Aside from possibly the idea of world peace being a fantasy (har har) I don’t remember this story having any particular F/SF elements about it except that it was either written by an author associated with SF and/or came out of an SF anthology for whatever reason. Perhaps it’s alternate history, though a bit of a stretch I think.
Story is told from the perspective of a history book looking back to the 20th century and the development of world peace. The story goes something like this:
Young man is a very junior diplomat stationed in the Middle East. While his superiors are in the midst of negotiations with Israel and Palestine over a few inches of land, he realizes that at this point, neither side particularly wants, needs, or cares about the land but wants to keep it to save face. Disgusted, he mutters “why don’t they just flip a coin over it?”
The dignitaries, incensed over his interruption, huddle together and come out saying that they would indeed be willing to honor a coin toss and challenge the other side to see if they are good sportsmen enough to accept the wager. In effect, it allows everyone to end the misery at last but preserve face.
It turns out that the only person who has a coin is the muttering guy, so he flips, one side wins- and the entire respective country respects the toss.
This starts a chain reaction, and the UN has a special golden coin made and given to the guy who makes the official calls. He decides to make the rules- something like the toss would only happen to save face, etc. One country ends up trying to reneg on the toss and suffer trade wars almost universally because the rest of the world is simply disgusted.
Eventually the guy receives a Nobel prize, and the coin itself has a special name, the Golden somethingorother.
It was a fun story and I think about it sometimes when I watch the news...for reasons...I would like to read it again.
Fairly sure I read this in an anthology but would not swear to it. The story is quite short. I know I reread it only five or ten years ago. I keep thinking it felt like a story written in the 70’s.
On an off chance, I keep thinking it might have been in the Harry Harrison collection 50 over 50 or something like that, but I don’t know for sure.