Have golf courses become a gauge by which the United States can distinguish friend from foe?
Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, in the Sept. 14 issue of Newsweek, posits that "countries that have numerous golf courses tend to be friendlier toward the United States. Governments closing golf courses tend to be the most anti-American of all. Think of it as the fairway theory of history."
Haass finds a correlation with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman's "Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention," that says that countries that have McDonald's franchises don't engage in hostilities toward one another (with some notable exceptions, however).
On the golf front, Haass cites Vietnam and Venezuela. The former now features the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail bisecting the country north to south. Once foes, Vietnam and the U.S. are now friends. Venezuela, conversely, is closing golf courses at the urging of Hugo Chavez, who considers the game "bourgeois."
"Or take the two Koreas: the closed North is reportedly home to just three courses, while democratic South Korea, a U.S. ally, boasts no fewer than 234," Haass writes.
More golf courses tend to reflect a growing middle class, Haass writes, which is the basis of democracy. What then does he recommend that President Obama do to help facilitate peace in places like the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Iran?
"Perhaps he should spend more time working on his golf game."
-- John Strege