So Much for the Golden Arches Theory

Tblisi McDonald’s


Pictured above is the Tblisi McDonald’s. Meanwhile, quoted below is Thomas Friedman’s Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention:

So I’ve had this thesis for a long time and came here to Hamburger University at McDonald’s headquarters to finally test it out. The thesis is this: No two countries that both have a McDonald’s have ever fought a war against each other.

The McDonald’s folks confirmed it for me. I feared the exception would be the Falklands war, but Argentina didn’t get its first McDonald’s until 1986, four years after that war with Britain. Civil wars don’t count: McDonald’s in Moscow delivered burgers to both sides in the fight between pro-and anti-Yeltsin forces in 1993.

Of course I suppose Friedman could try to rescue the theory by adopting a strong Russian nationalist point of view, denying that Georgia is a “real” country, and classifying this dust-up as a civil war. That, though, would put him to the right of Vladimir Putin on the question of Georgian independence and doesn’t seem very sensible.

UPDATE: Farley was on this yesterday and also had some remarks about more serious IR theories.