The Devil's Calculus: Mathematical Models of Civil War
AbstractIn spite of the movement to turn political science into a real science, various mathematical methods that are now the staples of physics, biology, and even economics are thoroughly uncommon in political science, especially the study of civil war. This study seeks to apply such methods - specifically, ordinary differential equations (ODEs) - to model civil war based on what one might dub the capabilities school of thought, which roughly states that civil wars end only when one side’s ability to make war falls far enough to make peace truly attractive. I construct several different ODE-based models and then test them all to see which best predicts the instantaneous capabilities of both sides of the Sri Lankan civil war in the period from 1990 to 1994 given parameters and initial conditions. The model that the tests declare most accurate gives very accurate predictions of state military capabilities and reasonable short term predictions of cumulative deaths. Analysis of the model reveals the scale of the importance of rebel finances to the sustainability of insurgency, most notably that the number of troops required to put down the Tamil Tigers is reduced by nearly a full order of magnitude when Tiger foreign funding is stopped. The study thus demonstrates that accurate foresight may come of relatively simple dynamical models, and implies the great potential of advanced and currently unconventional non-statistical mathematical methods in political science.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8895.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
civil war; mathematical model; differential equations; dynamic model;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- N45 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Asia including Middle East
- C02 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Mathematical Economics
- H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
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