|The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
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Based on the author's seminal article in Foreign Affairs, Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order is a provocative and prescient analysis of the state of world politics after the fall of communism. In this incisive work, the renowned political scientist explains how "civilizations" have replaced nations and ideologies as the driving force in global politics today and offers a brilliant analysis of the current climate and future possibilities of our world's volatile political culture.
The thesis of this provocative and potentially important book is the increasing threat of violence arising from renewed conflicts between countries and cultures that base their traditions on religious faith and dogma. This argument moves past the notion of ethnicity to examine the growing influence of a handful of major cultures--Western, Eastern Orthodox, Latin American, Islamic, Japanese, Chinese, Hindu, and African--in current struggles across the globe. Samuel P. Huntington, a political scientist at Harvard University and foreign policy aide to President Clinton, argues that policymakers should be mindful of this development when they interfere in other nations' affairs.
- The Essential Global Politics Primer
This book provides the most sound and reasonable paradigm that seems to account for most of the bewildering trends in present day global politics.
Huntington opines that the world may be moving towards an order centered on civilizational affinities and explains that countries with a similar cultural background would trust each other more and shall act more in tandem on the global stage.
The distinction he makes between Westernism and Modernism is particularly interesting.
The book accounts for demographics, economic and political power struggles over several centuries, and puts forward predictions of a likely decline in western power and re-emergence of formerly powerful civilizations, particularly the Sinic Civilization or China.
Several of Huntington's theories seem to be vindicating themselves with each new war along the fault lines of civilizations, specifically the Iraq War and the Middle East Crisis....more info
- Huntington really angered the entire world with this book
Let's see-- Huntington-- who's a lifelong conservative xenophobe by the way-- not a Harvard liberal-- wrote a book with a lot of problems, assumptions, and stereotypes. Ten years later, almost all of what he has predicted has come to pass.
People overreact to this book-- all it has done is give people a way to generalize about conflict in the world today. By no means is it-- nor does it pretend to be-- the only lens through which the world should be viewed-- to posit such a theory would be preposterous and dangerously simplistic. It's a good entry point into MANY of the conflicts of the past ten years-- you then need to get specifics and current data-- but it can be applied pretty well to much of the world's conflict today.
Yes, the book is too simplistic and sure of itself-- but, has it not been almost entirely accurate? It practically predicts the last ten years of world history, simply by offering a somewhat lazy, somehwhat sterotypical, very Western view of the world ten years ago-- but it's an extremely insightful view. I mean, look at what he wrote about Pakistan and look at how keenly accurate his prediction has been.
Those who would argue Huntington's little plan is falling apart because of our relation's with the EU are forgetting one of the greatest catastrophes to face our species-- the presidency of George W. Bush. No one could have predicted it would happen or that it would (or could) go quite so alarmingly bad. The main reason the US and Europe are so divided is him, and it will mostly be back to Huntington's view of the West if we oust him....more info
- A brilliant if pessimistic vision of 21st century politics
By Amazon's count, mine is the 228th review of this book. That itself tells you something about the huge impact of Samuel Huntington's work and of its value in provoking thought and debate worldwide. The only reason I add my voice to earlier reviews is that: 1) any sane consumer at Amazon.com is only going to examine the last 20 reviews, not the last 200, so I might as well be among the latest who are actually read; and 2) I believe deeply in the value of this book, so I'd like to encourage you to consider it.
The fact that the book's 228 ratings average only 3.5 Amazon stars reflects not on the brilliance of the book--which is beyond question--but on the ideological unpopularity in some quarters of its basic theses.
And those theses are that: 1) with the end of the Cold War, political ideologies have given way to differing cultural and religious values (i.e. civilizations) as the gravitational fields of attraction which group like-minded national sympathies and create de facto world alliances; 2) the key blocs thus created will be Euro-Atlantic civilization, a Russian-centered Slavic bloc, the Islamic World, a Chinese-centered East Asian grouping, Japanese civilization, and Indian civilization; 3) the West's power will inevitably decline relative to the rest of the world, in particular an ascendant China, which poses the greatest threat of global conflict if it cannot be peacefully integrated into current power structures; 4) Islamic revivalism coupled with Arab demographic explosion will make that part of the world the greatest source of secondary global conflicts for the next generation or two, with the attendant dangers of terrorism potentially (and perhaps catastrophically) leveraged by nuclear proliferation; and 5) if the US wishes to thrive or at least survive in a world based on civilizations, it must reject multi-culturalism and reaffirm its roots and unity in European civilization.
When Huntington over a decade ago wrote the "Foreign Affairs Magazine" article upon which the book is based, these scenarios were debated...and perhaps debatable. Are they still? Ten years later, as the daily headlines attest, I think his projections have stood the test of time--eerily so in many cases--which suggests to me that his understanding of the underlying tectonic plates of world politics in the 21st century is largely correct...or at least carries a lot of merit.
The book is vintage Huntington. As an undergraduate I first encountered him in the late 1960s when his book "Political Order in Changing Societies" had catapulted him to the first rank of American political scientists and was standard issue in college political science courses. His Harvard career since has fulfilled that early promise, and the "Clash of Civilizations" is in the same first rank of seminal texts: broad-gauged in addressing the "big questions," and brilliantly argued with a wealth of empirical evidence. And it is relentlessly realistic...which is to say ultimately rather realpolitik (or "conservative" if you like) in its somewhat downbeat view of what ultimately drives human groupings or "states" (which Huntington pretty clearly views as tribal in their deepest instincts). That makes him unpopular with some observers (particularly on the left) who take a more optimistic view of human nature and thus of our future, and who dislike his warnings against multi-culturalism in the U.S.
For my own part, as a calloused (and, yes, rather cynical) retired U.S. diplomat, I find this book among the most realistic and plausible guesstimates we are likely to get to the politics of the coming century.
If you wish to complement and broaden that view with an environment/systems-based prediction of the global future, then read the equally well written and wide-ranging book "The Upside of Down" by Thomas Homer-Dixon. Together, the two books provide a good and fairly comprehensive prophetic view of the century to come. That roadmap is not a happy one, especially if, like me, you are an American. So take a stiff drink after reading! ...more info
- Can we rise above civilizational conflict?
In The Clash of Civilizations, Professor Huntington presents a "civilizational" paradigm for understanding our world at the dawn of the 21st century. In the author's own words, "culture and cultural identities, which at the broadest level are civilization identities, are shaping the patterns of cohesion, disintegration, and conflict in the post-Cold War world."
Following the collapse of communism in the late 1980s, the bipolar U.S.-U.S.S.R standoff based on ideological differences evolved into a "West vs. the rest" social dynamic driven by multicivilizational forces centered on religious underpinnings: Christian (U.S., Western Europe, plus Latin America), Orthodox (Russia, Eastern Europe), Islamic (Arab, Persian and North African countries), Hindu (India), Sinic (China), Japanese, African, etc. Due to cultural incompatibilities, "fault line wars" frequently occur in locations where civilizations meet, such as Afghanistan (Orthodox-Islamic), Bosnia-Croatia-Serbia (Islamic-Christian-Orthodox), and Israel-Palenstine (Jewish-Islamic). Like it or not, the reality is that in conflict situations, nations tend to align themselves on religious and cultural biases, without objectively considering which side is right or wrong before entering the fray.
As a descriptive work in international affairs, the book shows remarkable prescience. Consistent with the author's framework of civilizational conflict, in the years following the book's publication in 1996, we have experienced the horrors of the 9-11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and the U.S.'s ensuing entanglement in the prolonged war in Iraq, with both clashes occurring along deep civilizational (Western vs. Islamic) fault lines.
In a normative peace-seeking vein, Huntington recommends:
1. Internationally: The U.S. government should respect multicivilizational boundaries (i.e., reject the tendency to use military and economic clout to thrust "Westernization" on non-Western nations), and
2. Domestically: Within the U.S., we should foster a society based on our nation's Western heritage and ideals of liberty, democracy, individualism, etc. (i.e., reject calls for policy that encourages multiculturalism within the U.S., lest we wish to end up with a "cleft" country).
The author's culturally based, historical analysis offers a useful, though at times dismal, paradigm for understanding our present, conflict-prone world. Culture-centric imperialist values drove 19th and early 20th century Western expansionism, political ideologies split the world in the Cold War years of the middle and late 20th century, and cultural forces again, this time through multicivilizationalism, have divided our world further in the early years of the 21st century.
Extrapolating the cycles (or, better, helix) of history into the future, I would look beyond multicivilizational clashes and surmise that, once we all grow weary of fighting along cultural, religious and racial lines, we ought to arrive at a more "enlightened," less ethnically and culturally prejudicial social outlook--one that truly enables all peoples to live together more peacefully, productively, and satisfyingly. Admittedly, Huntington's "clash" paradigm helps explain today's world, but I remain optimistic that tomorrow we will discover a more harmonious way for our world's many cultures to coexist.
- Samuel P. Huntington: Author Maligned
I have read the reviews of the book, and the book itself. What I
find amazing is the rise of leftwing intolerance under the guise
of polite sophistry. Compelling arguments against Huntington,
in my view, are only worthy of discard - since they are not compelling when one engages in any analysis of his (Huntington)
work. The reason ? Look at the world around us - radical Islam is all poised to strike at any place and time. As recent as on April 26, 2004 the New York Times carried a frontpage article
describing how some 2nd generation Britons, mostly of Pakistani origin, in the city of Luton, England, have declared to kill Tony Blair and raise the Islamic flag on 10 Downing Street. (For the skeptic I'm referring to the article: MILITANTS IN EUROPE
OPENLY CALL FOR JIHAD AND THE RULE OF ISLAM by Patrick E. Tyler and Don Van Natta,Jr. in NYT).
So, how do we reckon with such phenomenon ? The leftists would
open the book of Marx and explain that religion/social structure
etc. are all not the factors in the occurrence of such undesired
phenomena; rather it is the underlying economic depravation and unemployment of the Muslim youth that causes such problems. Well, that is hardly plausible. Why ? Because one can cite the various suicide bombers and Islamic martyrs, strewn all over the Islamic world, all poised to blow the world to smithreens if the world doesn't conform to the dictates of the Quran. Observers would certainly agree that unemployment and economic depravation just add to fuel to the fire. But, the (Islamic) fire was burning in the first place. At this place one would ask: what is this "Islamic fire" ? Well, per Quran Islam means Submission to the Supreme Will (of Allah/God). This will of Allah is as found revealed in the Quran. The whole objective of Islam is to ultimately Islamize the whole world, i.e., bring it under the banner of the Islamic flag - as the young Britons of Pakistani origin wanted to do. Sounds familiar - Osama bin Laden ? The various forms of discontent of local Muslim populations just catalyse the phenomenon, but do not originate it (Islamic fire). The world (secular & democratic) has learnt with much chagrin that such "Islamic fires" are not localized in a particular spot in the world. They can appear anywhere like a frightening incurable epidemic. Indeed the grim (political) reality is that Islamic terrorism (associated with radical Islam) is a faceless/stateles form of terrorism. Huntington's epoch-making book makes you (the totally uninitiated) realize that there is more to Islam than the veils, belly-dancers and the tents in the Arabian peninsula.
The credit of the author is that he has explored the depths of Islam only to find the truth: ISLAM HAS BLOODY BORDERS. To do so, he realized from the very start that political theories of John Locke, Hume, Edmund Burke of the Victorian era and beyond, would fail simply because they are based on the a-priori assumption of the existence of a nation-state. Similarly, the theories of Karl Marx & Frederich Engels, Lenin-Stalin and Mao Dze Dong are futile in the pursuit of any explanation of this
ugly political behemoth of radical Islam. A common feature to the theories of British thinkers and their communist/leftist counterparts is that both these theories are secular. That is, in their formulation the separation (or non-existence) of the church and state is presumed. However, Islam being intrinsically theocratic, it is necessary to seek an alternative approach to explain its workings. To do so, Huntington introduced the very concept of distinctness in civilizations, and how such distinct features would cause conflicts. Quite interestingly, Huntington backs up his views by citing historical incidents that would make up his case. In this sense one can argue (?) that Huntington has chosen facts to fit his theories. Such "allegations" are deceptively false. Because I would pose the question: which social scientist hasn't done so - including Karl Marx and his followers upto the butcher of Beijing - Mao Dze Dong and subsequently Pol Pot of Khmer Rouge ? Show me one social scientist who has not embarked upon empiricism and postulated theories. So, why single out Professor Samuel P. Huntington ? Is it because he has shown the clash between secular, democratic and Islamic worlds and an eventuality to occur because at some point one is the anti-thesis of other ?
To that end, the criticisms of Huntington are unfair. On one hand, he cannot exhaust Islamic culture/religion/society and discuss western percepts/culture etc., because he has to stay focussed on propounding his theory and hence be selective with choosing facts. On the other hand, social/political science is totally empirical in nature. That is, one cannot have a set of governing equations of social science like Newton's laws, Maxwell's, Schrodinger's equation(s), and derive a conclusion in the strict mathematical terms. The empirical nature of social science has too many variables that vary with geography, culture, economy, population etc. and etc. Thus, a social model in a country A is likely to fail in country B. Lack of any understanding/recognizing this fact would certainly lead to erroneous comments, just as some reviews show.
One the whole this is an excellent book and worth keeping a copy in the library. The price is low and the arguments in the book are very thought-provoking. The author has done extensive research and has provided his citations for any independent verifications. You may or may not agree, depending on your political emotions, but simply dismissing Huntington (particularly in recent times) as something pedestrian would just be grossly unfair....more info
- You can make more sense of the news after you read this book
This book will give you a structured view of the world that will give you the ability to place events in a more meaningful context. Recently the President of China came to America and stopped first at Microsoft and Boeing (Modernity) and only then went on to Washington DC (Western Civilization). The leader or China must have read this book, because he knew exactly how plan his USA trip.
Also, recently Putin of Russia supported Belorussia's attacks on democracy(a popular idea in the West). Putin too must have read this book. And so should you. ...more info
- Confirmed predictions
First published in 1996, this scholarly discussion of future international relations has been a classic from the beginning and will remain so for decades to come. From among the seven most important civilizations the author selected three, which may collide in conflict. Thus, in Moslem eyes Western culture is decadent in various ways and therefore utterly unacceptable. The current resurgence of the Islamic civilization is seen as an evolution no less significant than the Reformation or Marxism, demanding society's complete overhaul, renewal and purification, a movement whose impact on history will grow as the Moslem population will soon represent thirty percent of humanity. At the same time, Islam is seen as the least tolerant of religions, as it promotes peace inside their ranks but hostility toward the infidels outside.
Similarly, in East Asia, the Confucian civilization adheres to commandments like order, discipline, hard work and abstemiousness, where the individual subordinates to the needs of the community. Alien to them is what they call the West's sanctifying of human rights. Whereas we in the West expect our value system soon to become universal, the Confucian world is convinced that "the Anglo-Saxon module is not working" and that their own standards must of necessity apply to the rest of humanity. Here, again, the impact of such convictions will be immense as the center of gravity of economic power is rapidly shifting from the West to the East.
Out of such discordance, there arise economic and political contentions and military ones cannot be ruled out. Huntington believes possible conflicts could arise from a contest between Western arrogance, Islamic intolerance and Sinic assertiveness. The spark igniting material strife, however, will most likely be generated by more prosaic crises such as the youth bulge among the unemployed, terrorism, rivalry in the search of resources such as oil, and the pervasiveness of weapons of mass destruction among those who suffer and rebel.
The main message carried forth from this study is that any military clash in the future will most likely oppose not nations but rather civilizations in what he aptly calls fault-line wars. He points to the danger that such inter-civilizational feuds will be uncompromising and almost impossible to halt.
Huntington advises the reader that cultural universalism, so engrained in the mind of the West, is ill advised and that especially includes the American tendency to be "a nanny if not even a bully" in other civilizations. We must, he says, renounce universalism of values, and instead accept diversity and seek commonalities.
Since these thoughts were first published, much has been confirmed. The power shift toward East Asia is rapidly progressing. Fault-line conflicts in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Chechnya and the Balkans have resisted or defied peacemaking efforts. Our promotion of democracy, civil rights, and individualism has been rejected elsewhere in favor of soft authoritarianism. Most importantly, perhaps, is the West's failure to observe the "abstention rule", that is, for one civilization to abstain from invading the lands of another.
Every prospective world leader should read this book at least once.
- The West IS declining. Deal with it.
Huntington articulates how the economic and demographic decline of Western Civilization relative to several of the world's other major civilizations, especially the Sinic (Chinese) and Islamic, is remaking the so-called world order. Cold War alliances were a passing phenomenon in which inter-civilization alliances temporarily formed to repel a common ideological foe, and U.S. attempts to maintain those alliances against other American foes, e.g., Islamic fundamentalism, are doomed to failure. Western countries, including the U.S., need to accept and deal with the relative independence of formerly subservient nations.
The truly amazing thing about Huntington's thesis and examples is that he published it eight years ago, based on data and events through 1995. He almost perfectly profiles (if PC types will forgive me the term) the backgrounds of the 9-11 terrorists and their cohorts. And he describes how East Asian states will turn away from the U.S. and toward China as the Chinese recover their three thousand year old traditional hegemony over the region. He also predicts that Russia, the core state of Orthodox civilization, will, after flirting with Westernization, return to attempting to establish its own traditional hegemony over Orthodox allies and neighboring states.
Huntington points out that it was European population explosion, as well as technological superiority, that propelled Western Civilization to colonize other continents (North America and Australia) and dominate virtually all other civilizations. Now the tide has turned as relative population growth drives non-Western immigrants to Europe, North America and Australia. The spread of Western, especially U.S. commercialism, should not be equated, as many American elites naively assume, with acceptance of liberal Western political and social norms. Huntington points out that just the opposite is occurring. As non-Western civilizations prosper from adoption of Western technology they create wealth and independence that allows them to celebrate and assert THEIR traditional values.
A particularly interesting point Huntington makes is how U.S. and Western obsession with containing other civilizations' nuclear weapons is failing. Countries seeking such weapons do so not with the intent of necessarily using them on neighbors but having them to prevent military domination by the U.S. Huntington reminds us that during the Cold War the U.S-lead West insisted it needed to maintain tactical nuclear weapons to offset the perceived conventional force superiority of the USSR-lead Warsaw Pact nations. Now that the U.S. has demonstrated dominant conventional military power that nobody else can hope to match, everyone thinks they need nuclear weapons or nuclear-armed allies to protect their independence. Huntington points out that South Koreans seems a lot less concerned with North Korean nuclear arms than Americans or Japanese are.
Finally, this book makes one think that the so-called War on Terrorism is somewhat misguided. The tactic is terror but the real conflict is inter-civilizational rivalry. An interesting schematic on page 245 illustrates Huntington predictions of emerging civilizational alignments. For example, the West will align more closely with Latin American and African civilizations and to some extent with the Orthodox (Russia). He postulates that Islam will be in greater conflict with virtually ALL other civilizations with which it has regular contact EXCEPT Sinic (China plus the other East Asian countries excluding Japan). And it's happening. The UN structure created by the U.S. and Western Europe at the end of WWII IS a forum for containing and frustrating U.S. and Western interests. And let's face the truth. A senior Canadian politician's recent characterization of his country's embrace of homosexual marriage and legalization of marijuana as "wellsprings of national pride" provides ample evidence that Western civilization IS in decline. Start studying Mandarin...
The book is illustrated with some useful generalized maps and numerous statistical charts to support Huntington's thesis. HIGHLY recommended to anyone trying to figure out what's happening in the world and why "winning the war on terrorism" (whatever that means) will not solve all problems....more info
- Important Book, but pre-911
One of the first books to be mentioned after the attacks on September 11 on New York and Washington was Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" because that is what it seemed like. One Civilization (Islam) attacking another (the West). Certainly in the book we can read a lot of precursors to this event and in way predicted it.
Unofortunately the world has changed so much that this book needs an update. The world has changed and the wars talked about in the book (like the Caucasus) still reign. But I do believe reality is not as simple as this is, since people are becoming more aware of the world, definitely in the student population that increasingly travels all over the world to study, getting into contact with new people and new civilizations. The main language there is English and that will remain to be so, even though Huntington tries to make us believe otherwise.
His view on the world in 7 distinct civs is a helpful one. That the major wars will be between civs is probably true, the last few years have shown that much.
Reading this book will definitely give you a much clearer view on how the world is structured but don't forget that the world is now in a new post-9-11 fase. In the end he offers a scenario of a future world war which is just absurd....more info
I finally read this book not only because of the many modern-day references to the framework presented within but also because of Huntington's many predictions which are now coming to fruition.
I find most of the criticism of this book coming from the usual left-wing quarters...national multiculturlists and global "universalists". This is because the book presents a framework for explaining the world that resembles nothing like the fantasy world these critics wish we'd all live in.
A sober portrait of the world but not altogether hopeless and frankly, while it blasts the rosy views of the critics on the Left, it also offers good reasons why not to pursue any sort of interventionist neocon agenda.
Wonderful read to help you make sense of the world without rose colored glasses....more info
- A good annalist and a poor futurist.
The Clash provides a very powerful framework for understanding world events past, current, and future. By dividing the world into civilizations one can observe in an academic way what many ordinary people know so intuitively. That the world's various cultures are in a constant and deadly serious compitition for dominance. This concept is referred to as xenophobia when expressed by lay people and The Clash of Civilizations when articulated by the degreed and tenured. By bringing common wisdom into the austere halls of the learned Huntington has struck a great blow against political correctness and for common sense.
After establishing his framework and providing some good evidence for it Huntington loses his way. As a futurist he baldly asserts many things based on the assumption that history is controlled by trends and not events. He ignores the role of technology (The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century), economic power (The Wealth of Nations (Bantam Classics)) , and form of government (The Case For Democracy: The Power Of Freedon to Overcome Tyranny And Terror) in determining the future of the world. By his mechanism alone most of world history is inexplicable. If he had offered his ideas less forcefully and not attempted to use them to forecast the future The Clash would be flawless....more info
- Engrossing analysis of world order
This excellent book provides the reader with a view of the world based on civilizations - past, present and future. If you cannot find time to read the entire book, read the last chapter. It describes creditable circumstances under with a third world war could ignite.
- A gem with profound implications
In this book Samuel P. Huntington builds on his original article in Foreign Policy and offers an indispensible conceptual model for politics of the twentieth/twenty-first century at large. The book centers on international relations and more specifically, on the role of civilizations and 'associations by kin' in the post Cold War era. Huntington dismisses universalism and argues for accepting cultural diversity as the driving force in the political realm. Reading his work some eight years after it was published and seeing his predictions play out makes his case only so much stronger.
This is not a book on West vs 'The Rest' nor does the author assume the superiority of the former. At times, I felt, Huntington has an excessively pessimistic view of our capability to coexist peacefully (ex: his argument that trade can and has historically produced conflict). 'Digital convergence' and explosion of inter-cultural collaboration in and through outsourcing has changed our world in many ways (to the better, in my view). However, Huntington's work nonetheless remains a gem and is probably even more relevant today then it was in 1998. It is a must read for anyone interested in international relations, politics or economics....more info
- Helps you to understand current global affairs
This book helps you to understand current global affairs. Although one might not agree with some of the author's theories.
Although this book is from the Western perspective, the author does not glorify the western civilization and has shown respect for other civilizations. ...more info
- A Big Picture - The What's, Where's and Why's - A+
...A window through the complex fog of global politics, conflicts and positioning....If you are reading this, then you surely have an above average interest in political science/foreign policy and would probably enjoy this book.
This book paints a very good picture of the current global structure (copyright 1996) even though it is about 8 years old. If anything, the current global situation seems to be continuing in the direction that Huntington portrays. We trully live in a world of multiple civilizations all holding onto both their historical pasts and embracing the future with new ideas (many Western) and trying to find a balance between modernism (led by the "West" over the past several centuries) and maintaining and promoting their cultural hertiage and identity.
Whether or not Huntington's theory and ideas of conflict being divided along civilizational fronts stays true, or becomes true, this book trully gives the reader (especially the underschooled, but interested political science/foreign policy hobbiest) a foundational reading on the "basics" of civilizations and people groups, and how these groups have arrived to the point and status of existence that they are presently.
What I have learned, I can apply to what I read and witness today and it has helped me understand even more about the intricacies of the changing world and where we might be headed in the 21st century. If Huntington was to write this book now or in another few years, I think he could keep many of his commentaries the same and expound on others using the events that have transpired since 1996.
A very good read, just pace yourself and take it slow, it's packed full of information and analysis. It fills in the holes and even provides some thought provoking "ah-ha's" to many of the things we are witnessing in the world and through the media today. ...more info
- La inteligencia de la Inteligencia de los E.U.
(There are enough english reviews)
Huntington asegura que hay que so?ar en ingl¨¦s para soar el sueo americano (en su nuevo libro Who Are We, que tampoco te recomiendo). Este es s¨®lo un ejemplo m¨¢s de la ignorancia y arrogancia llevada al bestseller.
Se puede entender un choque de civilizaciones entre dos grupos humanos separados por miles de a?os y cuyas visiones por consecuencia se han alejado una de otra a tal grado que una es incapaz de entender a la otra o en ese entendimiento surgen diferencias irreconciliables. Ese podr¨ªa ser el caso, por ejemplo, del choque entre espa?oles con los nativos del continente americano entre los siglos XV y XVII, separados por la ¨²ltima migraci¨®n masiva entre los continentes durante la edad de hielo, en el que una civilizaci¨®n se impone a otra y no acaba realmente por integrarse sino por excluirse mutuamente, y en donde una parte queda subordinada o, en ocasiones, eliminada.
El caso de Estados Unidos es a¨²n menos complejo, el mundo isl¨¢mico no est¨¢ chocando con el occidental, es un pa¨ªs contra un enemigo difuso constituido por celulas aisladas; no es el occidente, ni es el islamismo, es una pol¨ªtica consistente mantenida durante las ¨²ltimas d¨¦cadas ejercida por los Estados Unidos. La profundidad de esa intencionalidad estadounidense consiste en ejercer la hegemon¨ªa de su poder para imponer su visi¨®n de mundo, lo que llama su forma de vida.
Estados Unidos no puede evitar quererse ver como quiere verse: en esa necesidad por verse a s¨ª mismo como hredentor de los pueblos del mundo al tiempo que justifica sus acciones echando mano de conceptolog¨ªa como verdad y justicia que son su verdad y su justicia. Estados Unidos ha sido inevitablemente una f¨¢brica de estereotipos, de ellos mismos y del resto del mundo. Ello ha provocado irritaci¨®n y odio que se ha profundizado a consecuencia de las guerras en oriente. Irritaci¨®n que llega a niveles de exaltaci¨®n cuando se humilla sistem¨¢ticamente con todo tipo de actitudes, desde polticas internas que afectan a los inmigrantes y turistas que tratan de ingresar a los Estados Unidos hasta aquellas que dictan pol¨ªticas extraterritoriales pretendiendo interferir en asuntos ajenos de la vida de otras naciones, ejemplos de esto en Am¨¦rica Latina son frecuentes.
No queda m¨¢s que suponer que existe una intencionalidad en la forma en la que el gobierno de Estados Unidos act¨²a y quiere ser visto por el resto del mundo. Estados Unidos no puede evitar reflejar lo que a s¨ª mismo se reproduce, es la pelcula que Hollywood siempre quiso hacer y que de alguna manera produjo. Es as¨ª que la fuente de su riqueza es al mismo tiempo la de su infortunio. Como todo productor es responsable de su pelcula pero tambi¨¦n v¨ªctima del gui¨®n que ha elegido seguir como protagonista. Lo que le ha sucedido es tan atroz como inevitable a consecuencia de su acci¨®n. El fundamentalismo es en un alto grado rec¨ªproco, y fundamentalismo repondido con fundamentalismo no hace m¨¢s que radicalizarlo a¨²n m¨¢s....more info
- Shows author's bias and borders on conspiracy theory
This book is a bad read. Book does show that the author has vast knowledge of world history and geography but at the same time brings out his strong biases towards racial and religious make-up of the world. The book makes some very simplistic judgments about the historical nature of conflicts and adds huge amount of weights towards some abstract "civilizational" construct of human life. Humans are way more complicated and driven a lot by nationalistic and regional concerns than depicted in this book. I found reading this book quite a waste of time....more info
- Excellent Reconsideration of Recent International Relations
Whether or not one agrees with Samuel P. Huntington's entire thesis, everyone should recognize that "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" is an exceptionally important book that deserves wide readership and sustained debate. I find it a thoughtful and provocative thesis that helps explain much that has taken place in international relations in the last fifteen years.
Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington presents a powerful thesis to explain what has happened in the world since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war. The thrust of Huntington's argument rejects the notion that the world will inevitably succumb to Western values that seemed so triumphant in the early 1990s. On the contrary, Huntington contends that the West's influence in the world is waning because of growing resistance to its values and the reassertion by non-Westerners of their own cultures. He argues that the world will see in the twenty-first century an increasing threat of violence arising from renewed conflicts among countries and cultures basing their identities on long-held traditions. This argument moves past the notion of ethnicity to examine the growing influence of a handful of major cultures--Western, Orthodox, Latin American, Islamic, Japanese, Chinese, Hindu, and African--in current struggles across the globe. In so doing, Huntington successfully shifts the discussion of the post-cold war world from ideology, ethnicity, politics, and economics to culture--especially to the religious basis of culture. Huntington rightly warns against facile generalizations about the world becoming one, so common in the early 1990s, and points out the resilience of civilizations to foreign secular influences.
Huntington asserts that there are nine major civilizations in the post-1990 era. The dominant civilization at present is the "West," characterized by the United States, Canada, and the nations of Western Europe. There are also Latin American, African, Islamic, Sinic (Chinese), Hindu, Orthodox (Russia and other Slavic nations), Buddhist, and Japanese civilizations. Each has different traditions, priorities, and institutions. Each also misunderstands the other civilizations of the world. In the post-cold war era, no matter how seemingly desperate confrontations within these civilizations may seem--such as the trials over northern Ireland--they have little potential for escalation beyond the civilization in which they occur. Confrontations among civilizations, however, have a great potential to escalate into large conflagrations, including world wars. The civilizations capable of forming meaningful ties to other civilizations, creating alliances not just for defensive purposes but also as a means of broadening engagement, have the greatest possibility for thriving in this new international arena. The West, Huntington believes, should give up the idea of exporting its values and expand the possibility of its survival through stronger alliances with other civilizations.
I believe this is an intriguing idea that requires consideration in my own work on the history of spaceflight. For example, the International Space Station (ISS), being constructed by the United States with 16 other nations, represents the largest and most complex international peacetime activity in history. While the space station has been sold as a means of undertaking pathbreaking scientific research, that may not be the most important reason for supporting it. At a fundamental level, as Huntington points out, the geopolitical system of the post-cold war era requires its continuation and the establishment of other large-scale international programs that enhance engagement with other civilizations.
While difficult, it is exceedingly necessary, especially in a post September 11th world. One is reminded of the quote from Wernher von Braun in 1960, "we can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming." Perhaps the hardest part of spaceflight is not the scientific and technological challenges of operating in an exceptionally foreign and hostile environment but in the down-to-Earth environment of rough-and-tumble international and domestic politics. But even so, cooperative space endeavors have been richly rewarding and overwhelmingly useful, from all manner of scientific, technical, social, and political perspectives. This is especially true of the ISS, which has helped stabilize relations with many other nations, and therefore mitigates some of the divisiveness that Huntington perceives in this clash of civilizations. Just as surely as the Apollo program helped the United States ensure its place as a leader of the world in the cold war, the International Space Station serves a critical international role in the post-cold war world.
In the clash of civilizations of the twenty-first century, the ISS offers a testbed for civilizational alliances along the lines that Huntington identifies. From the beginning the West adopted the project and brought in a second great civilization in Japan. In 1993 the Orthodox civilization, using Huntington's terminology for Russia and other Slavic peoples, joined the program. Perhaps the difficulty of working with the Russians has been largely the result of these strikingly different civilizations. Brazil and other nations of the Latin American civilization also want to join the program, as does India. China has also made overtures about the desire to become a part of the ISS effort. Despite the very real challenges that would result from incorporating these new partners into the program, their inclusion would advance the cause of creating alliances with other civilizations. This could serve ultimately as a means of closing the gap between nations rather than widening it. At a fundamental level, the International Space Station may serve the larger objectives of American foreign policy better than many other initiatives that offer fewer prospects for success.
In the end, Huntington has offered a framework from which to analyze recent historical developments that are applicable across a broad spectrum, including the history of space exploration. I highly recommend this book as a departure point for further study about the post-cold war world....more info
- 8 Civilizations Or Political Groups?
There aren't really 8 civilizations. The Western European, Eastern European and Latin Americans are all from different branches of a same Judeo-Christian civilization despite their political differences. Japanese is obviously a branch of the Confucian civilization despite their huge economic success. The African world is really split between the Islamic and Judeo-Christian civilizations. So we only have the Judeo-Christian, Confucian, Islamic and Indian civilizations....more info
- Magnum Opus
This is the eminent Professor Huntinton's magnum opus, and it deserves to be read. No one can profess an understanding of modern global politics without studying this masterful work which was written in 1996. It remains a treasury of prophetic insights for our present day.
Of particular interest are the following: Chapter II, Part 5, "The Islamic Resurgence, Chapter IV Part 9, "Islam and the West" and Part 10 "Islam's Bloody Borders."
Huntington's immense learning does not leave him optimistic. On the final page he writes: "On a worldwide basis Civilization seems in many respects to be yielding to barbarism, generating the image of an unprecedented phenomenon, a global Dark Ages, possibly descending on humanity."
There is an excellent article by Robert D. Kaplan in the December 2001 Atlantic Monthly (titled "Looking The World in The Eye") which provides biographical information about Huntington as well as an overview of his work. This is readily available through online search.
- Worst Book Ever Written
This book is motivated by hate, ignorance and insecurity. It is based on unfounded facts. A western biased perspective in the nature of international relations. Grossly misunderstood Islam and What Asia is all about! Read this book very carefully and ask yourself this question: What is the hidden agenda motivating the writing of this book? Who is Samuel Huntington and what he has been engaging in the past 40 years? I find it unfortunate that many find this book great verifying my greatest fear that the West really misunderstood the Rest!...more info
- A Distinct and Authoritative Classic
There is hardly anything to add to the almost exhaustive list of complements showered on this book from various circles. It projects a very different paradigm for seeing the world we live in. Three major criticisms of the arguments of the book can be made.
Firstly, the author seem to be arguing that if a civilisation adopts a Kamelist approach, ultimately it will result in a backlash from the core of that civilisation, resulting in it returning to its roots (the most detailed example is that of Turkey). He also seems to argue that people who tend to proclaim their superiority to the west- ideologically or culturally, unwittingly resort to following paths shown by the west itself (obvious example is USSR and its ideology), again resulting in a backlash from the elites to return to its roots. However, we can take this further by arguing that civilisations who resort to a more moderate form of copying the west (while maintaining the air of superiority about their indegeneous norms) ultimately end up diluting their culture and ending up identity less. The most striking example is that of Mainland China, where western institutions, values, norms are speedily attaining a level of automatic assumed undisputed superiority, unquestionable and above all indegeneous counterparts. Lastly, countries which aim to co-exist peacefully with others and do not proclaim the superiority of indegeneous cultures end up sticking closest to their roots, at the same time developing economically and socially (India).
Second, I would further like to forward a query regarding the arguments on 'language of wider communication' (LWC) on p. 62. I feel that if English is used as a third language (common as second language to both the involved parties), then theargument about LWC stands. Thus, it is also valid to point out the south Indians using English and not Hindi as their preferred means of communication. However, when an Indian speaks English to a British or an American, then your argument loses ground because rare is the case when the latter speaks Hindi. Thus, aren't people of other civilisations (non-English) losing the integrity of their culture when they are speaking English to an English speaking person? Thus, the case against the argument that English is not becoming a world language stands here.
Third, the author constantly labels India as a 'Hindu' civilisation and mention that there is a distinct 'Islamic' civilisation in India. This is inaccurate given that the civilisation of the sub-continent is generally tremendously heterogenous and can only be termed 'Indian' and not branded according to religion. The Hindus and Muslims in India can be better labelled according to language, caste, class or region, but not religion. Even in Pakistan, which was a nation based on the false notion of Islamic brotherhood, the Punjabis, Sindhis, Afghanis, Pathans, Mohajirs are very much divided on the above categories and not bound together at all by the common religion. The only entity that binds the whole sub-continent is the inherent 'Indianness' of the culture that has developed over 5,000 years and whose primary characteristics is 'unity amidst diversity'. Any religious labelling of this land is bigotry. ...more info
- Huntington, Samuel: B-
Had this been a paper written by a graduate student in Political Science, it would have gotten something like a B-. Much like other reviewers have said, the book paints a cartoonish picture of, you know... foreign people, who apparently have all the negative features one could imagine, form being violent to gladly subjecting themselves to the rule of the czar, as opposed to good ol' "Westerners" who are independent, hard-working, law-abiding, individualistic, etc, etc. He does not say it directly, but you can discern that when he says Westerners he doesn't really mean Italians or Portuguese - he means white Anglo-Saxon protestants.
Leaving aside the racist/eugenicist air that comes out of almost every page of this book (btw, what do you do with mixed race people?), I take issue mainly with the methodology of the work. If you are a student of Political Science looking for a serious discussion of a theory of international conflict you will not find it here. In a country where the Current Affairs section of bookshops is full of retarded titles like "How Republicans Stole Christmas" or "How To Talk To a Liberal. If You Have To", prof Huntington knows where success lies. His book fits comfortably among these these type of works but causes giggles among real academics.
When discussing the causes and mechanisms of international conflict, scholars generally employ some sort of statistical analysis, if only to confirm a qualitative discussion. There exists a database named Correlates of War on which the serious researcher can do all sorts of regression analyzes and find out whether this or that factor plays a causal role in war. Of course this bores the hell out of the typical "How Republicans Stole Christmas" reader, so Huntington prefers laying out arguments on the lines of (caricatural paraphrase) "Since 33% of wars involve Muslims, it is obvious that Muslims are bloody." I have not researched this matter, but from what I've heard, people have run basic regression analyzes on his theory and shattered it to pieces.
Most of the ideas he lays out are not supported even by this type of proof. For the most part, he just posits stuff. The Vietnamese are a second-hand miniature copy of the Chinese "core civilization". Romanians are some sort of Russians and they volunteered to fight along the Serbs against the Croats.(!) Of course, all of these claims are delusional and they fit the image of the ignorant American who can't point Louisiana on the map. Unfortunately, these types of people sometimes get to influence US policy and periodically get this country in all sorts of trouble. Overall, I honestly believe that George W Bush has a much better understanding of international affairs than Samuel Huntington, and that is saying something....more info
- Pure hate... Author wants to blame everything to muslims
It scares me to find out that educated (so called intellectuals) are writing this type of hate infested books that are aimed at nothing but inflaming more hate and voilence in the world. Author has a stubborn belief that all muslim cultures have speriority complex and they are there to destroy the western influence. He needs to wake up and understand that every culture even western or african or latin is sustaining because there are good things there to fullfill the needs of the people along with bad things that represent historical events/influence, economic or social problems etc. Author completely ignores the fact that one (Malaysia) out of all muslim countries are run by our appointed dictators with the exception of Iran and Syria who are kept in isolation so they have no reason to praise us have any dialog going. I would suggest that the author should cosider psychotherepy and need to start reading outside of his shell....more info
- Clash of Cultures and Politico-Religious Hegemony
Huntington provoked worldwide outrage by this book, both from conservative westerners who thought he was too "nice" about Muslim extremists, and from non-conservatives who believed him to be arrogant and ethnocentric. My opinion is that both are correct: there is a clash between those using religious identities to promote political agendas, and those attempting to keep religion at the personal level and politics at the macro level of society. This book infuriated many non-readers because of its apparent linking of Islam with political terrorism. Careful readers understood that this was merely reporting of what "experts" said, and not a personal attack by Huntington on faithful adherents to Islam. Below are a few of my favorite quotes:
--"This awakening is comprehensive--it is not just about individual piety; it is not just intellectual or cultural, nor is it just political. It is all of these, a comprehensive reconstruction of society from top to bottom."
--One study of militant leaders of Egyptian Islamist groups found they had five major characteristics, which appear to be typical of Islamists in other countries. They were young, overwhelmingly in their twenties and thirties. Eighty percent were university students or university graduates. Over half came from elite colleges or from the intellectually most demanding fields of technical specialization such as medicine or engineering. Over 70 percent were from lower middle-class, "modest, but not poor backgrounds," and were the first generation in their family to get higher education. They spent their childhoods in small towns or rural areas but had become residents of large cities. While students and intellectuals formed the militant cadres and shock troops of Islamist movements, urban middle-class people made up the bulk of the active membership. In some degree these came from what are often termed "traditional" middle class groups: merchants, traders, small business proprietors, bazaaris.
--Islamist activists "probably include a disproportionately large number of the best-educated and most intelligent young people in their respective populations," including doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, teachers, civil servants.
There is a clash today, and Huntington calls it rightly. There is violent conflict between those seeking political power through the power base of religious identities are opposed by those unwilling to give up values and ideals in their secular political system....more info
- Reality Check
This book is a dry read. It does not have any political affiliations. It would be a great read for naive people who view the world politics and movements through a rose-colored glasses. The books presents facts as they are and stresses the point that the current state of affairs in the world is a natural continuation of the civilizational divide that has been with us for hundreds of years and will continue to be with us for the foreseeable future.
As an additional read I would also recommend "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations" by David Landes and "What Went Wrong" by Bernard Lewis....more info
- A Classic?
As a retired agronomist with a strong science background I tend to check out references that are commonly used. This book is very often quoted, not always favorably. If you have recently, like I, become interested in world politics and especially Islam this is definitely one of the texts you should read. From my weak politics and history background I found Dr. Huntington making a lot of interesting observations. I found the book very intriguing and educational. I really enjoyed his take on the Bosnian War....more info
- A decent picture of world politics with some flaws
This book gives a decent picture of the current political situation of the world.
Especially w.r.t 9/11 and the ongoing clash between the west and Islam the books seems like prophecy. The author is also right on the money when he claims and explains the bloody borders of Islam and I wonder why there is any dispute about this. More analysis of how Christianity and Islam spread after conception would have been insightful. Yugoslav wars are analyzed quite well and I would like to find a refutation of this analysis by any of his political/academic rivals.
The author however does not provide an alternative to the western dependence on mid-east oil. Limited interference is fine but how to run the limping US economy?
The author seems to have a subtle sense of western cultural superiority but hides it well behind cultural relativism.
The author however laments that the west is losing its edge and that religion is fading away. Towards the end he says that to find truth is part of morality. Does he want people to find the truth but not live by it? He also gloats about the west's rule of law, secularism and individualism, some of which are frowned upon by the religious right. It seems like he is contradicting himself unless he appeals for religiousity purely for uniting the society. He claims that Christianity is one of the defining aspects of the current west while ceding that Sweden/Europe is quite non-religious. Being aware of totalitarianism of Islam he should have been careful while treading this line.
I would like to end the review with a few quotes from the book that are (sometimes painfully) true:
"The underlying problem for the west is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power."
"In civilizational conflicts, unlike idealogical ones, kin stand by their kin "(Comparing responses of EU governments to US actions against USSR and Muslims)
"Powerful societies are universalistic; weak societies are particularistic."
"In Islam god is Caesar, in China and Japan Caesar is god, in Orthodoxy god is Caesar's junior partner"...more info
- Important analysis, questionable conclusions
Samuel Huntington has been called everything from a racist bigot to one of the most brillant minds of the 20th century. Reading the "Clash of Civilizations" prepares one to grapple with the complex and important issues of today.
Huntington's thesis is that the world is understand neither from traditional realist principles which centre on the nation-state, or liberal principles which centre on values such as freedom and interdependence. The world is understood through the clash and intermingling of different cultures. Huntington's analysis is interesting and in a lot of cases, bang on.
However in some issues, Huntington interprets things too simplistically and without context. He makes rather disturbing comments about the Islamic world that can be interpreted as small-minded. Nonetheless everyone would be wise to read it himself and be the judge....more info
- Sloppy, Oversimplified and Deeply Flawed
As an Arab-Canadian, I'm pretty much at the forefront of this so-called "clash of civilizations", and the way I see things as it stands, it seems as though there is indeed a 'clash' materializing. However, that is only a superficial gut feeling, the same feeling the respect Dr. Sam Huntington subscribed to when writing this book.
My interest in this issue started when I read John Esposito's book, Political Islam - truly a masterpiece - which picked stripped the religion of Islam bare, down to its origins, and described its evolution over time, spanning the Muhammedian era up till 9/11. He also dedicated chapters to specific issues such as the Jamaat-e-Islami group in Pakistan, the Iranian revolution and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt - all these were discussed in a political and religious context. In the afterword, he mentioned how there is almost no overlap between these movements, that these were truly independent movements spawned by the circumstantial political and socioeconomic currents in the region in question. From there, he concluded that the idea of a 'clash of civilizations' is preposterous. Indeed, it's a figment of Dr. Huntington's imagination.
There are almost 1.5 billion Muslims on this planet. The Islamic world stretches from West Africa all the way down to Southeast Asia. There is absolutely no common political denominator between the Muslims in, say, Morocco and the Muslims in China, because there is a massive cultural cleft within the Islamic world (and even within the Western bloc - something Tom Freidman also missed).
I won't go into the details, refuting every claim this book makes, but my impression of this book is that it's trash. I was even slightly offended by how much generalizing and statistical abuse this Harvard graduate has managed to cram in his book. The very fact that he didn't go through the trouble of trying to analyze the Muslim World in a greater depth left me uneasy going through the last couple of pages of the book.
In the end, this is just racist propaganda by a Xenophobe, not more. It shouldn't deserve that much attention, and indeed should be pulled of the shelves of all libraries for being more of a hate speech inciter than even the holy books!...more info
- INTERESTING READ
This is a book which has been quoted so many times that I knew
I had to find out why. It presents a perspective on present and
future problems that cultural diversity may cause. It is well
written in language I could follow, and gives impetus to re-think one's stand on important issues....more info
- pure xenophobia...
please do not waste your time, almost everything is better than this book...more info
For every problem, there is a solution which is simple, neat and wrong.
- H.L. Mencken
If you're looking for a deep, nuanced understanding of the current (apparent) conflict between "The West" and "Islam" then you won't find it in Huntington. First of all, he ignores the fact that "The West" - while different from Islam - is heterogeneous in its stance on foreign affairs. To Huntington, the essential conflict in the current era is the clash of civilizations between the west and islam. But this is not exactly the case! Much of the west has very good relations with islam, and much of islam has very good relations with the US, even. The violence is between radical fundamentalist (often terrorist) groups who resent American (and to some degree "western") meddling in middle east affairs on one side and radical industrialist alumni of the Project for a New American Century on the other.
It's writing like Huntington's that animated the Project for a New American Century's us-versus-them approach, even before 9/11. We can't allow this kind of simplistic (even sloppy) scholarship dictate foreign policy.
The civilizations concept flies in the face of most contemporary scholarship on globalization. Look for some Amazon.com lists on globalization and disregard anything that posits such a simplistic and essentialistic conflict. ...more info
- A REVOLUTIONARY TREATISE, NOT HEEDED
Reading this 1996 publication after 9/11/2001, the onset of the War on Terror and the US experiment in "regime change" and "nation building," one cannot but be amazed at the accuracy of its prognostication and the degree to which its advice was not heeded. The basic thesis of the book is that it is impossible to impose Western political, religious and cultural values on non-Western countries. A most astonishing proof of this thesis is the first Gulf War of 1990, waged by the United States against Iraq. To Western eyes it was an entirely just war, backed up by a coalition of Arab states, which succeeded in stopping Saddam Hussein from invading a weaker sovereign state, Kuwait. But, as Huntington shows, it was roundly condemned by public opinion in the Middle East as an imperialist intervention in domestic affairs, a threatening show of military force and a war of the West against all Arabs and all Muslims. The good war, even altruistic war, backfired. Undertaken to protect the life and property of an Arab state, it provoked fear and hatred in the Arab world and empowered the defeated aggressor, whose prestige gained in neighboring states.
On the basis of such examples, Huntington draws the painful conclusion that we (as Westerners) cannot universalize rights and principles that we hold dear and apply them to other peoples, governments and states that do not observe them. To do so, he warns, is false, immoral and dangerous. He asserts toward the close of his book: "Western intervention in the affairs of other civilizations is probably the single most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multicivilizational world." He advances an "abstention rule": that core states of one civilization abstain from intervening in the conflicts of other civilizations. He proposes that a constant seeking for common values, practices and institutions among different peoples, states and civilizations is the key to peace and world order in the realignment of nations taking place after the end of the Cold War.
THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS was a bestselling book that was widely discussed and debated throughout America--in the popular media, in the halls of academe and in the chambers of government. Henry Kissinger endorsed it. Zbigniew Brzezinski called it revolutionary. Presumably every reader of FOREIGN AFFAIRS, where Huntington's initial statement was published, studied the book. This means all the world analysts in the Department of State, the Department of Defense and the Cabinet. It is hard to imagine another publication that had a greater chance of influencing US foreign policy. And yet, as the US prepared to go to war for a second time against Iraq, then went to war and got stuck, every single argument, proof and piece of advice packed into its nearly 400 pages was forgotten or ignored. All that was left was a catch-phrase, "clash of civilizations," which was denied and almost always misused.
Contrary to one of the reviews on this page, there is nothing simplistic about this book. The concepts of "civilization," "core state" and "fault-line war" are put forward with precise definitions, reasoned exposition and pertinent historical examples buttressed by statistical data and a full scholarly apparatus. Balkan politics are discussed in exacting detail, Chinese and Central Asian politics as well. Islamic militancy is examined with unflinching objectivity. Distinctions are drawn between domestic multiculturalism and foreign universalism which are hairsplitting, but crucial. The writing abounds in classifications and qualifications; often tedious, but often capped with a memorable maxim: "The great beneficiaries of the war of civilizations are those civilizations who abstained from it."
For me, the discussions of post-Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe are most instructive: "People could no longer identify as Communists, Soviet citizens or Yugoslavs, and desperately needed to find new identities. They found them in the old standbys of ethnicity and religion. The repressive but peaceful order of states committed to the proposition that there is no god was replaced by the violence of people committed to different gods." The presentation of civilizational alignments in the Afghan war of 1979-1989, the Tadzhikistan war of 1992 and the Chechen wars beginning in 1994 provides the background for ongoing conflicts today. The analysis of Sino-Russian politics and prospects brings us right up to the moment.
The failure of this book to prevent the very thing it warned against is very troubling and raises questions about the real impact of public discourse today. No doubt it is too much to ask power-mongers to re-read it, but for us mere mortals it is essential. We may not be able to change the world, but we at least want to understand it....more info
- A definitive read of the early 21st century
This book should definitely find its way into the reading list of anyone who wishes the see the `big picture' of the new world order and international politics. Critics of the book claim that Samuel Huntington over-simplified the emerging world order into a mere paradigm of seven major civilizations. I beg to differ. Without some simplification and assumption, can we ever discuss and probe into the intricacies of the workings of international politics? Furthermore, Samuel Huntington has never denied the existence of other factors which will come into play in shaping the developments of the world. What he did was to lay out a framework for laymen like us to better understand the potentially complicating nature of contemporary global politics, and to seek to portend the state of world politics, after the fall of communism, for the reference of policymakers.
It is perfectly reasonable to postulate that, for the decades to come, global politics will be shaped along the lines of civilization. After all, the tendency to mix with `likes' is intrinsic in human nature. Even birds of the same feather flock together. The revival of Asian cultural identities, the rise of China as a global player, and the conflict between Islam fundamentalists and the West, still hold true today, eight years since the book was written. Although Samuel recognizes the alignment and regrouping of countries according to civilizations, he maintains that one should seek common space in the kaleidoscope of diversity. This progressive viewpoint, along with three approaches which he suggested to ensure world peace - abstention, joint mediation and commonalities rule will resonate well with many.
Cogently argued and meticulously researched yet lucidly expounded, "The Clash of Civilizations and the remaking of world order" is indeed a book for the masses. Unlike its counterpart which predicts the dominance of liberal democracy, "The Clash of Civilizations" looks set to remain relevant in the years to come. ...more info
- Huntington's logical thread
From "Political Order in Changing Societies" to "The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century" to "The CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS AND THE REMAKING OF WORLD ORDER", there is a clear logical thread from "the value of social order", "the value of democracy", to "the value of civilization". You may disagree with Huntington's multi-civilization idea, but it's all about explanatory power and it cannot be refuted until a better paradigm is suggested. ...more info
- Already happening?
What exactly makes a 'civilization'? Why do tribal conflicts in Africa not spread too far outward? Why did the conflict in Yugoslavia prompt Orthodox Russia to support the Serbs, and Muslim Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Islamic states to support the Bosnians? Why couldn't the civil war in Lebanon be solved by dialogue? Why are Islam's borders so bloody? Even though Saddam Hussein was a vicious tyrant and killed many of his own fellow Muslims, why did so many in the Islamic world proclaim him a hero when the United States invaded Iraq? Will demographic decline in the West change the balance of economic and military power in the world? Is the West in severe decline and can it turn itself around?
If there is any book that can fit into the context of today's global political sphere and shed light on the questions above, it is this book. The book defines what a civilization consists of, and why some are incompatible with each other. World demographics are depicted and used to make predictions about the future balance of world powers. The buildup of non-Western armed forces is highlighted and used to show how the West could lose its military dominance, and what will the future hold with such a change in power. Will it be multiculturalism and tolerance, or will it end up being a giant Lebanon or Yugoslavia, and how could we prevent such a disaster if it were to occur?
Regardless of your political position on the book, I must say it is by far the most comprehensive one I have come across on this subject. Accurately and extensively researched and documented, this outstanding book may be the most important one explaining the conflicts of the 21st century....more info