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Nombre de messages : 654
Localisation : Washington D.C.
Date d'inscription : 14/06/2005


Finally, economic regionalism is increasing. The
proportions of total trade that were
intraregional rose between 1980 and 1989 from 51 percent to
59 percent in Europe, 33 percent to 37 percent in
East Asia, and 32 percent to 36 percent in North
America. The importance of regional economic
blocs is likely to continue to increase in the
future. On the one hand, successful economic
regionalism will reinforce civilization-consciousness. On
the other hand, economic regionalism may succeed
only when it is rooted in a common civilization.
The European Community rests on the shared
foundation of European culture and Western Christianity.
The success of the North American Free Trade Area
depends on the convergence now underway of
Mexican, Canadian and American cultures. Japan, in
contrast, faces difficulties in creating a comparable
economic entity in East Asia because Japan is a
society and civilization unique to itself. However
strong the trade and investment links Japan may
develop with other East Asian countries, its
cultural differences with those countries inhibit and
perhaps preclude its promoting regional economic
integration like that in Europe and North

Common culture, in contrast, is clearly
facilitating the rapid expansion of the economic relations
between the People's Republic of China and Hong
Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the overseas Chinese
communities in other Asian countries. With the
Cold War over, cultural commonalities increasingly
overcome ideological differences, and mainland
China and Taiwan move closer together. If cultural
commonality is a prerequisite for economic
integration, the principal East Asian economic bloc of
the future is likely to be centered on China. This
bloc is, in fact, already coming into existence.
As Murray Weidenbaum has observed,

"Despite the current Japanese dominance of the
region, the Chinese-based economy of Asia is
rapidly emerging as a new epicenter for industry,
commerce and finance. This strategic area contains
substantial amounts of technology and manufacturing
capability (Taiwan), outstanding entrepreneurial,
marketing and services acumen (Hong Kong), a fine
communications network Singapore), a tremendous
pool of financial capital (all three), and very
large endowments of land, resources and labor
(mainland China).... From Guangzhou to Singapore, from
Kuala Lumpur to Manila, this influential
network--often based on extensions of the traditional
clans--has been described as the backbone of the
East Asian economy."(1)

Culture and religion also form the basis of the
Economic Cooperation Organization, which brings
together ten non-Arab Muslim countries: Iran,
Pakistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Turkmenistan, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan and
Afghanistan. One impetus to the revival and expansion of
this organization, founded originally in the 1960
by Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, is the realization
by the leaders of several of these countries that
they had no chance of admission to the European
Community. Similarly, Caricom, the Central
American Common Market and Mercosur rest on common
cultural foundations. Efforts to build a broader
Caribbean-Central American economic entity bridging
the Anglo-Latin divide, however, have to date

As people define their identity in ethnic and
religious terms, they are likely to see an "us"
versus "them" relation existing between themselves
and people of different ethnicity or religion. The
end of ideologically defined states in Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union permits
traditional ethnic identities and animosities to come to
the fore. Differences in culture and religion
create differences over policy issues, ranging from
human rights to immigration to trade and commerce
to the environment. Geographical propinquity
gives rise to conflicting territorial claims from
Bosnia to Mindanao. Most important, the efforts of
the West to promote its values of democracy and
liberalism as universal values, to maintain its
military predominance and to advance its economic
interests engender countering responses from other
civilizations. Decreasingly able to mobilize
support and form coalitions on the basis of ideology,
governments and groups will increasingly attempt
to mobilize support by appealing to common
religion and civilization identity.

The clash of civilizations thus occurs at two
levels. At the micro- level, adjacent groups along
the fault lines between civilizations struggle,
often violently, over the control of territory and
each other. At the macro-level, states from
different civilizations compete for relative military
and economic power, struggle over the control of
international institutions and third parties, and
competitively promote their particular political
and religious values.

The fault lines between civilizations are
replacing the political and ideological boundaries of
the Cold War as the flash points for crisis and
bloodshed. The Cold War began when the Iron Curtain
divided Europe politically and ideologically. The
Cold War ended with the end of the Iron Curtain.
As the ideological division of Europe has
disappeared, the cultural division of Europe between
Western Christianity, on the one hand, and Orthodox
Christianity and Islam, on the other, has
reemerged. The most significant dividing line in Europe,
as William Wallace has suggested, may well be the
eastern boundary of Western Christianity in the
year 1500. This line runs along what are now the
boundaries between Finland and Russia and between
the Baltic states and Russia, cuts through
Belarus and Ukraine separating the more Catholic
western Ukraine from Orthodox eastern Ukraine, swings
westward separating Transylvania from the rest of
Romania, and then goes through Yugoslavia almost
exactly along the line now separating Croatia and
Slovenia from the rest of Yugoslavia. In the
Balkans this line, of course, coincides with the
historic boundary between the Hapsburg and Ottoman
empires. The peoples to the north and west of this
line are Protestant or Catholic; they shared the
common experiences of European
history--feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the
Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial
Revolution; they are generally economically better off
than the peoples to the east; and they may now
look forward to increasing involvement in a common
European economy and to the consolidation of
democratic political systems. The peoples to the east
and south of this line are Orthodox or Muslim;
they historically belonged to the Ottoman or
Tsarist empires and were only lightly touched by the
shaping events in the rest of Europe; they are
generally less advanced economically; they seem much
less likely to develop stable democratic
political systems. The Velvet Curtain of culture has
replaced the Iron Curtain of ideology as the most
significant dividing line in Europe. As the events
in Yugoslavia show, it is not only a line of
difference; it is also at times a line of bloody

Conflict along the fault line between Western and
Islamic civilizations has been going on for 1,300
years. After the founding of Islam, the Arab and
Moorish surge west and north only ended at Tours
in 732. From the eleventh to the thirteenth
century the Crusaders attempted with temporary success
to bring Christianity and Christian rule to the
Holy Land. From the fourteenth to the seventeenth
century, the Ottoman Turks reversed the balance,
extended their sway over the Middle East and the
Balkans, captured Constantinople, and twice laid
siege to Vienna. In the nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries as Ottoman power declined
Britain, France, and Italy established Western control
over most of North Africa and the Middle East.

After World War 11, the West, in turn, began to
retreat; the colonial empires disappeared; first
Arab nationalism and then Islamic fundamentalism
manifested themselves; the West became heavily
dependent on the Persian Gulf countries for its
energy; the oil-rich Muslim countries became
money-rich and, when they wished to, weapons-rich.
Several wars occurred between Arabs and Israel (created
by the West). France fought a bloody and ruthless
war in Algeria for most of the 1950; British and
French forces invaded Egypt in 1956; American
forces went into Lebanon in 1958; subsequently
American forces returned to Lebanon, attacked Libya,
and engaged in various military encounters with
Iran; Arab and Islamic terrorists, supported by at
least three Middle Eastern governments, employed
the weapon of the weak and bombed Western planes
and installations and seized Western hostages.
This warfare between Arabs and the West culminated
in 1990, when the United States sent a massive
army to the Persian Gulf to defend some Arab
countries against aggression by another. In its
aftermath NATO planning is increasingly directed to
potential threats and instability along its "southern

This centuries-old military interaction between
the West and Islam is unlikely to decline. It
could become more virulent. The Gulf War left some
Arabs feeling proud that Saddam Hussein had
attacked Israel and stood up to the West. It also left
many feeling humiliated and resentful of the
West's military presence in the Persian Gulf, the
West's overwhelming military dominance, and their
apparent inability to shape their own destiny. Many
Arab countries, in addition to the oil exporters,
are reaching levels of economic and social
development where autocratic forms of government become
inappropriate and efforts to introduce democracy
become stronger. Some openings in Arab political
systems have already occurred. The principal
beneficiaries of these openings have been Islamist
movements. In the Arab world, in short, Western
democracy strengthens anti-Western political forces.
This may be a passing phenomenon, but it surely
complicates relations between Islamic countries
and the West.

Those relations are also complicated by
demography. The spectacular population growth in Arab
countries, particularly in North Africa, has led to
increased migration to Western Europe. The
movement within Western Europe toward minimizing
internal boundaries has sharpened political
sensitivities with respect to this development. In Italy,
France and Germany, racism is increasingly open, and
political reactions and violence against Arab and
Turkish migrants have become more intense and
more widespread since 1990.
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