The Clash of Civilizations?

The_Holy_Mosque_in_MeccaAfter a decade of war, is there a synthesis between Islam and the West?

by Clare Cushing

Years of invasions, terrorism, and counter-terrorism between Islam and the West seemed to prove Samuel Huntington right.

Twenty years ago, in the summer of 1993, Huntington published an article in Foreign Affairs entitled “Clash of Civilizations?” Although the question mark in the title implies uncertainty, Huntington’s central thesis is brash and unequivocal: he states clearly and without compromise that in the coming years, international relations would not be conducted on the basis of ideology or even economics but rather, “the fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”

Civilizations, as opposed to nation-states, would go to war with one another. This, argues Huntington, is a radically new way of engaging in international affairs, and it would be “the latest phase in the evolution of conflict in the modern world.” All modern warfare up to this point in human history, claims Huntington, can be likened to civil wars within civilizations. Now, apparently for the first time, in 1993, we were on the brink of seeing major warfare between civilizations.

But what constitutes a civilization? Culture, says Huntington: “A civilization is a …

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