Cover: A Design for War Prevention Games

A Design for War Prevention Games

Published 1985

by James P. Kahan, William M. Jones, Richard E. Darilek


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This Note considers some of the major models that analysts have posed to describe how wars grow out of crises. This leads to a model of superpower crisis behavior that integrates the intranational with the international behavior of both superpowers. This model shows promise for fruitfully combining traditional foreign policy and strategic perspectives with behavioral and systems science concepts in the analysis of nuclear crisis prevention and management between the superpowers. The authors present this model, along with a brief discussion of how it could illuminate major issues in nuclear crises. This leads to a manual politico-military game design based on that model, which would use empirically-constructed databases to inform and refine policy-oriented hypotheses. The Note includes a brief general view of gaming that summarizes traditional means of gaming and their limitations, the requirements of the proposed gaming design, and the potential benefits of a technologically advanced approach. The authors present details of the new game design, and offer examples of recent computer software advances in gaming and data management at RAND that may be readily adapted for implementing the new design. Finally, they illustrate how the proposed system might be applied to two situations of major interest in the effort to understand how best to avoid a superpower nuclear confrontation.

This report is part of the RAND note series. The note was a product of RAND from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

This research in the public interest was supported by RAND, using discretionary funds made possible by the generosity of RAND's donors, the fees earned on client-funded research, and independent research and development (IR&D) funds provided by the Department of Defense.

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