Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I have read the Clash of Civilizations closely and several times, and none of those things you list are claimed by Huntington, rather they are, as you say, the conventional wisdom interpretation of them. I even wrote an essay on your point number 6, and what Huntington would have thought about Western behaviour since he published his book, and especially the invasion of Iraq, based on the recomendations listed in page 312:

To preserve Western civilization in the face of declining Western power, it is in the interest of the United States and European countries: [...] and, most important, to recognize that Western intervention in the affairs of other civilizations is probably the single most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multicivilizational world.

Huntington is badly minsunderstood by many people, especially leftists, who read the book like the devil reads the bible, if they even read the book at all. Huntington is a great scholar, not only because of his most famous book, but by his vast production as early as the 50's and 60's, on issues as diverse as modernization theory and the relations between the civilian and military authorities.

Further, he has written one of the greatest quotes ever, which I often ponder: The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.

Not to mention: In the emerging world of ethnic conflict and civilizational clash, Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems: it is false; it is immoral; and it is dangerous . . . Imperialism is the necessary logical consequence of universalism.


Hypocrisy, double standards, and "but nots" are the price of universalist pretensions. Democracy is promoted, but not if it brings Islamic fundamentalists to power; nonproliferation is preached for Iran and Iraq, but not for Israel; free trade is the elixir of economic growth, but not for agriculture; human rights are an issue for China, but not with Saudi Arabia; aggression against oil-owning Kuwaitis is massively repulsed, but not against non-oil-owning Bosnians. Double standards in practice are the unavoidable price of universal standards of principle.

Read the book, not because everything in it is necessarily right, but because it is certainly interesting and brilliant: an intellectual tour de force.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Jan 8th, 2010 at 10:11:21 PM EST
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