Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Samuel Huntington's controversial "Clash of Civilizations" thesis is in its tenth year. Briefly stated, it goes like this:
CIVILIZATION IDENTITY will be increasingly important in the future, and the world will be shaped in large measure by the interactions among seven or eight major civilizations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization. The most important conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating these civilizations from one another.
A lot of people kind of clucked at the Huntington thesis during the Nineties--this was the age of Bill Clinton's absurd line that "no missiles are pointed at American children."--but 9/11 made everyone take notice.
For the last two years, phrase "clash of civilizations" has been thrown about indiscriminately. But of course we are not really seeing such a thing, not really. As blogger Armed Liberal bluntly puts it,
A real war of civilizations, as I have pointed out over and over again, only has one result. We'll be here, they won't.
In fact, the entire Iraq war and aftermath is nothing less than an elaborate attempt to head off a real CoC. And if the worldwide Left gets its wish and the Iraq experiment fails completely and the Americans get driven out, the remaining responses to the Islamic threat to the West narrow to two: Surrender (the preferred continental European option) and a real, nasty, profoundly ugly clash of civilizations.
If you want to know what the real Clash of Civilizations looks like, you have to look at places like Bosnia/Kosovo, Chechnya, and India. A recent article in Dissent by Martha Nussbaum describes the early 2002 Gujarat massacres in India:
...more than two thousand Muslims were killed in a few
days, many by being burned alive in or near their homes. Nobody was spared:
young children were immolated along with their families. Particularly striking were the mass rapes and mutilations of women.
And this is the alternative that we are trying to avoid.