Building a Reputation

Because of the very nature of what is essentially a “non-cooperative game” with agents and players who more than likely have competing preferences and interests, the broader game – or “Great Game” – is essentially played out in intervals or rounds and on a consistent basis in order to avoid having the various agents and players defect from one another. To assume that Washington pushes the envelope in order to prevent defection on the part of others may seem bizarre, but that is the reality of things. In short, the choice is between cooperation or defection, and by keeping the game going, one is perhaps reducing the chances of defection, at least that is what is suggested in theory. 

Moreover, the fact that “rational uncertainty” looms over this non-cooperative game, the willingness to take the risk of cooperation never becomes non-existent during the course of the game. There are also “reputational incentives” which are involved in a non-cooperative game, which means that while there may not be short-term payoffs for building a certain kind of reputation, over the long run, the payoffs can be high. While a “madman” strategy may seem pointless in the short run, the payoffs are actually high in the long run. Arguably, what differentiates the different agents and players is the different levels of consciousness and reality which define the various agents and players. In turn, a higher level of consciousness and reality amounts to a higher level of being and knowledge. 

In a sense, everything converges upon the beliefs of the various agents and players. Belief is basically tantamount to knowledge about the “state of the world.” Because there are “best beliefs” on one hand, and “flimsy” beliefs on the other hand, there is no payoff in deviating from one’s strategy when one wields a set of beliefs that is of a relatively higher quality and standard than the beliefs wielded by others. In a sense, consistent belief amounts to consistent knowledge about the state of the world. 

In totality, however, information is incomplete. Because the totality of the knowledge held by all the various agents and players of a non-cooperative game is incomplete, all the agents and players could perhaps converge upon a commonly held belief about the state of the world over the course of time. Alongside what could be a convergence upon a commonly held belief about the state of the world is an “imperfect equilibrium” which is the ultimate result or outcome of this non-cooperative game. 

Another issue is that is there is too much data and information out there. As a result, what is called for is a “quantum” approach towards information retrieval and decision-making. “Quantumness” amounts to “randomness” as has been argued by certain scholars and scientists. Hence, in a quantum context, one needs “quantum cognition” within which is embedded certain rules of logic and the negation of what is out there in addition to selective “conjunction and disjunction” with everything that is out there. In short, complexity and creativity. 

Because “quantumness” amounts to “randomness” in a deeper sense, it follows that our actions and beliefs can impact certain decisions and outcomes at the highest level of decision-making and strategy. Different beliefs and notions regarding the state of the world and the nature of reality as a result of incomplete information is what prompts our broader discussion up until this point. And in the end, there is equilibrium, but an imperfect one, given the beliefs of the various agents and players of the non-cooperative game. 

American foreign policy in the 21st century has thrown us into what is essentially a “Hobbesian state of nature” and a state of anarchy and lawlessness at the international level, which in turn affects domestic affairs. It is the international system which determines and shapes the domestic affairs of virtually every country. And given that an imperfect equilibrium is the eventual outcome of what is essentially a non-cooperative game, there is no real incentive for agents and players to change their chosen strategies, given that not only are the strategies essentially an operationalization of their beliefs, but it is essentially the eventual outcome of the non-cooperative game which is driving the decisions and the strategies of the agents and players. In turn, individual strategies are a ”best response” to what everyone else is doing based on the operationalization of certain beliefs on the part of the various agents and players and the eventual outcome of this non-cooperative game.

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