Greece government and the E.U.. The most possible outcome is therefore a compromise, that let both players appear as winners. The only alternative is grexit, which is not impossible at all.

18.2.15 19:11, kommentieren


Week 5: Geopolitics


In „Geopolitics and Discourse: Practical Geopolitical Reasoning in American Foreign Policy“ Tuathail and Agnew are discussing the influence of constructed pictures of places on international discourses and policies. They argue that Geopolitics can never been seen as completely seperated from social, political and ideological dimensions, but as a form of power as a discourse. These thoughts get explained on the basis of the cold war out of an U.S American perspective. During the cold war period a lot of pictures where constructed around the participants, namely the Unitet States, the USSR and also Europe.  Responsible for this are usually intellectuals of core powers, especially if they are hegemonic powers, by people who are in power within the institutions of these states. From the very beginning the cold war was constructed as a struggle between a democratic, free and peaceful west and an awful, despotic, expansionist and aggresive east. Drawing this strong line has helped to create strong identities in the world which forced the most states to take clear sites in this conflict and which made it more difficult to rely on diplomatic approaches.
The United States have always been described as a „New World“ of freedom, free of the despotism and totalitarianism of the „Old world“. So the term America was not just used to describe a geographical place, but to transport an mythological idea that has an universal entitlement. Even the Declaration of Independence was not reduced to the United States, but included “the whole world“ and all „mankind“. After a long period of isolationism, The U.S.A. started to define themselve first as world power with pinciples and then as „the“ world power.
In despite to that, the USSR was defined as evil something on the other side of the border. To support this ideas, orientalistic terms and metaphers were used, describing russia as something completely different from the occident. Also sexual pictures were constructed talking about the USSR as a potential rapist, which wants to penetrate the innocent Europe, while the United States must function as a muskilin guard, that protects the vulnerable Europe. Metaphors of soviet communism as a „red flood“ were used aswell to suppport the idea of the necessity of containment.

The text tries to explain the influence of discourse on geopolitics. Doing that it stays very abstract, explaining just words, pictures and metaphors that were used to describe certain geographical places during the cold war period, but doesn´t explain at all the concrete impact these words had on the political world order. The actual impact of words and constructed pictures on humans behaviour and political actions is controversial. By explaining constructed pictures in a geopolitical context of t he cold war, it should be required to explain the impact the pictures may had aswell.


12.2.15 06:37, kommentieren