Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Is a Big Mac a Harbinger of Peace?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Is a Big Mac a Harbinger of Peace?

Article excerpt

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.

Since Israel now has a kosher McDonald's, since Saudi Arabia's McDonald's closes five times a day for Muslim prayer, since Egypt has 18 McDonald's and Jordan is getting its first, the chances of a war between them are minimal. But watch out for that Syrian front. There are no Big Macs served in Damascus. India-Pakistan? I'm still worried. India, where 40 percent of the population is vegetarian, just opened the first beefless McDonald's (vegetable nuggets!), but Pakistan is still a Mac-free zone. Obviously, I say all this tongue in cheek. But there was enough of a correlation for me to ask James Cantalupo, president of McDonald's International and its de facto secretary of state, what might be behind this Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention - which stipulates that when a country reaches a certain level of economic development, when it has a middle class big enough to support a McDonald's, it becomes a McDonald's country, and people in McDonald's countries don't like to fight wars; they like to wait in line for burgers. Or as Cantalupo puts it: "We focus our development on the more well-developed economies - those that are growing and those that are large - and the risks involved in being adv enturesome (for those growing economies) are probably getting too great." In the 1950s and '60s, developing countries thought that having an aluminum factory and a U.N. seat was what made them real countries, but today many countries think they will have arrived only if they have their own McDonald's and Windows 95 in their own language. …

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