Economic Analysis of Unrestricted Warfare

Unrestricted Warfare Symposium, 2007

14 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2008


Economic analysis offers two concepts relevant to the study and application of unrestricted warfare: a conception of universal human nature (unchanged by culture and by time) and an appreciation for institutions and the constraints they impose. The economist's fundamental analytical framework derives from the combination of these two concepts. Institutions don't make decisions - people do. But an individual makes a decision within an institution. Al Qaeda is an institution; Osama bin Laden is a decision-maker. Iraq did not choose to invade Kuwait in 1990; Saddam Hussein chose to invade, and he made his choices within the institutional constraints of the Office of President of Iraq. Individuals making decisions in conditions of scarcity - this defines economic science and provides the fundamental starting point for the study of unrestricted warfare. The individual decision-maker and the institutional constraints - these two elements compose the building blocks for economic analysis applied to unrestricted warfare.

Keywords: terrorism, warfare, institutions, human nature

JEL Classification: A11, D2, D7, H56

Suggested Citation

Shiffman, Gary M. and Shiffman, Gary M., Economic Analysis of Unrestricted Warfare. Unrestricted Warfare Symposium, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Gary M. Shiffman (Contact Author)

Giant Oak ( email )

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Georgetown University ( email )

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