Big Mac Attack

by on September 7, 2008 at 6:43 am in Political Science | Permalink

No country with a McDonald’s outlet, the theory contends, has ever gone to war with another….

Friedman, who invented the theory in 1996, said people in McDonald’s
countries "don’t like to fight wars. They like to wait in line for

The Russia-Georgia conflict has finally blown this theory out of the water.

From the Guardian.  Clearly the theory was over-identified.  Perhaps no two countries with Taco Bell’s every go to war with one another.

Hat tip to Chris Blattman.

1 Anonymous September 7, 2008 at 7:08 am

Actually, this was already contradicted by the US bombing of Yugoslavia.

2 Hei Lun Chan September 7, 2008 at 8:59 am

Dan Drezner wrote about this a few weeks ago.

3 David R. Henderson September 7, 2008 at 10:31 am

Tom Friedman was making a semi-good point, but it was typical Tom Friedman sloppy overstatement. It was also contradicted by the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989. I’m pretty sure Panama had McDonald’s.

4 Emmanuel September 7, 2008 at 1:15 pm

With all due respect to the Guardian and Drezner, I noted this about a month ago well before they did (admittedly on a blog by us somewhat useless political science types).

Another noteworthy thing is that this incident basically deep-sixed Russia’s WTO accession chances at it needs to gain the approval of all WTO members, including Georgia.

5 hughz September 7, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Seriously. Why anyone gives a wit of attention to what Friedman says is beyond me.

6 k September 7, 2008 at 3:44 pm

It was Kant who said that when all countries were merchant , war would finish.( The perpetual Peace). Fukuyama repeated the idea. The wwI did not disproved , the fighting countries werent engaged in commerce between them

7 Robert Olson September 7, 2008 at 3:52 pm

“The wwI did not disproved , the fighting countries werent engaged in commerce between them”

As far as I know, Germany was heavily integrated into France at the time of World War I, and the world market as a whole was relatively open and free.

8 Dennis Shiraev September 7, 2008 at 8:31 pm

The Russia-Georgia conflict definitely disproves the Golden Arch Theory, without question, but it has even more interesting ramifications for Fukuyama’s “End of History” thesis. With Russia’s overt aggression into Georgian territory, we are witnessing the real foreign policy of a quasi-authoritarian state that operates under the semblance of democracy. Perhaps this form of popularly sanctioned government is the next step in the ideological evolution of human society?

9 yasth September 8, 2008 at 5:21 am

Perhaps it is more that McDonald’s has reduced wait time dramatically so that people no longer need to wait in lines?

Of course more realistically, it should be noted that Georgia has provided one of the few images of obese civilian dead. Perhaps the proper phrasing is “as obesity increases war like ambition decreases?” I wonder if that would negate obesity’s negative health impact?

10 Mike September 8, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Friedman has since updated it:

Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention also known as simply “Dell Theory” has been presented by Thomas Friedman in his book The World Is Flat.

“The Dell Theory stipulates: No two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain, like Dell’s, will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain.†[1]

In his previous book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Friedman argued that no two nations with a McDonald’s franchise had ever gone to war with one another: this was known as the Golden Arches theory. Later, Friedman upgraded that theory into the “Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention” by saying that people or nations don’t just want to have a better standard of living as symbolized by McDonald’s franchise in their downtown, but want to have the lump of the labour sector that is created by globalization. That is, developing nations do not want to risk the trust of the multi-national companies who venture into their markets and include them in the global supply chain.

I kind of like Friedman

11 ty April 24, 2009 at 9:57 am

actually none of your examples truly disprove his arguement. By definition war is, or at least can be, considered a conflict in which there are 1000 battle deaths. As far as I can tell, none of these cases fit that criteria

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