One man who foresaw the present conflicts between America and the Islamic world was Samuel P. Huntington.
Most importantly, he had the courage to say what has since become Politically Incorrect.
Samuel P. Huntington
A political scientist, Huntington taught government at Harvard University (1950-1959, then at Columbia University (1959-1962). He returned to Harvard in 1963, and remained there until his death in 2008.
The author of nine books, in 1996 he published his most influential one: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Its thesis was that, in the post-Cold War world, people’s cultural and religious identities would be the primary sources of conflict.
Among the points he makes:
- Modernization does not mean Westernization.
- Economic progress has come with a revival of religion.
- Post-Cold War politics emphasize ethnic nationalism over ideology.
- Civilizations are fundamentally differentiated from each other by centuries-old history, language, culture, tradition, and, most important, religion.
- As the world becomes smaller, different civilizations increasingly interact. These intensify civilization consciousness and the awareness of differences between civilizations.
- Economic modernization and social change separate people from age-old identities (such as hometowns and familiar neighbors). Religion has replaced this gap, providing a basis for identity, socialization and commitment that transcends national boundaries and unites civilizations.
- The West, at the peak of its power, is confronting non-Western countries that increasingly have the desire, will and resources to shape the world in non-Western ways.
- Cultural characteristics and differences are less mutable and hence less easily compromised and resolved than political and economic ones.
The most controversial part of The Clash of Civilizations focuses on Islam. Huntington points out, for example, that Muslim countries are involved in far more intergroup violence than others.
And he warns that the West’s future conflcts with Islamic nations will be rooted in the Islamic religion:
“Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.”
Huntington argues that civilizational conflicts are especially prevalent between Muslims and Christians. Among the reasons for these conflicts:
- Both seek to convert others.
- Both are “all-or-nothing” religions; each side believes that only its faith is the correct one.
- Both believe that people who violate the base principles of their religion are heretics and thus damned.
Other reasons for the Western-Islamic clash are:
- Western secular values conflict with Islamic religious values.
- Past historical rivalry between Christianity and Islam.
- The jealousy of Western power by Islamic nations.
- Islamic resentments of Western domination during the post-colonial restructuring of the Middle East.
- Islamic bitterness and humiliation at the achievements of Western civilization over the last 200 years.
- The Islamic revival, which began in the 1970s and is manifested in greater religious piety and in a growing adoption of Islamic culture, values, dress, separation of the sexes, speech and media censorship.
- Western universalism–the belief that all civilizations should adopt Western values–infuriates Islamic fundamentalists.
- Islamic civilizations do not share the general ideals of the Western world–such as individualism and democracy.
- Islamics’ primary attachment is to their religion, not to their nation-state.
- When the Muslim world conflicts with other civilizations, tensions and wars result.
- Arab dictatorships are fragile and can be overturned by the masses of unemployed young men. But even if they fall, the new regimes will not modernize along Western lines.
- Relations between Muslims and non-Muslims–such as Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews–have been marked by Islamic antagonism and violence.
- Western nations should distance themselves from Islamic ones. The more both civilizations interact, the greater will be the tensions between them.
These differences will not disappear. Nor will they be sweet-talked away by Politically Correct politicians, however well-meaning.
The result: A fundamental clash of civilizations between Islam and the West is inevitable.
A point of Islamic irony: Islamic terror groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS damn Western nations as havens of corrupt infidels. But tens of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis are now fleeing to Europe and the United States–to escape the barbaric slaughters of their fellow Islamics.
Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, a quasi-war developed between some Islamic nations and some Western ones.
On the Islamic side:
On the Western side:
- The United States
- Great Britain
“In this quasi war,” wrote Huntington, “each side has capitalized on its own strengths and the other side’s weaknesses.” For example:
- Muslim terrorists exploited the openness of Western societies to plant car bombs at selected targets.
- Western powers used their superior air power to bomb selected targets in Islamic countries.
- Islamics plotted the assassination of Western leaders.
- The United States plotted the overthrow of hostile Islamic regimes.
Writing at a time before the United States directed its full military power at conquering Afghanistan and Iraq, Huntington ominously noted:
“During the 15 years between 1980 and 1995…the United States engaged in 17 military operations in the Middle East, all of them directed against Muslims. No comparable pattern of U.S. military operations occurred against the people of any other civilization.”
The war that Huntington warned was coming and was, in fact, already in progress, has since erupted into full-scale conflict, with no end in sight.