A Game Theory of the Japanese American Internment
This chapter argues that the lay understanding of games as fair and unbiased allowed World War II military officials to invoke game theory to resolve the thorny contradictions of imprisoning American citizens on racial grounds. A branch of applied mathematics which would eventually form the backbone of U.S. Cold War foreign policy as a “scientific” means of predicting enemy behavior, game theory has often been considered a defining discourse of Cold War America. Juxtaposing internment-era novels and military correspondence alongside game theory textbooks and popular media accounts, this chapter reveals, however, that a decade before it was applied to the “red menace,” a prefiguration of game theory amplified and then neutralized the threat posed by the “inscrutable intentions” of one hundred thousand Japanese Americans by reframing their fervent claims of U.S. loyalty as little more than a bluff.
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