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Huntington underestimated the hegemony of states over civilisations.Governments can shamelessly exploit religious sensibilities, but for many their interests lie elsewhere.A civilisation was defined by its culture and its tradition, he claimed, but even more so by religion, and the clash of cultures, he predicted, would have its most profound impact in the divisions it would create between the West and Islam.
Huntington's thesis seemed likely to be vindicated in 2001.
Al Qaeda terrorists have never been the representatives of traditional Islam, however, but rather the rootless adherents of an Islamic tinged Western nihilism.
In general, this thinking in terms of blocs is incompatible with today's interconnected world in which even rival nations such as the US and China are heavily dependent on one another.
Of course, the most telling evidence that Huntington got it wrong is provided by the fact that the culture clash between his rival blocs has failed to materialise.
Quote from "The Clash of Civilizations": "The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism.
It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power." Pictured: A former Taliban fighter who joined Afghan government forces Elsewhere, particularly in countries with young populations, religious belief is likely to foment violence for a long time to come, and the terror committed in the name of God is not going to disappear either.They divide Sunnis from Shiites, the secular from the religious, the military from the civilian, the rebel from the democrat, and the bureaucrats from the Facebook revolutionaries.This is as true for the Middle East or Pakistan as it is for the Parisian suburbs.Or is it just another form of the age old xenophobia and distrust only too familiar to illegal Latino immigrants in the US?Does the fact that Turkey has – rightly – remained an EU candidate not in itself refute the notion of a clash?A clash of civilisations, or just another form of xenophobia?Rather than acknowledge this, however, irresponsible politicians in Europe have been all too ready to act as if they were preparing to defend the West against a Muslim invasion, all the while issuing dark mutterings about "Eurabia" and the supposed threat posed by headscarves and minarets.Today, twenty years after the publication, it is time to recognise that the "Clash" thesis was simply wrong.Even in 1993 the assumptions upon which it was based were rather dubious. 20th century bloc thinking Huntington's idea is very much of its time – the 20th century.It is likely that all those for whom the global markets remain elusively out of reach, or those who consider them as decadent, will continue to turn to violence in the future.It is also likely that the violence will get worse as weapons, poisons and viruses become easier to get hold of. Osama bin Laden may have liked to see himself as the avenger of all the wrongs perpetrated against Muslims, but he never succeeded in unifying the Muslims between Morocco and Indonesia far less mould them into a geo-strategic power.