The Clash of Civilizations
Most Scholars reject Huntington’s theory. However, there are some unsettling signs to suggest that is not totally unthinkable (Rourke-Boyer). There is already a clash of civilizations going on in the world. The most obvious is that of Islam against the West mostly the Christian world, African Christians, Muslims, and Animists, as well as the ongoing feud between Pakistan and India that carries a religious component. To the Muslim world the clash against the West is a continuation of the crusades and the wars waged to retake parts of Europe from Islamic control. In more recent times, the West’s apparent disregard for Muslim lives in Bosnia in 1992-1995, the first invasion of Iraq and the sanctions imposed on that country after Desert Storm, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the second invasion of Iraq. Another issue, is the West’s, primarily the United States support of Israel in the face of what the Arab world considers to be poor treatment of Palestinians. When the West comes to the aid of an Islamic country, such as the liberation of Kuwait, the troops that remained in Saudi Arabia were seen as an occupation not a defense against further aggression. Osama bin Laden voiced this in 1996 with “The Declaration of Jihad on the Americans Occupying the Country of the Two Sacred Places” meaning the five thousand U.S. soldiers and airmen stationed in Saudi Arabia (Coll). While it is safe to say that Osama bin Laden does not speak for all Muslims and that most are not fighting at home or abroad, there are indications that the Muslim world feels threatened by the encroachment of the West. Recent polling has shown that a majority of Muslims feel their civilization is under attack. A 2003 Pew Research Center poll found that 61 percent of the near east felt that cultural imports were good, however, 79 percent felt that their way of life needs protecting (Rourke-Boyer). Western culture primarily from the United States is seen as the enemy of Islamic culture.
This clash of civilizations can also be seen as a backlash against Western cultural globalization. A top Saudi official explained in 1994 “foreign imports are nice as shiny or high tech things. But intangible social and political institutions imported from elsewhere can be deadly. Islam for us is not a religion but a way of life. We Saudis want to modernize, but not necessarily Westernize (Huntington).” Islamic civilizations and others such as the Chinese, and Hindu India want the products that can be offered in a globalized world society but see the media assault as a possible threat to their own culture. Traditional societies across the world have experienced the corrosive effects of globalization on deeply held social, cultural, and religious identities. Which has sparked violent antagonism to Western led modernization and its preeminent symbol: perceived U.S. cultural and economic imperialism (Kilcullen). This violence can be seen not only on the battle fields of Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere but also in the number of attacks that have been foiled in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. This would seem to indicate that even without a direct affiliation with al-Qaeda, jihadist wanting to wage a war against Western civilization can occur anywhere. This can be caused by an infection of at risk immigrant communities by extremists who seek to embed themselves and manipulate grievances in order to further an extremist agenda, as well as contagion effects due to subversion of community and state institutions, and the spread of violence and radicalization (Kilcullen).
Globalization has, however, worked in the opposite direction as well. With militant Islam’s use of propaganda and the tools of globalization such as the media and internet to spread its message to Muslims all over Spain but by a group influenced by militant Islam’s message about the Christians crusade against Islam. The message came from Islamists web site and was titled “Jihadi Iraq: Hopes and Dangers,” it had been prepared by a previously unknown entity called the Media Committee for the Victory of the Iraqi People (Mujahideen Services Center) (Wright). The ease of travel in a globalized world even after tightened security after 9/11 has also facilitated attacks against the West. Mohammed Sidique Khan, who traveled from the United Kingdom to Pakistan, was briefed and trained then traveled back to the United Kingdom and formed the attack team inside the country using British nationals (Kilcullen). Al-Qaeda and the people and groups it supports are lashing out and claiming to protect Islam against the cultural imperialism of the West brought on by globalization. Infighting this clash of civilizations they are using the very tools that a flatter earth provides.
Another front line in the clash of civilizations is the African Transition Zone which is the line that extends across the middle of Africa and is the boundary of Islamic expansion that is struggling to move further southward and bring more parts of Africa into the Muslim World. An example of the fight, is the current fighting in the Darfur region of Sudan where Arab Muslims are fighting against local Christians, Animists, and even Muslims. From Senegal to Somalia, the population is virtually 100 percent Muslim, and Islam's rules dominate everyday life. The Sunni mullahs would never allow the kind of marriage between traditional and Christian beliefs seen in much of formerly colonial Africa. This fundamental contradiction between Islamic dogma and Christian accommodation creates a potential for conflict in countries where both religions have adherents (Blij).
Current world affairs show there is a clash of civilizations. While globalization has brought an enormous amount of good to the world, it has also caused a significant percentage of one of the world’s largest civilizations-Islam to feel threatened by the blitzkrieg of what they see as corrupting influences. Also Islam’s views of perceived unjust treatment of the world’s Muslims has caused this rift to widen in recent years especially with the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the continued insurgency in places such as Kashmir where Muslims are fighting Hindus, and the Philippines where Muslims are fighting against the Christian U.S. supported government. As of 2005, there were 42 ongoing conflicts 13 of these involved Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists fighting against Muslims. Most of these are civil or "intrastate" wars, fueled as much by racial, ethnic, or religious animosities as by ideological fervor (Global Security.org).
Blij, de. Realms Regions and Concepts, 13th Ed. Wiley Plus, 2008.
Coll, Steve. Ghost Wars The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to Septermber 10, 2001 . New York: Penguin Books, 2004.
Global Security.org. 2005. 13 May 2009
Huntington, Samual P. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, 1996.
Kilcullen, David. The Accidental Guerrilla. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Rourke-Boyer. International Politics on the World Stage,7 Ed. . The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2008.
Wright, Lawernce. "The Terror Web: Were the Madrid Bombings part of new, far reaching jihad being plotted on the internet." 2 August 2004. The New Yorker . 13 May 2009