Friday, July 20, 2007

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Starbucks liberalism (??)

There's something about writing about Starbucks that apparently renders me incapable of determining whether the writer is being satirical or straight (click here for an earlier example).

Will someone please tell the hardworking staff here at whether or not Shadi Hamid is trying to be funny in these paragraphs?

There is something rather amusing (and self-indulgent) about “coffee-cup liberalism,” but at the end of the day, I kind of like it. Let’s export it. Oh yea, we’re already doing that. If you weren’t aware, Starbucks is in the process of colonizing Egypt. I can’t say that this is a bad thing, particularly as there is a new theory emerging in the political science literature called the “Starbucks peace theory" – i.e. countries with Starbucks don’t go to war with each other. So, instead of invading the Iranians, why don’t we force a Starbucks store in Tehran down their throats? That can be our stick, until we think of a carrot (or is it the other way around?).

Back to the original point. Your local Starbucks store is a fun place to spend time in with your laptop. If you spend enough time there, you begin to form a community of people endlessly peering with quizzical stares at their laptop screen while indulging in an exceedingly expensive coffee concoction of some sort, and you make lifelong friends (on one of those big six-person tables with the two blue lamps…yeah, you know what I’m talking about). This is liberalism at its best, and I’d very much like to see us impose it on other people. Why not?

UPDATE: I'm glad too see that others are confused by Starbucks.

posted by Dan on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM


I hope this falls in the satirical category. I've walked into a Starbucks and ordered a 'medium' (not grande) coffee, and I don't want to think that 'coffee cup liberals' are judging me for it.

posted by: Greg on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

"Are you being sarcastic, dude?"

"I don't even know anymore..."

posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

Google yields nothing other than the piece you link to when queried about Starbucks Peace Theory. Thus, I vote for satire. However, it appears someone has promoted a Krispy Kreme peace theory .

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

I've heard of Starbucks Peace Theory - it is used in IR circles not to mock democratic peace theory. It is used based on the presumption that Dem. Peace Theory is is correlation and not causation (I disagree but thats beside the point. So to mock this argument that two democracies have never fought a war, opponents of the theory say "Well, two countries with Starbucks have never fought a war either." They're not being serious - just trying to refute democratic peace theory.

posted by: Dan on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

Sorry, that should read "it is used in IR circles to mock democratic peace theory." Take out the "not"

posted by: Dan on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

The Starbucks Peace Theory sounds just like one from a few years back: the McDonald's Peace Theory. This one pointed out that countries with Golden Arches did not make war upon the others.

One problem with the theory is that its originator was one Thomas Friedman, which means that if the new theory is not pure satire, the only other explanation is that it, too, is killingly facile.

posted by: bjkeefe on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

Those two paragraphs are too rich to be satire coming from Shadi, so my guess is that he's playing it straight...

With regards to Starbucks peace theory: Starbucks arrived in Lebanon in 1999. It had Israeli locations from August 2001 to April 2003. Should we blame last summer's conflict on the coffeemaker's withdrawal?

posted by: Jonathan Dingel on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

Well damn it... somebody has to tell Starbucks to keep their location in Forbidden City, China or else they'll be responsible for World War III.

posted by: Greg on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

There used to be a 'golden arches theory' - no two countries with a Macdonalds in their capital city had ever been to war. This theory collapsed with the bombing of Belgrade (which had a Macdonalds) by NATO in 1999.

posted by: Paul on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

It seems to me the theory says more about the global shift to intrastate conflict than any link between globalization and peace.

posted by: Danny on 07.20.07 at 09:22 AM [permalink]

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