The Clash of Civilizations - конспект - Международные отношения, Рефераты из Международные отношения
Guzeev_anton10 июня 2013 г.

The Clash of Civilizations - конспект - Международные отношения, Рефераты из Международные отношения

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Samara State University of Economics . Конспект лекций по предмету Международные отношения. The Clash of Civilizations The thesis of the challenging and potentially important “Clash of Civilizations” is that the growin...
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The Clash of Civilizations


The Clash of Civilizations

The thesis of the challenging and potentially important “Clash of Civilizations” is

that the growing threat of violence arising from renewed conflicts between cultures and

countries that base their traditions on religious faith and dogma. Samuel P Huntington, a

political scientist at Harvard University and foreign policy adviser to President Clinton,

argues that policymakers should be mindful of current developments, especially when they

interfere in other nations' affairs.

The clash of civilizations is a controversial theory in international relations. It was

originally formulated in an article by Samuel P. Huntington entitled “The Clash of

Civilizations?” published in the academic journal Foreign Affairs in 1993. Huntington

later expanded his thesis in a 1996 book “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of

World Order”. Huntington's central thesis is that main conflicts have always been marked

by clashes between fundamentally different civilisations rather than between similar

nations. He states that major conflicts occur on the boundaries between these civilizations.

His theories may be applied not only to international conflicts (for example World War II

as a conflict between Eastern and Western European civilisation and between West and

Japan) but also to domestic ones where countries lie on the “fault lines” between

civilisations (example is Yugoslavia as conflicts between Eastern European and Islamic

civilisations). Huntington also identifies the extent and grounds of conflict. He studies the

politics of post-colonialism and national identity and reviews many other possible sources

of conflict awaiting the civilisations currently competing for resources and status within

the world structure.

This work brings to fore issues that have been pushed to the side for long.

Huntington’s view is somehow sad, for we see from his work that the clash is certainly


unavoidable. Nonetheless, its effect and speed can be reduced or deferred. The question

Huntington puts is whether mankind actually reached the end of civilisation?

Analysing “The Clash of Civilizations” we cannot omit essential question: “Will

conflicts between civilizations dominate world politics?” Huntington’s answer is

affirmative; clashes between civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace nowadays.

An international order based on civilizations is the best safeguard against war. National

states remain the principal actors on the international arena, but the most important

category is the major civilizations - Western, Latin America, African, Islamic, Hindu,

Orthodox, Buddhist and Japanese. Huntington asserts that civilizations have no clear-cut

boundaries, no definite beginnings and ending. According to his view, they are mortal,

nevertheless, long-lived. They develop and adapt. Also all civilizations have particular

weak points. The hotspots are on the fault lines between civilizations - the Middle East,

Chechnya, the Transcaucasus, Central Asia, Kashmir, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. The

West, - Huntington says, - is the most powerful civilization but its relative power is

declining at the same time as Confucian and Islamic societies are rising to balance the

west. Huntington warns us that dangerous clashes are likely to proceed from Western

arrogance and Islamic intolerance. According “The Clash of Civilizations” the essential

problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. Islam is a different civilization with

obvious conviction of superiority of their culture. Huntington presents in his book the

evidence, the argument and offers a strategy for the West to protect its culture while

learning to coexist in a multipolar and multi-civilization world.

Huntington explains that the expansion of the Western civilization has ended and

the riot against the west has already begun. The West confronts nowadays numerous

problems: of slow economic growth, stagnating populations, unemployment, huge

government deficits, low savings rates, social degeneration, drugs and crime. Thus,


economic power is shifting to Asia. Moreover, military power and political weight are

supposed to go after. Asia and Islam have been the active civilizations of the last quarter

century. China is probable to have the world's largest economy early in the 21st century. In

addition, Asia is expected to have seven of the ten largest economies by 2020.

Huntington began his meditations by surveying diverse thinking about the nature of

global politics in the post-Cold War period. According to Huntington, future conflicts will

base on culture. He claims that the concept of different civilizations, as the highest ranking

of cultural identity, would increasingly become useful in considering the potential for

conflict. “It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will

not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind

and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most

powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur

between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will

dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the


It is important to say that using various studies of history and making certain

decision, Huntington divided the civilizations in following way: Western Christendom,

centred on Europe and North America, including Australia and New Zealand; the Muslim

world of the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Malaysia, and Indonesia; the Hindu

civilization, located mainly in India, Nepal; the Sinic civilization of China, Vietnam,

Singapore, Taiwan; Sub-Saharan Africa; the Buddhist areas of Northern India, Nepal,

Bhutan, Mongolia, Buryatia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Tibet; and Japan is

considered as an independent civilization (Huntington 1993, 26).

Huntington states that the Western creed that the West's values and political

systems were universal was very naive and that insistence towards democratization of the


rest of the world and acceptance of universal norms would only further antagonize other

civilizations. Huntington also identified the Sinic civilization to be the most powerful

continuous threat to the West World. He represents Islamic civilization as a probable ally

to China, for these both civilizations have revisionist goals and also are involved in

conflicts with other civilizations. Huntingon also marked the Orthodox, Hindu, and

Japanese civilizations as “swing” civilizations that are probable to go in different ways in

their development.

Samuel P. Huntington's article “The Clash of Civilizations” (1993) published in the

Foreign Affairs journal suggested the idea that the world is returning to a

civilization-dominated world where future conflicts would come from clashes between

“civilizations”. Nevertheless, this theory has been largely criticised for overgeneralization,

disregarding local conflicts and for improperly predicting what has happened in the decade

after its publication. Events of September the 11th also became the ground for the claim

Huntington is simply not supported by the evidence. Although, it was published when a

post Cold War world was searching for a new perspective to view international relations

and it has however proved influential.

Huntington's theory draws a future where the “great divisions among humankind

and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural” (Huntington 1993, 22). Huntington

also argues the idea that the end of ideological conflict between liberal democracy and

communism will lead to the conflict that is supposed to take place along the borders

between civilizations. On the other hand, he predicts confrontation between countries from

different civilizations for control over international institutions and economic and military

power (Huntington 1993, 29). The author also explains how the West World represents its

policies as constructive and beneficial for the rest of the world and that the idea of a

universal culture is a creation of Western minds. In evidence thereof, he says about such


Western values as human rights, claiming that they very often are the least important

values to other civilizations (James Graham, 2004).

The clash of civilizations thesis as every theory has its flaws. James Graham

considers that Huntington’s thesis somehow distorted the reality, although they are original

and persuasive. He also points the advantage that this theory made people look at

non-Western cultures more seriously and with greater interest. Huntington also is criticized

for being too vague and indistinct addressing many specific issues (James Graham, 2004).

Many specialists say that Huntington’s anecdotal style is simply not suitable enough to

account for the rationalizations and arguments he represents in such a serious work (Fox

2002, 423). A comprehensive analysis accomplished by Jonathon Fox for the period

1989-2002 concluded that the precise contrary of what Huntington predicted occurred in

fact (Fox 2002, 425). In addition, James Graham says that civilization conflicts were less

widespread than noncivilization conflicts and the end of the Cold War had no noteworthy

impact on the relation between them (James Graham, 2004). Most confusing of all was the

observation that where civilization conflict did occur it was more likely to take place

between groups that were culturally similar, that is in the frame of the same civilization

and not between them. These conclusions openly contradict Huntington's thoughts.

Many say that Huntington's thesis ignores culture's tendency to be fast changing

and multi-dimensional (Herzfeld 1997, 116). Most of the Western countries are becoming

multi or bi-cultural now. From this statement, we may conclude that they are somehow a

part of multiple civilizations, a situation he outlines is characterized by religion as the

crucial factor. “A secular Arab immigrant living in an Arab community in England is just

one example where this designation is inappropriate. Really, situated in a highly religious

country with a considerable number of Christian fundamentalists he states confidently that


the world is becoming un-secularised. His data to support this claim is circumstantial”

(James Graham, 2004).

The theory of “Clash of Civilizations” has been used to boost the fear in the West

World of an Islamic movement alleged as increasingly influential and anti-Western. It is

mostly due to this vision that has provided the foundation for attempting to limit and

manage the growth of the Islam and Confucian civilizations and its expansion, of which

the war on terror is alleged to be the most extreme example. As we see, such policies were

supported and promoted by Huntingdon. A rational argument we may conclude that “The

Clash of Civilizations” generated a self-fulfilling forecast. Moreover, we should perceive

that to make real someone is draws as a theory is rather dangerous if not disastrous.

In the light of latest global developments, it is impossible to dismiss Huntington's

theory as nothing more than an effort to upstage another theory that emerged after the

collapse of the communist state. A question that is worth asking here is whether

Huntington's theory would have ever emerged if Fukuyama had not put up his hand with

his theory first. In other words, whether Huntington's thesis is self-consistent separately

from the existence of Fukuyama's ideas. Both the "end of history" and the "clash of

civilisations" theories were welcomed as contributions to the domain of political

philosophy. We may say that the major argument used to authenticate Huntington's theory

is that he was the first to foresee that civilisations will ultimately come to clash.

Huntington replaced conflict between classes (as we see in Marxist theory) by conflict

between civilisations, eventually even between religions. He also argued the fact for the

inevitable clash of civilisations from the stance of Western civilisation.

Speaking about the Arab-Muslim aspect within the “clash of civilisations” theory

has the ground mostly because of the sharp rise of terrorism and because the perpetrators

of terrorist actions often appeal to Islam to justify actions blameworthy in the eyes of the


international community. Unsettled conflict in the Middle East gives despair over the

powerlessness of the international community to settle the conflict. We have no choice but

to recognise that there is a burning necessity for a determined disapproval and

condemnation of terrorism.

Consequently, we are bound to say one more time that Huntington's article in

Foreign Affairs created more responses than any other work ever published within that

journal. It is important to say that there have been many criticisms of his theory from

wildly diverse paradigms. Some specialists have argued that his identified civilizations are

very split with little unity. For example, Vietnam still keeps a massive army, mostly to

guard against China. The Islamic world is rigorously fractured in terms of ethnic lines with

Kurds, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Pakistanis, and Indonesians, every of them having very

unlike world views.

It has been emphasized that values, in fact, are more freely and easely transmitted

and altered than Huntington presents. For example, nations such as India and Japan have

become successful democracies, and the West World itself was predominant with

despotism and fundamentalism for most of its history. Supporters, though, have pointed

out that worries and tensions have often arised between democratic states and that new

emerging democracies in civilizations could successfuly remain hostile to states belonging

to civilizations which are supposed to be hostile. Furthermore, they outline that the states

belonging to different civilizations attach different amount of importance to the nature of

the national governments of states with which they trade and support in international

issues (e.g. as with India, Russia, and Japan). Few politologists see Huntington's theory as

creating a self-fulfilling prediction and reasserting differences between civilizations.

However, Huntington's argument may often be caricaturized, creating false assumptions

about its content (Wikipedia, n.d.).


It is relevant to say that after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Huntington appeared

prescient and well-known attacks by Western states upon Afghanistan and Iraq accelerated

the perception that Huntington's “Clash” was well underway.

Some still state that the 1995 and 2004 enlargements of the European Union

brought the EU's eastern border up to the boundary between Huntington's Western and

Orthodox civilizations. Many of Europe's historically and traditionally Protestant and

Roman Catholic countries were now EU members, while a number of Europe's historically

Orthodox countries were outside the EU. However, the strong EU candidacies of Bulgaria

and Romania, as well as the dominating ascendancy of pro-Western powers in Ukraine's

2004 presidential elections, and the NATO membership of Romania and Bulgaria (since

2004) represent a challenge to some of Huntington's analysis (Wikipedia, n.d).

While Samuel P. Huntington's the “Clash of Civilizations” thesis has directed

substantial attention to the questions such as what causes international conflict and war, do

either a clash of “national interests” or divergent values, ideas, cultures, identities, and

civilizations primarily lead to conflict at both regional and global levels, what is the likely

future of Islam-the West relations conflict-like or cooperative and many others, the critics

of Huntington have also extended the discussion further. The debate, on the other hand,

has returned to the world agenda due to the consequences of September 11 attacks.

The September 11, which is a unique and most remarkable event after the Cold

War, has created many expectations about the shifting nature of post-Cold War

international system and global politics. Ironically, it has demonstrated how the world's

only superpower is not protected from the threats and vulnerability of current international

system. On the other hand, the September 11 has seriously endangered patterns of US

foreign policy and particularly its policy towards the Middle East region. It is not


surprisingly that Samuel P. Huntington's clash of civilizations theory has regularly taken

place in post-September 11 debates.

It is relevant to say that Huntington's clash of civilizations thesis primarily attempts

to offer a new concept of world politics. We know now that Huntington principally

focuses on cultural-religious-civilizational factors. He calls to understand the post-Cold

War global politics. He also argues that his “civilizational conflict hypothesis” is superior

to any of alternative models, which have been developed after the Cold War.

Huntington has been criticized for his presentation of “new paradigm”. He argues

that the prevailing Cold War model of state-centric realist model can no longer be useful to

analyse the post-Cold War era. He claims that civilizational dissimilarities will be key

source of regional and global conflicts (Huntington 1993, 22). On the other hand critics

suggests that Huntington's “civilizational conflict theory” is deterministic since there are

manifold causes of conflict, in which civilizational factors do not play considerable role.

Others say that in particular “clash of interests” rather than “clash of civilizations” will

continue to be real cause of conflict. For example, Shireen T. Hunter opposes Huntington

and say that relations between the West and the Islamic World are hardly arise from

civilizational discrepancy but from structural-political and also from economic inequalities

between the two worlds.(Shireen, 19). In addition, there are critics that Huntington

overestimates cultural differences between civilizations and at the same time

underestimates the power of the West in the hostile relations with the Muslim World.

Many criticise Huntington for paying too much attention to the West's technological and

military superiority. Overall, Huntington has received several criticisms because of his

“new paradigm”.

Another kind of criticisms is about Huntington's “monolithic” conception of

civilizations and disregarding of intra-civilizational differences and home conflict. Some


say that the idea of West has undergone a considerable transformation in turn of the 21st

century, and the actual clash will happen not between the West and the rest, as Huntington

predicted, but it will arise between pro-Western conservatives and post-Western liberal

multiculturalists in the US-West World. On the other hand, the critics assert that

Huntington take no notice of internal developments and complexities of Muslim World.

Critics say that there is no single Islamic culture as Huntington meant, moreover, there are

different types of political Islam (Edward W. Said 2001, 20). Furthermore, there are

numerous conflicts within civilizations. Overall, second sort of criticisms focuses on

diversity and dynamics of each civilization and intra-civilizational differences.

Huntington has met so many criticisms because of the alleged inconsistencies,

methodological flaws, and overgeneralizations in his thesis. For example, Robert Marks

points that Huntington chiefly uses secondary sources in his book and his research of

Islam, China and Japan is rather weak (Reviewed by Marks). He proposes that

Huntington's speculation is methodologically flawed because of his frequent

overgeneralizations in the examination of civilizations. Many have also criticized the data,

which Huntington uses to support his thesis. For example for many of Huntington’s critics,

the Gulf War was a case for “clash of state interests’ and not a case for “clash of

civilizations”. Therefore, we may say that in this respect, the critics have focused on vast

generalizations and inconsistencies.

Huntington is also very often is blamed for orientalist backdrop. According to

Huntington, Islam turns to be a problem and even a threat to the West. He always

privileges the West World and ignores the other - Islam. It is possible to say that such

clash thesis distorts and de-humanizes the Muslims.

One more category of criticisms is about Huntington's policy recommendations on

the basis of his understanding of post-Cold War global politics. Huntington looks for new


enemies, which replace the rival of the Cold War, the Soviet Union. There are arguments

that Huntington's theory is an ideological and strategic theory that aims at influencing the

US foreign and defence policy (Edward W. Said 2001, 20). Huntington's scenario of

World War III that stems from clash of civilizations interestingly fits best into military and

representatives of arms industry. In this respect, it is possible to claim that the “clash of

civilizations” is considered as determined thesis aiming at guiding the US foreign and

security policy. What is more, some scholars criticize even Huntington's advice to pursue

Atlantics policy, by means of strengthening relations with Europe to counteract

Islamic-Confucian civilization.

There are some studies challenging the “clash of civilization thesis. It is interesting

to review few of them - Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart's studies. In their study they

have compared political and social values of the Muslim and Western societies. What is

interesting, they have found that Muslims have no less democratic ideals than the West

and the West is not so distinctive from Islam in terms of faith in democracy (Pippa Norris

2002, 12). In this regard, this study has significantly undermined Huntington's theory that

Islam and the West have poles apart political values based upon leading religious cultures.

These authors demonstrate the availability of similar political attitudes in the Muslim

World as well as in the West World. What is more, many have criticized Huntington for

his pessimistic vision of future and unawareness of the fact that collaboration and dialogue

among civilizations are possible and even useful.

As a little conclusion, I would like to present some criticism that need no

explanation and clearly outline Huntington’s flaws. The basic problem with Huntington's

theory, however, is the conviction that all cultures aspire to imperial power. Huntington is

not only inaccurate but his thesis has the potential to be extremely dangerous if taken as a

prescription for making policy. Huntington's thesis maximizes the significance of cultural


factors and minimizes the importance of nationalism. The problem is that most Islamic

countries do not see themselves to be in conflict with the United States. Huntington paints

an aggressive picture of the non-Western civilizations, Islam in particular, while ignoring

the misdeeds of the Western civilization whose dominance is being challenged.

Further, within the paper it would be of use to mention some civilization clashes

according to Huntington. As an example we may take the Cold War and 9/11 attack on

USA. These two patterns are very similar and different at the same time. Both wars can be

easily named as clash of civilizations, for involved two different civilizations and in its

course endangered the whole planet.

The Cold War was a “Clash” of two different systems, for it is early to make a

stress on cultural differences. On the first stage, there were political misunderstandings

that have led to confrontation in all spheres of life including cultural diversity. The Cold

War was putting on edge the whole world, for it saw the largest conventional and the first

nuclear arms race in history.

Another significant event in our recent history is a 9/11 attack on the United States

of America. It would be relevant to say that Huntington predictions have been truthful.

For, we could not escape that great clash he forsaw between West and Muslim (or Islamic)

world. Al-Qaeda (that is blamed to be responsible for 9/11 attack) considers its terrorist

campaign against the United States to be part of a war between the ummah—Arabic for

the “Muslim community”—and the Christian and Jewish West. Many experts therefore say

the September 11 attacks cannot be reduced to a “clash of civilizations”.

As a little conclusion, it is significant to state that it is impossible to say for sure

whether Huntington was right in his observations. Definitely, he could have mistaken in

some aspects, but we should not forget that some of his thoughts have real basis to be

believed in.


It is evident that world politics is entering a new phase, in which the great divisions

among humankind and the dominating source of international conflicts will be cultural.

Civilizations that are the highest cultural groupings of people are distinguished from each

other by religion, history, language and tradition. These divisions are deep and increasing

in importance. From Yugoslavia to the Middle East to Central Asia, the fault lines of

civilizations are supposed to be the clash lines of the future. In this emerging era of

cultural conflict, the United States must build alliances with similar cultures and spread its

values wherever possible. With alien civilizations the West must be accommodating if

possible, but confrontational if necessary. In the final analysis, however, all civilizations

will have to learn to live in mutual tolerance and respect with each other.

If Huntington is right that clashes between civilizations are the greatest threat to

world peace in the future, if he is right about our arrogance and conceit in believing that

Western civilization is in the end of history; and if our leaders see no need to plan for the

inevitable rise of other civilizations, I fear that the world map is due for another big



References: 1. Fox, Jonathon. Ethnic minorities and the clash of civilizations: A quantitative

analysis of Huntington's thesis. British Journal of Political Science. 32(3).


2. Herzfeld, Michael. 1997. Anthropology and the politics of significance. Social

Analysis. 4(3). 107-138.

3. Huntington. Samuel, 1993. The clash of civilizations. Foreign Affairs, 72(3):22-49.

4. Graham, James. May, 2004. Samuel P. Huntington's Clash of Civilisations.

5. Samuel P. Huntington. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World

Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 43.

6. Clash of civilizations. Online resourses from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

7. Shireen T. Hunter, "The Future of Islam and the West: Clash of Civilizations or

Peaceful Coexistence?", Fouad Ajami, M.E Ahrari, "The Clash of Civilizations:

An Old Story or New Truth?", Yuksel Sezgin, "Does Islam Pose A Threat to the

West?" Perceptions: Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 5, No. 2, (June-August


8. Edward W. Said, "The Clash of Ignorance", The Nation, October 22 2001 and

Mahmood Monshipouri, "The West's Modern Encounter With Islam: From

Discourse to Reality".

9. Robert Marks, "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order"

(Book Review).

10. Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, "Islam and the West; Testing the Clash of

Civilizations Thesis", John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard

University, Faculty Research Working Papers Series (RWP02-015), April 2002,

p . 1 4




Part V of the book - The Future of Civilizations - is the really interesting part. Huntington points out that civilizations can reform and renew themselves. The central issue for the West is whether it can meet the external challenge while stopping and reversing the process of internal decay. He paints a scenario for a major war of civilizations and points out that the great beneficiaries will be those who abstain and closes by saying: "If this scenario seems a wildly implausible fantasy to the reader, that is all to the good. Let us hope that no other scenarios of global civilizational war have greater plausibility." . --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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