Game Theory

Attempting to hold rationality and humanity together is an unenviable task, if not simply an impossible one:

In a series of interventions, Adil Ahmad Haque and Charlie Dunlap have debated the Defense Department Law of War Manual’s position on human shields (here, here, and here). Claiming that the manual does not draw a distinction between voluntary and involuntary human shields, Haque maintains that it ignores the principle of proportionality, thus permitting the killing of defenseless civilians who are used as involuntary shields. Dunlap, however, insists that the manual includes all the necessary precautions for protecting civilians used as shields by enemy combatants, and argues that the adoption of Haque’s approach would actually encourage the enemy to increase the deployment of involuntary human shields. …

Sensitivity to the plight of ‘human shields’ directly increases their tactical value. That is the ultimate ‘proportionality’ involved in the discussion. Disciplined attention to incentives under conditions of unbounded competition reliably heads into dark places.

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