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assuming that they will behave "pragmatically" or "reasonably,"
by which is meant being satisfied with only marginal improvements
in their situation.
It is also a profound mistake to believe that adversaries
necessarily reason in a way that decision theorists would describe
as attempting to maximize expected utility. Exceedingly ambitious,
goal-driven people often seek to maximize the likelihood of
success, which is quite different psychologically from maximizing
expected utility. That is, utility theory is a poor way to
represent such reasoning even though one can look at behavior and
infer effective utility functions.
The methods described here could be profitably used routinely in
a wide variety of national security planning contexts such as
studies of plausible contingencies, peacetime crisis gaming,
high-level gaming in the presence of strategic warning, and the
development of better intelligence assessments. They are
particularly good for getting beyond the "tyranny of the best
estimate" that has so badly affected prior decision making. They
are also very good for structuring discussion and allowing
strategists to discriminate among situations that might appear
analogous if one were to operate solely on the basis of intuition
gained from real-world experience and a few human crisis games.
That is, the methods described here can draw heavily on
experiential methods such as gaming, but they are substantially
more analytic and integrative. A word of caution, however. These
methods are no better than those who apply them. Ideally,
applications should be guided by strongly analytic people drawing,
in an interdisciplinary setting, on the perspectives and expertise
of strategists, regional experts, military officers, and
Davis, Paul K., ed., "Improving Deterrence
in the Post-Cold War Era: Some Theory and Implications for Defense
Planning," New Challenges for Defense Planning: Rethinking How
Much Is Enough, Rand, Santa Monica, Calif., 1994.
Davis, Paul K., and John Arquilla,
Deterring or Coercing Opponents in Crisis: Lessons from the War
with Saddam Hussein, Rand, Santa Monica, Calif., 1991.
Thinking About Opponent Behavior in Crisis
and Conflict: A Generic Model for Analysis and Group Discussion,
Rand, Santa Monica, Calif., 1991.
For an application to proliferation issues
Arquilla, John, and Paul K. Davis,
Modeling Decisionmaking of Potential Proliferators as Part of
Developing Counterproliferation Strategies, MR-467, Rand, Santa
Monica, Calif., 1994.