Saturday, 18 February 2012

Why we won’t go to war with Argentina and the solution to world peace


The Royal Navy dispatched £1 billion worth of its newest hardware. In response the Argentines renamed their football league and made friends with Sean Penn. The end result is conditions in the South Atlantic that are even frostier than usual.

Yes, in the spirit of 80s revivals that have been sweeping the nation – from sky high unemployment to inner city insurrections – it looks like a second Falklands war, “30 years on, this time it’s territorial (same as last time)” could be next. 

Democracy rules OK! 

Except it won’t. Because unlike then, Argentina is now a democracy and democracies don’t fight each other. Or so goes the democratic peace theory. You’ve probably heard it before, spouted with barely concealed smugness by some insufferable pub bore. We may have even met. If you’re lucky you’ll have heard an even smugger bore cite, with great triumphalism, some apparent exceptions. The Greek Wars of the 5th century BC for instance, the American War of Independence or even the American Civil War. At this juncture the first bore may have responded with the rationale that slaveholding states such as ancient Greece and the US Confederacy can hardly be considered democratic and that pre 1832 Britain was essentially a monarchy with an incredibly restricted franchise. He probably even looked your way to see if you were impressed, not realising you were long gone. 

Nevertheless it’s true and it’s a truth that irks liberals - who believe it is too often used as justification for self-serving regime change in oil rich nations - and fans of war, who feel it makes any interesting match-ups nigh on impossible. 

I’m lovin’ it

If further evidence is needed that Prince William and his pals are going to be absolutely fine on the Islas Malvinas, just look at McDonald’s. The Golden Arches theory of conflict prevention, as proposed by Thomas L Friedman, states that no two countries that have a McDonald’s have ever fought against each other in a war. Granted NATO briefly dropped a few bombs on Yugoslavia in 1999, but as they didn’t land on the McDonald’s itself it seems a shame to throw away a perfectly good theory. In 1982 Argentina didn’t have any McDonald’s and look what happened. But since 1986`when they joined the 123 strong international McFamily they’ve not had any bother. If only they’d opened one four years earlier it would have saved us all the trouble. 

Those pesky Iranians

So as with everything else, don’t believe the hype. The chances of Argentina challenging us to a war, thumb or otherwise, would require the refutation of two flimsy and overly simplistic political science theories. And that ain’t gonna happen. If you do feel the need to fret over future international conflicts, I’d suggest Iran as a country more likely to confirm your worst fears. 

First of and shock horror, it’s not a democracy. Equally predictably it doesn’t have a single McDonald’s. Then there’s the small matter of the alleged nuclear weapons programme and president who says things like Israel should be “wiped off the face of the earth”. Indeed if profiting from conflicts which threaten the future of mankind is your thing, bookmakers In Trade are giving odds with a 62% likelihood that either the USA or Israel will execute an air strike against Iran before the end of the year. 

For all those out there who’d rather give peace a chance, there is a solution: give Iran nuclear weapons. Admittedly there aren’t too many political commentators out there advocating this view, but they are overlooking the crucial fact that bar a couple of months handbags between India and Pakistan in 1999, (which I’m once again discounting), there has never been a war between two nuclear powers. As long as we keep hold of ours we’re bound to be safe. The rest of the Middle East I’m not so sure.  So there’s the answer to world peace: proliferation. Of democracy. Of Nukes. And of Maccy D’s. There, that wasn’t that hard was it?

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