As the former new year draws to a close and we remember those who have died, let us recall Samuel Huntington and his 15 year old essay “Clash of Civilizations”:

WORLD POLITICS IS entering a new phase, and intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate visions of what it will be — the end of history, the return of traditional rivalries between nation states, and the decline of the nation state from the conflicting pulls of tribalism and globalism, among others. Each of these visions catches aspects of the emerging reality. Yet they all miss a crucial, indeed a central, aspect of what global politics is likely to be in the coming years.

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 be the battle lines of the future.
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 Meghreb to Pakistan that the struggle for a new world order will begin.” Bernard Lewis comes to a regular conclusion:

We are facing a need 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.

While you are at it, General Victor Krulak’s 1969 speech to the U.S. Naval Institute has some pith to it -“What in the hell has happened to the United States of America?” he asks.

Something is certainly wrong. We’re a nation with resources beyond measure and form of government that has brought us to historic eminence. But we’re a nation in trouble. What has happened to the United States of America? We see thousands of citizens whose stock in trade is disunity and lawlessness, thousands who preach hatred for our government system and clamor for free speech for themselves, and thousands who insist that their country owes them a living.
What has become of the United States of America?

Men who cry out for black power or white power or brown power, with never a word about truth power or the power of a free nation. Elementary school teachers appear to be far more obsessed with sex education but are quite willing to send on youngsters who don’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution or the Bill of Rights and who don’t care.
National legislators, professors and students who condemn our forces fighting for their lives in combat for fighting too hard; who insist that the route to greatness is somehow to be found in surrender; who are prepared to risk our Nation’s destiny on the Utopian gamble that by weakening ourselves we can somehow enhance the likelihood of peace around the world.
…What is wrong with the United States of America?

Let me give you my judgment. I believe it has to do with . . . a passive unwillingness on the part of the vast bulk of our people to stand up and be counted; to fight for what is right and to correct what is wrong.
. . .Today we see an extraordinary lack of purpose and an even greater lack of resolution in our people. While the majority of Americans remain silent, we find vocal minorities of our people exerting inordinate – and often dangerous – influence on our country’s affairs.

Having no visible frontiers to conquer, they grope around for emotional causes. They find satisfaction in deprecating our own progress, ignoring our own strength, attacking our own institutions, while giving inordinate respect to the philosophy and conduct of our potential enemies. And they are being allowed to get away with it by a passive majority.

The fact is, this is a great country. Our system . . . is a good system. It’s the success story of the modern age. Nowhere, in all the nooks and crannies of history, is there a record of anything better. anything as good, let alone better.
What is needed – what is needed desperately today – is for the great mass of silent America to come out of its shell and acknowledge publicly and openly what they already know – that ours is a great, a dynamic and a successful country, that the ragings of those who condemn our system are just plain false.

Now, above all, is no time for people whose work has brought our country to greatness to be silent or uncertain.

Over a generation ago, Calvin Coolidge said, “Doubters do not achieve, skeptics do not contribute, cynics do no create.”

The 20th century is certainly a battlefield. Of this there can be no doubt. And to win the battle of the 20th century, our country can afford no doubters, can afford no skeptics, and no cynics.

While in his speech, General Krulak was referring to the threat posed by totalitarian states and he had not seen yet the fall of the Soviet Union nor China’s “new way”, his call to defend American/Western values sounds the same warning bell that Professor Huntington was ringing.
And the same warning perhaps urged by Burke,

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”


Posted by Mark Tempest in History, Homeland Security

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • Dee Illuminati

    In some respects I agree with you. But what can be said of a debtor nation? What can be said of a nation that doesn’t see it as a core responsibility to become energy independent?

    I agree with the assertion that cultures win conflicts and succeed or fail. It is not by accident that languages perish, that writtings and spoken words of long ago no longer exist, that once powerful institutions have vanished and new ones emerge.

    One need only look at the greek pantheon of Gods, later Roman Gods, and the books of Greek, Latin, and finally reformation English to see how societies fall or succeed.

    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (Hardcover)
    by Jared Diamond answers many of the questions that you inquire about.

    I think if you read the book you will see that the trade paterns of running deficeits, reliance upon foreign sources of energy, expenditures of resources on unnecessary war is part of the reason why there is a sense of something is not right expressed by some.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

    I agree to that statement and never buy into the noble savage theory of projecting some admirable attribute to the savage. That said, how is it that as the greatest nation at the apogee of our power we insist that we project our will upon others prior to first looking at ourselves as the first source of a solution?

    Why have we not had the political will to do the right things in our own conduct? Why is it that our society seems to feel that we have an un-earned entitlement to be that debtor nation, to run the trade imbalance, to become dependent on the society that we recognize as our challenge?

    Who is to blame besides oursleves and why not be cynical when it is suggested by some that all our problems can be solved by changing the behavior of others to meet our foolish and selfish behavior?

    Make no mistake about it, I never subscribe to the blame America first crowd. But lets get honest, as far as starting here at home and changing behavior we can do more to strengthen our society allot less expensive and intelligently than embarking on a crusade waving the flag of secular mercantalism or religion.

    Is it our culture’s goal to export these irresponsible behaviors? Are we stating to the rest of the globe, heh life is one big punchbowl and we will clean up the drunken mess tomorrow??

    Is it not sad that the authors of the financial dissaster on wall street, the damages inflicted upon this culture are inflicted by those whom are to be the stewards of the society? Did any attack on NYC rival in damages what Wall Street managed to do to itself?

    The real litmus of individual power is not the power over another but self-control over oneself.

    The greatest challenges that western society faces are not from outside or Islam, nor are the greatest challenges Iran for example faces from the Christian west. I assure you that the greatest threat that Iran faces is itself, it’s inability to take the commanding heights (see PBS) of the economy and make good with those challenges with what it has, it’s geatest asset, it’s people. Similarly a bailout of Detroit will fail, we simply don’t make the product competitively on global markets and have capitulated that commanding height and damaged our society as a consequence of that fact.

    The argument that we can move past all of these challenges with some emotive flag waving, unity, and ignore the lump/pile of dirt swept under the carpet is ridiculous.

    Yeah let me tell you.. the fools in Gaza are going yada, yada, yada, and preaching drinking the koolaid when becoming educated and influential as innovators and manufacturers instead would have served the cause better.

    Maybe wetsern society ought to look damn hard in the mirror and decide if that image is valid? Maybe some dieting and working out is what is needed by this society instead of simply proclaiming what great shape we’re in.

    Yeah.. we are still the best, still the beacon, but that is like saying that we won a race as the others didn’t bother to compete. And intellectually that argument is like the special olympics, it doesn’t make you a winner.

    If anything the loss of jobs, evaporation of logistical capability to keep troops in the field, technical erosion in readiness and a narrowing of tactical technical advantage in the field should wake us up as a society to look inward first for the solutions.

    The people are flag waving and drinking the koolaid in Gaza, and if the resources, technical, and manufacturing were present, might have a chance.

    We in closing have two cultural nemesis, oursleves and others. The “other” will always be there.. I suggest in 2009 we clean our own house before cleaning the neighborhood.

    If we don’t get our energy addiction and dependence solved all the flag waving and koolaid drinking is to no avail.

    What scares me is that faced with really bad circumstances and no real hope.. it is the koolaid drinkers who seem to emerge long after good men stood silent instead of saying, the king has no clothes, is fat, lazy, selfish, and dependent on others.. and he oughta damn side do something about.. Long Live the King.

    I hope you weren’t expecting a bump, bump, bump, freeper style.. I don’t do no stinking koolaid