Samuel Huntington

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Samuel Phillips Huntington (born 1927-04-18) is a political scientist known for his analysis of the relationship between the military and the civil government, his investigation of coup d'états, and his thesis that the central political actors of the 21st century will be civilizations rather than nation-states.


  • It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation-states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.
    • "The Clash of Civilizations?", original 1993 Foreign Affairs article
  • In Eurasia the great historic fault lines between civilizations are once more aflame. This is particularly true along the boundaries of the crescent-shaped Islamic bloc of nations, from the bulge of Africa to central Asia. Violence also occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and Catholics in the Philippines. Islam has bloody borders.
    • "The Clash of Civilizations?"
  • The most widely discussed formulation of [the One World model] was the "end of history" thesis advanced by Francis Fukuyama. "We may be witnessing, Fukuyama argued, "… the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government." … The future will be devoted not to great exhilarating struggles over ideas but rather to resolving mundane economic and technical problems. And, he concluded rather sadly, it will all be rather boring.
  • The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.
    • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 51
  • 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.
    • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 184
  • Islam's borders are bloody and so are its innards.*

    * No single statement in my Foreign Affairs article attracted more critical comment than: "Islam has bloody borders." I made that judgment on the basis of a casual survey of intercivilizational conflicts. Quantitative evidence from every disinterested source conclusively demonstrates its validity.

    • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, p. 258
  • The American multiculturalists … wish to create a country of many civilizations, which is to say a country not belonging to any civilization and lacking a cultural core. A multicivilizational United States will not be the United States; it will be the United Nations.
    • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, p. 306
  • Although Europeans universally acknowledge the fundamental significance of the dividing line between Western Christendom, on the one hand, and Orthodoxy and Islam, on the other, the United States, its secretary of state said, would "not recognize any fundamental divide among the Catholic, Orthodox, and Islamic parts of Europe." Those who do not recognize fundamental divides, however, are doomed to be frustrated by them.
    • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, p. 309
  • 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.
    • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 310
  • To preserve Western civilization in the face of declining Western power, it is in the interest of the United States and European countries … 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.
    • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, pp. 311–312
  • In the emerging era, clashes of civilization are the greatest threat to world peace, and an international order based on civilizations is the surest safeguard against world war.
    • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, p. 321
  • The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.
    • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order
  • Cultural America is under siege. And as the Soviet experience illustrates, ideology is a weak glue to hold together people otherwise lacking racial, ethnic, and cultural sources of community.
    • Who Are We? America's Great Debate, p. 12

On Huntington

  • [O]ne of the most astonishing features of this apparently antagonistic world survey of the globalization process is the utter absence of any serious economics. This is truly political science of the most arid and specialized type, all diplomatic and military clashes, without a hint of the unique dynamics of the economic that makes for the originality of historiography since Marx … here the plurality of cultures simply stands for the decentralized, diplomatic and military jungle with which "Western" or "Christian" culture will have to deal. Yet ultimately, any discussion of globalization surely has to come to terms, one way or another, with the reality of capitalism itself.
  • Huntington's brilliance as Geheimrat in the 1970s was to anticipate the needs of the sovereign, providing beforehand an antidemocratic how-to manual for the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions.
  • Ah, the cruel fortunes of the Geheimrat, subject to the whims of the sovereign! The U.S. government has repeated insistently since September 11 that its global security strategy has nothing to do with a clash of civilizations.
  • There is something sad about an eager adviser who has been spurned by the sovereign and cast out of the court.

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