New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman observed in a column he wrote in 1996 that “no two countries that both have a McDonald’s have ever fought a war against each other.”
Some have looked into how ironclad this rule is. But, in general, the point is pretty powerful.
The assumption is that countries that have American fast food franchises are generally interested in freedom of commerce, and that the more a nation’s focus is on commerce and economic prosperity, the less it is interested in war.
This provides perspective on the new historic peace agreement signed by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Israel, the so-called Abraham Accords.
What has driven the seemingly unimaginable to happen?
Two Muslim Persian Gulf states stepped out on their own and signed a peace agreement with the Jewish state of Israel; moreover, they did so without any kind of agreement having been reached between Israel and the Palestinians. This was once thought highly improbable, if not impossible.
One useful place to look to get a handle on what’s happening is The Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom. The index ranks 180 countries around the world according to how economically free they are.
Factors determining economic freedom include the effectiveness of law protecting private property, the overall fairness and quality of the court system; size of government and level of taxation; the ease with which businesses can open and operate; and the freedom to trade and invest.
We find that the United Arab Emirates is not just the most economically free of all the Persian Gulf states; it is one of the most economically free countries in the world. It ranks No. 18 out of 180 countries, one down from the United States.
Israel is also among the most economically free countries in the world, ranking No. 26.
Immediately after the United Arab Emirates stepped up to make peace with Israel, Bahrain followed suit. Bahrain ranks 63rd on the Heritage list, also not bad. It is one above France.
This is a wake-up call for the whole world.
Power, force, hate, destruction: These things lead nowhere except to the perpetuation of human suffering.
Creation, not destruction, is the answer. And this happens when basic rules are respected, starting with law, ownership, and private property—in other words, economic freedom.
Commerce is the finest of human cooperation, where people work together, each doing what they do best, to produce, trade, and create greater and greater prosperity.
Did these two Arab states betray the Palestinians by going ahead on their own and making peace with Israel? The opposite. They did them a great favor. They are showing the Palestinians by example what road leads to peace.
I wrote a column 10 years ago called “The Simple Path to Middle East Peace.”
The Israelis had unilaterally pulled out of Gaza and turned it all over to the Palestinians, who had full sovereignty.
Instead of using the opportunity to start building a country, the Palestinians started firing missiles into Israel. The Palestinian prime minister announced, “We are telling the world, today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem.”
President Donald Trump has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for brokering this historic deal, and he should get it.
He understood that the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Israel are interested in building prosperity, and he tapped into these positive sentiments to lay the groundwork for a new Middle East peace.
There is a word for this: leadership.
I had the privilege of attending the opening of the new American embassy in Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, I had the privilege of attending the signing of the historic Abraham Accords ceremony at the White House.
Peace comes through creation, not destruction.
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