Teamwork, War, Competition, and Win-Win Scenarios
Different situations are described by different theories and require different approaches. In the competitive situation, the point is to maximize one's own well-being regardless of what it means for the next person; and this situation is described best by classical economics. In the war situation or hostile situation, the point is to maximize one's own well-being and inflict the maximum harm on the next person. But in situations of teamwork, the point is to maximize the well-being of everyone on the team; and this is described best by the game theory.
In the game theory, the point is to achieve what is known as pareto-optimization. In pareto-optimal situations, the well-being of everyone is at the maximal place it can be, and nobody can benefit more except by taking away more from the next person than he gets. This model works brilliantly, to the point that it's now being used by football teams in the United States. The jocks have hired the nerds, and they are benefiting from it.
The person who came up with the game theory - John Nash - did not start out as a team player. His behavior in his youth was antisocial. Someone may cry hypocrisy, but he would be wrong. What we are seeing here is something necessary for the function. To come up with something truly original, one needs to think differently from people around him, and that is bound to cause interpersonal conflict.
Perhaps it is through dischordance between his lifestyle and the implications of his theory that his psychotic episode occasioned. But in my own life, being a husband and a father has prevailed on me to be what I have never been before, and that is a team player. In a situation of household, the benefit of everyone needs to be considered, and benefit of the next person in the household is just as important as is one's own benefit.
Of course, in the world we will see all three scenarios playing out. There will be situations of competition; there will be situations of hostility; and there also will be situations of teamwork. Each situation has to be approached based on its nature. One promising trend in business thought has been Steven Covey's idea of win-win scenarios, in which the parties in any deal come up with solutions that work for them both. This situation does much to build prosperity while resulting in less hostility among the participants. What it really does, is turn a situation of competition into a situation of teamwork, at least temporarily; and this leads to benefit for both parties involved.
Win-win scenarios work in between teams that stand to arrive at mutual benefit by collaborating with each other. Where they do not work is when dealing with people who genuinely wish one ill. There is no such thing as a win-win scenario with the Taliban; they want to kill us. And a compromise with someone who wants one dead leaves one half-dead.
Most situations of hostility can be succcessfully negotiated into situations of teamwork or at least the situations of competition. There is much hostility between France and United States, but they collaborate on the important matters, such as maintaining and promoting democracy, fostering economic trade between one another and defending the NATO countries from foreign enemies. The diplomatic approach works in most international situations and should be practiced as much as possible, as unlike war it costs nothing in lives and much less in money. But with those who uncompromisingly want one dead, or forced to obey Sharia, or in any other undesirable situation, there is no diplomatic approach. One has to win.
The optimal situation is therefore teamwork; a less optimal situation is competition; and the worst situation is war. Greatest benefit is accomplished by moving as many situations as possible into the place of win-win scenarios. Moving a war situation into a situation of competition provides a boon for both parties; so does moving a competition situation into a win-win situation of teamwork. The war situation is the least desirable situation, but given the realities of the world there will be situations when it is necessary to go to war.
The proposal I have is therefore that of a strong and benevolent leadership that does as much as it can to move more situations into a place of win-win scenarios and practice diplomacy as much as possible while maintaining the strength that it needs to deal with people who won't abide by diplomacy. In this situation, strength is used to advance benefit. With the proper parameters of its role being defined, and rigidly kept to, strength becomes less likely to turn into abuse or oppression. And the result is benefit for all the parties involved.