Wars are an inevitable part of human existence; they have significantly transformed throughout time. In Huntington’s (1993) article The Clash of Civilizations? the author argues that differences between civilizations might become causes of future violent wars. Fox (2005) argues that Huntington’s (1993) arguments are wrong even within the war on terror declared by the USA after 9/11. The paper aims to compare and contrast the arguments of both authors.
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Huntington’s (1993) thesis can be summarized in the following points: differences between civilizations should be recognized, the consciousness of civilizations is rising, and future conflicts will erupt precisely due to these disagreements that are often ideological. Non-Western civilizations will gain more power and become not objects but actors, while violent conflicts between different civilizations will become more likely and can even result in global wars.
Huntington (1993) points out that the conflict between civilizations that are based on different religions and ideologies is more likely since various religious fundamentalist groups (Islamic, Christian, etc.) are growing and gaining power. Fox (2005), however, argues that Islamic fundamentalists, in particular, do not aim to attack non-Muslims only, since post 9/11 attacks of the Al Qaeda not just took place in Muslim states but also targeted Muslims. Huntington’s (1993) prediction of Christian vs. Muslim clashes is false, Fox (2005) argues, because “the majority of conflicts involving Muslims are Muslim vs. Muslim conflicts” (p. 448). Fox (2005) also addresses Huntington’s (1993) discussion of inter-civilizational conflicts as more violent. According to him, statistical analysis of the conflicts during the post-Cold War period indicates that “non-civilizational ethnic conflicts are slightly more violent than civilizational ones” (Fox, 2005, p. 443). Furthermore, the violence of both civilizational and non-civilizational conflicts rose almost similarly after the end of the Cold War.
Huntington (1993) supposes that the conflict between the Islamic world and the West will become more tense, leading to the strengthening of anti-Western political forces. Fox (2005) notices that quantitative analysis of the conflicts between and within civilizations shows that conflicts between the Islamic civilization and other civilizations are less violent, which does not correspond with Huntington’s (1993) argument that Islam states will defend their borders bloodily. Despite refuting all of Huntington’s (1993) main arguments, Fox (2005) admits that these still can come true if they become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Although it is tempting to agree with Huntington (1993) that he is right about the future clash between the West (the USA) and Islam in the form of the war on terror, it should be noted that indeed thousands of Muslims have suffered from terrorist attacks of Islamic fundamentalist groups. It seems that their aim is not to start a clash of civilizations but to make terror the primary weapon that does not specifically target representatives of other religions or cultures.
Huntington’s (1993) analysis is extensive and insightful, but research demonstrates that the clash of civilizations is not likely to happen. Fundamentalism and terrorism can lead to worsened international relations. Nevertheless, they also result in imperfect but active cooperation between nations.
Fox, J. (2005). Paradigm lost: Huntington’s unfulfilled clash of civilizations prediction into the 21st century. International Politics, 42(4), 428-457.
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Huntington, S. P. (1993). The clash of civilizations? Foreign Affairs, 72(3), 22-49.