[FOUNTAIN]McDonald’s: A route to world peace?“No two countries that have a McDonald’s have fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald’s.” That might sound like a silly joke. Even Thomas Friedman, an acclaimed columnist for the New York Times, couldn’t believe it when the idea first occurred to him. But surprisingly, the assumption appears to almost always holds true.
The foreign affairs writer was a McDonald’s customer whenever he had an overseas assignment. That’s when he got the idea. He could think of no two nations that had McDonald’s outlets that had fought each other, at least after McDonald’s put up its golden arch in the countries’ capitals.
He introduced the idea in 1999 in his book “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” in 1999, which has become known as a sharp analysis of globalization.
Mr. Friedman cited the example of the Middle East, one of the most troubled regions in the world. Israel had been the archenemy of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. But after McDonald’s franchises moved into these countries, no war has broken out among them. But Syria, Iran and Iraq have not yet tasted Big Macs. And Syria has fought against Israel, Iran and Iraq fought each other, and Iraq experienced a war from the United States.
The assumption also applies to peacemaking between India and Pakistan. India had the first McDonald’s in 1996, and the chain moved into Pakistan in 1998. According to Friedman’s assumption, the McDonald’s hamburger has helped the two countries make peace and end their half-century-old conflict in a few years.
The only exception could be the NATO air strike on Yugoslavia in 1999. Both sides ― the NATO nations and Yugoslavia ― had McDonald’s.
How could Mr. Friedman’s assumption hold true? Is there a secret anti-war ingredient in the famous hamburger?
The McDonald’s headquarters has no clue. Even Friedman himself cannot demonstrate why the assumption can be applied in almost any case. But he came up with another assumption ― that a country that is globalized or Americanized enough to accept McDonald’s, or a country with high income, would be averse to waging a war.
Should I pray for the prosperity of McDonald’s if I want a year without a war? If McDonald’s can truly bring peace to the world, I would be glad to eat a hamburger every day.
by Nahm Yoon-ho
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.