Huntington’s Argument – Clash of Civilizations

Huntington’s Argument

In the article and presentation, Huntington focuses on the change of world civilization after the Cold War. According to Huntington, during the Cold War era, the world was ruled by two main ideologies of communism and capitalism. The world was divided into two main groups based on the ideology that the country embraces, apart from sub-Sahara Africa that was not in any of the two. Huntington argues that the end Cold War results in a new era where there is no universal civilization or universal power that holds groups of countries together. This will result in the development of eight civilizations that are ruled by people’s culture. The civilization groups include African, Western, Latin American, Confucian, Slavic Orthodox, Japanese, Hindu, and Islamic civilization (Huntington, 1993).

Every group of civilizations will focus on building their own identity that makes it unique from the rest. This identity will be influence by unique culture, language, religion, and traditions. Huntington also predicts that there will be civilization conflict between different civilization groups which will happen along the cultural fault lines separating the civilizations (Krifko, n.d.). In Huntington’s view, no form of civilization will manage to gain enough power to rule the world. To maintain peace and coexistence, the Western should accept the new world order and stop imposing their form of civilization to other groups of civilization (Huntington, 1993).

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Defending Huntington’s Argument’s Plausibility or Rational Defensibility – Why does he believe that the organization of conflict will increasingly follow cultural-religious divisions?

Huntington believes that the new changes after the Cold War are likely to result in the clash of civilization. Huntington claims that the future battle line will be the fault lines between civilizations. This argument is discredited by several events that have prior and after the publication of the idea. According to Osborn (2006), the data show that Cold War initiated civilization conflict this means civilization conflict will not be a new thing as Huntington wants to suggest. The difference may only be on how it will take place. The data also show that states within civilizations had in the past fought more often among themselves compared to how they have fought with others.

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According to Osborn (2006, p.397), commentators have a consensus that conflicts in the recent past have happened within states, normally between rival communal or ethnic groups for different reasons. Some of the identifiable causes of war include attaining political objectives where parties contesting for political power initiate various sub-state conflicts. This has been identified in Somalia and Liberia. This phenomenon was also experienced during the Arabs appraisal that happened within what Huntington regard as Islamic civilization, where internal conflicts within Islamic groups were experienced due to dissatisfaction with the existing form of governance (Keshefi, 2013, p. 30).

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Another major reason for the conflict is rivalry for scarce resources (Osborn, 2006, p. 397). This is likely to be seen in the next five decades as the world population increases. It is extensively asserted that scarce resources competition lies as the heart of various conflicts and that the following competition parties’ polarization along religious or ethnic lines is just a product of the importance of those social divisions in society. This means although the conflict will be between groups of different civilizations, the cause will be not be based on cultural differences but other similar economic, political, and social interests (Osborn, 2006).   

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Clash of Civilizations Article Critique

The Huntington article reflects on international relations after the end of the Cold War. His theory made a lot of sense in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the U.S. was fighting Islamic based terrorist groups in the world. This was a new form of conflict that supported his theory of the clash of civilization based on the cultural ground Osborn (Fox, 2005, p. 428). However, it was quickly discredited by the Arabs spring in the early 2010s and the ongoing civil war in different countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Sudan among others (Keshefi, 2013, p. 30). Other than the inter-cultural based civilization conflicts, the article failed to foresee some of the challenges that may be brought about by similar economic problems such as scarcity of natural resources and global warming as the new cause of inter-regional conflicts other than cultural grounds (Osborn, 2006, p. 397).

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He also overruled the possibility of internal conflicts within the same civilization which is a common phenomenon in today’s world. Huntington also failed to foresee other factors that will force countries from different civilizations to the unit to address similar problems. Other than cultural issues, other serious problems are affecting different regions in the world, especially those associated with organized criminal groups.  Issues such as terrorism, diseases, hunger, and other life challenges have forced western countries such as the U.S. to ally with other countries of different civilizations such as Africa, Asia including Islamic countries and China in the quest to fight these challenges (Tyushka & Czechowska, 2019, p.9).

This shows it is hard to achieve a clear separation based on civilization and to focus on fighting between different civilizations for cultural purposes. Some civilizations as grouped by Huntington are experiencing serious internal problems that make them hard to be self-sufficient. As long as some defined civilizations depend on others for survival, chances of this division and conflict are not possible. Moreover, western countries remain more able economically, politically, and militarily. Thus, they are more likely to be considered as a source of assistance when governments in different civilizations experience internal rivalry from extremist groups. Most civilizations are thus insufficient on their own, and hence the dependability on western and their influence is unlikely to end any time soon.

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