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WEEK #12
THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS?
THE NEXT PATTERN OF CONFLICT
 ‘World Politics’ is entering a new phase where
the fundamental source of conflict will not be
ideological or economic. Instead, the dominating
source of conflict will be cultural.
 Nation-states will remain the most powerful
actors in world affairs, but the main conflicts of
global politics will occur between nations and
groups of different civilizations.
 The fault lines between civilizations will be the
battle lines of the future, and this new pattern of
conflict will represent the last phase in the
evolution of conflict in the modern world.
THE NATURE OF CIVILIZATIONS
 Initial conflicts among empires, monarchs,
nation-states and ideologies were taking place
within Western civilization (as William Lind has
labeled them, “Western civil wars”).
 By the end of the Cold War, international politics
moved out of its Western phase, and its center
turned out to be the interactions between the
West and non-Western civilizations and among
non-Western Civilizations.
 A civilization is the highest cultural grouping of
people. It may include several nation states,
ethnic groups and regions with common
elements, such as language, history and religion.
WHY CIVILIZATIONS WILL CLASH?
 Self-identification of people with a particular
civilization, or civilization identity will be
increasingly important since the world will be
shaped by the interactions among seven or eight
major civilizations, which can be listed as;
Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu,
Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly
African civilization.
 Why will the conflicts of future occur along the
cultural fault lines separating these civilizations?
 First, differences among civilizations are basic,
and these differences are products of centuries.
WHY CIVILIZATIONS WILL CLASH?
 Second, the interactions between peoples of
different civilizations are strengthening civilization
consciousness.
 Third, the processes of economic modernization
and social change weaken the nation state as a
source of identity, and religion has moved in to fill
this gap.
 Fourth, a “return to the roots” phenomenon is
occuring among non-Western civilizations, which
have the desire and the resources to shape the
world in non-Western ways.
 Finally, cultural differences are less easily
compromised than political and economic ones.
THE FAULT LINES BETWEEN CIVILIZATIONS
 Ideological boundaries of the Cold War are
replaced by the fault lines between civilizations.
 For instance, Europe is culturally divided by
Western Christianity, Orthodox Christianity and
Islam. The events took place in the former
Yugoslavian territories represents that the given
division is not only a simple line of difference.
 The Middle East and North Africa can also be
stressed as significant fault lines of a centuries
old conflict between Western and Islamic
civilizations.
 Fault-line examples can be multiplied; IndiaPakistan rivalry, Armenian-Azeri dispute etc...
CIVILIZATION RALLYING: THE KIN-COUNTRY
SYNDROME
 States or groups belonging to one civilization
naturally try to rally support from other members
of their civilization when they involve in an armed
conflict with states or groups from a different
civilization.
 As a result of this tendency, civilizational
commonality leads to the “kin-country syndrome”
as a major basis for cooperation and coalitions in
times of conflicts or rivalries between different
civilizations.
 Turkey’s political attitude towards the conflict
between Azerbaijan and Armenia is an illustrative
example of the kin-country syndrome.
THE WEST VERSUS THE REST
 Unrivaled Western military strength and Western
domination of the United Nations Security
Council and international monetary institutions
has become irritating for the other civilizations.
 The phrases or expresions, such as “the Free
World”, “the World Community”, or “International
Community”, are used to provide legitimacy to
actions mainly reflecting the Western interests.
 Such a generalization, provides the West a
misleading idea that their civilization is the
“universal” civilization. The policies and attitudes
in line with this mistaken idea are likely to trigger
a reaction from non-Western civilizations in the
format of “the West vs. the Rest” (post-9/11??).
THE TORN COUNTRIES
 As people, ethnic groups and countries
differentiate themselves by civilizations, a strict
placement of some countries into a specific
civilization is not quite easy. They are simply
divided over whether their society belongs to one
civilization or another. These countries are called
by Huntington as Torn Countries.
 Turkey and Russia represent typical examples of
torn countries.
 Since its independence, Turkish leaders defined
Turkey as a modern, secular, Western nation
state. Simultaneously, there are some Islamic
elements in Turkish society similar to that of
other Middle Eastern states.
THE TORN COUNTRIES
 Occasionally, Turkey’s position as a torn country
complicates its NATO roles. For instance, the latest
demands of the United States (within the framework
of NATO) to increase the number and expand the
mission of Turkish task force in Afghanistan was a
huge matter of debate in Turkish public opinion.
 A torn country must meet three requirements to
redefine its civilization identity.
a) Its political and economic elite has to be generally
supportive of this move.
b) Its public has to be willing to redefine their country’s
identity.
c)The dominant groups in the recipient civilization have to
be willing to embrace the convert.
THE CONFUCIAN-ISLAMIC CONNECTION
 There are great obstacles for some civilizations to
join the West.
 Those countries of non-Western civilizations that
do not wish to, or cannot, join the West (for
cultural and power related reasons) compete with
the West by promoting their internal development
and by cooperating with other non-Western
countries.
 The most prominent form of this cooperation is
the Confucian-Islamic connection (China, North
Korea and some Middle Eastern states) that
challenges Western interests, values, norms and
power. For instance, military spending and
buildup of the Confucian-Islamic states confronts
the Western norm of non-proliferation.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE WEST
 International Relations, historically a game played
out within Western civilization, will increasingly be
de-Westernized and become a game in which
non-Western civilizations are actors and not
simply objects.
 If the hypotheses of Huntington’s article (civilization-
based identity formation, torn countries, conflicts on the fault lines
between civilizations, the West vs. the Rest and Confucian-Islamic
connection) are reasonable, there are some long-
term and short-term implications for the West.
 In addressing all long-term and short-term
implications, the West needs to develop a more
profound understanding of the main religious and
philosophical notions underlying other civilizations