Since its initial publication nearly fifteen years ago The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order has become a classic work of international relations and one of the most influential books ever written about foreign affairs. An insightful and powerful analysis of the forces driving global politics, it is as indispensable to our understanding of American foreign policy today as the day it was published. As former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski says in his new foreword to the book, it “has earned a place on the shelf of only about a dozen or so truly enduring works that provide the quintessential insights necessary for a broad understanding of world affairs in our time.”
Samuel Huntington explains how clashes between civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace but also how an international order based on civilizations is the best safeguard against war. Events since the publication of the book have proved the wisdom of that analysis. The 9/11 attacks and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the threat of civilizations but have also shown how vital international cross-civilization cooperation is to restoring peace. As ideological distinctions among nations have been replaced by cultural differences, world politics has been reconfigured. Across the globe, new conflicts—and new cooperation—have replaced the old order of the Cold War era.
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order explains how the population explosion in Muslim countries and the economic rise of East Asia are changing global politics. These developments challenge Western dominance, promote opposition to supposedly “universal” Western ideals, and intensify intercivilization conflict over such issues as nuclear proliferation, immigration, human rights, and democracy. The Muslim population surge has led to many small wars throughout Eurasia, and the rise of China could lead to a global war of civilizations. Huntington offers a strategy for the West to preserve its unique culture and emphasizes the need for people everywhere to learn to coexist in a complex, multipolar, muliticivilizational world.
Huntington here extends the provocative thesis he laid out in a recent (and influential) Foreign Affairs essay: we should view the world not as bipolar, or as a collection of states, but as a set of seven or eight cultural "civilizations"?one in the West, several outside it?fated to link and conflict in terms of that civilizational identity. Thus, in sweeping but dry style, he makes several vital points: modernization does not mean Westernization; economic progress has come with a revival of religion; post-Cold War politics emphasize ethnic nationalism over ideology; the lack of leading "core states" hampers the growth of Latin America and the world of Islam. Most controversial will be Huntington's tough-minded view of Islam. Not only does he point out that Muslim countries are involved in far more intergroup violence than others, he argues that the West should worry not about Islamic fundamentalism but about Islam itself, "a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power." While Huntington notes that the war in Bosnia hardened into an ethno-religious clash, he downplays the possibility that such splintering could have been avoided. Also, his fear of multiculturalism as a source of American weakness seems unconvincing and alarmist. Huntington directs the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard.
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Simon & Schuster
January 28, 1998
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Excerpt from The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World O by Samuel P. Huntington
From Chapter 1: The New Era in World Politics Introduction: Flags and Cultural Identity
On January 3, 1992, a meeting of Russian and American scholars took place in the auditorium of a government building in Moscow. Two weeks earlier the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and the Russian Federation had become an independent country. As a result, the statue of Lenin which previously graced the stage of the auditorium had disappeared and instead the flag of the Russian Federation was now displayed on the front wall. The only problem, one American observed, was that the flag had been hung upside down. After this was pointed out to the Russian hosts, they quickly and quietly corrected the error during the first intermission.
The years after the Cold War witnessed the beginnings of dramatic changes in peoples' identities and the symbols of those identities. Global politics began to be reconfigured along cultural lines. Upside-down flags were a sign of the transition, but more and more the flags are flying high and true, and Russians and other peoples are mobilizing and marching behind these and other symbols of their new cultural identities.
On April 18, 1994, two thousand people rallied in Sarajevo waving the flags of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. By flying those banners, instead of U.N., NATO, or American flags, these Sarajevans identified themselves with their fellow Muslims and told the world who were their real and not-so-real friends.
On October 16, 1994, in Los Angeles 70,000 people marched beneath "a sea of Mexican flags" protesting Proposition 187, a referendum measure which would deny many state benefits to illegal immigrants and their children. Why are they "walking down the street with a Mexican flag and demanding that this country give them a free education?" observers asked. "They should be waving the American flag." Two weeks later more protectors did march down the street carrying an American flag-upside down. These flag displays ensured victory for Proposition 187, which was approved by 59 percent of California voters.
In the post-Cold War world flags count and so do other symbols of cultural identity, including crosses, crescents, and even head coverings, because culture counts, and cultural identity is what is most meaningful to most people. People are discovering new but often old identities and marching under new but often old flags which lead to wars with new but often old enemies.
One grim Weltanschauung for this new era was well expressed by the Venetian nationalist demagogue in Michael Dibdin's novel, Dead Lagoon: "There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are. These are the old truths we are painfully rediscovering after a century and more of sentimental cant. Those who deny them deny their family, their heritage, their culture, their birthright, their very selves! They will not lightly be forgiven." The unfortunate truth in these old truths cannot be ignored by statesmen and scholars. For peoples seeking identity and reinventing ethnicity, enemies are essential, and the potentially most dangerous enmities occur across the fault lines between the world's major civilizations.
The central theme of this book is that 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. The five parts of this book elaborate corollaries to this main proposition.
Part I: For the first time in history global politics is both multipolar and multicivilizational; modernization is distinct from Westernization and is producing neither a universal civilization in any meaningful sense nor the Westernization of non-Western societies.