i hope you get cancer™

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The man who wrote the script for Jihad vs GWOT

So-called 'clash of civilisations' is a self-fulfilling prophecy The way the apocalypse fetishists of the right tell it, you'd think all this clash of civilisations stuff had been written in the stars. Or at least it was an external phenomenon to which "we", in "the west", must simply respond. Yet (and apologies to those of you who know where this is going) like any exercise in doublethink, they know, even if they don't want you to, that it is in fact a construction devised by one of the backroom boys of the New World Order - just like the Jihad's predecessor in the Permanent Enemy hotseat, the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union. The pointyhead in question is one Samuel P Huntington (left), who sketched out the script for the GWOT in an innocent-sounding essay entitled The Clash of Civilizations? in the academic journal Foreign Affairs - back in 1993. Subtitled The next pattern of conflict, just so we wouldn't be in any doubt as to its intent, Sam's little kite-flying exercise was designed as a strategic rebuttal of all the touchy-feely, flowers down rifle barrels peace dividend ideas of academics like Francis Fukuyama, who famously declared The End of History following the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Hellfire, we can't be having any of that BS, you could hear Dr Strangelove squeal, and so Huntington duly obliged. "The fundamental source of conflict in this new world," Huntington corrects, "will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic....the dominating source of conflict will be cultural...The fault lines between civilisations will be the battle lines of the future." He then goes through an eccentric reading of global geopolitical history since the 18th century and a token analysis of the "seven or eight" major civilisations expected to join this conflict before succumbing to the inevitable. Cutting to the chase, the guts of Sam's "thesis" deals with, you guessed it, conflict between the "West" and Islam. "Islam has bloody borders," he concludes, having spent several pages outlining reasons for conflict between these two ideologies. A key section highlights the strategic importance of WMD, and the potential risks to US (not "Western" - US) interests posed by the potential of China to become a supplier of such weapons to Islamic states. His conclusion, Implications for the West, is chilling: "It is clearly in the interest of the West to promote greater cooperation and unity within its own civilisation...to incorporate into the West societies in Eastern Europe and Latin America whose cultures are close to those of the West...to limit the expansion of the military strength of Confucian and Islamic states; to moderate the reduction of Western military capabilities...to exploit differences and conflicts among Confucian and Islamic states...to support in other civilisations groups sympathetic to Western values and interests...to strengthen international institutions that reflect and legitimate Western interests and values..." Clash was subsequently turned into a best-selling book, which naturally has found a wider and eager readership since 9/11. Incidentally, for those unfamiliar with Huntington, he was succinctly described thus by one of m'learned friends at the glorious Lenin's Tomb: "I think one can oppose Huntington's theses by dismissing it. This is a guy who wrote a book justifying dictatorships in third world countries when that was US policy ("Problems of Order in Developing societies") embraced democratic governance as a slogan following the trilateral commission ("the third wave of democracy") and then at the end of the Cold War argued that we had to beware of Islam and Confucianism (read Oil and the main strategic rival of the US in East Asia)." "His rationale was the contention that we no longer have anything to fight about but values and therefore needed to reject conventional geostrategic thinking is directly countered by the strategic rationale underlying his thinking. He then went on to write a book about the threat to the integrity of the United States presented by the undermining of white anglo-saxon Protestantism by Mexican migration." "He simply plays either to the State or to the right wing gallery. I do not think he has 'influenced' neo-cons, simply provided them with quotable quotes to back up pre-existing prejudices. In terms of 'influences' Leo Strauss is more interesting. His central theses was that the masses need to be kept ignorent and fed pap whilst elites did the thinking. Which raises the interesting question of whether these guys really do believe the crap they talk." Be that as it may, you may find it interesting to note how frequently elements of Huntington's worldview crop up among the emissions of the right, all the more so since most of them are too thick to know their provenance.