My undergraduate training was in history, and I maintain an active interest in reading political history. I also believe that political science methods — in particular strategic insights from game theory — offer a great opportunity to academic historians. Below is a paper I wrote for a graduate seminar, “Bargaining and War in International History” several years ago, in which I use a formal model of conflict to explicate the logic behind a puzzling historical case.
While I think this paper is interesting, I have close to no idea what might be done with it. So, comments/ideas are most welcome. Enjoy!
“Their Own Bits of Chaos:” The Power to Hurt, Reparations, and The Ruhr Threat, pdf
Formal models of war generally address one of two questions. The first is why violence might be used in the service of coercion; the second is how it accomplishes its goals. Often models are “tested” by using the logic to adumbrate cases of war. Here I subject two important game theoretic mechanisms of conflict — commitment problem driven war and Slantchev’s “power to hurt” model – to a relatively “tough,” detailed test in explaining the French occupation of the Ruhr Valley in 1923. The Ruhr occupation should be a tough test since it did not involve large-scale military action or fighting between troops. If the bargaining model logic holds here, we can be relatively optimistic about its accuracy in explaining more “traditional” examples of the use of force.