The end of the “McDonald’s Peace”

Way back when, political scientists used to talk about the fact that no two countries that had a McDonald’s had ever gone to war with each other.   It sounds like a silly factoid, but it suggests something more important:

At the height of this optimism, the “McDonald’s theory of international relations” was a thing one heard about quite frequently. The idea was that no country with a McDonald’s restaurant would ever go to war with another country with a McDonald’s restaurant, because in order to have a McDonald’s, you had to be thoroughly integrated into the global economy, and if you were integrated into the global economy, you would never attack another one of its other members. This theory of “McPeace” was exploded, literally, by the American bombardment of Belgrade, the city that in 1988 had opened the very first McDonald’s in the whole ex-Communist bloc. But the hope that it might be true somehow lingered on.

Alas, with Russia’s (incredibly self-defeating) boycott of Western food imports, this theory is utterly dead.  Anne Applebaum explains:

This week, as Russia, a country with 433 McDonald’s, ramps up its attack on Ukraine, a country with 77 McDonald’s, I think we can finally now declare the McPeace theory officially null and void…

For the better part of two decades, we have taken for granted the assumption that globalization is a new stage in world history, not a passing phase. Surely the binding ties of trade would last forever because they were mutually advantageous. No country that had seriously begun to play this “win-win” game would ever be able to abandon it, because the political costs of doing so would be too high. Trade wars were meant to be a thing of the past.

This week—as Russia bans most American, European, Canadian, Australian, and Japanese agricultural goods—globalization suddenly began to unravel a lot faster than anybody imagined. Vladimir Putin knew sanctions were coming and openly declared that he didn’t care. He also knows that a trade war will hurt a wide range of his countrymen, but he didn’t mind that either…

In other words, a large country that contains internationally traded companies has just decided that it prefers a territorial war with one of its neighbors to full membership in the international economic system. A large country that contains plenty of people educated in global economics has also decided it can accept higher food prices the in name of national honor. It is not only possible to reject the “win-win” mantra of globalization in favor of different values and another sort of politics—it is happening right now. And if it can happen in Russia, it can happen elsewhere, too.

Sad.  It’s not another Cold War, but certainly the direction things have taken in Russia is not a good sign for the future of international politics.

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Photo of the day

Always had a soft spot for Soviet architecture.  Really enjoyed this Wired gallery of crumbling communist architecture:

Soviet Communism was a brutal and ineffective political system, but produced stunning modern architecture. REBECCA LITCHFIELD

Quick hits (part II)

1) I love the size of my Iphone 4s.  I wouldn’t even want the bigger size of the 5, but I’ll need it if I ever want 4g.  Apparently, I’m in quite the minority– at least on a global level– of preferring a smaller smartphone.  I had known about this fact, but did not realize that it is because for so many Asian users, the smartphone is their only internet-connected screen.

2) College education should not be trade school, for lots of good reasons.

3) A children’s book to teach your child to be overly-worried about stranger abductions.  Just what the modern parent needs.

4) And love this Slate report on how much less freedom today’s children have than their parents.

5) This essay on evolution is so awesome.  Totally deserves it’s own post.  But:

So if someone asks, “Do you believe in evolution,” they are framing it wrong. That’s like asking, “Do you believe in blue?”

Evolution is nothing more than a fairly simple way of understanding what is unquestionably happening. You don’t believe in it — you either understand it or you don’t. But pretending evolution is a matter of faith can be a clever way to hijack the conversation, and pit it in a false duality against religion. And that’s how we end up with people decrying evolution, even as they eat their strawberries and pet their dogs, because they’ve been led to believe faith can only be held in one or the other.

But there’s no reason for people of faith to reject the mountains of data and the evidence of their own senses. Reconciling is easy: Believe, if you want to, that God set up the rules of evolution among His wonders, along with the laws of physics, and probability, and everything else we can see and measure for ourselves. But don’t deny evolution itself, or gravity, or the roundness of Earth. That’s just covering your eyes and ears. And only monkeys would do that.

6) Totally love slurpees.  The complete abscence of 7-11’s from the Triangle area just kills me (the imitators are just not as good).  Now, I understand why I love slurpees:

On a sweltering August day, what better to cool you down than a “semi-frozen drink comprising tiny frozen particles each of which contains the proper proportions of water, flavoring and carbon dioxide.” Mmmmm.

7) Yet more evidence that actual voter fraud is only slightly more common than Bigfoot.  But Republicans are only genuinely concerned with fair elections in their support for Voter ID laws.

8) I love the utter genius/craziness of the internet that there is a tumblr dedicated to depictions of anatomically incorrect lobsters.

9) I’ve never really liked the term “African-American” but I’m a little uncomfortable being the judge of that as a white person.  I liked this essay on the problems with it from a Black person upon visiting Africa.

10) Nobody ever believes high-powered politicians, CEO’s, etc., who say they are leaving to spend more time with the family.  Here is one who explains how he genuinely is:

Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job [doctor and professor] and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.

11) Where’s my metric system?!

12) The return of Ted Lasso.  If you are Premier League fan, this is pure genius.

13) The case for starting teaching statistics in Kindergarten.  I’m not sure about kindergarten, but there’s definitely something to this.

14) The Persian Gulf war photo nobody would publish.  I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget it– viewer discretion advised.

15) Sean Hannity is a child.  He resents Stephen Colbert pointing this out.

16) Quora on “what is the single most revealing thing about any person?”  A number of variations on the following quote, which I think is pretty true and pretty awesome:

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”

~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

17) I don’t know much about Alcoholics Anonymous, but I do know that it’s not actually based on any science.  Meanwhile, we’ve learned a ton about the science of addiction in recent years.  Yet, our society still overly relies on this totally a-scientific approach.

18) Are you a narcissist?  That’s the only question you need to find out.

 

 

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