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Posts Tagged ‘Gerald Holtom

“We all have our price, and mine’s a lot lower than that”*…

From Model Thinking, a modest proposal to end the war in Ukraine…

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused the loss of countless lives, hundreds of billions in damage and about $150bn financial and military aid from allies, primarily the United States and the Europe Union (EU).

One potential idea to end the conflict is to pay Russian soldiers, often unwilling combatants, to surrender. Indeed, the Ukrainian government, shortly after the invasion began, offered Russian soldiers 5 million roubles ($48,000), or four years’ salary for the average Russian, to do so. 

More than a year later, the scheme has received very little public attention. At the time, Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University, said the scheme would have limited effect because Russian soldiers considering it had to weigh it against three large costs, namely the risks of: 

  1. Being shot for desertion by the Russian army 
  2. Ukrainian soldiers disobeying international law and shooting any captured prisoners 
  3. Them being returned to Russia in a peace deal where they would most likely face death or imprisonment for defecting.

Caplan suggests an improvement: offering not only payment but also EU citizenship for Russian soldiers and their families. This means that defecting soldiers and their families can both establish themselves and permanently enjoy an income several times higher than their previous life while facing little risk of forced repatriation. Although this scheme has attracted some interest elsewhere, no attempt has yet been made to model its impact.

In this post, we provide a simple model of the effect of such a policy. Conservatively, we conclude that if there is a <17% chance of death while trying to defect, a $100,000 payment is sufficient to incentivise the average Russian soldier to do so – meaning that it might cost as little as $20bn to end the war entirely…

A fascinating (if perhaps optimistic) analysis of how much Russian soldiers would need to be paid to defect if also offered EU citizenship: “Paying for Peace,” from @DuncanMcClement and @jasonhausenloy in @model_thinking.

* Your correspondent’s motto


As we put the mercy in mercenary, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that the Peace Symbol made it’s public debut at the British nuclear disarmament movement’s march from Trafalgar Square to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire.

Designed by Gerald Holtom, it featured the super-imposition of the flag semaphore for the characters “N” and “D,” taken to stand for “nuclear disarmament.”


Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 4, 2023 at 1:00 am

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