The EU didn’t realize that supporting a unified monetary policy should have also included supporting cultural unity among the participating countries. In other words, given the new global financial landscape, countries that want to participate in organizations like the EU need to establish cultural relations too. Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia are you listening? If you think that sharing financial resources while establishing an extreme method of Shari’a law and alienating the traditions and cultures of other countries is a smart move, think again. Long established economic predictors will prove you wrong. For instance, economic Game Theory claims that countries unwilling to accommodate one another strategically, including cultural differences, are not in positions to minimize possible losses and maximize potential gains.
Game Theory was refined by Princeton mathematician John Nash who formulated that those countries that join together in cooperative and non-cooperative modes (as in real-life economic markets) will have optimum gain if all of them put forward their best strategy (called the Nash Equilibrium). Unfortunately Portugal, Greece, Ireland, and Italy with their debt-to-GDP ratios over 100% didn’t put their best strategies forward, thus producing the least optimum gain. Cultural differences prevented these countries from harmoniously unifying with the leaders of the EU, namely Germany, Austria, Sweden, Finland and Norway. The future leaders of Arab Spring countries need to understand Game Theory and how it can work to their advantage and not end up like Greece.
Egypt, for example, needs to refine Islam so that Germans won’t feel alienated or threatened when the Egyptian Pound is dismissed in favor of the Euro. It doesn’t even matter if Egypt joins the EU or creates a similar EU organization all its own. What matters is that when Egypt enters the economic market place, it must do so with its best strategy, and that strategy must include cultural accommodations intertwined with an accommodating form of Islamic law. Otherwise, purist Islamic countries will learn the lessons of Greece and proceed to minimize its maximum gain.