War as a social trap: The case of Tanzania
War can entrap the victor as well as the vanquished. Tanzania's victory over Uganda in 1979 was quick and decisive, and it was won with surprisingly few battle deaths. Yet, for Tanzanians it proved a Pyrrhic victory. Despite the defeat of Amin's forces and a two-year occupation, chaos continued in Uganda. The war and occupation caused unintended consequences that were far more costly for Tanzania--politically, socially and economically--than anyone anticipated. An analysis of this war and its consequences permits a theoretical and policy-grounded examination of the efficacy of war as an instrument of public policy and conflict resolution. The disparity between the anticipated and actual outcomes of this war is explained through the depiction of war as a social trap--a set of circumstances in the decision environment that distorts the decision maker's utility calculations, creating a false picture of the probable outcomes of alternate courses of action, thereby leading the decision maker to chose a course of action contrary to her/his self interest. To the extent that leaders who initiate war are acting within a social trap, their ability to anticipate outcomes is distorted. This calls into question war's efficacy both as an instrument of public policy and as a means of resolving conflict.