World politics and group dynamics

This post is in continuation of the previous one :

American nuclear policy, world politics and group dynamics – a discussion

The way different countries behave in an international setting is interesting. The way they try to safe guard their interests, the way they may display selfishness, aggression, benevolence, suspicion, friendliness, positivity, negativity, right wing tendencies, left wing tendencies… all of this so strikingly similar to individual tendencies and behaviors in a group.

When I hear of international events involving multiple countries, I often imagine them as individuals interacting in a group.


From time to time, certain countries emerge as strong individuals. They have worked on their progress for some time and are now very strong. Some others, particularly the ones described in the next section, start looking up to them for help. These strong nations then find themselves in the role of a leader of sorts. From here, the path is very treacherous. To not let ego build up, to not build up a self righteous image, to not become selfish and greedy, to not start feeling insecure about loosing this high pedestal is a unique challenge to such nations.

Some may start using propaganda and intimidation to hold their position of power. On one hand, they might keep drilling into other nations that they are working for everyone’s benefit, that they are the best and most responsible nation to lead others, and, on the other hand, they would use intimidation against those who show even the slightest dissent or displeasure with their leadership.

Such leaders don’t believe they are doing any harm. On the contrary, they come to believe they are doing good for everyone and they are the ones best suited for this job. With their own understanding of things, they do the best they can(keeping their selfish interests just a little ahead of others). They lack faith in the abilities of others. They will not give much thought to the way others think and feel, especially if it goes against their way of thinking.

Like just about everyone else, they have an explanation for what they do.

There are also those who will be able to take this as a role of responsibility, rise above personal interest and work for general good. Germany’s role, in the European financial crisis today, looks like such an example. 70 years ago, they were the biggest threat to Europe’s security, now they are one of the biggest players in bringing about balance and sanity in these hard financial times for Europe.


You also find those nations(and people) who like power but think that they can’t get it on their own. They look for the next best solution they can imagine, a leader to align with. These ‘sidekicks’, once they see a leader emerging, will instantly align with it. They don’t like to think of themselves as slaves but in essence that is what they sort of eventually become.

Also notable is, they like only intimidating leaders. The all inclusive leaders, appointed by general consensus, confuse them. Inclusive leaders make everyone equal and merit is based on one’s value. Since the sidekicks have just about equal value to the rest(maybe even less) and are used to gaining importance by associating with the powerful, they feel less empowered and would rather have an intimidating leader come along and take on power.

Intimidating leaders and side kicks perfectly complement each other. The leader needs them to establish his authority, and they need the leader to feel powerful.

The sidekicks, if they increase in numbers, create a collective culture. If anyone raises a concern or a question, that nation is severely outnumbered and may be forced into submission or excluded from the group.

Those who flow with the tide

There is also a mass of those who have nothing particular to say on any issue. They seem to lack confidence and  have no drive to do well. They seem to not believe in the possibility of being better. Majority trend is what they monitor and follow. They have few ideals and a lot of fear. They will always be looking for the safety of being in the company of many.

They do little, and are usually poor countries where little is happening by way of progress or nation build up.

The confident, non aligned ones

There are those who will dare to not follow the general trend. They may not be very powerful but believe in themselves. They have a friendly and positive outlook. They will not take sides, not accept masters and promote fairness in dealings where decisions are taken by consensus.

They will usually have a few close friends, who are like themselves. They will also have a lot of admirers who admire their courage but dare not show support for fear of the more powerful and that of the general mass.

The rebellious

Some go a step further, they become rebellious. They challenge and work counter to the way things are going. They feel they are at the recieving end of injustice, they have little faith in talks and consensus and are quick to pick up fights.

They look like angry individuals who regard everyone with suspicion. They demand for things to be done according to their idea of right. At the smallest disagreement, they will decide quickly that they are being discriminated against and may leave.

It is difficult to deal with them and it takes a lot of time to convince them that they are among friends.


These roles may look very black and white, and that is in fact right. I see a lot of overlap in the roles of the same nation in different situations(sometimes, even in the same situation). Also, countries seem to grow like individuals. Over longer periods, they seem to grow into different tendencies.

It is important to remember that, when one sees countries as individuals, it is a method of convenience and does not explain everything about countries. It is not the be all and end all of things. Nations are made up of thinking, acting individuals. At times, the acts of a few will radically change the way a country thinks or behaves.

Image: renjith krishnan



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