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


On both sides the interaction between Islam and
the West is seen as a clash of civilizations. The
West's "next confrontation," observes M. J.
Akbar, an Indian Muslim author, "is definitely going
to come from the Muslim world. It is in the sweep
of the Islamic nations from the Maghreb to
Pakistan that the struggle for a new world order will
begin." Bernard Lewis comes to a similar

We are facing a mood and a movement far
transcending the level of issues and policies and the
governments that pursue them. This is no less than a
clash of civilizations--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.(2)

Historically, the other great antagonistic
interaction of Arab Islamic civilization has been with
the pagan, animist, and now increasingly
Christian black peoples to the south. In the past, this
antagonism was epitomized in the image of Arab
slave dealers and black slaves. It has been
reflected in the on-going civil war in the Sudan between
Arabs and blacks, the fighting in Chad between
Libyan-supported insurgents and the government, the
tensions between Orthodox Christians and Muslims
in the Horn of Africa, and the political
conflicts, recurring riots and communal violence between
Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. The
modernization of Africa and the spread of Christianity are
likely to enhance the probability of violence
along this fault line. Symptomatic of the
intensification of this conflict was the Pope John Paul
II's speech in Khartoum in February I993 attacking
the actions of the Sudan's Islamist government
against the Christian minority there.

On the northern border of Islam, conflict has
increasingly erupted between Orthodox and Muslim
peoples, including the carnage of Bosnia and
Sarajevo, the simmering violence between Serb and
Albanian, the tenuous relations between Bulgarians and
their Turkish minority, the violence between
Ossetians and Ingush, the unremitting slaughter of
each other by Armenians and Azeris, the tense
relations between Russians and Muslims in Central
Asia, and the deployment of Russian troops to protect
Russian interests in the Caucasus and Central
Asia. Religion reinforces the revital of ethnic
identities and restimulates Russian fears about the
security of their southern borders. This concern
is well captured by Archie Roosevelt:

Much of Russian history concerns the struggle
between the Slavs and the Turkic peoples on their
borders, which dates back to the foundation of the
Russian state more than a thousand years ago. In
the Slavs' millennium-long confrontation with
their eastern neighbors lies the key to an
understanding not only of Russian history, but Russian
character. To understand Russian realities today one
has to have a concept of the great Turkic ethnic
group that has preoccupied Russians through the

The conflict of civilizations is deeply rooted
elsewhere in Asia. The historic clash between
Muslim and Hindu in the subcontinent manifests itself
now not only in the rivalry between Pakistan and
India but also in intensifying religious strife
within India between increasingly militant Hindu
groups and India's substantial Muslim minority.
The destruction of the Ayodhya mosque in December
1992 brought to the fore the issue of whether
India will remain a secular democratic state or
become a Hindu one. In East Asia, China has
outstanding territorial disputes with most of its
neighbors. It has pursued a ruthless policy toward the
Buddhist people of Tibet, and it is pursuing an
increasingly ruthless policy toward its Turkic-Muslim
minority. With the Cold War over, the underlying
differences between China and the United States
have reasserted themselves in areas such as human
rights, trade and weapons proliferation. These
differences are unlikely to moderate. A "new cold
war," Deng Xaioping reportedly asserted in 1991,
is under way between China and America.

The same phrase has been applied to the
increasingly difficult relations between Japan and the
United States. Here cultural difference exacerbates
economic conflict. People on each side allege
racism on the other, but at least on the American
side the antipathies are not racial but cultural.
The basic values, attitudes, behavioral patterns
of the two societies could hardly be more
different. The economic issues between the United States
and Europe are no less serious than those between
the United States and Japan, but they do not have
the same political salience and emotional
intensity because the differences between American
culture and European culture are so much less than
those between American civilization and Japanese

The interactions between civilizations vary
greatly in the extent to which they are likely to be
characterized by violence. Economic competition
clearly predominates between the American and
European subcivilizations of the West and between both
of them and Japan. On the Eurasian continent,
however, the proliferation of ethnic conflict,
epitomized at the extreme in "ethnic cleansing," has
not been totally random. It has been most frequent
and most violent between groups belonging to
different civilizations. 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

Groups or states belonging to one civilization
that become involved in war with people from a
different civilization naturally try to rally support
from other members of their own civilization. As
the post-Cold War world evolves, civilization
commonality, what H. D. S. Greenway has termed the
"kin-country" syndrome, is replacing political
ideology and traditional balance of power
considerations as the principal basis for cooperation and
coalitions. It can be seen gradually emerging in
the post-Cold War conflicts in the Persian Gulf,
the Caucasus and Bosnia. None of these was a
full-scale war between civilizations, but each
involved some elements of civilizational rallying, which
seemed to become more important as the conflict
continued and which may provide a foretaste of the

First, in the Gulf War one Arab state invaded
another and then fought a coalition of Arab, Western
and other states. While only a few Muslim
governments overtly supported Saddam Hussein, many Arab
elites privately cheered him on, and he was
highly popular among large sections of the Arab
publics. Islamic fundamentalist movements universally
supported Iraq rather than the Western-backed
governments of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Forswearing
Arab nationalism, Saddam Hussein explicitly
invoked an Islamic appeal. He and his supporters
attempted to define the war as a war between
civilizations. "It is not the world against Iraq," as Safar
Al-Hawali, dean of Islamic Studies at the Umm
Al-Qura University in Mecca, put it in a widely
circulated tape. "It is the West against Islam."
Ignoring the rivalry between Iran and Iraq, the chief
Iranian religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
called for a holy war against the West: "The
struggle against American aggression, greed, plans
and policies will be counted as a jihad, and
anybody who is killed on that path is a martyr." "This
is a war," King Hussein of Jordan argued,
"against all Arabs and all Muslims and not against Iraq

The rallying of substantial sections of Arab
elites and publics behind Saddam Hussein caused those
Arab governments in the anti-Iraq coalition to
moderate their activities and temper their public
statements. Arab governments opposed or distanced
themselves from subsequent Western efforts to
apply pressure on Iraq, including enforcement of a
no-fly zone in the summer of 1992 and the bombing
of Iraq in january I993. The Western-
Soviet-Turkish-Arab anti-Iraq coalition of 1990 had by 1993
become a coalition of almost only the West and
Kuwait against Iraq.

Muslims contrasted Western actions against Iraq
with the West's failure to protect Bosnians
against Serbs and to impose sanctions on Israel for
violating U.N. resolutions. The West, they alleged,
was using a double standard. A world of clashing
civilizations, however, is inevitably a world of
double standards: people apply one standard to
their kin- countries and a different standard to

Second, the kin-country syndrome also appeared in
conflicts in the former Soviet Union. Armenian
military successes in 1992 and I993 stimulated
Turkey to become increasingly supportive of its
religious, ethnic and linguistic brethren in
Azerbaijan. "We have a Turkish nation feeling the same
sentiments as the Azerbaijanis," said one Turkish
official in 1992. "We are under pressure. Our
newspapers are full of the photos of atrocities and
are asking us if we are still serious about
pursuing our neutral policy. Maybe we should show
Armenia that there's a big Turkey in the region."
President Turgut Ozal agreed, remarking that Turkey
should at least "scare the Armenians a little bit."
Turkey, Ozal threatened again in 1993, would
"show its fangs." Turkish Air Force jets flew
reconnaissance flights along the Armenian border; Turkey
suspended food shipments and air flights to
Armenia; and Turkey and Iran announced they would not
accept dismemberment of Azerbaijan. In the last
years of its existence, the Soviet government
supported Azerbaijan because its government was
dominated by former communists. With the end of the
Soviet Union, however, political considerations
gave way to religious ones. Russian troops fought on
the side of the Armenians, and Azerbaijan accused
the "Russian government of turning 180 degrees"
toward support for Christian Armenia.

Third, with respect to the fighting in the former
Yugoslavia, Western publics manifested sympathy
and support for the Bosnian Muslims and the
horrors they suffered at the hands of the Serbs.
Relatively little concern was expressed, however, over
Croatian attacks on Muslims and participation in
the dismemberment of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the
early stages of the Yugoslav breakup, Germany, in
an unusual display of diplomatic initiative and
muscle, induced the other II members of the
European Community to follow its lead in recognizing
Slovenia and Croatia. As a result of the pope's
determination to provide strong backing to the two
Catholic countries, the Vatican extended
recognition even before the Community did. The United
States followed the European lead. Thus the leading
actors in Western civilization rallied behind
their coreligionists. Subsequently Croatia was
reported to be receiving substantial quantities of arms
from Central European and other Western
countries. Boris Yeltsin's government, on the other hand,
attempted to pursue a middle course that would be
sympathetic to the Orthodox Serbs but not
alienate Russia from the West. Russian conservative and
nationalist groups, however, including many
legislators, attacked the government for not being
more forthcoming in its support for the Serbs. By
early 1993 several hundred Russians apparently were
serving with the Serbian forces, and reports
circulated of Russian arms being supplied to Serbia.

Islamic governments and groups, on the other
hand, castigated the West for not coming to the
defense of the Bosnians. Iranian leaders urged Muslims
from all countries to provide help to Bosnia; in
violation of the U.N. arms embargo, Iran supplied
weapons and men for the Bosnians;
Iranian-supported Lebanese groups sent guerriuas to train and
organize the Bosnian forces. In I993 uP to 4,000
Muslims from over two dozen Islamic countries were
reported to be fighting in Bosnia. The
governments of Saudi Arabia and other countries felt under
increasing pressure from fundamentalist groups in
their own societies to provide more vigorous
support for the Bosnians. By the end of 1992, Saudi
Arabia had reportedly supplied substantial funding
for weapons and supplies for the Bosnians, which
significantly increased their military
capabilities vis-a-vis the Serbs.

In the 1930s the Spanish Civil War provoked
intervention from countries that politically were
fascist, communist and democratic. In the 1990s the
Yugoslav conflict is provoking intervention from
countries that are Muslim, Orthodox and Western
Christian. The parallel has not gone unnoticed.
"The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina has become the
emotional equivalent of the fight against fascism in
the Spanish Civil War," one Saudi editor observed.
"Those who died there are regarded as martyrs who
tried to save their fellow Muslims."

Conflicts and violence will also occur between
states and groups within the same civilization.
Such conflicts, however, are likely to be less
intense and less likely to expand than conflicts
between civilizations. Common membership in a
civilization reduces the probability of violence in
situations where it might otherwise occur. In 1991 and
1992 many people were alarmed by the possibility
of violent conflict between Russia and Ukraine
over territory, particularly Crimea, the Black Sea
fleet, nuclear weapons and economic issues. If
civilization is what counts, however, the
likelihood of violence between Ukrainians and Russians
should be low. They are two Slavic, primarily
Orthodox peoples who have had close relationships with
each other for centuries. As of early 1993,
despite all the reasons for conflict, the leaders of
the two countries were effectively negotiating and
defusing the issues between the two countries.
While there has been serious fighting between
Muslims and Christians elsewhere in the former Soviet
Union and much tension and some fighting between
Western and Orthodox Christians in the Baltic
states, there has been virtually no violence between
Russians and Ukrainians.

Civilization rallying to date has been limited,
but it has been growing, and it clearly has the
potential to spread much further. As the conflicts
in the Persian Gulf, the Caucasus and Bosnia
continued, the positions of nations and the cleavages
between them increasingly were along
civilizational lines. Populist politicians, religious leaders
and the media have found it a potent means of
arousing mass support and of pressuring hesitant
governments. In the coming years, the local
conflicts most likely to escalate into major wars will be
those, as in Bosnia and the Caucasus, along the
fault lines between civilizations. The next world
war, if there is one, will be a war between
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