Friday, 4 June 2010

The article was review of Samuel. P. Huntington's thesis The Clash of Civilization, where the thesis outlines a future where the "great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural" and not primarily on the basis of ideology or economic. And the clash of civilization will dominate global politics.

Conflict between civilizations will be the latest phase in the evolution of conflict in the modern world. Prior to the Treaty of Wesphalia the global conflict were mainly between emperor, absolute monarch that attempting to expand their bureaucracies, armies, economic and above all their territory, until the emergence of France Revolution, trend of conflict slightly shifted into conflict between nations rather than princes, until it was the culminating on First World War ended into ideological conflict, first among communism, fascism-Nazism and liberal democracy and then communism and liberal democracy during the so called Cold War era.

Now by the end of cold war and dismemberment of the Soviet Union, international politics move out to another interaction, which is the West and non-Western civilization. Where the people and the governments of non-Western civilization no longer remain the object of history bur rather tends to shape the history.

How and why civilization will clash, obviously it needs to understand the nature of civilization, where Huntington defines, as cultural entity, such as village, ethnic groups, nationalities, religious groups all have distinct cultures at different level of heterogeneity. Thus, a civilization is the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have short of that which distinguishes human from other species.

Hence from above definition the nature of civilization would be as follows:
1. Civilizations may involve a large number of people
2. Civilizations might include several nation-states
3. Civilizations obviously blend, overlap and may include sub civilizations.
4. Civilizations are dynamic; they rise and fall, they divide and merge.

Depart from the nature of civilization, in this way the future conflict will occur on the basis of different civilization through which the global politics will shape. Huntington offer further assessment as to why civilizations will clash, where he identify as following;
  • The difference among civilization is basic and natural factor. Therefore difference do not necessary means conflict, and conflict does not necessary means violence but history shows difference among civilizations have generated the most prolonged and violent conflicts.
  • By globalization, world became small as interaction increased, with the high level of interaction obviously intensifying awareness and consciousness of different civilizations.
  • The process of economic modernization and social change throughout the world has weaken the sanctity of nation-states, somehow it leads into identity crisis as to fill this gap the revival of religion in redefining identity seems to fill this gap.
  • The growth of civilization consciousness, especially nowadays the West is of its peak tent to confront any civilizations that increasingly have desire to shape the world in non-Western style.
  • Cultural differences and characteristic are not easily to compromised and resolved than that of political and economics one, as an illustration the question of ‘What are you’ refer to a given that cannot be changed. Means your identity.
  • The increased of economic regionalism, the stable cooperation among member of European Union, why? Because, it enforce civilization consciousness and also because economic cooperation can be more successful in common civilization.

On those basis, differences in culture and religion create differences over policy issue, ranging from human rights to immigration to trade and commerce to the environment, therefore the clash of civilization will occur in two level; first, micro-level, that is adjacent groups along the fault line between civilizations struggle. Second; macro-level, state from difference civilization compete for relative politics and economics power, struggle over control the international institutions and promote their particular political and religious values.

Hence, the fault line between civilizations replacing the odd conflict between political and ideological boundaries of the Cold War was ended by the end of ideological division. Now as the West began to retreat, the colonial empires disappeared, the manifestation of Arab nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism come to fore, this old military interaction of West versus Islam is unlikely to decline, as the M.J. Akbar because the sweep of Islamic nations from the Maghreb to Pakistan that struggle for a new world order will begin.

The rallying civilization will also lead into kin-country syndrome. That is natural phenomena, as group or states belonging to one civilization that become involved in war with people from a different civilization naturally will try to build support by allying from member of their own civilization or ‘kin-country’ for cooperation and coalition. With respect to the fighting in the former Yugoslavia, where the Western manifested sympathy for the Bosnian Muslim and the horrors they suffered at the hand of Serbs as Serbs was mainly supported by Boris Yeltsin government.

Although the conflict might occurs between states and group within the same civilization, but such conflict however are likely to be less intense and less likely to expand than conflicts between civilizations. As the territorial conflict between Ukraine and Russia 1991-1992, where, finally the leader of the two countries effectively negotiating and defusing the issue between the two countries.

The West versus the Rest

As the west now at an extraordinary peak of power in relation to other civilization, the disappearance of superpower opponent with the end of Cold War period, now military conflict among Western states in unthinkable. Thus the West try to dominate the world system by infusing western ideas and values in non-Western countries, though legitimate actions reflecting the interest of the United States and other Western powers. As clear illustration, the IMF and other international economic institutions as clear example how the West try to promote its economics interests and imposes on other nations, the economic policies that they seems appropriate.

Another reason is also difference in power and struggle for military, economic and institutional power are one source of conflict between the West and other civilization, whereas difference in culture, that is basic values and beliefs, are a second source of conflict.

This trend will lead different response from non-Western countries; it can be identified in the following forms:
  • Isolation, to insulate their society from the penetration of the West. North Korea is one example.
  • Band-wagoning, an attempt to the West and accept its values and institutions. Turkey is one example.
  • ‘Balance’ the West by developing economic and military power while still preserving indigenous values and institutions. Another term is to modernize but not to Westernize.
The Torn Countries
Redefining Civilization

As early mentioned above that the nature of civilization is dynamic, they rise and fall. As people differentiate themselves by civilization, countries with large number of peoples of different civilization like Soviet Union and Yugoslavia are candidate for dismemberment. Thus, the leaders of torn civilization or countries tend to pursue bandwagoning strategy to make their country become member of the West, in order to redefining their civilization.

At least there are several requirements for the smooth process of bandwagoning strategy to be met;
1. Its should be generally supported by the political and economic elites
2. Public support
3. The existing dominant ethnic should willing to embrace the convert

Turkey is one important example of this strategy, where it opted to modernize itself by allying with Western block, joining European Union Community, despite the prevalence masses criticism of this policy.

It is not necessary that by bandwagoning strategy torn country will take any possible measure to join the Western block, because since the obstacles will also there. There are those countries which do not or can not join the West rather they compete with the West by allying with other non-Western countries, developing their own economic, military and political power by promoting development and cooperating with other non-Western countries. In this case we see Japan as one good example. In term of transferring military technology, we found China as arm-exporter which been supplying its arm capabilities to most countries in Middle East and majority Muslim nation-states. North Korea with its nuclear progress has been tranfering to Iran and Syria. Thus, the flows of weapon generally from East Asia to the Middle East, formed an emerging collaboration that Huntington called it Confucian-Islamic connection, designed to promote acquisition by its member of the weapon and weapon technologies needed to counter the military power of the West.

Conclusion Remarks
Implication to the West

Throughout the above elaboration, this thesis does not argue that civilization identities will replace all other identity, which nation-states will disappear. But what Huntington it trying to offer hypotheses that difference between civilizations is real and important; civilization consciousness is increasing, conflict between civilizations will supplant ideological and other form of conflicts the dominant global conflict, international relation historically a game played out within western civilization. With the emergence of non-Western civilization that have attempted to become modern without becoming Western, to date Japan ha fully succeeded in this quest.

It is therefore, West need to maintain the economy and military power necessary to protect its interest in relation to this civilization, it also require the West to develop a more profound understanding of the basic cultural and religious underlying other civilizations ad the way how people of those civilization see their interest. Ultimately, for the relevant future, the would be no universal civilization, but world of different civilizations each of which have to learn to coexist with others.


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