This paper is all about the construction of a new analytical framework to understand conflict and cooperation both at the international and at the domestic level with the aim of then finding mechanisms to reduce tensions and initiate conflict resolution schemes. The existing research literature on such analytical frameworks has so far been conducted a) mostly on standard social science disciplinary lines and has not incorporated the important work done on these questions by neuro-scientists and behavioral geneticists and b) is not really capable except in very specific instances to deal with the evolving dynamics of conflict and cooperation. Conflict over scarce resources (territory, mates, food) between members of the same species is a universal feature of evolution. Often conflict, especially armed conflict is supposed to be due to shows of force by two or more parties in order to appropriate or dominate resources. Force appears thus not to be the only decisive factor; perceived entitlement and powerful feelings of injustice thereby generated in the case of challenge, extended to group identity are also at the basis of conflict and aggression in humans. The relationship between environment and conflict, the role of emotions such as fear, and the absence of clear definition and enforcement of property rights within societies are also factors in the development of conflict. Thus we have here developed an analytically based numerical model that aims to include finding on these topics by Neuroscience and to emphasize the role of emotions in conflict and cooperation dynamics. This model has been simulated without specific reference to a particular country with the result that economic conditions drive our system since in one case sustained growth produces stability and end of combats whereas deteriorating capital growth and GDP collapse lead to increased hostile coalition participation and more fighting. However, the mere trigger of economic conditions is insufficient to explain conflict escalation, which results from increased participation in mutually hostile coalitions and greater fighting propensity where emotions such as fear and resentment play their role. Finally a detailed empirical analysis of the current Syrian conflict has been undertaken which shows the ability of the model to forecast actual historical developments. This study also indicates that worsening economic conditions are not the only triggering factors in civil conflict. Perceptions of opportunities due to a weakening of a regime’s authority also play a major role.
A metanorm is according to Axelrod (1986) a norm that serves to enforce a group norm, here the agent who does not follow the ethnic cue of the group he belongs to will be punished himself.
Such a territorial emphasis and the relationships it implies between armed groups and the civilian population has been pioneered by Kalyvas (2006) Kalyvas and Kocher (2009).
She suggests an alternative axiomatization of utility theory topology as already mentioned above in order to account for attitudes involving fear of catastrophes.
The links between bargaining and risk attitudes are explored as mentioned before in Arcand and Luterbacher (2013).
As opposed to the previous utility function, which referred to the choice between public and private goods, this one refers to the choice between fighting and producing and is thus labeled uwf. The two utility functions are obviously linked, a fact that we will evoke below.
The framework of the constraint is inspired by Dasgupta and Heal’s (1979) similar reasoning for the case of public goods.
We can see from this budget constraint how we could overcome the restriction posed in Assumption 6 and make our model necessary and sufficient for the explanation of war lord activities: the war lord is the one who organizes the taxation of resources to distribute the initial subsidy to fighters.
Empirical cases of such international cartels include the OPEC or the coffee cartel until the 1990s.
This particular finding is compatible with the point made by De Soysa et al. (1999) that there are high rates of civil wars in agrarian societies since production can here take any form. Notice that agricultural productivities are relatively low in agrarian societies. Moreover, these are often also producers of natural resources.
Clearly our intention is to go farther here than conceptions based solely upon micro-level analyses such as the ones by Kalyvas (2006) and Kalyvas and Kocher (2009). While the conceptual importance of the territorial approach pioneered by him is fully acknowledged, it begs the question of the origins and developments of armed groups and their recruitment dynamics which cannot be uniquely based upon the provisions of collective and private goods and coercion at least in the beginning of a conflict. Incentives to fight based upon general economic conditions certainly have a place in the analysis as we are trying to suggest here.
Our parameters are a priori evaluations and not statistical estimations, thus the use of correlation coefficients rather than other statistics.
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The research presented here was supported through a grant from SNIS the Swiss Network for International Studies. This help is gratefully acknowledged by the authors.
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