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IAF Editorials
Are We in a Clash of Civilizations?
Comments (1)

When one speaks of the clash of civilizations, most tend to refer to the West, being America and Western Europe, and the Middle East, depending on one’s view, this region stretches from Morocco to as far as Pakistan, but all will agree that it does include the Arab countries. Whether one considers it as the Arabs versus the Europeans, or the Crusaders verses the forces of Islam, this is the clash that most are referring. The question isn’t whether a clash is inevitable because it is already happening. Not only is it going on right now, one could say that it never stopped. From the media, to the atmosphere in streets of the West and the Arab world, one can see the tension and mistrust of each other. If you check the history books, these two groups have been fighting each other for at least 3000 years. The real question is how to stop this clash of civilizations. First thing is first. There is a clash of civilizations going on right now between the West, and the Islamic world, more importantly, America and the Middle East. America is considered to be the leader of the West, and countries like Iran and groups such as Al Qaeda have been labeled the main enemy. The fact that Islamic terrorist have been planning and have succeeded in attacking Western interests proves that there is a war going on. The tensions in the Islamic streets as well as by the Arabs and Muslims in the Western nations show the clash that is going on right now. The most blatant is the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, these are all part of the War on Terror, the name of this war. In this war there are different strategies at play here. Just because there isn’t a severe war of destruction like World War 2, or the use of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons have not been used (yet?), doesn’t mean there isn’t total war going on. In ancient times, eastern groups such as the Hittites, and the Persians occupied the southern area of Europe. They claimed that they had the better civilization and imposed their way of life on them. They were the superpower of their time and the most advanced. Along with this conquering comes a rise in the areas of science and technology. When the Greeks invaded the Middle East, they imposed their will on the people. The Greeks claimed that they had the better civilization and that they were going to civilize the area into one great harmony. Not only did they conquer the land, but the advancement of science and technology increases as well. They then became the new superpower. Later, it would be the Romans to conquer the Middle East, and their message was the same: “My way of life is better than yours and you must be civilized”. Rome was seen as the great super power of their time and the most advanced. When the Arabs gained power they would also use this same principal. The most popular clash of civilizations is the war of the Crusades. There were numbers of crusades led by Europe to Christianize the Middle East. If you check the history books, the Europeans say the Crusades started in the 800’s C.E., yet the Arabs place it around 1020 C.E. Until this date, the Arabs saw the invading crusaders as an inconvenient border skirmish. During the Crusades, the message would still be the same. Again the same rhetoric would be said “My way of life is better than yours, assimilate to my way of life.” In every battle, the technology and spoils of the civilization would be used to move their current society forward. Then the Great War, or World War 1, happened. After this war, the West, or European countries would again occupy the Middle East. They again would say that their way of life was more superior. At this time even until today, it has been the West that has had the most civilized society, while the Islamic states degraded back to a third world status. When Israel was granted independence, it was seen as the Europeans claiming land as they had done in the Crusades. Since most of the Jews were of European, being victims of the holocaust and Russian programs, it was as if Europe had conquered their region. Today the situation has still not changed. Although America is not Europe, they are seen in the same category, namely the West. With the Islamic world, we are known to use terms as Islamic fascists, jihadists, or Al Qaeda. The labels have changed but the play is still the same. There are those in the Middle East who feel that just as they tried to Christianize the region in the middle Ages, the West is trying to impose its way of life on them again by democratizing the region. This rhetoric has been used repeatedly throughout the United States that we must spread democracy to the world. It has been widely stated that freedom or democracies, are superior and the rhetoric of the United States is that the Arab states should be more democratic. Once again this is the same old rhetoric of “My way of life is better than yours and you must assimilate.” Al Qaeda has the same principal. They believe that Islam is superior and that they should be running the global hemisphere. Every time the wars get more brutal and devastating. Now we are in a clash of civilizations that include the possible use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The whole world is at risk, just like the Cold War, simply because the Middle East and the West can’t get along. The real questions to be asked are: How will this all end, when will this all end, and what will it look like?

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Wed, April 07, 2010 12:12 PM (about 117952 hours ago)
That is a nice, thought-provoking op-ed piece. Thank you. One thing I would like to point out though is that the clash of civilization can also involve economics, which entails nowadays cyber attacks upon corporate computers (let alone personal ones) that can have crippling affects on sectors of an economy (and even the whole economy). As cyber attackers are getting more sophisticated with our ever increasing inter-connected modes of communication (internet, mobile, etc.), then the possibility of this happening is even more plausible (especially when nationalism, religion, and/or poverty are factored in). A dangerous propect indeed.

David A. Hollingsworth
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