The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

by Samuel P. Huntington


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The classic study of post-Cold War international relations, more relevant than ever in the post-9/11 world, with a new foreword by Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Since its initial publication, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order has become a classic work of international relations and one of the most influential books ever written about foreign affairs. An insightful and powerful analysis of the forces driving global politics, it is as indispensable to our understanding of American foreign policy today as the day it was published. As former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski says in his new foreword to the book, it “has earned a place on the shelf of only about a dozen or so truly enduring works that provide the quintessential insights necessary for a broad understanding of world affairs in our time.”

Samuel Huntington explains how clashes between civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace but also how an international order based on civilizations is the best safeguard against war. Events since the publication of the book have proved the wisdom of that analysis. The 9/11 attacks and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the threat of civilizations but have also shown how vital international cross-civilization cooperation is to restoring peace. As ideological distinctions among nations have been replaced by cultural differences, world politics has been reconfigured. Across the globe, new conflicts—and new cooperation—have replaced the old order of the Cold War era.

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order explains how the population explosion in Muslim countries and the economic rise of East Asia are changing global politics. These developments challenge Western dominance, promote opposition to supposedly “universal” Western ideals, and intensify intercivilization conflict over such issues as nuclear proliferation, immigration, human rights, and democracy. The Muslim population surge has led to many small wars throughout Eurasia, and the rise of China could lead to a global war of civilizations. Huntington offers a strategy for the West to preserve its unique culture and emphasizes the need for people everywhere to learn to coexist in a complex, multipolar, muliticivilizational world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684844411
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 01/28/1998
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Samuel P. Huntington was the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University, where he was also the director of the John M. Olin Institute for Stategic Studies and the chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. He was the director of security planning for the National Security Council in the Carter administration, the founder and coeditor of Foreign Policy, and the president of the American Political Science Association.

Read an Excerpt

The Clash Of Civilizations and the Remaking Of World Order


On January 3, 1992, a meeting of Russian and American scholars took place in the auditorium of a government building in Moscow. Two weeks earlier the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and the Russian Federation had become an independent country. As a result, the statue of Lenin which previously graced the stage of the auditorium had disappeared and instead the flag of the Russian Federation was now displayed on the front wall. The only problem, one American observed, was that the flag had been hung upside down. After this was pointed out to the Russian hosts, they quickly and quietly corrected the error during the first intermission.

The years after the Cold War witnessed the beginnings of dramatic changes in peoples’ identities and the symbols of those identities. Global politics began to be reconfigured along cultural lines. Upside-down flags were a sign of the transition, but more and more the flags are flying high and true, and Russians and other peoples are mobilizing and marching behind these and other symbols of their new cultural identities.

On April 18, 1994, two thousand people rallied in Sarajevo waving the flags of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. By flying those banners, instead of U.N., NATO, or American flags, these Sarajevans identified themselves with their fellow Muslims and told the world who were their real and not-so-real friends.

On October 16, 1994, in Los Angeles 70,000 people marched beneath “a sea of Mexican flags” protesting Proposition 187, a referendum measure which would deny many state benefits to illegal immigrants and their children. Why are they “walking down the street with a Mexican flag and demanding that this country give them a free education?” observers asked. “They should be waving the American flag.” Two weeks later more protestors did march down the street carrying an American flag—upside down. These flag displays ensured victory for Proposition 187, which was approved by 59 percent of California voters.

In the post-Cold War world flags count and so do other symbols of cultural identity, including crosses, crescents, and even head coverings, because culture counts, and cultural identity is what is most meaningful to most people. People are discovering new but often old identities and marching under new but often old flags which lead to wars with new but often old enemies.

One grim Weltanschauung for this new era was well expressed by the Venetian nationalist demagogue in Michael Dibdin’s novel, Dead Lagoon: “There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are. These are the old truths we are painfully rediscovering after a century and more of sentimental cant. Those who deny them deny their family, their heritage, their culture, their birthright, their very selves! They will not lightly be forgiven.” The unfortunate truth in these old truths cannot be ignored by statesmen and scholars. For peoples seeking identity and reinventing ethnicity, enemies are essential, and the potentially most dangerous enmities occur across the fault lines between the world’s major civilizations.

The central theme of this book is that culture and cultural identities, which at the broadest level are civilization identities, are shaping the patterns of cohesion, disintegration, and conflict in the post-Cold War world. The five parts of this book elaborate corollaries to this main proposition.

Part I: For the first time in history global politics is both multipolar and multicivilizational; modernization is distinct from Westernization and is producing neither a universal civilization in any meaningful sense nor the Westernization of non-Western societies.

Part II: The balance of power among civilizations is shifting: the West is declining in relative influence; Asian civilizations are expanding their economic, military, and political strength; Islam is exploding demographically with destabilizing consequences for Muslim countries and their neighbors; and non-Western civilizations generally are reaffirming the value of their own cultures.

Part III: A civilization-based world order is emerging: societies sharing cultural affinities cooperate with each other; efforts to shift societies from one civilization to another are unsuccessful; and countries group themselves around the lead or core states of their civilization.

Part IV: The West’s universalist pretensions increasingly bring it into conflict with other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China; at the local level fault line wars, largely between Muslims and non-Muslims, generate “kin-country rallying,” the threat of broader escalation, and hence efforts by core states to halt these wars.

Part V: The survival of the West depends on Americans reaffirming their Western identity and Westerners accepting their civilization as unique not universal and uniting to renew and preserve it against challenges from non-Western societies. Avoidance of a global war of civilizations depends on world leaders accepting and cooperating to maintain the multicivilizational character of global politics.
In the post-Cold War world, for the first time in history, global politics has become multipolar and multicivilizational. During most of human existence, contacts between civilizations were intermittent or nonexistent. Then, with the beginning of the modern era, about A.D. 1500, global politics assumed two dimensions. For over four hundred years, the nation states of the West — Britain, France, Spain, Austria, Prussia, Germany, the United States, and others — constituted a multipolar international system within Western civilization and interacted, competed, and fought wars with each other. At the same time, Western nations also expanded, conquered, colonized, or decisively influenced every other civilization (Map 1.1). During the Cold War global politics became bipolar and the world was divided into three parts. A group of mostly wealthy and democratic societies, led by the United States, was engaged in a pervasive ideological, political, economic, and, at times, military competition with a group of somewhat poorer communist societies associated with and led by the Soviet Union. Much of this conflict occurred in the Third World outside these two camps, composed of countries which often were poor, lacked political stability, were recently independent, and claimed to be nonaligned (Map 1.2).

In the late 1980s the communist world collapsed, and the Cold War international system became history. In the post-Cold War world, the most important distinctions among peoples are not ideological, political, or economic. They are cultural. Peoples and nations are attempting to answer the most basic question humans can face: Who are we? And they are answering that question in the traditional way human beings have answered it, by reference to the things that mean most to them. People define themselves in terms of ancestry, religion, language, history, values, customs, and institutions. They identify with cultural groups: tribes, ethnic groups, religious communities, nations, and, at the broadest level, civilizations. People use politics not just to advance their interests but also to define their identity. We know who we are only when we know who we are not and often only when we know whom we are against.

Nation states remain the principal actors in world affairs. Their behavior is shaped as in the past by the pursuit of power and wealth, but it is also shaped by cultural preferences, commonalities, and differences. The most important groupings of states are no longer the three blocs of the Cold War but rather the world’s seven or eight major civilizations (Map 1.3). Non-Western societies, particularly in East Asia, are developing their economic wealth and creating the basis for enhanced military power and political influence. As their power and self-confidence increase, non-Western societies increasingly assert their own cultural values and reject those “imposed” on them by the West. The “international system of the twenty-first century,” Henry Kissinger has noted, “… will contain at least six major powers — the United States, Europe, China, Japan, Russia, and probably India — as well as a multiplicity of medium-sized and smaller countries.”1 Kissinger’s six major powers belong to five very different civilizations, and in addition there are important Islamic states whose strategic locations, large populations, and/or oil resources make them influential in world affairs. In this new world, local politics is the politics of ethnicity; global politics is the politics of civilizations. The rivalry of the superpowers is replaced by the clash of civilizations.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations: Tables, Figures, Maps 11

Preface 13

I A World of Civilizations

1 The New Era in World Politics 19

Introduction: Flags and Cultural Identity 19

A Multipolar, Multicivilizational World 21

Other Worlds? 29

Comparing Worlds: Realism, Parsimony, and Predictions 36

2 Civilizations in History and Today 40

The Nature of Civilizations 40

Relations Among Civilizations 48

3 A Universal Civilization? Modernization and Westernization 56

Universal Civilization: Meanings 56

Universal Civilization: Sources 66

The West and Modernization 68

Responses to the West and Modernization 72

II The Shifting Balance of Civilizations

4 The Fading of the West: Power, Culture, and Indigenization 81

Western Power: Dominance and Decline 81

Indigenization: The Resurgence of Non-Western Cultures 91

La Revanche De Dieu 95

5 Economics, Demography, and the Challenger Civilizations 102

The Asian Affirmation 103

The Islamic Resurgence 109

Changing Challenges 120

III The Emerging Order of Civilizations

6 The Cultural Reconfiguration of Global Politics 125

Groping for Groupings: The Politics of Identity 125

Culture and Economic Cooperation 130

The Structure of Civilizations 135

Corn Countries: The Failure of Civilization Shifting 139

7 Core States, Concentric Circles, and Civilizational Order 155

Civilizations And Order 155

Bounding the West 157

Russia and Its Near Abroad 163

Greater China and Its Co-Prosperity Sphere 168

Islam: Consciousness Without Cohesion 174

IV Clashes of Civilizations

8 The West and the Rest: Intercivilizational Issues 183

Western Universalism 183

Weapons Proliferation 186

Human Rights and Democracy 192

Immigration 198

9 The Global Politics of Civilizations 207

Core State and Fault Line Conflicts 207

Islam and the West 209

Asia, China, and America 218

Civilizations and Core States: Emerging Alignments 238

10 Form Transition Wars to Fault Line Wars 246

Transition Wars: Afghanistan and the Gulf 246

Characteristics of Fault Line Wars 252

Incidence: Islam's Bloody Borders 254

Causes: History, Demography, Politics 259

11 The Dynamics of Fault Line Wars 266

Identity: The Rise of Civilization Consciousness 266

Civilization Rallying: Kin Countries and Diasporas 272

Halting Fault Line Wars 291

V The Future of Civilizations

12 The West, Civilizations, and Civilization 301

The Renewal of the West? 301

The West in the World 308

Civilizational War and Order 312

The Commonalities of Civilization 318

Notes 323

Index 353

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The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have long thought that we are taking a lot of things for granted: peace and world order, which are almost synonims, the affluence of the West, the future itself of our civilisation. Often, contemporary times make me think of Athens and its rule of the sea notwithstanding Admiral Mahan's fascinating book, it collapsed in the clash with a land based power as Sparta. This book shows that we are not far from experiencing once again that history has a tendency to repeat itself, although this is not easily perceived by contemporaries. This boook also dispels any misconceptions we may entartain about our future
Guest More than 1 year ago
Published in 1996, Huntington's book is stunningly prescient given the events of 9-11. He begins by mapping and describing his paradigm of the world's eight current major civilizations: Sinic, Islamic, Hindu, Western, Latin American, African, Orthodox, and Japanese. Much of the book is dedicated to an exposition of the relative rise and fall in fortunes of each. His well-argued thesis is that Western Civilization, led by its core state--the U.S., has been and continues to be in a period of relative decline versus other civilizations. These civilizations, namely Sinic (Chinese) and Islamic, perceive themselves superior and dominating over the long run. The demographic and economic forces propelling these civilizations are lucidly discussed and backed with statistical evidence which is compelling if not disturbing. His analysis of the threatening potential of Sinic and Islamic civilizations to the West is sobering without being xenophobic. His discussion of the role of the West and U.S. in the Soviet-Afghanistan war and the Bosnian-Serb-Croatian conflict provides valuable insight into the causes for the circumstances in which we now find ourselves. Make no mistake, this is a challenging albeit accessible work that requires some intellectual digestion. However, if you're looking a meaningful read about today's world---and the root causes of terrorism and wars that go beyond the usual trite and politically correct explanations of 'poverty and ignorance'---then read this book. It will be much more meaningful than the current flood of books on Afghanistan which either focus on either travel anecdotes or second-hand information (much of it probably wrong) on Osama bin Laden.
Spock_rhp More than 1 year ago
As amply demonstrated in the professional literature, the predictions in the previous version of this work do not account for the majority of conflicts in the world since its publication. However, that does not mean that the thesis Huntington puts forth is completely wrong -- it may only mean that his clash of civilizations thesis is the most important of the many conflicts humanity experiences. Religion as the organizing principle, espoused by Huntington, may yet prove incorrect. Or it may be that religion is indeed an organizing principle for some of the contenders while it is not for others. Imho, you'd do better to view human history as the details of evolution in the making. Placed in that frame, some of Huntington makes enormous sense. Unfortunately, Huntington's views have become the common "wisdom" within American government. It is entirely possible that they are steering us at least partly wrong.
DJSolomon More than 1 year ago
Huntington's "Clash of Civilization" is both enlightening and frightening. His analysis of Western civilization and the relative decline it is experiencing scares the Western reader,though his assertions are sourced with good information and backed up with eye-pleasing maps and charts. His analysis is also prescient and in certain passages borders on prophetic. His predictions on a broad conflict that would erupt between the West and Islam have proven true and he has called other smaller crises like the Greek inability to exist in the EU and the ethnic tensions that are tearing apart countries like the Ukraine. Though the book is heavy on policy, predictions,and analysis,it is accessible to the non-expert reader and for its genre is quite engaging. It is overall an excellent read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the important political works written in recent times. Its idea of a clash of civilizations accurately reflects much of what is presently happening in the world.He is especially strong in pointing out the present problematic state of Islamic civilization, and how its internal problems are pushing it to be the number one promulgator of violence and aggression on the present world- scene. Huntington's list of six or seven major civilizations and his conception of the clashes taking place between them, certainly does not exhaust our ways of interpreting present political reality. Perhaps he does not make enough of the gap which has emerged between the United States and Europe. Nor does he give enough emphasis to the fact that the United States seems to stand above, and often even over against all other political groups in the world. Nonetheless this is a very rich and highly recommended work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the argument is really strong although the idea is arguable. is civilization the force that ultimately counts? just look at the development of the relationship between mainland China and taiwan. also, the economic power of different civilizations shows a different trend from that predicted in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting to read for the first time in 2012
Guest More than 1 year ago
The sections on the resurgence of Islam and it's fascist tendencies has proven to be prophetic. Beginning with the oil boom of the 70s, scholars and religious teachers gained a foothold in Muslim countries and taught hate and radicalism, and were supported in many instances by their governments. The murders, rapes, subjugation, and oppression of non-muslims in their lands and beyond is what we see today. However, the book is filled with way too many nominalizations and vague generalizations to be of much practical use to policy makers in my mind. Reviews of each particular culture would be more beneficial, and there are some non-apologist and objective ones out there.
mchan79 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Controversial book that sparked a lot of debate. Huntington's view is that the next war will be a clash between cultures and religion.
bmy78 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An alarming but thorough analysis as to why the West is losing influence over the world. People are becoming better connected not through ideology, but through cultural identity. Huntington is a bit of an alarmist but he backs up his claims with case studies. He overdid the threat from China but was right on the money in predicting antagonism from Islam. A good and worthy read.
ORFisHome on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A consensus ground-breaking book about geopolitics and worldviews. Well enough written, but it was genuinely the book that really shook up my worldview and started me down the path to studying Biblical worldview and the interaction of divergent faiths.
davidpwithun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While I don't always agree with Huntington's conclusions and opinions -- and I sometimes dispute his "facts" -- I must say that this book is an excellent introduction to the issues that we, inhabitants of the world, face as the world continues to "shrink" and members of such a great variety of civilizations and cultures are brought closer and closer together. "The other" is often more different from ourselves -- and more difficult to really understand -- than most of us would like to admit. Two features of this book that stood out to me as especially worthy of consideration were: 1. Huntington's consideration of what it is that makes Western Civilization different from the other civilizations of the world and 2. Huntington's examination of the roots of Islamic violence. In these two areas especially I think that his commentary is especially insightful and helpful. I recommend this book to all people of all civilizations as seek to live together peacefully in this complex world of ours.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author argues that the political, social and economic interactions of "civilizations" will be the driving force of history since the Cold War ended.
sandhammer More than 1 year ago
When reading The Clash of Civilizations my geology background suddenly flashed plate tectonics and my whole understanding of world order and history changed. The complex suddenly became so understandable as to seem simple. This is a must read book. Enjoy a Eureka Moment of you own!
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