Forecasting the future of the Islamic State: an agent-based rational choice model and social network analysis approach
Wilcox, Peter R.
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Failure to analyze critically the impact and consequences of political decisions increases the prospect for developing military strategies that fail to deliver on U.S. policy objectives, and, at worst, risks defeat. This work provides an applied analytical framework from which political and military analysts can systematically analyze the potential impact of political decisions on military operations. This thesis introduces an expected utility model (EUM) and social network analysis (SNA) in a manner that guides analysts from the theoretical assumptions underpinning both tool sets, through their technical specifications, to an applied case study (the Islamic State) to demonstrate that political analysis and prediction are not only possible but also informative and relevant to the U.S. services. The thesis concludes that while the Islamic State (IS) caliphate in Iraq is expected to be defeated, it will likely endure as an insurgency. Forecasting the future of the IS caliphate demonstrates that the EUM and SNA remain applied facilitative means to examine, analyze, and extrapolate inferences about policy decisions and their impact on current and future military affairs.
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