"But could McDonald’s represent even more than that? In 1996, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman floated for the first time what would become a fairly infamous theory: Two countries with McDonald’s restaurants would never go to war, he said, because they shared globalized, middle-class economies.
The prediction came at an apt moment: McDonald’s was in the midst of what one analyst at the time called a “mind-boggling” global expansion. Between 1967 and 1987, the chain expanded into an average of two countries per year. By the mid-90s, the pace had accelerated to 10 countries — most of them “communist, ex-communist and developing,” according to the Economist.
But proud as McDonald’s may have been of its breakneck growth — in 1996 Belarus became the chain’s 100th conquest — Friedman’s theory on the pacifying powers of the Golden Arches hasn't held up in every instance. Critics pointed out that McDonald’s had not stopped the United States from invading Panama in 1989. Several other McDonald’s countries have also tangled since then, including India and Pakistan (1999), Israel and Lebanon (2006), Russia and Georgia (2008) and Russia and Ukraine (2014)."