The Conflict between Civilizations

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Our planet has been involved in more battles in recent history than at any other point in history. Based on recent wars that have erupted in the last few decades, such as those in the Middle East, civil wars in African nations, the Arab Spring, and the War on Terrorism, it is unmistakable that we are in a fragile landscape. Various facets of human progress have led to the increase of violence around the world over the millennia. Common themes include economy, climate change, and politics. However, it is worth noting to indicate that conflicts are dissimilar with their particular history as well as reasons. As globalization proliferation continues, the world politics is entering a new phase with nations highlighting various viewpoints that do not coincide with those of other countries (Bottici & Challand, 2013). Consequently, these results in conflicting pull grounded on culture, tribalism, and globalism. This can be illustrated by War on Terrorism, which many believe is a fault line between the Western and Islamic civilization. In this regard, based on the historical analysis of terrorism, the following essay seeks to show that conflict between civilizations is the latest phase of evolution of conflict in the modern world as insinuated by Professor Huntington.

The history of terrorism

The history of terrorism is as old as the history of human beings. In particular, many centuries back, people used violence to cause political unrest. In the first-century, Sicarri a Jewish group murdered enemies and collaborators of the Roman rulers as a way of ousting them from Judea. However, this could not be described as the origin of the modern terrorism. In particular, modern terrorism began in the late 18th Century as non-state terrorism. In this case, people would use various means to ensure that they destabilize their country. In most cases, people would use terrorism to destabilize dictatorship. In this perspective, people would employ the use of terrorism as a civilized method of achieving the quest for democracy. For example, the French revolution of 18th Century was clear illustration of how people used civilization to transform the country from monarchy to liberal democracy. The French revolution of 1789 can be categorized as Western Civilization (Popkin, 2016). In essence, individuals who were fighting for liberal democracy in French revolution used unlawful violence and intimidation to establish a new political rule, which is generally termed as terrorism. Thus, this is termed as a conflict between civilizations but instigated within a country. By then, characterization of terrorism was state action used in a civilized way. In this regard, conflict of civilization was also apparent in the Ancient Times as well as in the 17th-19th Century as demonstrated by the Sicarri and French revolution respectively.

Before the end of the Cold War

Before the end of the Cold War, the conflict between civilizations was apparent. Previously, the ideological and economic conflict played a huge role in the development of conflicts. In particular, ideology was the most dominant in most of the societies and gave rise to state conflicts such as one witnessed in First World War as well as Second World War. After the conflict between ideologists, there was a rise of non-state terrorism (Hendrikson, 1996). Non-state terrorism became more apparent in the late 1950s where flowering ethnic nationalism gave rise to what can be termed as civilized instigated conflict. For instance, the Irish used Irish Republican Army used terrorism to liberate themselves from being a part of the larger Great Britain. Further, countries that have a large number of people with different civilization have witnessed cases of conflict because of this civilization. For instance, the former USSR collapsed because of civilization. Moreover, the conflict in Yugoslavia was caused by civilization. Other countries with mixed population have experienced some division due to non-uniformity of their culture. For instance, Turkey has trained to transform itself to align with Western countries thus moving away from its culture. This has recently caused mayhem in the country leading to the failed coup. Thus, the conflict between civilizations has been eminent between non-states.

After the Cold War

After the cold war, the nature of terrorism transformed itself to be state terrorism. In particular, the 9/11 shaped conflict between civilizations as anticipated Huntington. In particular, the world that followed later has provided a room for critical insight into the civilization approach anticipated by Huntington. The clash between the US-led wars on terrorism gave a limelight to rise of conflict between the Islam and Western Civilization (Hendrikson, 1996). In fact, many scholars views the portrayal of post-9/11 Afghanistan as an avenue for a clash between civilizations. In fact, Huntington’s definition of the term civilization has played a vital role in influencing and shaping the rhetoric of the war of terrorism. In this perspective, the existence of different civilization in the globe with different immutable characteristics has led to major clashes. This theory has gained credibility in the midst of the war on terrorism and the aftermath of 9/11. To have a clear understanding, it would be vital to indicate that the 9/11 was a war between Islamic vs. the Western World. The attack of 9/11 was orchestrated by Islamic terrorists who were vocal in support of religious justification. Thus, the whole idea of civilization as argued by Huntington became more apparent than it was previously (Huntington, 2011). Therefore, it would be irrefutable to indicate that the war on terror is a clear indication of conflict between civilizations as insinuated by Professor Huntington.

The rise of ISIS

The conflict between civilizations can also be explained by the rise of the ISIS. In fact, ISIS undoubtedly represents a threat to civilized values than any threat from Al Queda before and after the 9/11. To have a clear understanding of the threat posed by the ISIS in the midst of a class of civilization, it imperative to indicate that the clash between radical Sunnis and Shias escalated the conflict between civilizations. Moreover, the presence of western civilization in the Middle East escalated the proposed conflict between civilizations by Professor Huntington. In fact, the presence of Western Civilization in Middle East further presumed the assumptions made by Huntington on the conflict between civilizations. Another clear evidence that elucidates this key fact is the Israel-Gaza conflict between Hamas and the Jewish.

The world becoming a smaller place

The other explanation that can explain Huntington statement is that fact that the world is becoming a smaller place. In particular, the ever-increasing interactions between people are intensifying civilization consciousness thus creating awareness of the existing differences between cultures and religion. For instance, the immigration of people from various nationalities to France posed one of the main conflicts between civilizations. The Paris attack is a clear indication of the presumed conflict between civilizations is imminent. The ISIS claimed the Paris attack was a rejoinder to the campaign of France insult against the Prophet Muhammad. This argument was clearly voiced by the killers of Charlie Hebdo. In this perspective, it is clear that religion was one of the reasons behind the orchestrated Paris attack. Thus, civilization has a played a crucial role in the recent attack on French capital (Hussey, 2014). With the Pars attacks, ISIS has betrothed in an instigated campaign aimed at inflicting civilian casualties due to their stand as noted by the killing of Charlie Hebdo. Clearly, it adheres to Huntington presumption that the conflict between civilizations will be the next phase of conflict evolution in the modern world.


In conclusion, it is clear that the conflict between civilizations has become reality than it would have been anticipated. In this perspective, a theory proposed by Huntington has created a room to highlight the vital importance of norms as well as values in international relations. As highlighted from the key historical analysis of terrorism, it would be irrefutable to indicate that groups from different civilization will be more prevalent. In particular, the trend clearly gives a clear view indicating that conflict between civilizations will continue escalating. It is worth noting to indicate that the discussion is not advocating the desirability if conflicts between civilization. However, it is a more evocative discussion that focuses on how the future may look like. In summary, through historical analysis of terrorism, it would be irrefutable to say that Professor Huntington was right when he argues that conflict between civilizations will be the latest phase of conflict evolution in the modern world.


Bottici, C., & Challand, B. (2013). The myth of the clash of civilizations. Routledge.

Brooks, D. (2011). Opinion | Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations Revisited. Retrieved9 November 2017, from

Hendrikson, H. (1996). Summary of "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" | Beyond Intractability. Retrieved 9 November 2017, from

Huntington, S. (2011). The Clash of Civilizations?. Retrieved 9 November 2017, from

Huntington, S. P. (1993). The clash of civilizations?. Foreign affairs, 22-49.

Hussey, A. (2014). The French Intifada: the long war between France and its Arabs. Macmillan.

May 02, 2023
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