The Clash of Civilizations: Book Report. The Clash of Civilizations

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Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción

Facultad de Educación

Pedagogía en Educación Media en Inglés
Book Report: Clash of Civilizations
María Angelica Fuica

Jocelyn Sepúlveda

Paola Neira

9th May, 2014

The Clash of Civilizations: Book Report.
The Clash of Civilizations

Book written by Samuel P. Huntington.

This Book is base upon the article The Clash of Civilizations written by the Eaton Professor of the Science of Government and Director of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard, Samuel P. Huntington. This book was published by the magazine Foreign Affairs in 1993.

The book read was written by Samuel P. Huntington. Samuel P. Huntington is famous for being and influential political scientist and writer. Some of his works are Political Order in Changing Societies and the actual book The Clash of Civilizations. His principal areas of research and teaching were American government, democratization, military politics, strategy, and civil-military relations, comparative politics, and political development.

To start with, we found this book interesting if you are or not aware of what is happening and also what is have been happening through the years in our world between civilizations that complete the earth; moreover, their constant fightings and disagreements that civilizations or countries have in order to reach a bigger amount of money, land, peoples, etc. than other civilizations. Nowadays, it is supposed that we live in a peaceful world without wars; nonetheless, the world civilizations and consequently the world politics are constantly changing and because of this fact the interests of each group of peoples changed.

Through years our world is have been changing its world politics; however, during the latest years the world politics has been entering in a new stage. According to the book, the intellectuals affirm that state of a new stage, supporting in the idea of a end of history, the comeback of some rivalries between nations and states and among others. The main hypothesis of this book is that the highest source of conflict in our world will not be ideological or economical; the principal source of conflict will be cultural. As the title of the book said, the clash of civilizations will be the main point in global politics during our days and future. Disagreements between civilizations will be the last part in the evolution of conflicts nowadays, called modern world. As R. R. Palmer affirmed, “The wars of kings were over, the wars of people had begun”, this statement is because after the French Revolution the wars between princes came to this end and started the wars between civilizations and peoples. Nonetheless, this had its end after the First World War and as a result of Russian Revolution, the disagreement between ideologies were started. These conflicts between ideologies were mainly part of the Western civilizations; nevertheless, with the end of the Cold War international politics take another route to the non- Western civilizations; furthermore, the political interaction at this stage was between Western civilizations and non-Western civilizations.

Nowadays, our world is not divided into First, Second and Third world, it is most appropriate divided them into culture and civilization in which people are belong to. However, and according to the author it is important to know deeply what is a civilization; moreover, Huntington affirms that a civilization is a “cultural entity”. In other words, inside of a civilizations there can exist many kinds of cultures; nonetheless, there will be one main characteristic that will be the same to the people in general in a big country, the civilization in which they belong to, and that main characteristics will be what is going to make the difference point between one civilization and another civilization. It is important to mention that people in a civilizations would have different levels of identities; however, the civilization which they belong to, is the highest identity that an individual would have. Nonetheless, with the past of the years these civilizations that exist in our modern world ( Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and African ) could clash at some point of history. The difference between civilizations is a real fact, the difference in language, culture, among others. However, it can be said that the most important difference is between religions. On the other hand, our world is getting smaller with the time and the civilizations consequently are getting closer one and other, this means that some civilizations cultures are being more famous than other, as is the case of American civilization. The clash of civilizations might occur at two levels according to the author, at the micro-level in which peoples located nearly fight in order to save his land and boundaries, and also at macro-level in which peoples disagrees in economical and military terms wanting to have the power in those points and promoting their particular political and religious values.

It is important to mention the fault lines between civilizations and what their are. According to Huntington, the fault lines are the ideological and political boundaries that each civilization impose during the Cold War. The fault lines are not only a line of difference; moreover, it is at times a bloody line of conflict, as were in the events in Yugoslavia.

Huntington claims that it is natural that states or groups involved in a war in which there are people from different civilizations, are supported by members of their own civilization. The “kin-country” (term used by H.D.S. Greenway to refer to civilization commonality) is replacing the principal basis for cooperation and coalitions as the post-Cold War world evolves.

First, in the Gulf War which started when one Arab state invaded to another and consequently it transformed into a war of coalitions; moreover, other states were involved. Saddam Hussein invoked an Islamic appeal; hence, he attempted to label the war as a war between civilizations. As Safar Al Hawali states “It is not the world against Iraq, it is the West against Islam”.Second, the kin-country syndrome also is evident in the Soviet Union conflicts, when Turkey supports their religious, ethnic and linguistic brethren, and with the past of the days, for religious considerations Russian government supports Christian Armenia.Third, in the former Yugoslavia, hardly any interest and attention was expressed over Croatian attacks on Muslims; nevertheless, Western publics manifested connection and support for the Bosnian Muslims who suffered at the hand of the Serbs. After some conflicts, the pope decided to provide strong backing to the two Catholic countries, the same happened with the Community, and afterwards with the United States.

In the 1930s fascist, communist and democratic countries intervene in the Spanish Civil War. In the 1990s the conflict in Yugoslavia was provoking intervention from countries that were Muslim, Orthodox and Western Christian. In fact, the parallel has gone noticed, as one Saudi editor observed, “Those who died there are regarded as martyrs who tried to save their fellow Muslims”.

The author also maintains that also conflicts and violence will take place between groups and states within the same civilization; however, those conflicts are likely to be less powerful, deep, and less likely to develop than conflicts between civilizations.

Huntington also states that in the coming years, local conflicts most likely to expand and escalate into major war will be those along the fault lines between civilizations; moreover, he maintains that if there is another world war, it will be a war between civilizations.
Huntington argues that in relation with other civilizations, the West is at the peak of power. For non-Westerns the main sources of conflict are, in one hand, related to the differences in power and struggles for military, and in the other hand related to differences in culture, values and beliefs.

Furthermore, he also suggests that in the future, the axis of world politics is likely to be, according to Kishore Mahbubani, the conflict between “the west and the rest”. According to this, he proposes three forms of response that can be combined. First, non-Western civilizations might attempt to accomplish isolation in order to conserve their societies from invasion or corruption by the West. Second, according to the international relations theory “band-wagoning” another solution can be that non-Western civilization hypothetical would join to the West and accept its values and institutions. Third, non-Westerns can attempt to balance the west by improving and developing economic and military power, and cooperating with other non-Western civilizations against the West, while preserving their own values and institutions. Kishore Mahbubani claims that this solution is to modernize; however, not to Westernize.

The author affirms that in the future, countries with a large number of people of different civilizations are candidates to dismemberment. He refers to the countries which are attempting to associate with other civilizations as “torn countries”. An example of a torn country is Turkey, whose political leadership, since the 1920s, has tried to westernize the country. Huntington also maintains that in order to redefine its civilization identity, a torn country must meet three requirements. First, its political and economic elite have to support the move. Second, its public has to be willing to accept the redefinition. Finally and as third point, the dominant groups that the torn country is trying to join have to be willing to accept the country.
Huntington argues that to non-western countries, the obstacles to join to the West significantly vary. They are fewer barriers to some cultures than others. Those countries in which because for their culture and power do not want to, or cannot to, join the West tend to compete with the West in order to develop their own political, military and economical power. In order to achieve this goal, they promote their internal development and cooperate with other non-Western countries. The most noticeable form of this cooperation to challenge Western interests, values and power, is the Confucian-Islamic connection.

Most of Western countries are diminishing their military power, as well as Russia; however, non-Western states are expanding their military capabilities. They are part of what Charles Krauthammer has called “Weapon States”.

According to Huntington, this article does not attempting to advocate the desirability of conflicts between civilizations. Moreover, it is to set hypothesis about the future in terms of civilizations. As the author said, in past years there were a plenty number of civilizations; however, through time those civilizations had been coming smaller in number. This can be for different reasons, wars between them, and changes in the geographical form of our world, changing in cultures or cultures that had been making it more modern than others, among others.

The author suggests that for the relevant future, instead of a universal civilization, there will be a world of different civilizations, each of them will must learn to coexist with the others


  • Samuel P. Huntington, (1993) The Clash of Civilizations.

  • (Samuel Biography).

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