Sunday, January 27, 2008

Samuel Huntington Scores Again, Ditto Bernard Lewis

Fouad Ajami had a good piece in the NYT recently on how Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" ran completely counter to:
the zeitgeist of the era and its euphoria about globalization and a “borderless” world. After the cold war, he wrote, there would be a “clash of civilizations.” Soil and blood and cultural loyalties would claim, and define, the world of states.

This of course was anathema to the Clintons' champagne socialism of kumbayeh globalization which would remove all those pesky hostilities through applications of materialism and Bubba-love.
Huntington’s cartography was drawn with a sharp pencil. It was “The West and the Rest”: the West standing alone, and eight civilizations dividing the rest — Latin American, African, Islamic, Sinic, Hindu, Orthodox, Buddhist and Japanese. And in this post-cold-war world, Islamic civilization would re-emerge as a nemesis to the West. Huntington put the matter in stark terms: “The relations between Islam and Christianity, both Orthodox and Western, have often been stormy. Each has been the other’s Other. The 20th-century conflict between liberal democracy and Marxist-Leninism is only a fleeting and superficial historical phenomenon compared to the continuing and deeply conflictual relation between Islam and Christianity.”

While the over-lawyered Clinton foreign policy was allowing the DoJ to run national security [or rather, let Al Qaeda through the cracks], the blissful Dot-com bubble proceeded to burst and the World Wide Web got taken down to earth during a summer squall. Then came 9/11:
Those 19 young Arabs who struck America on 9/11 were to give Huntington more of history’s compliance than he could ever have imagined. He had written of a “youth bulge” unsettling Muslim societies, and young Arabs and Muslims were now the shock-troops of a new radicalism. Their rise had overwhelmed the order in their homelands and had spilled into non-Muslim societies along the borders between Muslims and other peoples. Islam had grown assertive and belligerent; the ideologies of Westernization that had dominated the histories of Turkey, Iran and the Arab world, as well as South Asia, had faded; “indigenization” had become the order of the day in societies whose nationalisms once sought to emulate the ways of the West.

Meanwhile the bonfire of the vanities continued to blaze and the Masters of the Universe continuted to convene to confer and dispense wisdom to their underlings:
Rather than Westernizing their societies, Islamic lands had developed a powerful consensus in favor of Islamizing modernity. There was no “universal civilization,” Huntington had observed; this was only the pretense of what he called “Davos culture,” consisting of a thin layer of technocrats and academics and businessmen who gather annually at that watering hole of the global elite in Switzerland
So now that the dreams of the nineties are tatters, what is to be done?
More ominously perhaps, there ran through Huntington’s pages an anxiety about the will and the coherence of the West — openly stated at times, made by allusions throughout. The ramparts of the West are not carefully monitored and defended, Huntington feared. Islam will remain Islam, he worried, but it is “dubious” whether the West will remain true to itself and its mission. Clearly, commerce has not delivered us out of history’s passions, the World Wide Web has not cast aside blood and kin and faith. It is no fault of Samuel Huntington’s that we have not heeded his darker, and possibly truer, vision.

Don't look to the EU for strength, though Sarkozy might prop up their sagging backbones. The US has to elect a president who will "monitor and defend the ramparts" of America and the West. And unless Obama would provide a miraculous transformation, a Democrat wouldn't do that.

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