What is meant by clash of civilization if it is to be blame for the uptick of terrorism today?

1.1Introduction SamuelP. Huntington is one of the key writers/pioneers on clash of civilization. Heprojected that the greatest source of division among people and nations will becultural identity (Huntington, 2011).

In his argument, he indicated stronglythat, the world will witness clash of civilization between the Westerncivilization and other major civilization particularly the Islamic civilization(Kennedy, 2013). He opined that, this type of conflict will take over thestate-to-state conflict ad those witnessed in the cold war era. Huntingtonpredicted would be an inevitable part of the post-Cold War world. At the timeHuntington putting up this hypothesis, the Gulf War was still fresh in theminds of most Americans as noted by Douglas and Wentz (n.

d).Neumayer and Plumper (2008) support theview that conflicts between civilizations struggling for influence on a newworld order pose the greatest danger for international stability and peaceafter the end of the Cold War. The above assertion constitutes the major themesof Huntington’s famous and best-selling book “The Clash of Civilizations”. The major gaps in literature according to Neumayerand Plumper are that, scholarly work tested Huntington’s theoreticalpredictions has focused exclusively on patterns of militarized inter-statedispute, inter-state and civil wars but not the widely known terrorism. Thereis however, a scholarly debate as to whether clash of civilization is to beblame for the upsurge of terrorism in recent times. The focus of this studytherefore attempts to find evidence for a clash of civilizations in the midstof the rising incidents of terrorism.

The remaining section of the extract isstructured as follow: definition and analysis of clash of civilization and alsoattempt to analyse whether the phenomenon can be blamed for the increase interrorism in the world today. The paper finally attempts to draw key conclusionto inform policy.  1.

2 The Clash of CivilizationsThe concept hasbeen defined various by different authors. Civilization according to Huntington(2011) is the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level ofcultural identity people have short of that which distinguished humans fromother species. It is defined both by common objective elements, such aslanguage, history, religion, customs, institutions, and by the subjectiveself-identification of people (Norris and Inglehart, 2002).Civilization may involve a large number of people or a very small group such asthe Anglophone Caribbean (Huntington, 2011) or Latin American and Arabcivilizations among others. It is also good to note that, civilizationsobviously blend and overlap, and may include sub-civilizations as opined byHuntington. Civilizationidentity will be increasingly important in the future, and the world will beshaped in large measure by the interactions among seven or eight majorcivilizations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu,Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization.

Clash of civilizations’ theory firstcame to prominence in Huntington’s 1993 Foreign Affairs article entitled ‘TheClash of Civilizations’. The writer pointed out that, major conflicts that willemerge after the Cold War are likely to be cultural but not ideological oreconomic as use to be the case. The clash of civilization thesis advances threemajor claims. Huntington proclaimed as follows: That ‘culture matters’; in particularthat contemporary values in different societies are path-dependent, reflectinglong-standing legacies associated with core ‘civilizations’ (Norrisand Inglehart, 2002).

Where the concept of civilization is taken to mean sameas reflected above but sees religion as the central defining element eventhough there may be sub-divisions.That there aresharp cultural differences between the core political values common insocieties of Western Christian heritage or belief and the beliefs common in therest of the world, especially Islamic societies. The pioneer opined that thefeature that distinguishes the West from Islam concerns the values associatedwith representative democracy. Thus Muslims tend to prefer “strong leadershipand rule by traditional religious authorities to the democratic values ofpluralistic competition, political participation, and political rights andcivil liberties” (Norris and Inglehart, 2002: pg4).He finally arguesthat “the important and long-standing differences in political values based onpredominant religious cultures will lead to conflict between and withinnation-states, with the most central problems of global politics arising froman ethno-religious ‘clash” (Norris and Inglehart, 2002: pg4). Basedon the above prognosis, he predicted that the most important conflicts of the future will occur alongthe fault lines separating these civilizations as indicated above. 1.3 Can it be blame forthe uptick of terrorism today Proponentsof Huntington’s theory believe that the uptick of terrorism today is themanifestation of clash of civilization.

Some scholars believe that Human Beingsare divided according to cultural lines however; it is difficult to haveuniversal civilization. Instead, the cultural blocks each within its own valuesconstitute a major group. Therefore one can expect a strong clash between Islamand the West given the legacy of 14th Century conflict. The natureof such conflict may stem from similarities in the aspirations of the twogroups of civilizations as universalistic and missionary with some fundamentaldifferences in their culture and believe systems. He was of the view that Islamis synonymous to the religion of the sword with some strange believes that makecohabitation with other religions difficult. Douglasand Wentz (n.d) further suggested that people tend to mixed up, merge or seeculture and religion as one word.

Thus, with the number of different religiousand cultural beliefs that are present in the world it is only natural thatcultures conflict and contradict each other. Unfortunately, these cultural clashes are often the underlying bases forinternational confrontation, more specifically terrorism. A practicalonset of Samuel Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ between two culturalentities: the ‘Christian West’ and the ‘Islamic world’ (Huntington, 2013). Agood example is the al-Qaeda terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden. Thisgroup is responsible for the September 11th attacks on the UnitedStates, which killed thousands of innocent Americans.

The 19 hijackersresponsible for the attacks belonged to the al-Qaeda terrorist network fromAfghanistan led by Osamabin Laden. Their main objective is to rid Muslim countries of Westerninfluence and replace their governments with fundamentalist Islamic regimes. Also,recently, events such as the bombings in Bali, Madrid and London wereinterpreted by many as striking evidence for Huntington’s paradigm (The Clashof Civilization). These incidents attracted a wide attention on Huntington’sworks. Someanalysts explained that, the terrorists who were involved took part in theseattacks due to their resentment toward the United States and the growth ofWestern influence and power which is traceable to the civilization hypothesispredicted in 1993.

   Accordingto Dunn (2006), since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent declarationof a US-led ‘war on terror’, the spectre of a ‘clash of civilizations’ between‘Islam’ and ‘the West’ has frequently loomed. Mandangu also showed evidencethat, since 9/11 attacks, variety of other terrorist attacks ranging fromMorroco to Nepal, India to Indonesia, Spain to Saudi Arabia, etc. where USAuthorities have been worried. Because,faith and religion go hand in hand, especially when you begin to examine theteaching of multiple groups (Douglas and Wentz, n.d).

They again opined that,cultures conflict and contradict each. These cultural clashes are often theunderlying bases for international confrontation, more specificallyterrorism.  This phenomenon of differentgroups establishing cultural dominance in the world through terrorism hasespecially been an issue in the Middle East, causing this region in the worldto remain in the international spotlight.

Evidenceof this can also be found in the Gulf War was still fresh in the minds of mostAmericans.  The most poignant issues atthe time were the threat of Suddam Hussein, nuclear weapons, and theestablishment of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Also months later, theWorld Trade Center was bombed, which left six people dead and many moreinjured.  These events were perhaps thebeginning of Huntington’s hypothesis: “the principal conflicts of globalpolitics will occur between nations and different groups of civilizations”Ina world where many global issues stem from opposing nations and/or cultures,proves to be relevant 1.5 Conclusion Inthe analysis presented so far, the relevance of Huntington’s hypothesis inglobal terrorism cannot be overemphasized. This is the case because; theSeptember 11 attack is seen to many as a good demonstration of the clashbetween the Western civilization (Christians) and the Islamic fundamentalists.

Norrisand Inglehart (2002) also support this view when they attributed to the rootcause of the attack to the civilization clash. Also judging from his statementwhich suggests a linkagebetween ‘Islamic civilization’ and violence- one can reach a firm conclusionon the rise of terrorism. Violencehas also been reported between Muslims, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jewsin Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and Catholics in thePhilippines. On this basis, it is conclusive to say that the clashbetween the different civilizations has brought about the increase in thenumber of terrorist attacks the world is witnessing in recent times.REFERENCES


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