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"The Central Axis Of World Politics In The Future Is Likely To Be The Conflict Between The West And The Rest" Discuss.

2880 words - 12 pages

Political scientists greeted the end of the cold-war by proclaiming that a new era in international relations had begun. However, seventeen years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall and yet no satisfying or widely accepted label has been attributed to this new era; it is still simply referred to as the post-cold war era (Skidmore, 1998). Optimists such as Bartley (1993) and Mueller (199) argue that the end of the cold war will lead to more widespread economic development and to growing demands for democracy, which in turn will bring about the obsolescence of major war. However, one of the most controversial and pessimistic attempts to define this era was made by Harvard Professor, Samuel Huntington in his 1993 article titled "The Clash of Civilizations".According to Huntington (1993 and 1996), conflicts of the future will not be based on traditional ideological or economic grounds, but rather "conflict between civilizations will be the latest phase in the evolution of conflict in the modern world". Huntington (1993) further asserts that this conflict will be most evident in the division between "the west and the rest". In order to examine the legitimacy of Huntington's prophecies this essay will critically analyse his definition of civilizations and how they can be identified and also whether current trends in international relations will lead to global convergence or conflict between "the west and the rest".However, before exploring Huntington's (1993) vision of future conflict between "the west and the rest" it is first important to examine how he is able to group the world into both civilizations and into the much broader category of "the rest". The current balance of power in world politics is United States hegemony (Kegley 2006), however Huntingtion's (1993) realist hypothesis identifies serious threats to global order from non-Western civilizations. Huntington (1993) claims that these 'civilizations' are based on cultural distinctions between groups of nations; for example he maintains that the West is identified with Christianity and a dominant democratic political culture (Taku, 2003). He further argues that although nation states will still be the most powerful actors in world politics, the culture including religion, of Middle Eastern Islam and Eastern Asian Confucianism will become the major threat to global security (Cataltepe 1993). Huntington (1993) therefore assumes that not only will these cultural similarities be strong enough to bind nations into civilizations but these civilizations will view these cultural differences as adequate grounds to go to war.Hemdy (2006), Sato (1997) and Skidmore (1998) express concerns with the simplicity of Huntington's definition of civilizations. Given the vast cultural differences within nation states it is not appropriate to simply group them as a civilization based on a few shared similarities. Skidmore (1998) argues that "Huntington offers no standard criteria for identifying...

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