'Clash of Civilizations - Possibilities'
In his famous essay ‘the Lonely Superpower’, published 1999, Samuel Huntington made a case against the perception of the United State as a real superpower, and predicted a near end for any such status. He wrote, ‘Global politics has thus moved from the bipolar system of the Cold War through a unipolar moment - highlighted by the Gulf War - and is now passing through one or two uni-multipolar decades before it enters a truly multipolar 21st century’.
Huntington also predicted that people's cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world.
When Al Qaeda appeared as a barbaric killing force on the global stage, asserting itself to be a cult Wahhabi Islamist platform and threatened to attack the West – the West portrayed Al Qaeda as a civilizational confrontation between a modern, progressive western society and an extremist, murderous entity that was an expected product of conservative Islamic thinking and it seemed like this is the clash of civilizations Huntington had predicted.
Elements of Al Qaeda appeared in 1989 in the Afghanistan War, in the Bosnia conflict in 1993-96, and in the Chechnya War in 1999. Simultaneously Al Qaeda could penetrate the Somali Civil War, the insurgency in the Maghreb (later becoming AQIM), the Iraq War later becoming ISIS and Daesh, the insurgency in Yemen later becoming AQAP, the Syrian Civil War, and the Arab Spring. It had branches in dozens of Muslim states from the Philippines to Spain and major recruit centers in western hubs like Britain, Germany and the US. All this came upon the Muslim Ummah as a truly daunting phenomenon.
A people who had struggled hard to come out of the clutches of subjugation under the western imperialists; a people who had been dismembered by the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire that had long served as their uniting factor; a people who had had to re-identify themselves in their nationalities and lead individual struggles for their freedoms in the last century – this people who had had hardly four to five decades of independence, still baffled by the neocolonialist tactics of the western capitalist system, still trying to figure out there means of survival – all of a sudden were told that they were not the exploited, the victimized, but were the killers of humanity. They were made aware that their belief did not stand for peace and love and sharing but for brute killing, for scripture-backed rape and for an extremist, fundamentalist cult-Islamism that defied average human morals.
This brought upon the Muslim society a cloud of dismay - they were economically unsuccessful, socially decadent, politically divided, militarily ineffective, and now they were also the biggest threat to human civilization and the peace of nations. And it took a couple of decades, for at least the inquisitive sectors of the Muslim society to figure out that this cult extremist Islamism was not the natural evolution of an orthodox Islam but an external, designed infusion, cultured in their midst by the same imperial mindset that was fearful of their renaissance. This was not just a social becoming of dissident elements, rather it was the 3rd Generation Warfare, well-know and practiced extensively throughout the Cold War by the US and its allies in South America and Africa – only unrecognizable to us because of media blackout on the matter.
But this politically-incorrect antidote of an awareness of ‘not being the evil one’, was not enough to rid the Muslim societies with the plague of hubs of terrorist outfits that had embedded themselves in their midst and whose invisible nature and spontaneous acts seemed impossible to collapse. The entrenchment of mercenary outfits got stronger and deeper in the last two decades with the networks growing and funds, training and weapon supply being secure by outside sources.
Today Libya is under the control of mercenary groups and the fate of both Iraq and Syria is swinging in the hands of ISIS, Daesh and several other rebel factions, all offspring of the same Al Qaeda. Moreover terror attacks are stricken every now and then on European and American soil and claimed by these same terror outfits, strengthening the matter-of-course thinking that indeed it is these groups of fanatic, who love rape and prostitution and deem the beheading of innocent civilians as a matter of their faith, who are wreaking havoc in Muslim states and destroying the peace of the seemingly progressive and civilized west. This very idea that prevails the commonsense – of Islam and Muslims being in a state of violent confrontation against the civilization of the West – is the embodiment of idea introduced by Huntington – of the clash of civilizations.
Perhaps it is true that civilizations are at odds with each other in the complex times of today, when economies of even the strongest state are dwindling and when with growing populations and drying resources, growth and survival have become questions that cannot be shelved any more. Perhaps these are such times when it becomes vital to snatch at tomorrow because today has already been lost. At such crucial times, humanity should not be naïve as to be alluded by staged clashes, when actually the real clash is happening behind the scene, because everyone’s future is at stake here and everyone has to be either the loser or the winner of the future.
So can we identify only a clash between the Muslim civilization and the Western one, or are there other civilizations that are also placed by civilizational indicators like history, language, culture, tradition, and religion, at odds with each other? And does economic disparity play a part in revoking the civilizational character in nations?
In fact Huntington described the Orthodox world of the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece and Romania as a separate civilization as opposed to the Protestant world that we call the Western civilization. The Orthodox churches separated from the Roman Catholic in 1054 AD and later Communism further isolated the Orthodox countries from the West.
The Orthodox civilization had always been championed by the Russians. When, in 1812, Tsar Alexander I defeated Napoleon’s forces, ending an era of French empire-building within Europe – Russia began to be seen as a mighty empire and the ‘Savior of Europe’. And all the time when Britain, France and other European imperialists were out making colonies around the world, Russia delegated itself as the protector of Eastern Europe’s orthodox population, and was constantly engaged in battles with the Ottomans in the name of this protection. Though Russia was an ally of the Western civilization in both World Wars, but they were more of an alliance of necessity, while huge ideological and cultural differences between Western and Eastern Europe were in place.
The East European countries were dominated by the Indo-European race while Western Europe was of the White Europid race. With Protestantism the West became more open to liberal ideas, the family unit contracted, artisanship and competitiveness increased and industrial economy boomed. But in the East large family systems and pastoral farming was replaced only by government owned collective farms and industries, thus making the society non-competitive and unable to keep pace with its western neighbors. Economic disparity is so vast between the East and West that if the GDP of Germany, France and Italy are in the 3000, 2000 and 1000 billion dollars range, those of Belarus, Albania and Moldova are in the 40, 10 and 6Billion dollar range (IMF).
Throughout the Cold War these East European state were thought of as Russian satellite states and many entered the Warsaw Pact. When USSR broke down in 1991, Russian dominance slowly slackened over these states. The EU was formed in 1993 and the eastern states were inducted very late; Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Cyprus, Czech Rep., Slovakia and Slovenia entered the EU in 2004, while Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. Moreover NATO, a strictly Western Europid alliance against which the Warsaw Pact was made, slowly scraped away these states too; Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland entered NATO in 1999 and Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia entered NATO in 2004. By entering the EU these nations lost sovereignty in their economic matters, whilst joining NATO meant dominance of NATO on their foreign policy and strategic affairs. All this created inside Europe a large transecting middle belt that was culturally akin to its east but strategically tied to its west – thus a highly unstable belt in an unnatural alliance.
But NATO did not stop at just decreasing the list of friends Russia formerly had, it actually went on to pitch these very states against Russia, endangering Russia’s very existence. NATO has signed deals with Poland and Romania for installing Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems which have nuclear warhead capabilities. Moreover, NATO has been conducting transnational military exercises throughout Eastern Europe’s eastern borders, making an already alarmed Russia more nervous. The hard-pressing question however is, ‘why would these states agree to such strategic maneuvers which will bring war to their lands’. The reason to join NATO and EU must be economic progress and strategic security – but the truth is that several EU states such as Ireland, Spain, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Croatia, Albania & Portugal were hard-hit by the 2006-2013 global economic crisis and are still struggling to recover and the poor East European states had not much to gain from the EU in the first place. And if there is no economic benefit in the EU or if remaining in NATO makes the states under permanent security alert and more prone to war, why would they still opt to remain therein. Obviously they would remain only as long as they are assured that they are on the winning side and would not think twice in changing sides once eminent war necessitates them to.
Another civilization is the Latin American civilization, whose native Indigenous Amerindians were beaten back by Spanish and Portuguese colonization. With the great Bolivarian spirit, South Americans were swift in organizing under their leaders for freedom. Starting from 1800, most of the colonies got independent by 1830. This made South America the first laboratory for neo-colonialism, by which the newly emerging world power, the US and a few of its privileged friends were to now control this whole continent by way of instating puppet regimes and rebel entities. These neo-con tactics have left the South American continent just as much poverty-stricken and unfruitful for the natives as we know Africa to be for the Blacks.
So will the South American civilization every stand up against the Western civilization that has for centuries enslaved it. It has certainly shown the potential to do so. In very recent years, the Pink Tide has brought the Bolivarian spirit back to the nations of South America. In the 1990s Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Lula da Silva of Brazil & Evo Morales of Bolivia decided to move to the socialist ideal and break away from open markets and privatization, which had drained their countries wealth into the US pockets for centuries under what was called the 'Washington consensus’.
Chavez dreamt the same unaccomplished dream that Simon Bolivar had dreamt a century earlier – like Bolivar he knew that the emancipation of the South American people was not in their individual struggle but more so in making a South American Union. This made Chavez an internationalist, having strong ties with socialist leaders like Castro of Cuba, Morales of Bolivia, Correa of Ecuador, Ortega of Nicaragua and several others. With Chaves’ death a huge machine of propaganda has been launched telling the world how the Pink Tide is receding and has failed the people. Recent Dilma Rouseff’s impeachment to replace her with a gang of corrupt politicians who are allied to US capitalist interests is a sign of US foreign policy gaining foothold in South America again – the same is being tried on Pres. Maduro in Venezuela. And for Columbia, that has been the single pro-US state in the neighborhood and has allowed US based companies to damage and exploit the land and the people for a return of revenue, to be given the Nobel Peace Prize, will not be seen by the Bolivarian states as a gesture of peace but a threat of confrontation.
Just like nations rose up against colonial slavery in the 1800s in South America and in the 1900s in Asia and Africa, will there be another Bolivarian wave against Western economic and strategic hegemony and a clash of civilizations wherein each suppressed civilization will come out to assert its own sovereignty on its own land and resources.
Though the African Black Negroid civilization has been haunted by the horrifying slave-hunt since the early 1500s; Africa’s colonization began only in the 1870s. When the Africans felt the winds of change swirling from the Far East all the way to North Africa, each state rose up in its own struggle for independence. Many valiant leaders of the masses appeared who led the masses through often decades-long battles before freedom could be bought. But the British and the French had had their experiences in South America and had structured their plan of departure. In each colony they had constructed a class of loyal educated elites, many of whom had graduated from French or British Universities, and who served in the government offices and in the army. They were often called the ‘evolues’ and the imperialists were ready to hand over the colonies to them, with the understanding that they would safeguard their interests behind them. So once freedom was gained, all genuine leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Mohamed Boudiaf and several others who wanted real freedom and African unity, were one by one assassinated under the neo-colonial method.
Today’s Africa is a continent teeming with rebel movements that are funded and armed from foreign sources and are constantly at battle with any entity that becomes a threat to the interests of those sources. Most state borders are homes to millions of refugees, most states have experienced the horrors of genocide, most have vast populations of internally displaced people and most are strife with hunger and disease. If one had a vision, one would see Africa as a huge cauldron of semi-excited lava, bubbling up here and there all the while – and would describe Africa as extremely unstable and volatile.
How will this vast civilization of a wretched, oppressed and vulnerable people react as a whole, if they feel once again a wave of change swirling around the globe, of a clash between civilizations?
Out of the three single-state civilizations, the Sinic civilization has been deemed as the ‘assertive’ one by Huntington, while the Indian and Japanese civilizations must also be having their assertive value. This is because, being single-state, it is easy for them to align or dis-align with others. So China, that gives a docile look to the global audience, has time and again aligned itself with Russia in using its veto power in the UN. Being the economic hub of the world, China also has strong economic ties with several countries of the West, which gives China the special position whereby it can make such economic deals whereby the interests of one western state can be pitched against those of another and the west can be rendered divided.
India’s being seen as the next economic hub of the world replacing China gives it the assertive position it had never dreamt of before. Fearing the rising assertiveness of China against the interests of the US, the US has encouraged and funded India in this pursuit and made it look possible that India may become the next heaven for western multinational companies to invest in. In doing this, the US is probably dismissing the fact that India is not half as docile as China was, which inherits the Confucius Art of War that teaches them to contemplate and spend more time to ‘know your enemy and know yourself’. In contrast the Ramayana depicts a war between a definitely good Rama and a definitely evil Ravana, predicting that the Hindus will be much more valorously self-asserting once they find the power to do so. Power in the hands of the Hindu Civilization might instill in them the same fire of expansion that had once came over the Japanese and in that case India might face a similar reversal at the hands of a Sino-Islamic alliance that is already at work owing to the opposing US-India nexus.
So how does it so happen that a humanity that has evolved through so many stages of civilization, at the pinnacle of which the West had decided to throw away the inferior faith in religion, for a higher secular moral based on humanity and equality – has subverted back to cultural, linguistic and religious affinities? Perhaps this reversion was natural and perhaps the Western secular ideal was an illusion. And perhaps hate based on religion (e.g. Islamophobia), which is so strong in the West, points to love for its own religious identity, which has become so politically incorrect to defend.
So while the Arab Spring has been orchestrated on the fault line of the Sunni-Shia divide in the Muslim World, the next war may very likely be between the Protestant and the Orthodox Christian Worlds, owing to their economic disparity and strategic diversion. The next wars could also be Hindu-Muslim, Christo-Muslim or Judeo-Muslim because Muslims feel vulnerable from all these sides. The next wars can also be rich-poor wars owing to the extreme disparity produced by the capitalist model, especially in South America and Africa. Given a few more decades, the next wars can also be resource-wars or simply war on food and water. And most dauntingly, the next war could be nuclear – and that would be the end of the story.