The McDonald’s Theory of War

I’m still listening to The Lexus and the Olive Tree, which I mentioned back back on 12 March, since it’s a massive 21 hour book. Today I heard what I consider to be one of the most interesting theories involving wars. The author of the book noticed that no two countries containing a McDonald’s in their borders had ever fought. In other words, if Country A and Country B both have a McDonald’s they won’t fight each other. If Country C didn’t have a McDonald’s, then it may be attacked by either Country A or Country B, or it may attack either of these countries. His main exclusion to this theory is that a Civil war doesn’t count, so the problems in Yugoslavia don’t disprove the theory. The author then took his theory to McDonald’s who then independently verified that no two countries containing a McDonald’s had ever attacked each other.

What does this mean? Is it just a coincidence that no two McDonald’s countries had ever fought? The author explains himself this way: McDonald’s is just a representation of a country achieving a critical mass of middle class citizens. Poor people can’t afford to eat McDonald’s often enough and rich people would probably eat higher quality food. Therefore, a McDonald’s franchise would only open up in a country with an entrenched middle class. As a generalization, countries with a large middle class are averse to war. They know that wars are increasingly devasting to even the victor.

A country’s economy cannot support an indefinite war (present Iraq conflic aside) and sooner or later the middle class will begin to complain to its officials to end the war. Additionally, when countries go to war, the uncertainty drives away investors and they take away their money with them. Therefore, it is in a country’s best financial interest to stay away from wars.

Although I would like to wholly believe the author of the book, his theory sounds eerily like two men he mentions in the book. These were both people who said in 1910 that war was over and there would never be another war again. Countries were too tied up in economics to wage wars and it would be devastating for both sides. Within just four years of that statement would be the first World War and more would die in that conflict than in all the wars before it. In fact, the men were right, the war decimated the European continent and its countries. Coupled with World War 2, Europe was left behind until very recently, allowing the US to become a world leader. I agree with the author of the book I’m listening to that it would be very chaotic if there were to be another world war. However, I am not so sure that the implication could be made that there would never be another world war.