This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.
The book Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order written by Samuel Huntington speculates the emergence of a new political order in a new post-Cold War world. Huntington's principle thesis pleads that with the conclusion of the Cold War, political ideologies have relinquished to conflicting cultural and religious values ; in other words , civilizations."The most important distinctions among peoples are [no longer] ideological, political, or economic. They are cultural" (Huntington, P21).As a matter of fact, the book can be divided into five parts where each section handles specific issue crucial to the post Cold War world.
In the first part of his book, Huntington started off by questioning the validity of the past paradigms in anticipating the reality of the global political order. "We need a map that both portrays reality and simplifies reality in a way that best serves our purposes" (Huntington, P.31). Afterwards, Huntington presents his novel "Civilization paradigm" to put forward a different understanding of the post cold war order. According to the writer, the world should be divided into eight major civilizations namely Sinic, Japanese, Hindu Islamic, Orthodox, Western, Latin American and Africa. The chief coalitions accordingly will be Euro-Atlantic civilization, a Russian-centered Slavic bloc, the Islamic World, a Chinese centered East Asian alignment, Japanese civilization, and Indian civilization. Furthermore, the twentieth century interactions among these civilizations will be multidirectional meaning that an interdependent cultural influence is inevitable. Also, the relations amongst the various cultivations will no longer be based on "unidirectional influence of the west on the rest." Huntington ends up this first part of his book by refuting the concept of Western cultural hegemony and its subsequent universalization. He mentions that "global communications are dominated by the West and is a major source of the resentment and hostility of non-Western peoples against the West" (Huntington ,P.59).
Lastly, Huntington's firmly stresses the idea of the severance of modernization from Westernization as he states that the world is stepping more into modernity and simultaneously stepping away from westernization. In Chapter five, Economics, Demography and the Challenger Civilizations, Huntington talks about the notable rise of non Western powers as he sheds the light on Japan, the Four Tigers (Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore), and China, These countries have been capable of manifesting cultural relevance by succeeding economically. "They are increasingly able to resist pressure from the U.S. or other Western countries" (Huntington, P.104). On the other side, the resurgence and revival of Islam within the Muslim societies has asserted their cultural identity. Huntington considers the rejection of the Western culture and the distinguished politics in these societies are a result of the reaffirmation of the Islamic society.
In the Second part of his book, Huntington refers to the Shifting Balance of Civilizations pointing out that the West's relative influence and power will be in a dwindling state. He elaborates on this view by referring to three major traits of this decline in the western power. The first is that it is a very slow paced process that does not pose any immediate threat to the world powers. The second is that the "decline of power does not occur in a straight line; it may reverse, speed up, or pause." The Last is the political behavior and decisions of those in power have a strong influence on the power of the state greatly matters.Furthermore, Huntington affirms the growing importance of religion in politics where he condemns that religion is curial social factors that has moved in to fill the vacuum resulted from the ideological gap in the post cold war era. "Religions experienced new surges in commitment, relevance and practice by erstwhile casual believers" ( Huntington,P.96). Moreover, people's loss of identity and the continuous search of new sources to give them the sense of belongingness have fueled the increased prominence of religion in their lives.
The third part of the book discusses the Emerging Order of Civilizations. In this section, the writer asserts the fact that countries are no more capable of relating or categorizing themselves in contrast to the era of the cold war. The bipolar world made it easy for countries to categorize themselves by being aligned to one of the great powers and so this served as a source of identity. Consequently, in the post cold war time countries are trying to "rallying to those [cultures] with similar ancestry, religion, language, values, and institutions and distance themselves from those with different ones" (Huntington, P.126). Also, he gave the example of the regional organizations like the European Union (EU) and the North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that manifests the political and economic alliances. Additionally, Huntington moved to discuss the idea of "torn countries," which are countries that embrace a fair level of cultural homogeneity and are torn over whether their society fit in one civilizations or another. These countries embrace Russia, Mexico, Australia and Turkey. In addition, the writer argues that core states will be the center of the novel structure of civilizations giving the example of Germany and France in the European Union. "Culture commonality legitimates the leadership and order-imposing role of the core states for both member state and core external powers and institutions" (Huntington, P.56).
The forth part: Clashes of Civilizations, Huntington prophesized the huge clash that will take place among various civilizations. To begin with, he predicts an alliance between the Islamic and Sinic cultures so as to pair up against a common enemy "the West" which will further escalate the conflict.According to Huntington, there are three principle factors that part the west from the rest. Firstly, the West's potential to keeps its military superiority by the nonproliferation of rising powers. Secondly, the fostering of societal Western political values such as liberalism and democracy. Thirdly, the constraining of non-Western immigrants and refugees from flooding into Western societies and these 3 factors are viewed by non westerners as a Western attempt to impose and maintain their cultural hegemony. In his chapter The Global Politics of Civilizations, Huntington envisions the future conflict between the America and China as one with the ineptitude of escalation into an "inter-civilization war of core states" while Islamic Western conflict to be a "small, fault line war." As a matter of fact, Huntington dug very deep into the issue of Islam and the West. First of all, he briefly gave a historical background to the "conflictual nature "of Islam and Christianity.
Afterwards, he referred to five factors that have intensified the conflict in the late twentieth century between Islam and Christianity. Those five factors can be summarized as the vast growth of Muslim population and simultaneous increase in unemployment rates so youth directs its energy to Islamic causes. Second of all, the revival of Islam has resulted in the reassertion of the relevance of Islam in comparison to other religions. Thirdly, the West's universalizing of its values besides its numerous attempts in maintaining hegemony through military and economic superiority which fires up the sentiments of resentments in the Islamic world. As communism relinquished, Islam is perceived as the enemy by the West. "Increased communication and interaction between Islam and the West has exaggerated the perceived differences between the two societies (Huntington, P.211)."
Another empirical point is that the First Gulf war and the soviet Afghani war were described by Huntington as the emanation of civilizations wars. Furthermore, Afghan war being the first successful resistance against a foreign powers he deduced it as a war of civilization. One major consequence to this war according to Huntington is that it "left behind an uneasy coalition of Islamic organizations intent on promoting Islam against all non-Muslim forces" (Huntington,P.247). As a result, the war left behind a generation of fighters with boosted self confidence and a perception of the West as the biggest enemy.
Huntington further defined the fault lines between civilizations by pinpointing some dynamics of the fault lines conflicts. He interpreted them as conflicts among states or groups of dissimilar civilizations which are violent in nature and its violence hardly ends enduringly. Also, these conflicts are characterized by a prolonged durations. Most often it occurs among people of differing religious views. Besides, according to Huntington, the is no drastic change in the spoils of war, however the actors and their drives have changed dramatically as the stirring question of the age is no longer "which side are you on" ,but rather "who are you?."
Lastly, the books last section handles the issue of the Future of Civilizations. Huntington concludes by discussing possible future challenges to the West and its impact on its power. The challenges were divided into external and internal ones; the external challenges embrace the rising cultural consciousness in the non Western countries. On the other hand, the internal challenges embrace the deterioration of the Western morals and principles within the culture itself. Huntington emphasizes on the road to the end 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 promotes the idea of an "abstention rule" where core states refrain from interfering in the conflicts of other civilizations. He recommends that a steady search for common ground symbolized in values, practices and institutions with different peoples, states and civilizations is the way to peace and world order in the post Cold war era.
To begin with, Huntington's analysis neglects the benefits of having close interactions between different civilizations. He highlighted the drawbacks and pitfalls without refuting any possible counterarguments to this point. For instance, various theorists believe that contact between different civilizations is an essential element in revitalizing themselves through mutual learning. In addition, a handful of factors can breed different consequences. For example, there are divergent types of civilizations with various degrees of maturity besides the level of encounters which lead to bizarre effects.
Another point worth noting is that some biases underlie some of the claims that were made in the book. To begin with, his assumption that Western civilizations are distinguished by the rule of law, democracy, rationality and tolerance is flawed. As a matter of fact, the careful examination the West actions in general and U.S Foreign policy in particular, manifest the double standards that boldly prevail. The hot topic of the Iranian potential and willingness of pursuing a nuclear weapon is clear manifestations of the double standards the U.S apply. Actually, Israel the United States ally already possesses a nuclear weapon but the U.S seems to turn the blind eye on that. Consequently, Huntington did not differentiate between the ideals of societies and their practical application.
Further possible criticism to Huntington views is his "monolithic "perception of civilizations together with the shortage in discussing the intra-civilization differences. His prediction about the Islamic Western conflicts is simplistic in a way. First of all, he ignored the domestic dynamics, plurality and countless complexities that do exist within the Muslim world. Also, there are different types and forms of political Islam. Besides, history has manifested tat cooperation between countries of different civilizations is feasible. In 1990s, Turkey had developed kind of a strategic relation with Israel concurrently its relations with Iran and the Arab world was deteriorating. Furthermore, some Muslim countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia joined the coalition that was formed in opposition to Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War.
In conclusion, Huntington's recommendation for cultural coexistence instead of universalizing the Western culture is really convincing. It is reasonable to respect the boundaries of the multicivilizations while promoting the nation's heritage domestically by the United States as it is not viable to force Western culture on non western countries. In addition, his assumption that the world is modernizing without westernizing is quite realistic and it was very well discussed and backed by wide ranging examples like the Asian countries. Last but not least, I believe that the book is of a great value as it provides substantial answer to several vital questions like what are the causes to international conflict and war. How the West-Islam relations are going to be shaped in the new epoch of global politics? And so forth. Also, the book offers analytical views that deepen understanding of the International Relations. Even though there are some generalizations and inconsistencies in some of his arguments, there are no simplistic views in the book. In addition, Huntington's book is rife of relevant historical examples that have given depth and credibility to his predictions. It is a worth reading book.