This post discusses the rationalistic approach to war decisions and application of game theory in Napoleon’s Battle of Waterloo.
Why do people go to war?
There are a number of approaches that attempt to explain how people, especially political and military leaders, make decisions. I focus on wartime decisions: the decisions to start, wage, and end wars.
In the study of war decisions, the first we stumble upon is rational choice theory. This theory assumes that when making decisions, humans are completely rational. Of course, there are certain caveats. A person can only be rational so far as the amount of information they have at a given point in time. Remember, hindsight is always 20/20.
I present the views of Fearon and Kirshner in regards to the rationalistic approach of war. We’d see that the rationalistic approach does have its merits and drawbacks in assessing war decisions. And to cap it all, I’ll present Mongin’s application of game theory in assessing the feasibility of Napoleon’s decision in the Battle of Waterloo.