Samuel P. Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations” thesis has generated a lot of debate, and some justified criticism. He has been accused of simplification, but also for underestimating the case of Islam. Huntington does talk about “the bloody borders” of the Islamic world. However, he has also stated that there is nothing implicit in Islamic teachings that has created the current turmoil among Muslims, but rather the huge number of young men, the primary instigators of violence in any culture. This is obviously not the case. If Huntington had read books such as “The Legacy of Jihad” by Andrew Bostom or “Onward Muslim Soldiers” by Robert Spencer, he would have understood that Jihad and aggressive violence have been intimately related to Islam on three continents for 1300 years. Yes, an abundance of young men as “cannon fodder” for war or demographic Jihad certainly helps, but this situation was created by the contents of Islamic core texts.
Huntington fails to grasp to what extent Islam is a special case, uniquely aggressive among all established cultures and religions on earth today. Hugh Fitzgerald, Vice President of Robert Spencer’s website Jihad Watch, has explored some of the limitations of the “clash of civilizations” paradigm. As Fitzgerald points out, it gives the impression that America or “the West” or Western Christian or Western post-Christian civilization are the enemy, while in reality the global Islamic Jihad is as much directed at Hindus and Buddhists, and the Eastern Orthodox Christians in the Balkans, and the non-Muslim black Africans, as it is against the much more powerful, and therefore more dangerous, United States of America:
The phrase “clash of civilizations,” made famous by Samuel Huntington, is misleading. In Huntington’s formulation, there are the Sinic, the Orthodox, the Hindu, the Islamic, the Western, and so on. And these are all potentially clashing. But this is nonsense. There is only one clash that counts: that of Islam with all of non-Islam. If, in the future, China and America were to go to war, it would not be because the former is “Sinic” and the latter “Christian” or “Western” or some such, but because of perceived Great-Power rivalries – for China and America are now part of the same civilization, the shared, modern, universal civilization, with disagreements at the edges, but nothing like the clash between Islam and all Infidels. In fact, a war between China and America would be about power, and thus no different from, for example, the rivalry, ending in war, between Germany and England in the pre-1914 period. It is interesting to note, meanwhile, that Arab and Muslim analysts around the world tend to prefer the phrase “clash of civilizations” – because it avoids the truthful description of the conflict as one motivated by a belief-system, the belief-system of Islam.
However, Samuel P. Huntington should be credited with some of the honor of placing the significance of culture on the radar of global politics. He is also right in pointing out that the beginning of the 21st century is characterized by a West that has superior, yet declining global power. Rival cultures such as the Chinese and the Islamic ones are asserting themselves. The tectonic plates of global power are shifting in ways they haven’t done for centuries. Maybe future historians will label this age “the retreat of the Western world order.” I say “retreat of” because it is not yet certain that this is the end of the Western world order, although that is a possibility. These massive changes and the real or perceived weakness of the Western civilization that has been dominant globally for centuries could very well create a new world war. Multiculturalism and the inability or unwillingness of Western nations to uphold their borders from massive immigration is viewed by Muslims as an invitation for attack and a signal that their ancient Western rival is weak and ripe for conquest. This is no doubt the background for the ongoing aggressive posture by the Iranian president, among others. We should take this dead seriously, because it is meant that way.
Muslims really do believe that the time has now come for overthrowing the West and putting Islam into the global, dominant position it should have according to their scriptures. They will spare no efforts, including nuclear war, in achieving this goal. The Iranian president has quite openly stated that “Islam will soon rule the world,” which implies that they will have to destroy or subdue the West. Al-Qaeda strategists have earlier outlined a schedule for awakening the Islamic world and crushing the West, with a timeline stretching over the coming fifteen to twenty years. They still stick to this plan, which means that tensions are bound to escalate even further in the near future. Westerners need to understand that a world war of sorts with the Islamic world is already inevitable by now, no matter what we do. The only question is whether this will be a cold or a hot world war. We will rapidly approach the latter, if countries such as Iran are allowed to gain nuclear weapons and continued Muslim immigration pushes Western European nations to the brink of civil war. Iranian nukes need to be prevented at absolutely all costs, if we are to have any chance of avoiding further escalation of the most dangerous kind.
There are many possible scenarios for the first half of the 21st century. Let us have a look at some of them:
1. Another Atlantic/Western century
The intra-Western, Atlantic ties between Europe and North America will still be the most important and defining global axis. This would require that Europe regains her old, cultural and religious dynamic and repels Islam. Just as Islam isn’t the cause of Europe’s current weakness, but rather a secondary infection, it could have the unforeseen and ironic effect of saving Europe from herself. By quite literally putting a dagger at Europe’s throat, the Islamic world will force Europeans to renew themselves or die. Europe will go through a turbulent period of painful, but necessary revival, and will arrive chastened on the other side. Although not impossible, this is probably not the most likely scenario at this point, given the economic and cultural weakness of Europe in particular. The West as a whole also makes up a declining proportion of the world’s population, and globalization makes it more difficult for the West to retain its technological superiority.
2. Another American century
The USA, more than Europe and Asia, will remain the world’s unchallenged superpower. The 21st century will be a continuation of the American Age that started in the 20th century. Europe may foster the strength to repel Islam, but not enough to renew herself, and will fade off the world stage. Alternatively, Islamic-controlled Eurabia emerges triumphant, or the entire continent becomes a nightmare of civil wars where neither side gains a decisive victory. In both cases, Europe will be a source of constant instability. The rise of the Asian economies will be derailed by internal political and cultural problems, or could trigger nationalistic rivalries and devastating intra-Asian wars similar to WW1 in Europe.
3. The Asian/Chinese century
The world will return to the Asia-centric system we had before the rise of Europe and the West. Multiculturalism and uncontrolled mass-immigration destroy the internal cohesion of the decadent West, which will slowly fall apart as it has lost the will to defend itself and the belief in its own culture. The wars in the Balkans in the 1990s will in hindsight be seen as a prelude to the Multicultural World War. Just as Imperialism caused WW1, Fascism WW2 and Communism the Cold War, Multiculturalism and Muslim immigration will drag the West into a war with the Islamic world. Instead of a Westernization of the Balkans, we get a Balkanization of the West. Will this be a world dominated by China, or by Asia as a whole, including India? Perhaps India and Southeast Asia will be bogged down by instability caused by Muslims. The Chinese will watch from the sidelines, quietly playing both sides against the middle as the West and the Islamic world destroy each other. In the end, China will reign supreme as the last man standing.
4. The Pacific century
The USA may remain the world’s leading power, but Europe fades off the global scene and leaves her spot open for Asia. Global affairs will be shaped by the twin pillars of the USA and Asia, mainly China, who will cooperate to contain Islamic extremism, a kind of Global Infidel Alliance. Europe will be the world’s largest open-air museum. The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Parliament in England as well as many other landmarks will have been lost during the Eurabian civil wars to expel Islam from Europe. They now exist only as plastic souvenirs that Europeans sell to American and Asian tourists to scrape out a living. These “authentic European souvenirs” will all be made in China, of course.
5. The Anglosphere - Indian century
I believe this is what has been predicted by writer Mark Steyn, among others. The USA and the UK, the major powers of the previous 3 centuries, will be at the centre of this one, too. But they will share the spot with India and some other countries such as Japan, “honorary members” of the Anglosphere. US President Bush has already adopted a policy designed to draw India closer to the United States in a strategic alliance. Perhaps this will be in the shape of a Democratic Union or Democratic Infidel Alliance, which may include parts of Free Europe depending upon the Islamic situation there. This alliance will be suspicious of authoritarian China, and will have hostile relations with the Islamic world.
6. The Global Civil War - Neo-Barbarism and Chaos
The darkest scenario of all. Islam manages to derail the West, both Europe and later North America. This disrupts global trade, and the ripples create unrest even in other parts of the world not directly involved in the fighting, including East Asia and Latin America. India will be drawn directly into the conflict with Islam, as will Russia and Israel. The chaos forces created by Islam and by global mass migration by hundreds of millions of people will erode state power virtually everywhere. Perhaps this trend will be reinforced by the appearance of a new, lethal virus, which will quickly spread to all regions of the world thanks to technological globalization. All of this will create a Global Civil War, the first of its kind in human history. It will disrupt civilization, be that Eastern or Western, for generations to come.