- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (January 28, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684844419
- ISBN-13: 978-0684844411
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (389 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#484,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #717 in Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > International Relations
- #730 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Communism & Socialism
- #972 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Security
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The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order 1st Edition
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The thesis of this provocative and potentially important book is the increasing threat of violence arising from renewed conflicts between countries and cultures that base their traditions on religious faith and dogma. This argument moves past the notion of ethnicity to examine the growing influence of a handful of major cultures--Western, Eastern Orthodox, Latin American, Islamic, Japanese, Chinese, Hindu, and African--in current struggles across the globe. Samuel P. Huntington, a political scientist at Harvard University and foreign policy aide to President Clinton, argues that policymakers should be mindful of this development when they interfere in other nations' affairs. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Huntington here extends the provocative thesis he laid out in a recent (and influential) Foreign Affairs essay: we should view the world not as bipolar, or as a collection of states, but as a set of seven or eight cultural "civilizations"?one in the West, several outside it?fated to link and conflict in terms of that civilizational identity. Thus, in sweeping but dry style, he makes several vital points: modernization does not mean Westernization; economic progress has come with a revival of religion; post-Cold War politics emphasize ethnic nationalism over ideology; the lack of leading "core states" hampers the growth of Latin America and the world of Islam. Most controversial will be Huntington's tough-minded view of Islam. Not only does he point out that Muslim countries are involved in far more intergroup violence than others, he argues that the West should worry not about Islamic fundamentalism but about Islam itself, "a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power." While Huntington notes that the war in Bosnia hardened into an ethno-religious clash, he downplays the possibility that such splintering could have been avoided. Also, his fear of multiculturalism as a source of American weakness seems unconvincing and alarmist. Huntington directs the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The fact that the book's 228 ratings average only 3.5 Amazon stars reflects not on the brilliance of the book--which is beyond question--but on the ideological unpopularity in some quarters of its basic theses.
And those theses are that: 1) with the end of the Cold War, political ideologies have given way to differing cultural and religious values (i.e. civilizations) as the gravitational fields of attraction which group like-minded national sympathies and create de facto world alliances; 2) the key blocs thus created will be Euro-Atlantic civilization, a Russian-centered Slavic bloc, the Islamic World, a Chinese-centered East Asian grouping, Japanese civilization, and Indian civilization; 3) the West's power will inevitably decline relative to the rest of the world, in particular an ascendant China, which poses the greatest threat of global conflict if it cannot be peacefully integrated into current power structures; 4) Islamic revivalism coupled with Arab demographic explosion will make that part of the world the greatest source of secondary global conflicts for the next generation or two, with the attendant dangers of terrorism potentially (and perhaps catastrophically) leveraged by nuclear proliferation; and 5) if the US wishes to thrive or at least survive in a world based on civilizations, it must reject multi-culturalism and reaffirm its roots and unity in European civilization.
When Huntington over a decade ago wrote the "Foreign Affairs Magazine" article upon which the book is based, these scenarios were debated...and perhaps debatable. Are they still? Ten years later, as the daily headlines attest, I think his projections have stood the test of time--eerily so in many cases--which suggests to me that his understanding of the underlying tectonic plates of world politics in the 21st century is largely correct...or at least carries a lot of merit.
The book is vintage Huntington. As an undergraduate I first encountered him in the late 1960s when his book "Political Order in Changing Societies" had catapulted him to the first rank of American political scientists and was standard issue in college political science courses. His Harvard career since has fulfilled that early promise, and the "Clash of Civilizations" is in the same first rank of seminal texts: broad-gauged in addressing the "big questions," and brilliantly argued with a wealth of empirical evidence. And it is relentlessly realistic...which is to say ultimately rather realpolitik (or "conservative" if you like) in its somewhat downbeat view of what ultimately drives human groupings or "states" (which Huntington pretty clearly views as tribal in their deepest instincts). That makes him unpopular with some observers (particularly on the left) who take a more optimistic view of human nature and thus of our future, and who dislike his warnings against multi-culturalism in the U.S.
For my own part, as a calloused (and, yes, rather cynical) retired U.S. diplomat, I find this book among the most realistic and plausible guesstimates we are likely to get to the politics of the coming century.
If you wish to complement and broaden that view with an environment/systems-based prediction of the global future, then read the equally well written and wide-ranging book "The Upside of Down" by Thomas Homer-Dixon. Together, the two books provide a good and fairly comprehensive prophetic view of the century to come. That roadmap is not a happy one, especially if, like me, you are an American. So take a stiff drink after reading!
On the basis of such examples, Huntington draws the painful conclusion that we (as Westerners) cannot universalize rights and principles that we hold dear and apply them to other peoples, governments and states that do not observe them. To do so, he warns, is false, immoral and dangerous. He asserts toward the close 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 advances an "abstention rule": that core states of one civilization abstain from intervening in the conflicts of other civilizations. He proposes that a constant seeking for common values, practices and institutions among different peoples, states and civilizations is the key to peace and world order in the realignment of nations taking place after the end of the Cold War.
THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS was a bestselling book that was widely discussed and debated throughout America--in the popular media, in the halls of academe and in the chambers of government. Henry Kissinger endorsed it. Zbigniew Brzezinski called it revolutionary. Presumably every reader of FOREIGN AFFAIRS, where Huntington's initial statement was published, studied the book. This means all the world analysts in the Department of State, the Department of Defense and the Cabinet. It is hard to imagine another publication that had a greater chance of influencing US foreign policy. And yet, as the US prepared to go to war for a second time against Iraq, then went to war and got stuck, every single argument, proof and piece of advice packed into its nearly 400 pages was forgotten or ignored. All that was left was a catch-phrase, "clash of civilizations," which was denied and almost always misused.
Contrary to one of the reviews on this page, there is nothing simplistic about this book. The concepts of "civilization," "core state" and "fault-line war" are put forward with precise definitions, reasoned exposition and pertinent historical examples buttressed by statistical data and a full scholarly apparatus. Balkan politics are discussed in exacting detail, Chinese and Central Asian politics as well. Islamic militancy is examined with unflinching objectivity. Distinctions are drawn between domestic multiculturalism and foreign universalism which are hairsplitting, but crucial. The writing abounds in classifications and qualifications; often tedious, but often capped with a memorable maxim: "The great beneficiaries of the war of civilizations are those civilizations who abstained from it."
For me, the discussions of post-Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe are most instructive: "People could no longer identify as Communists, Soviet citizens or Yugoslavs, and desperately needed to find new identities. They found them in the old standbys of ethnicity and religion. The repressive but peaceful order of states committed to the proposition that there is no god was replaced by the violence of people committed to different gods." The presentation of civilizational alignments in the Afghan war of 1979-1989, the Tadzhikistan war of 1992 and the Chechen wars beginning in 1994 provides the background for ongoing conflicts today. The analysis of Sino-Russian politics and prospects brings us right up to the moment.
The failure of this book to prevent the very thing it warned against is very troubling and raises questions about the real impact of public discourse today. No doubt it is too much to ask power-mongers to re-read it, but for us mere mortals it is essential. We may not be able to change the world, but we at least want to understand it.