Is this A Clash of Civilizations?


On September 11, 2001, when the nineteen Arab hijackers from Al-Qaida struck the most visible icons of America's military and financial power - the Pentagon and the Twin Towers - there were more than a few pundits who concluded with some satisfaction that the "clash of civilizations" they had been predicting had finally arrived.

The concept of a "clash of civilizations" was first drafted in 1990 by Bernard Lewis, a committed Zionist, to describe the conflict between political Islam and the West. "This is no less than a clash of civilization - the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both." Unable to adapt to modernity and secularism, Islamic societies had rejected Western values and were now transforming Islam into a militant movement against the West.

A few years later, in 1993, Samuel Huntington, elevated the thesis of a clash of civilizations into a universal historical principle. Civilizations are the largest human aggregates that command human loyalties; and conflicts between civilizations account for much of the bloodshed in recorded human history. The Cold War marked a brief departure from this principle, but now that this aberrant period was happily over, civilizations could go back to their old pastime - waging wars against each other. In this new era, Huntington predicted, the most serious challenge to the West's hegemony would come from Islam and China. 

The Huntington thesis was an instant success that is not hard to explain. The military establishment seized it as a suitable replacement for the loss of the Soviet threat. If Islam and China could be inflated into worthy enemies, they could save the military budget and NATO. Other substitutes - such as the drug cartels - were examined but they weren't worthy opponents of imperial United States. The thesis was manna to the Zionists, who had been working hard to convert their war against the Palestinians into an American war against Islam. It gave comfort to right-wing Christian zealots who see Islam as the chief adversary in their war to win souls for Christ. 

And so when Osama's men struck, it instantly produced demands for a "civilizational war" against Islam. Not surprisingly, the Zionist voices were the most insistent and articulate. Within a few hours of the terrorist strikes, I had seen every current and former Israeli leader on the major US networks, not counting less eminent Israeli representatives, all of whom were urging United States to carry the war against Islamic terrorists to their home ground - in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Libya and Pakistan. It was no time to mince words. The United States and Israel now had the same enemies. They were fighting the same war.

The call to arms was loud and clear. Writing on October 29, 2001, in The Weekly Standard, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, strong supporters of Israel, were predicting that Afghanistan will only be an "opening battle" in a long war that will "spread and engulf a number of countries in conflicts of varying intensity." More ominously, they declared, this war "is going to resemble the clash of civilizations everyone had hoped to avoid." Other pro-Israelis were more direct. Norman Podhoretz, editor of the Commentary, a leading Zionist monthly, was urging the United States to be ready to "fight World War IV - the war against militant Islam," and to "impose a new political culture on the defeated parties." There was an air of triumphalism in Zionist pronouncements. 

It is a testimony to the power of the pro-war lobbies that the Bush administration lost little time in embracing their plans for a civilizational war against Islam. After a quick but illusory victory over the ragtag Taliban regime in Afghanistan, United States moved quickly to convert the campaign against terrorism - a campaign in which it has received the cooperation of nearly every Muslim country - into a war against countries that oppose Israel's hegemony over the Middle East. President Bush's embrace of Likudnik policies was complete when Ariel Sharon, admonished by his own Courts for complicity in the massacre of Palestinians at Sabra and Shatilla, was declared to be a "man of peace."

Is America's intimate embrace of Likudnik policies, its ongoing war against Afghanistan, its impending war against Iraq, and projected wars against Iran, Syria and Pakistan, proof that the clash of civilizations has begun? Hardly. This only demonstrates the power of the lobbies that have been planning, predicting and promoting the "clash" against Islam. They were predicting what they were planning to carry out in due time. The attacks of September 11, 2001 only advanced their war plans.

The sharpest refutation of the Huntington thesis comes from the West itself. A growing chorus of Western voices now proclaims that the war against Iraq is not their war. In poll after poll, they have been asserting that this is not a just war, that Iraq does not pose an imminent or mortal threat to their security, that United States constitutes a greater threat to world peace than Iraq or South Korea. They know that Iraqis are mostly Muslims, but that has not stopped them from recognizing their common humanity; this has not diminished their outrage over economic sanctions that have killed half a million Iraqi children. There are many in the West now who feel that they have more in common with the oppressed Iraqis than they do with Bush and Blair, or the warmongers that control and use them. Perhaps for the first time, the imperialist warlords have failed to use religion to divide mankind.

The partisans of war claim that Islam is evil, it preaches terror and hatred, and it must be destroyed before it destroys us. It is a tribute to the moral clarity of so many in the West that they are not buying into this Manichean duality that apportions all virtue to one's own tribe and all evil to one's adversary. Most remarkably, it is the Christian leaders in the West who have valiantly rejected this Manichean vision, and who now stand tall in their opposition to the war against Iraq. They are challenging the bigotry of Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells. Even Bush's own Methodist Church has declared that the war against Iraq is "without any justification according to the teachings of Christ."

If the thesis of an inevitable clash between the West and Islam still had any semblance of credibility, it was shredded by the global anti-war rallies of February 15, 2003. It is estimated that some 30 million people joined these rallies in more than 600 cities across the world. Significantly, the most massive of these rallies were staged in the capitals, cities and towns of Western countries. It was Westerners who took the lead, while braving freezing sub-zero temperatures, to tell their governments that they did not want this war against Iraq. These demonstrations were most massive in countries - such as Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia and United States - whose governments supported the war.

The war-mongering Bush-Blair team may still go ahead with the war, disregarding the clear democratic verdict of their own people. But so massive a rejection of war cannot be ignored without consequences; and by this I mean not just consequences for the personal careers of Bush and Blair. When the voice of the people is so blatantly flouted, it will undermine the illusion so sedulously cultivated of democratic societies that pay heed to the will of the people. In one instant, the charade of democracy, of a free press, of governments following the will of the people will have been tested and shown to be hollow.

But I also read a deeper, more hopeful message in the massive rallies of February 15. In the past, the great powers have nearly always succeeded in manipulating their citizenry into supporting their overseas adventures, even when these have destroyed millions of lives. However, I can sense the stirrings of a new consciousness amongst the privileged sections of the world's populations, an awareness that their privilege contributes to the misery of so many across the world, that our global apartheid cannot endure without destroying everyone. 

It appears that they are beginning to understand that their privilege places a special burden on them: that they must act to restrain and rectify the rapacity of their own governments and corporations. At the least, they are now demonstrating that they will not permit their governments to murder in the name of the values that they cherish. Once before, slavery was abolished when its degradation became morally unacceptable to a growing number of people in slave-owning countries. Now for the first time, with the anti-war movement, the people of privilege are beginning to say that global apartheid is unconscionable. 

We cannot doubt that these developments are causing alarm in the inner sanctums of the war-mongering parties. Even as world conscience shows signs of evolving towards a new post-tribal stage, we can be sure that plans are underway to reverse this. When the dominant cliques in the Core countries are frustrated in their hegemonic designs, they will not hesitate to shed their democratic faade. They will redouble their efforts to sow fear, raise alarm, breed mistrust, incite hatred. They will seek to curtail liberties in the name of national security. They will attempt to suppress dissent on the pretext of suppressing terrorism. Perhaps all this is already underway in United States. And only the coming days, weeks and months will reveal whether United States will follow the path of other capitalist democracies in trouble - and descend into fascism - or the forces of justice and democracy, true to the highest human ideals, will triumph over the dark forces that have held ascendancy over the fate of mankind.

M. Shahid Alam is Professor of Economics at Northeastern University. His last book, Poverty from the Wealth of Nations was published by Palgrave (2000). You may contact him at [email protected] M. Shahid Alam


Related Suggestions

 
COMMENTS DISCLAIMER & RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


Older Comments:
WOLFGANG K. FROM GERMANY said:
Shalom,
This was superb article. I believe Iviews should practice some discretion and ban anti-semetic hatemongers like "mike hale" and other whose sole purpose here is too cause mischief.
()

MIKE HALE FROM USA said:
Great combacks. Ryo, I thought I'd impart a little information so that you don't travel through the world in absolute ignorance. Lead based paint was outlawed in the early 1950's and formulas were changed to utilize Clay base with Titanium Dioxide as the white ingredient. Lead was removed except as base primers for US military ships. So unless the hovel that you live in was built in the 30's to the late 40's you have no lead in the paint of your house, I assume that you don't live in a cave.
Mazinkaiser - Your astute observations are a benefit to everyone here. A majority of people have views based on their particular culture and life experience. You on the other hand stretch your mental faculities to the limit because you are simply ignorant, stupid and irrevelent. Possibly in your next life you can come back as a sheep, a fitting overcoat that might hide your moronic behavior. Do you still drive a cab for a living?
()

MAZINKAISER FROM USA said:
Oh I wouldnt pay much attention to "mike hale," Ryo. Yes he is a disgusting racist hack, but all talk....a typical chicken hawk.
I'm pretty sure Chicken mike is 15 year caucasian male.....or a 35 year old unmarried balding man living in his parent's basement. Doesnt matter really, as he has nothing of any merit or relevence to post about. Perhaps Iviews.com exposes him to reality which he is so resistent too.
But forget him, this was a great article.
()

RYO FROM USA said:
It appears Iviews.com has no restrictions on alowing white supremascists like "Mike Hale" aka Chicken mike from posting his racist vitriol.
Damn those lead paint chips !
()

KHALED FROM FRANCE said:
why ,,, because the west felt & assumed & West pt of views these nations to be weak , divided , undemocratic , poor &... , invasion & attack & aggression merely not ways to rectify these nations , The west being in the upperhand in term of material & power & wish to imposes changes , but it is a very very unsincere one , you solved one problem with Iraq , while Isreal is enjoyed ongoing support from the west & exercising its mass destructive forces & ammunition to innocent civilians , the bridge is too far , really a clash of civilisations , yes we love changes & peace & stablity ...but no double std
()

MIKE HALE FROM USA said:
Khaled, I read your reply with great interest and I would appreciate a couple of questions answered. Why is it that the countries you speak of and describe are oppressed, weak, divided, backward, impoverished, undeveloped and poor? Why are the nations this way and how will change occur? Does anyone take responsibility for the situations in these countries?
()

KHALED said:
Yeah , that is very nice and superb, have a nice holiday ... well we had hundreds of examples of these arrogant nations in the Quran or so called strong , developed, rich traders , boosted themselves with their power & control & techno and civilisation and massive building such as Phoraoh & Namrud , the clans of Ad & Samud & Noah , clans of Lot , the Romans & Persian , & they were the strongest & mightest of the century and but they have oppressed & imposed their govt to other weak nations , spread falsehood in name of truth & freedom , war & bloodshed terrorise the smaller nations but Allah had chosen those being oppressed , weak , small , divided , backward , improvished , undeveloped , poor nations, to topple the Great nations within no time ,.... that oppresive & sinful nation were eliminated from the World , Allah is the planner & ahead of any planners ,he is the protector of the Weak !!!,

()

MIKE HALE FROM USA said:
Khaled, take a chill pill. You would be hard pressed to think America is going down the gutter as the economy stutters. Most Americans I know are planning their summer vacations. I myself, am renting a 44 foot sailboat and spending 2 weeks in the islands near St Thomas and St Croix.
So my income is down slightly, that will have no long term effects.
And American foreign policy is dictated by Washington and Washington alone. We have partners in this world we help. Bush's proposed budget for next year includes 32 BILLION dollars for the entire Middle East. Not some 100 billion for Israel alone. North Korea has 200 billion in that plan and it looks like Americans might actually save some of those DOLLARS.
The reality of the world is, oil fuels the United States economy. The United States economy fuels the world's economy, In all your protestations and rants, destroy the United States (and that will never happen), and you throw the world into absolute misery, starvation, chaos, and neighbor against neighbor. You'd steal your neighbor's food to feed your family.
()

KHALED FROM FRANCE said:
Yes , I 200% agreed with the article these Judea & Christain pact is to destroy islam completely n abuse and practically of anything to label Islam terrorist and to jusfify thier killings of Muslims in Palestine & Chechenya , opressed the Iraqis as fighting against terrorism is ongoing , Yes in the destructable world you have lot of choices and have supports of your atrocities almost from every nations , but wait Allah punishment will awaits you when u breathe for the last or dead!!! , then You west, cant escape your turn to be tortured & punish for killing muslims !!! even it show your interest rate & usury economy , is falling without support , it is disgrace and shame for the west.. interest rate or usury that the stupid jews love to munipulate the financial mkts or pplll were in shambles and powerless , to boost eco nomy in imperialist USA and oppressive Isreal...
()

KHALID MAHMOOD FROM PAKISTAN said:
To CC
I was merely trying to put forward what Islam as a faith says about Slavery. I am not here to defend what Muslims do or might have done in past.We all know Islam prohibits theft ,rape,murder but these crimes have been and are still being comitted by so called Muslims. You can not blame a faith if its followers do not abide by its teaching. Would than Christianity accept the blame for slaughter of hundred of thousand of Muslims and Jews during crusades or more recently crimes of Hitler who after all was a Chiristian? You mentioned Mamluks, a slave corps of Ayubia dynesty,who were bought by King Malik Saleh to protect his rule. But you forgot to mention that these same slaves(Mamluks) ruled as kings in Egypt and Syria for nearly four hundred years. Thats who muslims treated these slaves, by making them their king! Histroy does show that Muslims had not always lived upto the expectations of Islamic teaching , but it does also show that their record with regard to human rights has been much better than any other nation or faith.
()

SHUJA SYED FROM TORONTO, CANADA said:
Unfortunately, Muslims does not have one-hour plan. We cry, cry and cry. Then, we blame U.S. or Israel for everything. If 90% Muslims do not offer 5 time prayers, we blame Israel. If Muslims are ruled by criminals, then we blame U.S. If Muslim are the most disorganized, then we blame India. If Muslims are the poorest, then we blame Russia. If one wants to see the depth of the slumber, visit a neighbourhood Mosque. Dirty. Fighting. Quarelling. Squabling. You name it. The same agenda of meaningless hifz classes, the same old-fashioned dressess. The same depressed community with no agenda. No social order or work. The mosques are classified according to nationalities. Pakistani nationalism. Arabian Nationalism or Albanian nationalism.

Shuja Syed
()

MARY O'SHAUGHNESSY FROM USA said:
I am ashamed of our country's leadership. We did not
elect this man by popular majority, and the votes of
many people were eliminated by technicalities. (It
seems to me that the US has sent "peacekeepers" intto
other nations for "election irregularities.")
It's not just the people in the street. I am very proud of
this career diplomat who put it all on the line for truth:

http://houston.indymedia.org/news/2003/02/8023.php

Peace and blessings.

Mary
()

CC FROM USA/MEX said:
Mr. Khalid Mahmood
but you are partialy wrong on this point. ."Islam has clearly and categorically forbidden the primitive practice of capturining a free man to make him a slave or to sell him in slavery." For history proves you partialy wrong. Remeber the Mamluks or owned ones. A concept created by the Caliphates of the time to work around the problem of owning slaves in Islam. It is History, it is fact.
()

JBSHER FROM UK said:
Why do you people allow trolls like Norman to fool you ? You can present the lunatic with sound arguments and recommend all the books you want. But it will not change the fact that Norman is a zionist bottom feeder whose malice is all too common amongst jewish hate mongers. I almost wish Muslims didnt save the Jews fat from the fire....given how they've backstabbed their saviors.
These guys dream of their "eretz Israel"...read the Talmud and learn the what these madmen are really about. The Talmud's exhortations of slavery and hatred for gentiles could not be more clear.
Dont expect much from those whose own Prophet cursed them for their ways of deceit.
()

KHALID MAHMOOD FROM PAKISTAN said:
Jhon Normans has simply displayed his ignorance of islamic teaching with regard to slavery. I would like to present the true islamic stand on this subject by citing remarks made by Sayed Abu Al-A'la Mawdudi in his book Humen Rights In Islam."Islam has clearly and categorically forbidden the primitive practice of capturining a free man to make him a slave or to sell him in slavery. On this point the clear and unequivocal words of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh)go as follow." there are three categories of people against whom I shall myself be a plantiff on the day of judgement.Of these three one is he who enslaves a free man then sells him and eats this money". Islam tried to solve the problem of the slaves by encouraging people in different ways to set their slaves free.Muslims were ordered that in expiation of some of their sins they should set their slaves free.Freeing a slave by one's own free will was declared to be an act of great merit,so much so that it was said every limb of a man who manumits a slave will be protected from hell fire in lieu of a limb of slave freed by him. the result of this policy was that in 30 to 40 years all old slaves of Arabia were liberated.The Prophet alone liberated as many as 63 slaves,Aishah 67,Ibn Umar 1000 and Abdul Rahmaan 30,000.Contrast that with what wertern powers did.Slavery was abolished only in middle of 18th century.Before this they raided Africa on large scale capturing free men putting them in bondage and transporting them to their new colonies. They were treated worse than animals.After occupation of America and West Indies, for 350 years trafic in slave trade continued. During only one century (1680-1786) total no. enslaved from british colonies amounts 20 million.In one year(1790) 75,000 were captured and sent for slave labor in colonies.It has also been estimated that total No. of people captured for slavery by various Europian nations during the hayday of slave trade comes to at least one hundred million.
()

RUMI FROM EARTH said:
john norman ....GET A LIFE.....I'm really tired of your non contructive comments....GET A LIFE PLEASE....MAKE YOURSELF DISAPPEAR PLEASE....I'm really tired of your tiresome...void of values comments...do us a favour......GET LOST!
()

SIMO LHSAINI FROM CANADA said:
The Origin of the Clash of Civilizations
By Reda Benkirane
Among the many reflections on the events related to September 11, two of the most profound insights come from Christian thinkers who have focused their analyses essentially on the cultural aspect of the crisis.
Ren Girard, a French anthropologist from Stanford University, known for his Scapegoat Theory and his anthropology of violence and religion, sees in these events a "mimetic (mirror image) rivalry" of an unprecedented scale. According to Girard, the resistance to the current globalization process emerging from different parts of the world and the various Islamist armed actions against the US and the West are motivated not because of their intrinsic differences but because they are similar to what they fight against. "They fight us because they look more and more like us" Ren Girard would say. According to Girard, Bush and Bin Laden are "mimetic twins" who both want to have a global impact and reach a global audience. Both use the same religious terminology based on binary logic (Crusades/Jihad, Good against Evil, etc.). Yet even the profile of the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks against New York and Washington attests that they were totally assimilated into Western culture. Girard's insights, as an anthropologist influenced by Christian eschatology, alert us to the risk of uniformity and homogeneity rather than the risk of differences and divergence. The world is in danger of uniformity not of diversity... The same simplistic and Manichean logic is used by both Bush and Bin Laden in order to attract the attention and the support of Christians and Muslims worldwide. But humanity deserves a real alternative vision which reflects its plurality and which can overcome the current polarization of religions, civilizations and cultures.

Note: The first book written on the subject of the Clash of Civilization was written by Africa's number 1 economist the Moroccan Almahdi Almanjra in 1990
()

JOHN NORMAN FROM UK said:
It is a great pity and a grave sin of Islam that slavery is still allowed and practised in the Muslim Empire and still sanctioned by Islamic texts. Islam still has a great deal to learn from the West.
()

BILL W FROM USA said:
Refreshing and optomistic. I hope what you claim is true, that good will triumph democratically. But I can't share your optimism. Until the common people of the western democracies stop compromising their civil rights in reaction to terrorism and admit to, expose, and comprehend the secret agenda of their so-called democratic leaders, they (we) remain powerless. We remain on the march to one-world government governed by Orwellian doublespeak. It is time we opened our eyes and took back our cherished liberty and tried these leaders for the traitors they really are. Nothing short of that will work.
()

MONTANA SKIES FROM USA said:
David Rosenberg:
Many thanks for this site whatreallyhappened.com. What an eyeful! But David, forgive me, are you not a Jew in support of Israel? Or are you in support of the truth even if it exposed the vileness of the Israelis. And don't get me wrong, from the viewpoint of the Israelis, they're doing whatever it takes to ensure its survival. But there is a growing grassroots mentality that believes Israelis are actually planting the seeds of their sociopolitical suicide; this mentality is not being fooled by the American hegemonic assault to reshape the Mid-East for Israel's sake; it can see how Israel is painting herself into a corner before the world through her treatment of the Palestinians, through perfidy and intrigue, through base manipulation of truth or the suppression thereof.

If we can even imagine, as with the Kennedy affair, a day would dawn when classified materials are declassed and a horrible, inconceivable face-grimacing truth comes out that links Israel to 911...Lord forgive us for vilifying and damaging the innocent.
()

FATIMA FROM U.S said:
I agree with many things in this article about human biengs coming together, but I also know that
poor Americans are in fear which is understandable. These people who are my country men are so afraid. A Nazi solider once said no matter a democracy or a dictarship leaders can make people fear so they will support their policy. But remember that the West has fought many
civilizations and deafeated them all, except Islam. Islam will always prevail, Muslims will achieve sucess if only they go back to the Qu'ran and the Sunnah. We fight for Palistiane and Pakistan, no we are Muslims first not nations. This war has nothing to do with dominance, oil, wealth, terrorism, it is a war on Islam. God the All-Knowing the All-Mighty said they will stop at nothing until you leave your faith. Muslims have nothing or no one to fear, but God. Pharah killed all male boys to prevent the promised man that will destroy his kingdom, but God put that boy in his own home. No power, no man, no cilivization is greater then God. Allahu Akabar, Islam is truth
and truth puts out falsehood.
()

DAVID ROSENBERG FROM USA said:
Dear Author: Excellent piece with the exception that you also seems to be a subscriber of the theory of 19 Arabs & Al Qaeda doing the 9-11 thing. Let's give ourselves time for the due process, if any, to take place. There are myriad lingering questions yet unansewered about the theory of 19 Arabs, Al Qaeda & 9-11. Among many don't forget to visit whatreallyhappened.com.
Thank you again for a good piece.
()

JAWED SYED FROM CANADA said:
I Think Very True about clash of civilizatin.It is what so ever happening ugly shamfull for this world .We must obay Allahs order correct`our self that`s the only way to live with love and peace and Harmoney in this World
()

YAHYA BERGUM FROM USA said:
Actually, I think the Zionists are starting to suspect they're on the wrong end of the leash again. Their spineless friends appear to be loosing their control of my country's government. Verily, Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) is the best of planners.

Who knows? Perhaps Israel will seek to improve relations with her neighbors. There is nothing the Master Of The Worlds cannot accomplish.

Allah Hafiz.
()