POLI 388   International Conflict and Cooperation

The course introduces game theory at an elementary level. Simple models of strategic interaction and conflict will be presented in order to analyze the strategy and tactics of international (and other) deterrence, coercion, bargaining, and cooperation. Special attention will be given to doctrines of nuclear strategy and arms control and to the changing strategic balance between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War period, as well as to issues of deterrence and preemption as they arise as they arise in the present era of asymmetric conflict.   Prerequisite: Junior standing, POLI 280, or permission of instructor..


Announcements:   Final Grades will be ready on Tuesday, June 1 or earlier (consistent with what was said in the Guide to the Final Exam but inconsistent with what was said on the Final Exam sheet itself).  Instead of posting grades here for those students who authorized this, I will send out out individual emails to all students once grades are ready.  Note: if you check your grades on myUMBC now, you will find an "I" (Incomplete) for POLI 388; this is merely a placeholder until I have the actual grades ready. 

Problem Set #1   PS #1: Answers  PS #1.A&D

Problem Set #2   PS #2: Answers  [Correction: Question 1 (1):  only (s3,c2) is an equilibrium]

Guide to In-Class Midterm Test    Answers & Discussion

Take-Home Midterm  Assignment  [Due Monday, April 19.  Note: you are not expected to do any outside reading or research for this assignment.  If you wish, you may copy selections of the speech from this link and paste them into your paper to indicate what parts of the speech you are referring to.]    Answers & Discussion

Guidelines for Student Research Projects     Sample Reports from Earlier semester: IraqKorea, Kyoto

Student Selections of Research Topics  [updated 4/14 PM: by Friday 4/16, please send an email with this information: (1) reconfirmed and/or refined topic; (2) preliminary outline, particularly a first attempt to fit topic into the template outlined on the last page of syllabus and the first page of Guidelines for Projects; (3) preliminary sources and/or other resources: and (4) if presentations are optional, do you want to make a presentation (in early May).

If you have not yet done, please send me an email no later than 5/3 AM (and preferably earlier) indicating whether you (1) definitely want to make a class presentation, (2) definitely do not want to make a presentation, or (3) for the moment remain undecided

Sample POLI 388 Papers from Spring 2005

Student Research Presentations:  No later than 5/3 AM (and preferably earlier), please send me an email indicating whether you (1) definitely want to make a class presentation, (2) definitely do not want to make a presentation, or (3) remain undecided and, if you want or may want to make a presentation, also indicating (4) your preferred day for making the presentation (Wed. May 5, Monday May 10, or Wed. May 12).   You should plan on a presentation of about 10-15 minutes, which would be followed by some class discussion and Q&A.    Given that presentations are optional, I will increase the weight of the research presentation plus report from 25% to 35% (reducing the weight of the other course requirements accordingly) in calculating your course grade, but I will do this only if doing so is to your advantage, i.e., only if your grade on the report plus presentation is higher than your average grade on the Midterm Test, Midterm Essay assignment, and Final Exam.  (This means that, apart from the extra work involved, making a presentation is a dominant strategy.)

Presentation Schedule    Note: most presentations will be on Friday 5/14, along with the review session beginning at 1:30PM in PUP 208 (next door to our regular classroom).  As a courtesy to your fellow students, please attend the presentations if you possibly can.

Executive Summaries    If you will not be making a class presentation, please submit to me no later than the last day of class (Wednesday, May 12) an electronic "Executive Summary" pertaining to your research topic. This should be about 200-300 words and it should briefly indicate what topic you are studying, why the topic is significant, and how various POLI 388 concepts and ideas may apply to the topic.  Obviously this summary, like the class presentations, will be somewhat preliminary, since most likely you will still have work to do on final version of the report that you will submit by the end of the final exam period.  The Executive Summaries will be posted on the course website.  All students will be responsible for reading the posted summaries, as well as attending the class presentations.  Some questions on the Final Exam will pertain to student research topics.

Optional Review Session on Friday, May 14, at 1:30 in PUB 206

Guide to Final Exam    The Final Exam is scheduled for Monday, May 17, 1:00-3:00PM in PUP 206.

Information on Psi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Research Conference


Required Books for Spring 2010:

Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff, Thinking Strategically, paperback, W. W. Norton: 1991, 0-393-31035-3,  Publisher's price: $18.95; Amazon Price (as of 12/03/09): $12.89 (plus used copies available)

Robert F. Kennedy, Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, paperback, W. W. Norton, 1999, 0-393-31834-6, Publisher's Price: $13.95: Amazon Price (as of 12/03/09): $10.04 (plus used copies available)

Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (With a New Preface and Afterword), paperback, Yale University Press, 2008,  9780300002218, Publisher's price: $20.00; Amazon Price (as of 12/03/09): $17.10 (plus used copies available)

Course Syllabus with links to readings

Course Syllabus [PDF]

Bulletin Board (Question & Answer)

Topics and Power Points

    Topic #1   Overview
                            POLI 388 Questions

    Topic #2   Playing Games
Social Coordination Games
                            Fair Division, the Ultimatum Game, and Bargaining
                            Coordination with Conflicting Interests
                            Social Dilemma Game
                            The Centipede Game
                            The Dollar Auction Game
The Social Coordination Game
                            "Tacit Coordination" (from T. Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict, Chapter 3 ("Bargaining, Communication, and Limited War")
                            The Social Dilemma Game

    Topic #3   Games Against Nature  (revised 02/05/10)
                            One-Player Games (Games Against Nature)
                            The Payoff Matrix (Strategic Form)
                            Undominated and Dominant Strategies
                            Maximin Strategies

    Topic #4   Classic 2x2 Simultaneous Choice Games (slightly revised 2/19/10)
Matching Pennies (Coordination)
                            Battle of the Sexes (Coordination and Conflict)
                            Prisoner’s Dilemma
                            Nash Equilibrium

    Topic #5    Zero-Sum (Total Conflict) Games
Strictly Determined Zero-Sum Games (“Battle of the Bismark Sea”)
                            Non-Strictly Determined Zero-Sum Games (“D-Day Invasion”)
                           Mixed Strategies
                           The Minimax Theorem

    Topic #6   Variations on 2x2 Games
Preplay Communication (Cheap Talk)
                            Strategic Intelligence
                            Strategic Deception
                           Credible Commitment
                           Threats and Promises
Sequential Play
                           Agreements and Side Payments
                           Repeated Play

    Topic #7   Extensive and Normal Forms
The Extensive vs. Strategic Form
                            Perfect vs. Imperfect Information
                            Backwards Induction (“Look ahead and reason back”)

    Topic #8   Other Game Theory Topics  [not covered]
Complete vs. Incomplete Information
                            Repeated Games and Reputation Effects
                            Side Payments and Transferable Utility
                            Cooperative Games and the Core
                            Simple Games

    Topic #9   Voting and Social Choice  [not covered]
Majority Rule and the Median Voter
                            Sincere (or Naive) vs. Strategic Voting
                            Agenda Control
                            Veto Games

    Topic #10   Bargaining and Bargaining Tactics
                      Thomas Schelling, "An Essay on Bargaining"

    Topic #11   Bargaining and Bargaining Tactics (cont.)

    No Topic #12  First Midtern Test

    Topic #13   Secrecy, Surprise, and Deception

    Topic #14   Defense and Deterrence
Defense and Offense
                           Deterrence and Compellence
                           Absolute and Relative Gains
                          Endurance Contests

    Topic #15   Specific Deterrence and Compellence

    Topic #16   Credibility and General Deterrence

    Topic #17   The Security Dilemma, Deterrence, and the Spiral Model

    Topic #18   Brinksmanship, Escalation, and Crisis

    Topic #19   Nuclear Origins
                        Albert Wohlstetter, "The Delicate Balance of Terror"

    Topic #20   Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)

    Topic #21   Nuclear Strategy
Counterforce vs. Countervalue
                           Controlled Response
                           Extended Deterrence
                          War by Accident
                        Robert McNamara (Secretary of Defense), “The No Cities Doctrine”
                        J. Peter Scoblic, "Robert McNamara's Logical Legacy,"

    Topic #22   Nuclear Options
Civil Defense
                           Strategic Defense
                           Arms Control
                           Nuclear Proliferation
                           Nuclear Terrorism

    Topics #23-29      TBA

Guidance on Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

        UMBC:  Overview of  Academic Integrity
        Resources for Students
        Guidance on Plagiarism (Prof. Roy Meyers)
        "Plagiarism" by Prof. Earl Babbie


Class Handouts [from Sping 2005 -- will be throughly revised and put into PowerPoint]

        Course Overview Questions
        The Social Coordination Games
        The Social Dilemma Game
        Social Dilemmas and Related Problem of a Game-Theoretical Nature
        Overview of Game Theory
        Fundamental Distinctions, Categories, and Terminology
        Principles of Choice in Games Against Nature
        Decision Problems (Examples)
        Coordination Games
        Variations on Simple Payoff Matrices
        Review of Decision Principles and Variations (PDF)
        Non-Strictly Determined Zero-Sum Games and Mixed Strategies
        Q & A: Mixed Strategies and Non-Strictly Determined Zero-Sum Games
        Review of Strategic Situations: Simple 2×2 Payoff Matrices

        Bargaining Tactics
        Dollar Auction / Enduring Conflict Game
        Strategic Nuclear Balance During the Cold War 

Problem Sets


Other Material on Cuban Missile Crisis

        N. R. Miller, "The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Political Analysis"
        N. R. Miller, "The Cuban Missile Crisis in the International System"
        The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 18-29, 1962 (audio clips)
        The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: The 40th Anniversary, National Security Archive,
                    George Washington University
        The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Historical Perspective, JFK Library and Foundation
        The National Security Agency and the Cuban Missile Crisis
        The Cuban Missile Crisis, Le Mémorial de Caen [France]

General Links

        UMBC Political Science Department
        Instructor's Homepage (bio, research, other courses, etc.)
        Albin O. Kuhn (UMBC) Library home page
        American Political Science Association

Current Events

        Washington Post
        New York Times on the Web (requires free registration)
        CNN World
        PBS News Hour
        BBC World Service
        The Times (London)
        The Guardian (UK)

Game Theory

        Game Theory Society
        An Introductory Sketch of Game Theory
        A Outline of the History of Game Theory
        Al Roth's Game Theory Page
        David Levine's Economic and Game Theory
        The Prisoners' Dilemma
        Prisoner's Dilemma
        The Prisoner's Dilemma [with "Applet"]
        Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma Applet

Game Theorists and Others

        Sun Tzu, The Art of War [extract]
        John von Neumann
        John von Neumann
        The 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to three game theorists
              John F. Nash, Jr.   [also see PBS American Experience: A Brilliant Madness]
              John C. Harsanyi   [was a member of NRM's Ph.D. dissertation committee]
              Richard Selten
        "John Nash and the Analysis of Strategic Behavior" by Victor Crawford
        Thomas Schelling
        "Reflections on Thomas Schelling" by Richard Zechhauser, J. of Econ. Perspectives, Spring 1989 *
        Albert Wohlstetter [bio]
        Albert Wohlstetter's RAND papers
        William H. Riker [the political scientist most responsible for introducing game theory into the discipline]
        Robert Axelrod
              Review by Ken Binmore of The Evolution of Cooperation and The Complexity of Cooperation
        "The Contribution of Rational Choice [to Strategic Studies]: A Defense of Pluralism" by Lisa Martin

Strategic Studies: Institutions

        Rand Corporation
        International Institute for Strategic Studies (London)
               Dossier on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction
        Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies
        Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington)
        Council on Foreign Relations
        Center For Security Policy
        The Nautilus Institute
        Henry L. Stimson Center [Washington]
        Olin Institute of Strategic Studies [Harvard University]
        Department of Strategic Studies, SAIS [Johns Hopkins University]
        Center for International Security and Cooperation [Stanford University]
        Strategic Studies Institute (U.S. Army War College)
        Institute for National Strategic Studies ([U.S.] National Defense University)
        Centre for Defence and International Security Studies [Lancaster University, UK]
        Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies (Tel Aviv University)
        Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (Bar-Ilan University [Israel])
        [United Arab] Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research
        Center for Strategic Studies [University of Jordan]
        Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad [Pakistan]
        Institute for Strategic Studies [Russia]

Strategic Studies: Associations and Journals

        International Strategic Studies Association
        Society for Strategic and Military Studies
        Arms Control Association
        Foreign Affairs
        The Journal of Strategic Studies
        International Security
        International Organization
        Intelligence and National Security
        National Secururity Studies Quarterly

Strategic Studies: Documents, etc.

        The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (9/17/01)
        Nuclearfiles.Org -- Nuclear Strategies, Doctrines, and Concepts
        Center For Defense Information
        NationalSecurity.org [Heritage Foundation]
        Global Security.Org
        National Security Archive [George Washington University]
        Cold War International History Project [Woodrow Wilson Center]
        Post-Cold War Conflict Deterrence [Goodpaster, et al.]
        Cold War [CNN Documentary Series]
        War and Peace in the Nuclear Age [PBS Documentary Series]
        Gen. Lee Butler [former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command], Death by Deterrence

Strategic Studies: Links to Links

        International Relations Documents [Prof. Vincent Ferraro, Mt Holyoke College]
        >>> Links to hundred of documents and sources, including documents pertaining to
           World War II
           The Cold War
           The Korean War
           The Cuban Missile Crisis
           Nuclear Weapons
           Strategic Doctrine
           International Relations Theory
        Department of Strategic and Defense Studies [Southwest Missouri State University] Links
        International Relations: On-Line Sources [Texas A&M University]
        Defence and Security Links [Lancaster University UK]
        International Security Policy and Military Affairs: Information Sources [Columbia University]
        WWW Virtual Library: International Affairs Resources

Resources for General Political Research

        American Political Science Association
        European Consortium for Political Research
        Political Studies Association (UK)
        Core Documents of American Democracy (GPO)
        Documents Library (Thomas R. Dye, Democracy in America)
        Inter-Parliamentary Union
        Political Science Information (Berkeley)
        Richard Kimber's Political Science Resources (U. of Keele)
        Political Science Research Resources (Duke U.)
        Ultimate Political Science Links
        U. Of Michigan Documents Center: Statistical Resources for Political Science
        LSU Research Resources in Political Science
        Political Science Virtual Library (U. of Conn.)
        PSGSA Research Resources (NYU)
        Political Lynx (Georgetown)
        Virtual Library on Democracy (UCI)
        Statistical Abstract of the US
        National Political Index
        Poly-Cy: Internet Resources for Political Science
        Georgetown Lynx
        Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe
        This Nation: The American Government & Politics Portal
        Political Resources On-Line
        Political Resources on the Net
        Roll Call
        Rulers (Heads of State/Government)
        UK Parliament