Iraq, Cooperation and Rational Expectations

The Opinionated Bastard in comments to my post about refugee resettlement raises a very interesting point that I want to think about outloud for a couple of minutes:

As far as evacuation goes, I can kind of agree with that, but I wonder if we announced that in advanced if it would change the rational self interest equation.

First pass rational expectation game would make me disagree with him. IF we are to assume rational decision making on all parties involved so that cooperate/non-cooperate decisions are solely based on expected costs and people choosing the course of action with the highest expected “pay-out” then having an announced and credible refugee resettlement program should lower the cost of cooperation. My logic on this is that there is some non-zero probability P of things completely going down the shitter from the POV of anyone cooperating with the US in Iraq. One potential outcome of P is targetted killings against collaborators, either as part of the civil war, or as a post-civil war, convienent collective scapegoating action. Being killed is a fairly costly action. However if P occurs and the expected outcome of a collaborator or a marginal decision maker is that they get evacuated and set up in Dearborn Michigan, then the cost of acting as a cooperator decreases, and the benefits increase slightly. Therefore an announced and credible policy with visible pre-crisis preperations should lead to increased cooperation. This increased cooperation would then theoretically lead to a lower value for P as the counter-insurgency effort could become marginally more effective. Thus announcing a credible and visible refugee resettlement program could actually lead to Pareto improvements in all parties except the insurgents.

Second pass at this gets a bit more complicated as we start introducing some complexity here. Knowing that one could be hung tomorrow does tend to concentrate one’s mind and if the threat of a low probability but very high cost P of being killed as outlined above is taken as the threat to be hung, motivation to cooperate with the US could lead to a higher quality of cooperation than if there is a credible and fairly valuable out of having a pretty good chance to resettle in Dearborn. The logic would be that the marginal cooperator would prefer not to have to leave his home and country, but if worse comes to worse, resettlement is a satisficing condition for him and his family (no sexism intended here), therefore less than maximum effort/ability will be devoted towards cooperation.
I am still playing around with these ideas, and I have to thank the Opinionated Bastard for plopping a really good question into my head.

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