Huntington, Samuel - History

Samuel Huntington was born in Whindham, Connecticut in 1731. He received very little education as a child, and was apprenticed to a cooper by the age of sixteen. His desire to better himself lead him down a path of self-education, however, and he pursued legal studies on his own. In 1758 he won admittance to the bar and then went on to set up his own practice. Huntington prospered in his chosen field and became an important community leader.

Huntington became a member of Connecticut’s legislature in 1764. He was chosen for the position of King’s Attorney of the colony in 1765. By 1774 though, he had begun to sympathize with the Colonies and their frustrations with the Crown. He joined the Revolutionaries, and in 1776 he commenced his service as a delegate to the Continental Congress. His attendance soon became sporadic due to poor health though. Nevertheless, he acted as President of the National Congress from 1779-1781, and presided when the Articles of Confederation were adopted on March 1, 1781.

Later in life, Huntington continued to be active in Connecticut politics. He was appointed chief justice of the Superior Court in 1784. In 1785, he became Lieutenant Governor, and finally, in 1786, he became Governor. He held the latter position for the rest of his life. He died in 1796 at the age of sixty-five and was laid to rest in the Old Burial Ground.

Sam Huntington

Sam Huntington (born April 1, 1982) is an American actor. He is best known for his starring role as Josh Levison, a werewolf in the Syfy series Being Human, and for his role as Jimmy Olsen in the superhero film Superman Returns. For its two seasons from September 2015 to April 2017, Huntington had a recurring role on the Fox series Rosewood. [1] [2] He also played Mimi-Siku Cromwell in the Disney movie Jungle 2 Jungle. He played Ox in Not Another Teen Movie. He also had a cameo in the December 2017 USA Network TV-film Psych: The Movie.

Huntington, Samuel - History

The end of the Cold War was one of the most important events of the 20th century, which marked the beginning of a new era. In 1989, famous political scientist Francis Fukuyama, wrote an essay "The End of History?", the main focus of which was to argue about the developments that would take place in the post-Cold War world, as well as about the role of liberal democracy. In his paper he advocates liberal democracy, as the only legitimate type of government, and also supports the idea that by westernizing the world, conflicts based on ideology would cease to exist. Naturally his paper received both arguments in favour, as well as criticism. The most notable form of opposition his theory faced was from Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations?", an essay that was a direct response to Fukuyama's work. Huntington, being one of the most noteworthy political scientists, contradicted his former student's (Fukuyama's) theory, arguing that conflicts would continue to exist in the world, however they would be based more on cultural and religious basis. However, in order to understand Huntington's arguments, it is crucial to examine the theory of Fukuyama first.

Fukuyama starts off, by mentioning the conflict between the communism and democracy that was present throughout the Cold War . By indicating the loss of communism with the fall of an Iron Curtain, he sees liberal democracy as the winner in this ideological war. He draws parallel to Marx, arguing that while Marx viewed communism as the ultimate and final step in the evolution of government, it would turn on the contrary. Fukuyama sees the final form of government in liberal democracy, saying that it is the only way that would lead a country towards modernization. Therefore he argues that when the liberal democracy will spread in the whole world, conflicts will cease to exist and countries will live in harmony.

To support his arguments he references Marx, Hegel and Kojeve.He says that the concept of "The End of History" was originally created by Hegel. He explains that for Hegel history ceased in 1806 with Napoleon's defeat of the Prussian monarchy, while Marx considered that the end of history would come once communism would be successfully manifested. After that he proceeds to express his own opinion on the matter by arguing that the history will reach its final step when all the states become liberal democracies, when all countries will respect and treasure human rights. He then brings up the existence of so called "contradictions" that would usually become the basis of conflicts. However, he says that in the universal homogeneous state, all those contradictions are resolved and all human needs are satisfied.

Fukuyama, also tries to improve the weak points of materialist theories and support Hegel's idealism. At this point he states that the role of culture, ethnicity and other aspects are vital in order to understand the economic performance of countries.After which, he references Kojeve, saying that in order to understand processes of history, one must understand developments in the realm of consciousness or ideas. Therefore, he concludes that once the ideological development reaches its peak, the homogeneous state would emerge as the winner in the material world. After that Fukuyama proceeds to talk about ideologies that were posing a threat to liberal democracy.

He mentions both fascism and communism, two extreme opposite ideologies that have torn apart Europe during the 2nd World War. Fascism was defeated by communism at the end of WWII and therefore the latter became an enemy of liberal democratic ideology. For Marx liberal society posed a contradiction between the capital and labour, and therefore he thought that it would be inferior in comparison to communism. However, Fukuyama argues that this "contradiction" was resolved in the Western society, namely in the US. After that he brings the examples of both Japan and China to show how liberalism has reached and influenced those countries. Though, after examining the changes that took place in the USSR during Gorbachev's office (mainly his failed attempts to transform the Soviet Union into a more liberal country), he concludes that not all countries can reach liberal democracy at the same level.

Towards the end of his paper he wonders if there can be any serious challenges to the liberal democracy. Although Fukuyama states that both religion and nationalism can prove to be a challenge for liberalism, he rejects the idea that any of them could seriously oppose it. From his view, liberal societies were born as a result of religious societies being weak, and therefore they would not be able to replace liberal democracies. As for nationalism, while he acknowledges that it could theoretically pose a threat should it evolve into its extreme form (as in case with the Nazi Germany), he neglects the practical possibility of it qualifying as an ideology, unless it has a "systematic form". Despite saying that liberal democracy will become an instrument that will lead a world towards peace, he admits that ethnicity- and nationality-based conflicts would still appear in future, but they would not evolve into a large-scaled one. In the very last paragraph he says that the new era will be "boring" as all the ideological and philosophical clashes would be replaced by the "economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands".

After looking into Francis Fukuyama's thesis, it is necessary to see the criticism expressed in Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations?".In his essay, Huntington argues that after the end of ideological warfare, conflicts will be based on factors that define civilizations. First, he starts by briefly explaining the stages of conflicts, beginning with conflicts between monarchies, followed by the conflict of nationalism, ideological conflicts of XX century and finally the "conflict of civilizations". This way he indirectly (yet clearly) opposes Fukuyama's view on the post-Cold War era. Huntington claims that the conflicts of religion, ethnicity, culture and nations will resume and become the final stage of confrontation. He then proceeds to talk about the role of civilizations and its meaning as a concept.

As author points out, civilizations are based on set of identities, which creates self-awareness within people. He says that a citizen of Rome would have several layers of identity, such as:"a Roman, an Italian, a Catholic, a Christian, a European, a Westerner". He also uses this example to show that civilizations are dynamic concepts that constantly shape throughout history. Based on those levels of identity, it is possible to see whether the civilization includes several nation states (e.g. Western Civilization) or a single one (e.g. Japanese). In the next section, he explains why conflict between civilizations is inevitable.

In his essay he points out that the important part about civilizations is that they have basic and clear differences. Those differences being based on historical, religious, ethnical factors are "products of centuries" , that would not cease to exist easily. Furthermore he argues that those factors are much stronger than any ideological or political distinctions, therefore in the new age there would be conflicts that would be far prolonged and brutal than the ideological one. He brings another set of argument to support his view on clash of civilizations. As Fukuyama, he recognizes the importance of globalization, and agrees that the world has indeed become a "small place". But if Fukuyama sees globalisation as a way of spreading ideas of free market and liberal democracy, that would ultimately bring countries together , Huntington sees them as catalysts that would create sparks of conflict and inequality amongst different cultures. He points out that civilizations will be forced to compete against one another, in order to maintain their distinctive identity.

When it comes to these already mentioned factors important for defining one's identity, Huntington believes religion to be the most important one. He makes a remark saying that religion, more than ethnicity "discriminates sharply and exclusively" amongst people. Even if a person is of a mixed ethnicity, or able to successfully integrate into the foreign community, it would be "more difficult to be Calf-Catholic and Half-Muslim" . He also sees religion (unlike Fukuyama ) a serious threat to the liberal democracy. He argues that the emergence of fundamentalism in a form of radical Islam is the reaction that followed the spread of Western/liberal values. Huntington views those two ideologies to be opposites of each other like (liberal against non-liberal ones) and therefore predicts that in future thosetwo would antagonise each other, resulting in a clash of cultural values.

The most important argument against Fukuyama is Huntington's scepticism towards the process of Westernization. For Francis Fukuyama, as mentioned earlier, progress and development of countries is synonymous to the process of Westernization. Huntington not only claims that this assumption is incorrect, but also views it "arrogant" for the West to consider its values to be universal. He brings examples of countries such as Russia, China and several Middle Eastern countries, as examples of those civilizations that view liberal values of democracy, freedom of expression, free markets, equality and other standards not only foreign but also as potential threats that target their own identity. Plus he also argues that forcefully imposing Western values that have not originated in other countries is a spread of "human rights imperialism". This very practice, according to him, would cause a serious backlash, resulting into a conflict between Western and non-Western World.

By examining Francis Fukuyama's ideas in his essay, "The End of History?", as well as viewing Samuel Huntington's criticism, it would seem that neither of political scientists are absolutely correct. Major flaw in Fukuyama's theory is that he also neglects the role of ethnicities and religion as a threat to his vision of a world order, which as we see today do actually pose as a serious challenge for liberal world. Apart from that he believes that in order for countries to reach the development they need to accept liberal values and undergo the process of Westernization, which as Huntington argued (as well as nowadays history shows) is not exactly true. Finally, his statement that the new world order would be based only on economical calculations and technical problems, contradicts today's reality. The major problem with Huntington's ideas is that, he views the new era in grim colours, stating that conflict between cultures, religions and ethnicities would be inevitable in the reality of a new political order. He overlooks, however that the interactions between the civilizations would not always result in a conflict, as many issues can be overcome through peaceful means such as trade and economic relations, just as Fukuyama states. Therefore it seems that while both of theories have flaws, together by fulfilling each other's weak and strong points they do actually describe the reality of the modern world order.

More Comments:

Daniel B. Larison - 5/9/2004

I will be the first to admit that I find Prof. Huntington's conception of American history to be based very heavily on the Puritanical and Whig influences, which makes his conception of American identity obsessively ideological and anti-traditional. If his idea of the Anglo-Protestant core, which is fine in itself as an historic identity, means a kind of Whig justification of the consolidation of the American state under northern Anglo-Saxon Protestants, then there is no need for anyone to pay much attention to it. To the extent that it sounds a necessary alarm to the undue influence of corporations and their inextricable links with government expansion and foreign interventions, as well as the immigration crisis, then it is long overdue.

The concerns he raises about the mass immigration of Latin Americans and the proximity of Mexico making this process different from all those before it are legitimate and reasonable, though it may be that Prof. Huntington does a poor job developing them. I don't know about the details of his argument. I do know that the LA Times has been running hostile reviews of his Foreign Policy article and now his book in advance of their release in an attempt to brand the mere discussion of these topics as racism.

Mr. Sleeper's treatment of this book, which very few people have yet read, is not very informative. He sets up a dichotomy of concern about multinationals and immigration as if they were all that different, when they are two sides of the same coin. Multinationals that owe no particular allegiance to the United States are only too happy to push the cheap labour that mass immigration brings. The multinationals' influence in government and their lack of concern for the well-being of this country are directly tied to the government's indifference in combating mass illegal immigration. It is their hand, as much as anyone else's, that is behind the efforts to obtain an amnesty for illegal immigrants. In turn, mass immigration creates the political dynamic of new voting blocs to continually support the welfare-warfare state, as virtually all immigrant groups have done since mass immigration and government consolidation first appeared in this country.

As the population becomes less attached to the constitutional republican heritage with each new wave of immigration (as it has done since the 1840s), imperial interventionism, especially for dubiously 'progressive' purposes, becomes more acceptable, and the sons of immigrants will fill the ranks of the imperial forces in order to prove their loyalty to their new regime. At some point, immigration is not a process in which new peoples come to become part of the old America, but where new peoples are incorporated into the effort to eradicate the old America by the denationalised elite of which Prof. Huntington correctly speaks. Empires of old understood this all too well: use uprooted peoples, who want to integrate into the state, to smash institutions and populations that resisted consolidation.

This is where Huntington's emphasis on the Anglo-Protestant heritage misses the point: it has been the Anglo-Protestants, especially from the Northeast, who have been the leading edge of stripping America of any particular ethnic, cultural or historic meaning. As Mr. Sleeper suggests, products of that elite are perfectly happy to do the work of multinationals and the Mexican government these elites have no sense of identity outside of abstract platitudes, and so they come to believe that America is nothing but a gigantic platitude. To the extent that Prof. Huntington cannot imagine an American identity without linking it to political institutions and theory, he belongs to the same elite he simply happens to dislike what his fellows have wrought.

The power of multinationals, frequent interventionism and mass immigration are the trifecta of American deracination and deconstruction of national identity. Mr. Sleeper cannot begin to grasp the interrelations of these phenomena, or if he does he does not see fit to explore them. It seems that he cannot offer much other than snide remarks in his criticism of the book.

Daniel B. Larison - 5/9/2004

Personally, I don't expect very good history from HNN, and Mr. Sleeper does not change my opinion of the quality of historically-informed commentary on this site. The 1917 intervention to which he was referring had nothing to do with democracy or the imposition of it (just as Wilson's intervention in the San Domingo had nothing to do with anything except fending off a supposed German influence in the Caribbean and securing the interests of American sugar men). I seem to recall that there was a third Mexican intervention under Wilson, but I can't be sure.

Wilson supported Pancho Villa's enemies in Mexico City during the revolution/civil war Villa made his little raid on Columbus, which provoked Gen. Pershing's completely futile punitive expedition. If Mr. Sleeper thinks that old Blackjack was down there to give the Mexicans democracy, then perhaps he is not the most qualified person to tell us about the realities along our southern border and in our border states. So the charge of inaccuracy is entirely justified, albeit not for quite the reasons Mr. Socolow suggested.

Mike Socolow - 5/4/2004

Mr. Sleeper writes of "Woodrow Wilson's disastrous, humiliating efforts to impose "democracy," Iraq-like, in Mexico in 1917 [?]"

Is he referring to the Tampico Incident of 1914? When US soldiers occupied Veracruz?

One expects a little better from the History News Network (but not necessarily the Los Angeles Times).

Books: Is Samuel Huntington Right?

Mr. Farrell is a graduate of the University of Washington History Department and an HNN intern.

HNN: You concluded your talk noting that in many ways Islam is a"Western Civilization" and is possibly more"Western" than what Huntington calls"the West." Can you explain that?

Stacey: It depends, of course, on how you define West. Western Europeans, at least since the Renaissance, have liked to see themselves as the direct cultural heirs of Greece and Rome. So Greece and Rome constitute"Westernness" in a sense. I think one sees this in the way Western Civilization books are traditionally written. You start with the Sumerians, who are not in Europe, then you go to Egypt, not in Europe, then you go to the Hebrews, a people whose land is not in Europe, then you jump to Greece and then to Rome and then to the European Middle ages, then to the Renaissance, the Reformation, Modern Europe, the"discovery" of the New World, then on to the 21st century. Why is it that Western is not geographically Western, at least until after the break up of the Roman Empire? I think what it represents is a very arbitrary definition of"Westernness," in which we define certain values we agree with, then locate those ideas in Greece and Rome, while picking out certain other, earlier civilizations (like Sumeria, or Egypt) as"honorary Western civilizations," because they invented cities, and writing, and the wheel, and"the West" is also a land of cities, and writing, and wheels. But where is Islam, where is Byzantium in this picture? I would argue that if you start with a definition of"Westernness" as being represented by the Mediterranean world of antiquity, then both Islam and Byzantium take far more from those Greek and Roman, Mediterranean traditions than does this Western European world. And that Byzantium and Islam have also remained in many ways truer to those traditions than has Western Europe. So to claim a particular mantle of"Westernness" for Western Europe, if we define"Western" as meaning"from the Greco-Roman, Mediterranean cultural world of antiquity," is unwarranted.

HNN: Huntington argues that Islam is and has been a different culture from that of"the West." Your conclusion is that this idea is fundamentally wrong. Why?

Stacey: There is no question that the Islamic world and the European world have developed in different ways over the course of the last 1400 years. But my point is that both Islam and Europe, together of course with Byzantium, are all Western civilizations and that this" clash of cultures" talk, that presumes that these three civilizations have nothing in common, is fundamentally misleading. It presumes a teleology in which Western Europe is the anointed heir of the Greek and Roman world of antiquity, and that other Mediterranean civilizations, like Islam or Byzantium, are somehow on the side of that"western" tradition, whereas in fact, it is European civilization which is the"oddball." Both Byzantium and Islam took far more from the Greco-Roman world of antiquity than did Western Europe.

HNN: Those differences are the sort of evidence that Huntington points to as the reason that our cultures will clash. Do you see that as a true statement, or do you think that our histories are inextricably linked and that we really aren't that different?

Stacey: I'm much closer to the second view. We are very different, but our differences in the historical span of time are relatively recent. By and large, they have arisen in the past 300 to 400 years. That is not a long time when you are talking about millennia.

The reason I feel so strongly about this is because Huntington's view presumes a gulf which is unbridgeable between"Islam" and"Europe" --or as he would prefer, between"Islam" and"the West." I don't believe that such a gulf exists. I believe that so many of the things we share with the Islamic world, because we are both Western Civilizations, are so much more fundamental than are the differences that have grown up between us over the past 300 to 400 years.

Monotheism, for example. This is one of the fundamental characteristics of western civilizations. This is in some ways a mixed blessing, insofar as the western monotheisms -- Judaism, Islam, and Christianity -- have tended to be pretty intolerant of all other religions, including each other. But it does render all three of these"sister civilizations" very close relatives indeed.

The traditional linkages between religion and politics in these three civilizations are another key similarity we share. In Western Europe and America, we can easily overlook this, because since the 17th century we have tended to think we can and should distinguish the political realm from the religious realm. But this is a very modern view, and one with which we continue to struggle even in Europe and America. Look at the debates over the Christian Coalition's activities over the past 20-25 years. There is a substantial segment of the American population that believes government does have a role to play in regulating social morality, and that social morality must necessarily have a religious foundation. That's not so very different from the Islamic outlook on the world (recognizing, of course, that within the Islamic world there is substantial diversity and disagreement on this issue also).

The other thing that annoys me about Huntington's approach here is that to talk as he does is to presume that there are these two cultural monoliths out there, one of them being"Western Europe and America," the other being"Islam." Clearly this is not the case. My gosh, the biggest Islamic country in the world is Indonesia. Islam is a hugely diverse world, and the demands of Islam are understood very differently in different places within it. To presume, or imply, that Wahabbi Islam is the prototype for the Islamic world, so we'll compare Saudi Arabia with the United States, and so have a valid comparison between"Islam" and"the West," leads to enormous misunderstanding.

HNN: One critic of Huntington has argued that his thesis is little more than"politics masquerading as scholarship" and that he is searching for a new enemy for the U.S. following the break up of the Soviet Union. Do you agree or disagree with that assertion?

Stacey: I think that is probably too harsh. The fundamental fact about Huntington is that he is a political scientist and he's interested therefore in trying to generalize, to create models that will allow him to compare situations that are superficially similar. Historians tend to be inclined in the opposite intellectual direction. If the scholarly world divides between lumpers and splitters, historians tend to be splitters, they are inherently suspicious of generalizations. They always see a diversity of practice, a host of local circumstances. In a very general way, political scientists are trying to get above that level of specificity. So I think it's not surprising that historians would look at many of Huntington's ideas and say,"well, wait just a doggone minute here." I wouldn't want to impugn his motives. I can think he's wrong without thinking that he is moved by any base impulse to recreate the Cold War or whatever.

Huntington has been a somewhat controversial figure in political science over the years, not the least because he has tended to be a little more to the right of center than are most political scientists. But I would reject, so far as I can judge it, that he was motivated by politics.

HNN: But you've also argued that both Huntington and Bin Laden have dangerously striven to break the world into"us" vs."them," a black and white separation of the world. You argue that the reality is that the relationship has been more gray.

Stacey: I think it is still a gray area. I think we have to resist the ideologues on both sides who want to paint out the gray. I didn't vote for George W. Bush, but I will give him credit for trying to maintain that gray area. I think Bush has done a very nice job in not falling into this"us" against"them" rhetoric. But clearly this is what Bin Laden is about. Bin Laden is trying to rally the Muslim world around his cause by portraying the American retaliation against him as retaliation against all Muslims. And I think, unfortunately, that's the implication of Huntington's approach as well. It's to fold this campaign in with all the other campaigns that involved a Christian attack on a Muslim territory, so that it runs all the way back to the reconquista of Spain and the Crusades. I think this is profoundly dangerous as well as misleading. So, yes, although I'm not in any way implying that Huntington is a"Bin Laden" figure, the implication of his remarks are basically the same as Bin Laden's, with respect to their world views. And I think it's wrong, I think it's misleading, I think it's historically inaccurate.

Robert C. Stacey is chairman of the University of Washington History Department and Professor of Medieval Studies. He is also the co-author of a new version of the textbook Western Civilizations (W.W. Norton and Co.) that will be published next month.

Samuel P. Huntington is a professor of International Studies and former chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. He is one of the founders of Foreign Affairs and served as the Director of Security Planning for the National Security Council during the Carter Administration. Huntington is the author of numerous books and scholarly articles.


During this time the Articles of Confederation would be written and Huntington, being the President of the Continental Congress, would be the &ldquofirst president&rdquo of the United States. This is a mere technicality.

The Articles of Confederation was a weak government and it was not until the Constitution was written that there would be a President that was elected by the people.

The first President under the Constitution was George Washington.

In 1786 he was elected Governor of Connecticut. After the Articles of Confederation failed, the Constitution was ratified. Huntington aided Connecticut&rsquos ratification of the Constitution in 1788.

He would survive another 8 years as Connecticut&rsquos governor and die in office.

Frances Fukuyama’s “The End of History” and Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”

Section1: Quesiton1
When looking at the state of international relations in the post September 11th era, it is important to revisit influential arguments made by renowned political scientist in the past and see if they still apply today. Two theories, Frances Fukuyama’s “The End of History” and Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” have caused much debate in terms of their validity in this new era. While both theories emerged in the post-Cold War era, many try and fit them into the post 9-11 era.

This paper will look at the two theories and explain through analysis how they fail to apply to the current international system. In “The End of History” Fukuyama’s main argument essentially states that the end of the Cold War marks the end of history for “mankind’s ideological evolution” and that western liberal democracy is the “final form of human government.”1 There are two reasons why Fukuyama’s argument doesn’t work in the post 9-11 era. The first is the important in the rise of non-democratic capitalist sates and the second is the impact of radical Islam in the last six years.

Fukuyama’s thesis was written after the Cold War and is expressively pro-democracy. He believes that liberal democracies are the highest achievable form of government that cannot be superseded by a better form of government. However, the rise of capitalist non-democratic states, such as China and Russia in the post 9-11 era, are example of this not being the case. In his article “The Return of Authoritarian Great Powers,” Azar Gat poses the possibility that as these countries become just as economically advanced as other democracies, they will remain non-democratic authoritarian capitalist regimes. Gat says, “There is nothing in the historical records to suggest that a transition to democracy by today’s authoritarian capitalist powers in inevitable, whereas there is a great deal to suggest that such powers have far greater economic and military potential than their communist predecessors did.”2 As China experiences rapid economic growth, its size and population opens the possibility of becoming an authoritarian superpower. What this means for Fukuyama’s thesis is an opposing idea of the possibility that liberal democracies will not be the end of the road for all nations The second reason Fukuyama’s argument is not valid is because he incorrectly predicted the impact of radical Islam would have on world affairs. In his article he
says, “In the contemporary world, only Islam has offered a theocratic state as a political alternative to both liberalism and communism.

But the doctrine has little appeal for non-Muslims, and it is hard to believe that the movement will take on any universal significance.”3 This is a very understated assumption of the lasting impacts of fundamentalist Islam. When Fukuyama wrote this is in 1992, he seemed very confidence that fundamental Islam would not be a threat to the world yet not many would argue against the “universal significance” of September 11th. While Fukuyama may be justified is assuming liberal democracies is the only form of government that allows freedom to prevail, it does not mean that liberal democracies will be the “end of history.” Even after September 11th, Fukuyama has claimed that Islam is not that great of a threat, yet according to military spending, the number of troops deployed and human casualties, the threat of fundamental Islam to the international world order cannot be ignored. In recent history, as in the last 50 years, we have seen fundamentalism take over in states such as Iran and Afghanistan. This is significant because both these countries were modernizing before they became Islamic regimes. Iran had a pro-western regime ruled by Reza Shah where modern education was introduced. Before the reigns of the Mujahedeen and the Taliban, women in Afghanistan had access to education and were respected doctors, lawyers and professionals.4 These countries reverting back to fundamental Islam shows the contradiction in Fukuyama’s argument.

The Clash of Civilizations thesis essentially states that the world is divided between fundamentally different and clashing societies. In his article, Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington argues that the future sources of conflict and the greatest divisions among humankind will be cultural and “the principle conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations.” Huntington believes that this clash will dictate global politics of the future.5 The “Clash of Civilizations” is a flawed theory because the world cannot be split evenly into civilizations. According to Huntington, civilizations are characterized according to language, history and religion and “how people identify themselves.”6 Huntington has identified eight different civilizations African, Hindu, Islamic, Latin American, Japanese, Orthodox, Sinic, and Western. In his book Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, Amartya Sen believes that conflicts arise when people are given a singular affinity, such as Muslim or Hindu, instead of multiple affinities, such as man, father, brother, lawyer, or libertarian.7 It is dangerous to define an entire group of people with a single affinity as one civilization. One of the problems is that Huntington’s view assumes all Muslims belong to the same civilization, implying that Muslims in South Asia, Indonesia, and the Middle East all share the exact same political cultures.

Muslims throughout the world speak a range of languages including Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, English, and Turkish and the great division between the Sunni and Shi’a proves that there is immense diversity within the Muslim world. Because the aftermath of September 11th had such a profound effect on international relations, it is easy to assume that an equally profound number of people were at the root of the conflict. Yet the ideologies of Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden are not universal amongst everyone who practices Islam and it is unfair to associate a small group of fundamentalists with an entire civilization of people who practice Islam. Another reason the clash of civilizations is not valid post 9-11 is because it assumes Islam and Modernity are incompatible. It is not the practice of the religion itself that is incompatible nor is it the civilizations that propel this.

For example, in pre-modern Islamic tradition women would never have been considered able to vote, however, according to Harvard historian Roy Mottahedeh, in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, and Iran the majority of Islamist who advocate “the reintroduction of some measure of Islamic law- would never raise a whisper against votes for women” because they consider them “an important part of their constituents.”8 In addition it is unfair to assume that modernization and westernization are synonymous and that the western version of modernity should be applied to the rest of the world. Another aspect of Huntington’s theory is the emergence of a “kin-country syndrome” in which “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.”9 However, as seen in its foreign policy, the United States is clearly willing to sacrifice defending its Western ideals in order appease countries or political groups with blatantly opposing anti-western values.

This includes the US support of Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s during the Iran-Iraq war and the close relations the US shares with Saudi Arabia. In addition, the United States’ blind support for Israel, a country that is clearly non-secular, makes the US appear contradictory and hypocritical to its belief that democracy and religion cannot coexist. I believe the “Clash of Civilizations” thesis is in many ways an excuse to justify the United States intervention in the Middle East. By forcefully implying there is a difference between the civilizations of Islam and that of the West, the United States creates justifications for fighting wars in the region. These fault lines can be manifested and manipulated to pursue a government’s individual agenda while risking everything that is working towards a more peaceful coexistence. In Fukuyama’s argument, the claim that democracy is the final form of government for all of mankind is also used in many ways to justify Western intervention in the Middle East. While I strongly believe these theories cannot be applied to the post 9-11 era, they are still very valuable and their content can help formulate newer and more pertinent theories for the 21st century.

The Hispanic Challenge

America was created by 17th- and 18th-century settlers who were overwhelmingly white, British, and Protestant. Their values, institutions, and culture provided the foundation for and shaped the development of the United States in the following centuries. They initially defined America in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, and religion. Then, in the 18th century, they also had to define America ideologically to justify independence from their home country, which was also white, British, and Protestant. Thomas Jefferson set forth this “creed,” as Nobel Prize-winning economist Gunnar Myrdal called it, in the Declaration of Independence, and ever since, its principles have been reiterated by statesmen and espoused by the public as an essential component of U.S. identity.

By the latter years of the 19th century, however, the ethnic component had been broadened to include Germans, Irish, and Scandinavians, and the United States’ religious identity was being redefined more broadly from Protestant to Christian. With World War II and the assimilation of large numbers of southern and eastern European immigrants and their offspring into U.S. society, ethnicity virtually disappeared as a defining component of national identity. So did race, following the achievements of the civil rights movement and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Americans now see and endorse their country as multiethnic and multiracial. As a result, American identity is now defined in terms of culture and creed.

America was created by 17th- and 18th-century settlers who were overwhelmingly white, British, and Protestant. Their values, institutions, and culture provided the foundation for and shaped the development of the United States in the following centuries. They initially defined America in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, and religion. Then, in the 18th century, they also had to define America ideologically to justify independence from their home country, which was also white, British, and Protestant. Thomas Jefferson set forth this “creed,” as Nobel Prize-winning economist Gunnar Myrdal called it, in the Declaration of Independence, and ever since, its principles have been reiterated by statesmen and espoused by the public as an essential component of U.S. identity.

By the latter years of the 19th century, however, the ethnic component had been broadened to include Germans, Irish, and Scandinavians, and the United States’ religious identity was being redefined more broadly from Protestant to Christian. With World War II and the assimilation of large numbers of southern and eastern European immigrants and their offspring into U.S. society, ethnicity virtually disappeared as a defining component of national identity. So did race, following the achievements of the civil rights movement and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Americans now see and endorse their country as multiethnic and multiracial. As a result, American identity is now defined in terms of culture and creed.

Most Americans see the creed as the crucial element of their national identity. The creed, however, was the product of the distinct Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers. Key elements of that culture include the English language Christianity religious commitment English concepts of the rule of law, including the responsibility of rulers and the rights of individuals and dissenting Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic, and the belief that humans have the ability and the duty to try to create a heaven on earth, a “city on a hill.” Historically, millions of immigrants were attracted to the United States because of this culture and the economic opportunities and political liberties it made possible.

Contributions from immigrant cultures modified and enriched the Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers. The essentials of that founding culture remained the bedrock of U.S. identity, however, at least until the last decades of the 20th century. Would the United States be the country that it has been and that it largely remains today if it had been settled in the 17th and 18th centuries not by British Protestants but by French, Spanish, or Portuguese Catholics? The answer is clearly no. It would not be the United States it would be Quebec, Mexico, or Brazil.

In the final decades of the 20th century, however, the United States’ Anglo-Protestant culture and the creed that it produced came under assault by the popularity in intellectual and political circles of the doctrines of multiculturalism and diversity the rise of group identities based on race, ethnicity, and gender over national identity the impact of transnational cultural diasporas the expanding number of immigrants with dual nationalities and dual loyalties and the growing salience for U.S. intellectual, business, and political elites of cosmopolitan and transnational identities. The United States’ national identity, like that of other nation-states, is challenged by the forces of globalization as well as the needs that globalization produces among people for smaller and more meaningful “blood and belief” identities.

In this new era, the single most immediate and most serious challenge to America’s traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially from Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American natives. Americans like to boast of their past success in assimilating millions of immigrants into their society, culture, and politics. But Americans have tended to generalize about immigrants without distinguishing among them and have focused on the economic costs and benefits of immigration, ignoring its social and cultural consequences. As a result, they have overlooked the unique characteristics and problems posed by contemporary Hispanic immigration. The extent and nature of this immigration differ fundamentally from those of previous immigration, and the assimilation successes of the past are unlikely to be duplicated with the contemporary flood of immigrants from Latin America. This reality poses a fundamental question: Will the United States remain a country with a single national language and a core Anglo-Protestant culture? By ignoring this question, Americans acquiesce to their eventual transformation into two peoples with two cultures (Anglo and Hispanic) and two languages (English and Spanish).

The impact of Mexican immigration on the United States becomes evident when one imagines what would happen if Mexican immigration abruptly stopped. The annual flow of legal immigrants would drop by about 175,000, closer to the level recommended by the 1990s Commission on Immigration Reform chaired by former U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Illegal entries would diminish dramatically. The wages of low-income U.S. citizens would improve. Debates over the use of Spanish and whether English should be made the official language of state and national governments would subside. Bilingual education and the controversies it spawns would virtually disappear, as would controversies over welfare and other benefits for immigrants. The debate over whether immigrants pose an economic burden on state and federal governments would be decisively resolved in the negative. The average education and skills of the immigrants continuing to arrive would reach their highest levels in U.S. history. The inflow of immigrants would again become highly diverse, creating increased incentives for all immigrants to learn English and absorb U.S. culture. And most important of all, the possibility of a de facto split between a predominantly Spanish-speaking United States and an English-speaking United States would disappear, and with it, a major potential threat to the country’s cultural and political integrity.


Contemporary Mexican and, more broadly, Latin American immigration is without precedent in U.S. history. The experience and lessons of past immigration have little relevance to understanding its dynamics and consequences. Mexican immigration differs from past immigration and most other contemporary immigration due to a combination of six factors: contiguity, scale, illegality, regional concentration, persistence, and historical presence.

Contiguity | Americans’ idea of immigration is often symbolized by the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and, more recently perhaps, New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. In other words, immigrants arrive in the United States after crossing several thousand miles of ocean. U.S. attitudes toward immigrants and U.S. immigration policies are shaped by such images. These assumptions and policies, however, have little or no relevance for Mexican immigration. The United States is now confronted by a massive influx of people from a poor, contiguous country with more than one third the population of the United States. They come across a 2,000-mile border historically marked simply by a line in the ground and a shallow river.

This situation is unique for the United States and the world. No other First World country has such an extensive land frontier with a Third World country. The significance of the long Mexican-U.S. border is enhanced by the economic differences between the two countries. “The income gap between the United States and Mexico,” Stanford University historian David Kennedy has pointed out, “is the largest between any two contiguous countries in the world.” Contiguity enables Mexican immigrants to remain in intimate contact with their families, friends, and home localities in Mexico as no other immigrants have been able to do.

Scale | The causes of Mexican, as well as other, immigration are found in the demographic, economic, and political dynamics of the sending country and the economic, political, and social attractions of the United States. Contiguity, however, obviously encourages immigration. Mexican immigration increased steadily after 1965. About 640,000 Mexicans legally migrated to the United States in the 1970s 1,656,000 in the 1980s and 2,249,000 in the 1990s. In those three decades, Mexicans accounted for 14 percent, 23 percent, and 25 percent of total legal immigration. These percentages do not equal the rates of immigrants who came from Ireland between 1820 and 1860, or from Germany in the 1850s and 1860s. Yet they are high compared to the highly dispersed sources of immigrants before World War I, and compared to other contemporary immigrants. To them one must also add the huge numbers of Mexicans who each year enter the United States illegally. Since the 1960s, the numbers of foreign-born people in the United States have expanded immensely, with Asians and Latin Americans replacing Europeans and Canadians, and diversity of source dramatically giving way to the dominance of one source: Mexico. Mexican immigrants constituted 27.6 percent of the total foreign-born U.S. population in 2000. The next largest contingents, Chinese and Filipinos, amounted to only 4.9 percent and 4.3 percent of the foreign-born population.

In the 1990s, Mexicans composed more than half of the new Latin American immigrants to the United States and, by 2000, Hispanics totaled about one half of all migrants entering the continental United States. Hispanics composed 12 percent of the total U.S. population in 2000. This group increased by almost 10 percent from 2000 to 2002 and has now become larger than blacks. It is estimated Hispanics may constitute up to 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. These changes are driven not just by immigration but also by fertility. In 2002, fertility rates in the United States were estimated at 1.8 for non-Hispanic whites, 2.1 for blacks, and 3.0 for Hispanics. “This is the characteristic shape of developing countries,” The Economist commented in 2002. “As the bulge of Latinos enters peak child-bearing age in a decade or two, the Latino share of America’s population will soar.”

In the mid-19th century, English speakers from the British Isles dominated immigration into the United States. The pre-World War I immigration was highly diversified linguistically, including many speakers of Italian, Polish, Russian, Yiddish, English, German, Swedish, and other languages. But now, for the first time in U.S. history, half of those entering the United States speak a single non-English language.

Illegality | Illegal entry into the United States is overwhelmingly a post-1965 and Mexican phenomenon. For almost a century after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, no national laws restricted or prohibited immigration, and only a few states imposed modest limits. During the following 90 years, illegal immigration was minimal and easily controlled. The 1965 immigration law, the increased availability of transportation, and the intensified forces promoting Mexican emigration drastically changed this situation. Apprehensions by the U.S. Border Patrol rose from 1.6 million in the 1960s to 8.3 million in the 1970s, 11.9 million in the 1980s, and 14.7 million in the 1990s. Estimates of the Mexicans who successfully enter illegally each year range from 105,000 (according to a binational Mexican-American commission) to 350,000 during the 1990s (according to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service).

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act contained provisions to legalize the status of existing illegal immigrants and to reduce future illegal immigration through employer sanctions and other means. The former goal was achieved: Some 3.1 million illegal immigrants, about 90 percent of them from Mexico, became legal “green card” residents of the United States. But the latter goal remains elusive. Estimates of the total number of illegal immigrants in the United States rose from 4 million in 1995 to 6 million in 1998, to 7 million in 2000, and to between 8 and 10 million by 2003. Mexicans accounted for 58 percent of the total illegal population in the United States in 1990 by 2000, an estimated 4.8 million illegal Mexicans made up 69 percent of that population. In 2000, illegal Mexicans in the United States were 25 times as numerous as the next largest contingent, from El Salvador.

Regional Concentration | The U.S. Founding Fathers considered the dispersion of immigrants essential to their assimilation. That has been the pattern historically and continues to be the pattern for most contemporary non-Hispanic immigrants. Hispanics, however, have tended to concentrate regionally: Mexicans in Southern California, Cubans in Miami, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans (the last of whom are not technically immigrants) in New York. The more concentrated immigrants become, the slower and less complete is their assimilation.

In the 1990s, the proportions of Hispanics continued to grow in these regions of heaviest concentration. At the same time, Mexicans and other Hispanics were also establishing beachheads elsewhere. While the absolute numbers are often small, the states with the largest percentage increases in Hispanic population between 1990 and 2000 were, in decreasing order: North Carolina (449 percent increase), Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Nevada, and Alabama (222 percent). Hispanics have also established concentrations in individual cities and towns throughout the United States. For example, in 2003, more than 40 percent of the population of Hartford, Connecticut, was Hispanic (primarily Puerto Rican), outnumbering the city’s 38 percent black population. “Hartford,” the city’s first Hispanic mayor proclaimed, “has become a Latin city, so to speak. It’s a sign of things to come,” with Spanish increasingly used as the language of commerce and government.

The biggest concentrations of Hispanics, however, are in the Southwest, particularly California. In 2000, nearly two thirds of Mexican immigrants lived in the West, and nearly half in California. To be sure, the Los Angeles area has immigrants from many countries, including Korea and Vietnam. The sources of California’s foreign-born population, however, differ sharply from those of the rest of the country, with those from a single country, Mexico, exceeding totals for all of the immigrants from Europe and Asia. In Los Angeles, Hispanics — overwhelmingly Mexican — far outnumber other groups. In 2000, 64 percent of the Hispanics in Los Angeles were of Mexican origin, and 46.5 percent of Los Angeles residents were Hispanic, while 29.7 percent were non-Hispanic whites. By 2010, it is estimated that Hispanics will make up more than half of the Los Angeles population.

Most immigrant groups have higher fertility rates than natives, and hence the impact of immigration is felt heavily in schools. The highly diversified immigration into New York, for example, creates the problem of teachers dealing with classes containing students who may speak 20 different languages at home. In contrast, Hispanic children make up substantial majorities of the students in the schools in many Southwestern cities. “No school system in a major U.S. city,” political scientists Katrina Burgess and Abraham Lowenthal said of Los Angeles in their 1993 study of Mexico-California ties, “has ever experienced such a large influx of students from a single foreign country. The schools of Los Angeles are becoming Mexican.” By 2002, more than 70 percent of the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District were Hispanic, predominantly Mexican, with the proportion increasing steadily 10 percent of schoolchildren were non-Hispanic whites. In 2003, for the first time since the 1850s, a majority of newborn children in California were Hispanic.

Persistence | Previous waves of immigrants eventually subsided, the proportions coming from individual countries fluctuated greatly, and, after 1924, immigration was reduced to a trickle. In contrast, the current wave shows no sign of ebbing and the conditions creating the large Mexican component of that wave are likely to endure, absent a major war or recession. In the long term, Mexican immigration could decline when the economic well-being of Mexico approximates that of the United States. As of 2002, however, U.S. gross domestic product per capita was about four times that of Mexico (in purchasing power parity terms). If that difference were cut in half, the economic incentives for migration might also drop substantially. To reach that ratio in any meaningful future, however, would require extremely rapid economic growth in Mexico, at a rate greatly exceeding that of the United States. Yet, even such dramatic economic development would not necessarily reduce the impulse to emigrate. During the 19th century, when Europe was rapidly industrializing and per capita incomes were rising, 50 million Europeans emigrated to the Americas, Asia, and Africa.

Historical Presence | No other immigrant group in U.S. history has asserted or could assert a historical claim to U.S. territory. Mexicans and Mexican Americans can and do make that claim. Almost all of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah was part of Mexico until Mexico lost them as a result of the Texan War of Independence in 1835-1836 and the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. Mexico is the only country that the United States has invaded, occupied its capital — placing the Marines in the “halls of Montezuma” — and then annexed half its territory. Mexicans do not forget these events. Quite understandably, they feel that they have special rights in these territories. “Unlike other immigrants,” Boston College political scientist Peter Skerry notes, “Mexicans arrive here from a neighboring nation that has suffered military defeat at the hands of the United States and they settle predominantly in a region that was once part of their homeland…. Mexican Americans enjoy a sense of being on their own turf that is not shared by other immigrants.”

At times, scholars have suggested that the Southwest could become the United States’ Quebec. Both regions include Catholic people and were conquered by Anglo-Protestant peoples, but otherwise they have little in common. Quebec is 3,000 miles from France, and each year several hundred thousand Frenchmen do not attempt to enter Quebec legally or illegally. History shows that serious potential for conflict exists when people in one country begin referring to territory in a neighboring country in proprietary terms and to assert special rights and claims to that territory.


In the past, immigrants originated overseas and often overcame severe obstacles and hardships to reach the United States. They came from many different countries, spoke different languages, and came legally. Their flow fluctuated over time, with significant reductions occurring as a result of the Civil War, World War I, and the restrictive legislation of 1924. They dispersed into many enclaves in rural areas and major cities throughout the Northeast and Midwest. They had no historical claim to any U.S. territory.

On all these dimensions, Mexican immigration is fundamentally different. These differences combine to make the assimilation of Mexicans into U.S. culture and society much more difficult than it was for previous immigrants. Particularly striking in contrast to previous immigrants is the failure of third- and fourth-generation people of Mexican origin to approximate U.S. norms in education, economic status, and intermarriage rates.

The size, persistence, and concentration of Hispanic immigration tends to perpetuate the use of Spanish through successive generations. The evidence on English acquisition and Spanish retention among immigrants is limited and ambiguous. In 2000, however, more than 28 million people in the United States spoke Spanish at home (10.5 percent of all people over age five), and almost 13.8 million of these spoke English worse than “very well,” a 66 percent increase since 1990. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, in 1990 about 95 percent of Mexican-born immigrants spoke Spanish at home 73.6 percent of these did not speak English very well and 43 percent of the Mexican foreign-born were “linguistically isolated.” An earlier study in Los Angeles found different results for the U.S.-born second generation. Just 11.6 percent spoke only Spanish or more Spanish than English, 25.6 percent spoke both languages equally, 32.7 percent more English than Spanish, and 30.1 percent only English. In the same study, more than 90 percent of the U.S.-born people of Mexican origin spoke English fluently. Nonetheless, in 1999, some 753,505 presumably second-generation students in Southern California schools who spoke Spanish at home were not proficient in English.

English language use and fluency for first- and second-generation Mexicans thus seem to follow the pattern common to past immigrants. Two questions remain, however. First, have changes occurred over time in the acquisition of English and the retention of Spanish by second-generation Mexican immigrants? One might suppose that, with the rapid expansion of the Mexican immigrant community, people of Mexican origin would have less incentive to become fluent in and to use English in 2000 than they had in 1970.

Second, will the third generation follow the classic pattern with fluency in English and little or no knowledge of Spanish, or will it retain the second generation’s fluency in both languages? Second-generation immigrants often look down on and reject their ancestral language and are embarrassed by their parents’ inability to communicate in English. Presumably, whether second-generation Mexicans share this attitude will help shape the extent to which the third generation retains any knowledge of Spanish. If the second generation does not reject Spanish outright, the third generation is also likely to be bilingual, and fluency in both languages is likely to become institutionalized in the Mexican-American community.

Spanish retention is also bolstered by the overwhelming majorities (between 66 percent and 85 percent) of Mexican immigrants and Hispanics who emphasize the need for their children to be fluent in Spanish. These attitudes contrast with those of other immigrant groups. The New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service finds “a cultural difference between the Asian and Hispanic parents with respect to having their children maintain their native language.” In part, this difference undoubtedly stems from the size of Hispanic communities, which creates incentives for fluency in the ancestral language. Although second- and third-generation Mexican Americans and other Hispanics acquire competence in English, they also appear to deviate from the usual pattern by maintaining their competence in Spanish. Second- or third-generation Mexican Americans who were brought up speaking only English have learned Spanish as adults and are encouraging their children to become fluent in it. Spanish-language competence, University of New Mexico professor F. Chris Garcia has stated, is “the one thing every Hispanic takes pride in, wants to protect and promote.”

A persuasive case can be made that, in a shrinking world, all Americans should know at least one important foreign language — Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Russian, Arabic, Urdu, French, German, or Spanish — so as to understand a foreign culture and communicate with its people. It is quite different to argue that Americans should know a non-English language in order to communicate with their fellow citizens. Yet that is what the Spanish-language advocates have in mind. Strengthened by the growth of Hispanic numbers and influence, Hispanic leaders are actively seeking to transform the United States into a bilingual society. “English is not enough,” argues Osvaldo Soto, president of the Spanish American League Against Discrimination. “We don’t want a monolingual society.” Similarly, Duke University literature professor (and Chilean immigrant) Ariel Dorfman asks, “Will this country speak two languages or merely one?” And his answer, of course, is that it should speak two.

Hispanic organizations play a central role in inducing the U.S. Congress to authorize cultural maintenance programs in bilingual education as a result, children are slow to join mainstream classes. The continuing huge inflow of migrants makes it increasingly possible for Spanish speakers in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles to live normal lives without knowing English. Sixty-five percent of the children in bilingual education in New York are Spanish speakers and hence have little incentive or need to use English in school.

Dual-language programs, which go one step beyond bilingual education, have become increasingly popular. In these programs, students are taught in both English and Spanish on an alternating basis with a view to making English-speakers fluent in Spanish and Spanish-speakers fluent in English, thus making Spanish the equal of English and transforming the United States into a two-language country. Then U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley explicitly endorsed these programs in his March 2000 speech, “Excelencia para Todos — Excellence for all.” Civil rights organizations, church leaders (particularly Catholic ones), and many politicians (Republican as well as Democrat) support the impetus toward bilingualism.

Perhaps equally important, business groups seeking to corner the Hispanic market support bilingualism as well. Indeed, the orientation of U.S. businesses to Hispanic customers means they increasingly need bilingual employees therefore, bilingualism is affecting earnings. Bilingual police officers and firefighters in southwestern cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas are paid more than those who only speak English. In Miami, one study found, families that spoke only Spanish had average incomes of $18,000 English-only families had average incomes of $32,000 and bilingual families averaged more than $50,000. For the first time in U.S. history, increasing numbers of Americans (particularly black Americans) will not be able to receive the jobs or the pay they would otherwise receive because they can speak to their fellow citizens only in English.

In the debates over language policy, the late California Republican Senator S.I. Hayakawa once highlighted the unique role of Hispanics in opposing English. “Why is it that no Filipinos, no Koreans object to making English the official language? No Japanese have done so. And certainly not the Vietnamese, who are so damn happy to be here. They’re learning English as fast as they can and winning spelling bees all across the country. But the Hispanics alone have maintained there is a problem. There [has been] considerable movement to make Spanish the second official language.”

If the spread of Spanish as the United States’ second language continues, it could, in due course, have significant consequences in politics and government. In many states, those aspiring to political office might have to be fluent in both languages. Bilingual candidates for president and elected federal positions would have an advantage over English-only speakers. If dual-language education becomes prevalent in elementary and secondary schools, teachers will increasingly be expected to be bilingual. Government documents and forms could routinely be published in both languages. The use of both languages could become acceptable in congressional hearings and debates and in the general conduct of government business. Because most of those whose first language is Spanish will also probably have some fluency in English, English speakers lacking fluency in Spanish are likely to be and feel at a disadvantage in the competition for jobs, promotions, and contracts.

In 1917, former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt said: “We must have but one flag. We must also have but one language. That must be the language of the Declaration of Independence, of Washington’s Farewell address, of Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech and second inaugural.” By contrast, in June 2000, U.S. president Bill Clinton said, “I hope very much that I’m the last president in American history who can’t speak Spanish.” And in May 2001, President Bush celebrated Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo national holiday by inaugurating the practice of broadcasting the weekly presidential radio address to the American people in both English and Spanish. In September 2003, one of the first debates among the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates also took place in both English and Spanish. Despite the opposition of large majorities of Americans, Spanish is joining the language of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, and the Kennedys as the language of the United States. If this trend continues, the cultural division between Hispanics and Anglos could replace the racial division between blacks and whites as the most serious cleavage in U.S. society.


Massive Hispanic immigration affects the United States in two significant ways: Important portions of the country become predominantly Hispanic in language and culture, and the nation as a whole becomes bilingual and bicultural. The most important area where Hispanization is proceeding rapidly is, of course, the Southwest. As historian Kennedy argues, Mexican Americans in the Southwest will soon have “sufficient coherence and critical mass in a defined region so that, if they choose, they can preserve their distinctive culture indefinitely. They could also eventually undertake to do what no previous immigrant group could have dreamed of doing: challenge the existing cultural, political, legal, commercial, and educational systems to change fundamentally not only the language but also the very institutions in which they do business.”

Anecdotal evidence of such challenges abounds. In 1994, Mexican Americans vigorously demonstrated against California’s Proposition 187 — which limited welfare benefits to children of illegal immigrants — by marching through the streets of Los Angeles waving scores of Mexican flags and carrying U.S. flags upside down. In 1998, at a Mexico-United States soccer match in Los Angeles, Mexican Americans booed the U.S. national anthem and assaulted U.S. players. Such dramatic rejections of the United States and assertions of Mexican identity are not limited to an extremist minority in the Mexican-American community. Many Mexican immigrants and their offspring simply do not appear to identify primarily with the United States.

Empirical evidence confirms such appearances. A 1992 study of children of immigrants in Southern California and South Florida posed the following question: “How do you identify, that is, what do you call yourself?” None of the children born in Mexico answered “American,” compared with 1.9 percent to 9.3 percent of those born elsewhere in Latin America or the Caribbean. The largest percentage of Mexican-born children (41.2 percent) identified themselves as “Hispanic,” and the second largest (36.2 percent) chose “Mexican.” Among Mexican-American children born in the United States, less than 4 percent responded “American,” compared to 28.5 percent to 50 percent of those born in the United States with parents from elsewhere in Latin America. Whether born in Mexico or in the United States, Mexican children overwhelmingly did not choose “American” as their primary identification.

Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista (re-conquest) of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway. A meaningful move to reunite these territories with Mexico seems unlikely, but Prof. Charles Truxillo of the University of New Mexico predicts that by 2080 the southwestern states of the United States and the northern states of Mexico will form La República del Norte (The Republic of the North). Various writers have referred to the southwestern United States plus northern Mexico as “MexAmerica” or “Amexica” or “Mexifornia.” “We are all Mexicans in this valley,” a former county commissioner of El Paso, Texas, declared in 2001.

This trend could consolidate the Mexican-dominant areas of the United States into an autonomous, culturally and linguistically distinct, and economically self-reliant bloc within the United States. “We may be building toward the one thing that will choke the melting pot,” warns former National Intelligence Council Vice Chairman Graham Fuller, “an ethnic area and grouping so concentrated that it will not wish, or need, to undergo assimilation into the mainstream of American multi-ethnic English-speaking life.”

A prototype of such a region already exists — in Miami.

Miami is the most Hispanic large city in the 50 U.S. states. Over the course of 30 years, Spanish speakers — overwhelmingly Cuban — established their dominance in virtually every aspect of the city’s life, fundamentally changing its ethnic composition, culture, politics, and language. The Hispanization of Miami is without precedent in the history of U.S. cities.

The economic growth of Miami, led by the early Cuban immigrants, made the city a magnet for migrants from other Latin American and Caribbean countries. By 2000, two thirds of Miami’s people were Hispanic, and more than half were Cuban or of Cuban descent. In 2000, 75.2 percent of adult Miamians spoke a language other than English at home, compared to 55.7 percent of the residents of Los Angeles and 47.6 percent of New Yorkers. (Of Miamians speaking a non-English language at home, 87.2 percent spoke Spanish.) In 2000, 59.5 percent of Miami residents were foreign-born, compared to 40.9 percent in Los Angeles, 36.8 percent in San Francisco, and 35.9 percent in New York. In 2000, only 31.1 percent of adult Miami residents said they spoke English very well, compared to 39.0 percent in Los Angeles, 42.5 percent in San Francisco, and 46.5 percent in New York.

The Cuban takeover had major consequences for Miami. The elite and entrepreneurial class fleeing the regime of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the 1960s started dramatic economic development in South Florida. Unable to send money home, they invested in Miami. Personal income growth in Miami averaged 11.5 percent a year in the 1970s and 7.7 percent a year in the 1980s. Payrolls in Miami-Dade County tripled between 1970 and 1995. The Cuban economic drive made Miami an international economic dynamo, with expanding international trade and investment. The Cubans promoted international tourism, which, by the 1990s, exceeded domestic tourism and made Miami a leading center of the cruise ship industry. Major U.S. corporations in manufacturing, communications, and consumer products moved their Latin American headquarters to Miami from other U.S. and Latin American cities. A vigorous Spanish artistic and entertainment community emerged. Today, the Cubans can legitimately claim that, in the words of Prof. Damian Fernández of Florida International University, “We built modern Miami,” and made its economy larger than those of many Latin American countries.

A key part of this development was the expansion of Miami’s economic ties with Latin America. Brazilians, Argentines, Chileans, Colombians, and Venezuelans flooded into Miami, bringing their money with them. By 1993, some $25.6 billion in international trade, mostly involving Latin America, moved through the city. Throughout the hemisphere, Latin Americans concerned with investment, trade, culture, entertainment, holidays, and drug smuggling increasingly turned to Miami.

Such eminence transformed Miami into a Cuban-led, Hispanic city. The Cubans did not, in the traditional pattern, create an enclave immigrant neighborhood. Instead, they created an enclave city with its own culture and economy, in which assimilation and Americanization were unnecessary and in some measure undesired. By 2000, Spanish was not just the language spoken in most homes, it was also the principal language of commerce, business, and politics. The media and communications industry became increasingly Hispanic. In 1998, a Spanish-language television station became the number-one station watched by Miamians — the first time a foreign-language station achieved that rating in a major U.S. city. “They’re outsiders,” one successful Hispanic said of non-Hispanics. “Here we are members of the power structure,” another boasted.

“In Miami there is no pressure to be American,” one Cuban-born sociologist observed. “People can make a living perfectly well in an enclave that speaks Spanish.” By 1999, the heads of Miami’s largest bank, largest real estate development company, and largest law firm were all Cuban-born or of Cuban descent. The Cubans also established their dominance in politics. By 1999, the mayor of Miami and the mayor, police chief, and state attorney of Miami-Dade County, plus two thirds of Miami’s U.S. Congressional delegation and nearly one half of its state legislators, were of Cuban origin. In the wake of the Elián González affair in 2000, the non-Hispanic city manager and police chief in Miami City were replaced by Cubans.

The Cuban and Hispanic dominance of Miami left Anglos (as well as blacks) as outside minorities that could often be ignored. Unable to communicate with government bureaucrats and discriminated against by store clerks, the Anglos came to realize, as one of them put it, “My God, this is what it’s like to be the minority.” The Anglos had three choices. They could accept their subordinate and outsider position. They could attempt to adopt the manners, customs, and language of the Hispanics and assimilate into the Hispanic community — “acculturation in reverse,” as the scholars Alejandro Portes and Alex Stepick labeled it. Or they could leave Miami, and between 1983 and 1993, about 140,000 did just that, their exodus reflected in a popular bumper sticker: “Will the last American to leave Miami, please bring the flag.”

Is Miami the future for Los Angeles and the southwest United States? In the end, the results could be similar: the creation of a large, distinct, Spanish-speaking community with economic and political resources sufficient to sustain its Hispanic identity apart from the national identity of other Americans and also able to influence U.S. politics, government, and society. However, the processes by which this result might come about differ. The Hispanization of Miami has been rapid, explicit, and economically driven. The Hispanization of the Southwest has been slower, unrelenting, and politically driven.

The Cuban influx into Florida was intermittent and responded to the policies of the Cuban government. Mexican immigration, on the other hand, is continuous, includes a large illegal component, and shows no signs of tapering. The Hispanic (that is, largely Mexican) population of Southern California far exceeds in number but has yet to reach the proportions of the Hispanic population of Miami — though it is increasing rapidly.

The early Cuban immigrants in South Florida were largely middle and upper class. Subsequent immigrants were more lower class. In the Southwest, overwhelming numbers of Mexican immigrants have been poor, unskilled, and poorly educated, and their children are likely to face similar conditions. The pressures toward Hispanization in the Southwest thus come from below, whereas those in South Florida came from above. In the long run, however, numbers are power, particularly in a multicultural society, a political democracy, and a consumer economy.

Another major difference concerns the relations of Cubans and Mexicans with their countries of origin. The Cuban community has been united in its hostility to the Castro regime and in its efforts to punish and overthrow that regime. The Cuban government has responded in kind. The Mexican community in the United States has been more ambivalent and nuanced in its attitudes toward the Mexican government. Since the 1980s, however, the Mexican government has sought to expand the numbers, wealth, and political power of the Mexican community in the U.S. Southwest and to integrate that population with Mexico. “The Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders,” Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo said in the 1990s. His successor, Vicente Fox, called Mexican emigrants “heroes” and describes himself as president of 123 million Mexicans, 100 million in Mexico and 23 million in the United States.

As their numbers increase, Mexican Americans feel increasingly comfortable with their own culture and often contemptuous of American culture. They demand recognition of their culture and the historic Mexican identity of the U.S. Southwest. They call attention to and celebrate their Hispanic and Mexican past, as in the 1998 ceremonies and festivities in Madrid, New Mexico, attended by the vice president of Spain, honoring the establishment 400 years earlier of the first European settlement in the Southwest, almost a decade before Jamestown. As the New York Times reported in September 1999, Hispanic growth has been able to “help ‘Latinize’ many Hispanic people who are finding it easier to affirm their heritage…. [T]hey find strength in numbers, as younger generations grow up with more ethnic pride and as a Latin influence starts permeating fields such as entertainment, advertising, and politics.” One index foretells the future: In 1998, “José” replaced “Michael” as the most popular name for newborn boys in both California and Texas.


The persistence of Mexican immigration into the United States reduces the incentives for cultural assimilation. Mexican Americans no longer think of themselves as members of a small minority who must accommodate the dominant group and adopt its culture. As their numbers increase, they become more committed to their own ethnic identity and culture. Sustained numerical expansion promotes cultural consolidation and leads Mexican Americans not to minimize but to glory in the differences between their culture and U.S. culture. As the president of the National Council of La Raza said in 1995: “The biggest problem we have is a cultural clash, a clash between our values and the values in American society.” He then went on to spell out the superiority of Hispanic values to American values. In similar fashion, Lionel Sosa, a successful Mexican-American businessman in Texas, in 1998 hailed the emerging Hispanic middle-class professionals who look like Anglos, but whose “values remain quite different from an Anglo’s.”

To be sure, as Harvard University political scientist Jorge I. Domínguez has pointed out, Mexican Americans are more favorably disposed toward democracy than are Mexicans. Nonetheless, “ferocious differences” exist between U.S. and Mexican cultural values, as Jorge Castañeda (who later served as Mexico’s foreign minister) observed in 1995.

Castañeda cited differences in social and economic equality, the unpredictability of events, concepts of time epitomized in the mañana syndrome, the ability to achieve results quickly, and attitudes toward history, expressed in the “cliché that Mexicans are obsessed with history, Americans with the future.” Sosa identifies several Hispanic traits (very different from Anglo-Protestant ones) that “hold us Latinos back”: mistrust of people outside the family lack of initiative, self-reliance, and ambition little use for education and acceptance of poverty as a virtue necessary for entrance into heaven. Author Robert Kaplan quotes Alex Villa, a third-generation Mexican American in Tucson, Arizona, as saying that he knows almost no one in the Mexican community of South Tucson who believes in “education and hard work” as the way to material prosperity and is thus willing to “buy into America.” Profound cultural differences clearly separate Mexicans and Americans, and the high level of immigration from Mexico sustains and reinforces the prevalence of Mexican values among Mexican Americans.

Continuation of this large immigration (without improved assimilation) could divide the United States into a country of two languages and two cultures. A few stable, prosperous democracies — such as Canada and Belgium — fit this pattern. The differences in culture within these countries, however, do not approximate those between the United States and Mexico, and even in these countries language differences persist. Not many Anglo-Canadians are equally fluent in English and French, and the Canadian government has had to impose penalties to get its top civil servants to achieve dual fluency. Much the same lack of dual competence is true of Walloons and Flemings in Belgium. The transformation of the United States into a country like these would not necessarily be the end of the world it would, however, be the end of the America we have known for more than three centuries. Americans should not let that change happen unless they are convinced that this new nation would be a better one.

Such a transformation would not only revolutionize the United States, but it would also have serious consequences for Hispanics, who will be in the United States but not of it. Sosa ends his book, The Americano Dream, with encouragement for aspiring Hispanic entrepreneurs. “The Americano dream?” he asks. “It exists, it is realistic, and it is there for all of us to share.” Sosa is wrong. There is no Americano dream. There is only the American dream created by an Anglo-Protestant society. Mexican Americans will share in that dream and in that society only if they dream in English.

Huntington vs. Mearsheimer vs. Fukuyama: Which Post-Cold War Thesis is Most Accurate?

In the aftermath of the Cold War – a 45-year ideological struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union – several scholars forecasted the future of conflict and geopolitics post-1991. Three prominent books – Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations, John Mearsheimer’s The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, and Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History, all with compelling theses, provide a roadmap as to possible future outcomes. These three books have been selected, in part, because Huntington actually criticizes the main theories of the two others authors in Chapter one of his book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (Huntington 1997, 31, 37).

Francis Fukuyama’s book, The End of History and the Last Man, outlines the success of democracy and free-market capitalism as the dominant ideology that would proliferate throughout the world after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the representative death of communism as a viable ideological position (Fukuyama 1992). In a sense, warfare in the post-Cold War is unlikely given the rise of democracy and interdependence, Fukuyama argues. Since democracy is the final form of human government, debating Karl Marx’s admonition that communism would replace capitalism Fukuyama effectively argues the opposite of Marx that capitalism has triumphed. Fukuyama also argues that although democracy is not a panacea to cure all problems of humanity, it is the final form of government.

John Mearsheimer’s book, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, provides an overview of the international system from a structural realist (also known as a neo-realist) perspective, specifically offensive realism. In contrast to early classical realist scholars like Hans Morgenthau, Mearsheimer argues that the structure of the international system is a cause of war, not necessarily moral concerns, or the particular characteristics of a given leader. In contrast to other structural realists like Kenneth Waltz, Mearsheimer argues that – on the questions of how much power states want to accumulate – states want as much power as they can get, rather than what he terms defensive realists who contend that states are interested in maintaining the balance of power (Mearsheimer 2001, 22).

Mearsheimer’s core predictions circulate around the changing dynamics in geopolitics as related to ‘great powers’. Mearsheimer argues that conflict is a fact of the international system because ultimately the dynamics of great power politics lead to wars over dominance of the system. Mearsheimer’s book concentrates on an almost 200-year period from the start of the Napoleonic Wars, 1792, to the end of the Cold War, 1991. He argues that three central wars occurred – the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, and World War II – when the international system of balance of power politics was both unbalanced and multipolar (Mearsheimer 2001, 357). Thus, even though Mearsheimer does not directly discuss the post-Cold War world, his theory provides predictive power as to what will happen in the future based on characteristics that, he argues, have held over time. In the post-Cold War world, other ‘great powers’, given enough time, will seek to balance the power of the United States. The world is particularly conflict-prone when a multipolar world arises, especially if the balance-of-power becomes unbalanced (Mearsheimer 2001). Thus, when Mearsheimer published his book in 2001, the US was clearly the only superpower in the world.

Finally, Samuel P. Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ article in Foreign Affairs spawned such furious debate in 1993 that Huntington published a full-length book in 1996 to assuage his critics (Huntington 1993 Huntington 1997). Revolving around nine civilizations, Huntington argues that the future of warfare would be fought along civilizational ‘fault lines’. The civilizations include the West, Latin America, Africa, Orthodox, Sinic, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and Japanese. From the 1993 article to the 1996 book, Huntington added Japanese as a separate civilization, and changed Confucian to Sinic. One of the most controversial components of Huntington’s argument is the line ‘Islam has bloody borders’ (Huntington 1993, 35) inferring that the Islamic civilization in particular tends to become violently embroiled with other civilizations on its periphery. The case here is based on wars such as the Yugoslav war, conflict in Sudan and Iraq, as well as the Philippines.

Each thesis provides compelling reasons as to the future of the world, especially during the post-Cold War period. Huntington and Mearsheimer, in particular, utilize a theoretical argument in order to provide a forecast of the future. This is the major upside of using an accepted theory because it allows for predictions despite the fact that no scholar can readily predict what will actually happen. As John Mearsheimer is fond of saying, ‘the leaders of tomorrow are in the fifth grade today, and we have no way of predicting how they will act. But, theory provides us with a framework of their expected behaviors’.[1]

Now that an overview of each scholar’s major post-Cold War thesis has been presented, this chapter will first assess the arguments of Fukuyama and Mearsheimer as to their predictive power. Which topics and events has each author correctly predicted, and which topics and events has each author missed in essence, which theory is most accurate? Given that this volume is an assessment of the work of Samuel Huntington, special attention is paid to the ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis in the latter half of the chapter, but always with a comparison of Fukuyama and Mearsheimer in the background. Ultimately, I argue that each scholars’ prediction has, at periods of time in the post-Cold War era, looked very strong, whilst, at other times, their predictions have either not come to fruition, or been incorrect. Each thesis is still salvageable, but democracy is currently on the decline, which undercuts Fukuyama great power competition has still not really emerged, which undercuts Mearsheimer and civilizational identity remains limited, which undercuts Huntington. For each scholar, however, is known for their comprehensive grasp of history, so their work should be assessed regularly to see if their predictions correctly prognosticated events in the long term.

Which Theory is Most Accurate?

At various points since the formal end of the Cold War in 1991, each of the scholars’ predictions has looked at times like a successful explanation of the current era, but also, at other times, like respective theses that missed the central explanatory factors of the period – prognosticating after all is a very difficult endeavor. Fukuyama’s thesis looked strong throughout the 1990s with the proliferation of democracies and states adopting free-market principles, even with requisite state protections (perhaps best called mixed economies). However, with 9/11, and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ theory began to take hold as a better explanation of why geopolitical actions happened the way they did. Moreover, with the rise of China, and the resurgence of Russia – both utilizing an illiberal model of governance – Fukuyama’s thesis was likewise challenged by Mearsheimer’s prediction that other states would attempt to balance the power of the hegemon. Despite the challenges, parts of Fukuyama’s thesis still hold in that democracy remains an appealing force in world politics. Even though democracy has declined for the eleventh straight year, 87 of the 195 measured countries are still labelled as ‘free’ (Freedom House 2017). Tangentially, Fukuyama’s work also buttresses the Democratic Peace Theory (DPT), which layers his prediction with a Churchillian argument that democracy is the best form of government despite its flaws. Although Fukuyama did not construct the DPT, his positions on democracy strengthened the DPT by emphasizing the importance of democracy as the final form of human government. The DPT still holds if democracy and war are given strict definitions, and if intrastate conflicts are omitted. These two points show that Fukuyama’s End of History thesis is at the very least still relevant today.

For Fukuyama, democracy is central. The DPT posits that mature democracies do not go to war with other mature democracies (see Doyle 1986 Doyle 2005). The monadic version of the theory – assessing whether or not democracies are peaceful or not compared to non-democracies – is the argument that, yes, democracies are generally more peaceful than any other type of regime. For the monadic theory, the actual evidence however is at best mixed since democratic countries like the United States and the United Kingdom still frequently go to war against non-democracies. However, some evidence exists as to support the dyadic version of the theory – assessing whether mature democracies are more peaceful when surveying their likelihood of going to war against other mature democracies – that, yes, democracies do not really go to war with each other. In general, the dyadic version of the DPT is upheld statistically, and in the academic literature. Depending on how democracy and war are defined, it is possible to argue that the DPT has held from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the present – a span of over 200 years. There are numerous cases that might upend this thesis, but if a democracy is defined as a mature democracy replete with robust democratic institutions, and a history of competitive elections. If war is defined as 1,000 battle-related deaths per year, rather than 25. Finally, if civil wars, or intrastate wars, are omitted, then the veracity of the dyadic version of the DPT might still hold. Fukuyama’s adherence to democracy buttresses the concept that mature democracies are the final form of government due to a range of social goods for the people, but also in minimizing interstate violence in the future.

What undercuts Fukuyama’s thesis, however, is the stubbornness of China to reform even with significant per capita economic growth Russia’s backsliding into authoritarianism under President Vladimir Putin Turkey’s authoritarianism under President Recep Erdoğan and numerous strongmen that have emerged even since 2010 such as President al-Sisi of Egypt. In a sense, the 2010s have been dominated by an authoritarian resurgence where the strongman figure is seen as necessary in order to provide stability in a tumultuous economic and security environment around the world. In 2008, Fukuyama defended his thesis arguing that while autocracy has increased, especially in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Georgia, authoritarian leaders can only go so far – ‘If today’s autocrats are willing to bow to democracy, they are eager to grovel to capitalism’ (Fukuyama 2008). In his op-ed in The Washington Post, Fukuyama concedes that democracy is not necessarily the end of history given the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, but he argues that this challenge may subside or be defeated.

The work of John Mearsheimer is still largely untested for two main reasons. First, because US power remains central to security discussions in Europe – his theory rests on a return to great power rivalry in Europe, which, he argues, would return if the United States vacated its troops from the continent. Second, because the US remains the sole superpower, even if great power rivals are emerging elsewhere in the world, no country can balance American power, thus an unbalanced multipolar world is impossible. On the first point, Germany has not yet developed the requisite strategic autonomy to become a military superpower, which is well within Berlin’s arsenal should it pursue a more muscular foreign policy if latent tensions with the US continue to develop. For example, schisms between President George W. Bush and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and their contemporaries Trump and Merkel suggest that this division is possible. Mearsheimer cannot claim credit yet because the world remains devoid of great power conflict. Interdependence and cooperation still prevail and have disrupted the challenges that Mearsheimer predicted with rising multipolarity in the state system.

Mearsheimer also argues (2006) that given the Thucydidean trap of international relations – that one power cannot rise without coming into conflict with the falling power – China and the US will engage in some form of confrontation in the future. He ultimately argues that the US will treat China much the same as it did the Soviet Union during the Cold War with a policy of containment, and defeat China if Washington pursues smart policies. Multipolarity takes time to emerge, but with the rise of the Chinese economy coupled with technological improvements to their military, Beijing has emerged as a superpower for some academics, pundits, and policymakers. Russia’s military actions in Georgia in 2008, Ukraine in 2014, and Syria in 2015 suggest that Moscow may be a resurgent actor in world affairs, worthy of great power status. There is some evidence of emerging multipolarity, then, with China, Russia, and other major actors like India. Questions, however, remain on the actions of Germany and Japan – both of which should emerge as ‘great powers’ under Mearsheimer’s model. Thus, Mearsheimer’s theory is still largely untested because the correct conditions of unbalanced multipolarity have not yet emerged.

Huntington Debates Mearsheimer and Fukuyama

Interestingly, as noted in the introduction, Huntington specifically criticizes the theories of Fukuyama and Mearsheimer in Chapter one of his book because they both provide contrasting visions of the post-Cold War world. In a sense, Fukuyama’s thesis is one of harmony in the post-Cold War world – a point that Huntington vigorously views as overly optimistic and unlikely – because, in Fukuyama’s view, there would be no major struggles over ideology in the future such as those that preceded World War I, World War II, and the Cold War (Huntington, 1997, 31). Fukuyama concedes that conflicts would still take place in the “Third World” (now usually called the developing world), but that the end of history marks ‘the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government’ (Huntington, 1997, 31).

Assessed from the vantage point of 2018, 25 years after his initial prediction, Huntington is certainly right in his pessimism of Fukuyama’s thesis, at least to some degree. Fukuyama’s thesis has not delivered the universalization of Western liberal democracy, and has eroded since its high point in 2010. However, unlike World War I with monarchism, World War II with fascism and the Cold War with communism (see Mazower 1999), the post-Cold War world does not have one, distinct ideology with which capitalism and liberal democracy are competing. Fukuyama therefore cannot be easily dismissed, especially if the backsliding of democracy in the 2010s is merely a blip on a wider trend towards democratization, and if there is no major competitor for liberal democracy. Perhaps the rise of authoritarian state-centric capitalism in China and Russia provides an alternate ideological model for post-Cold War conflict, but democratic variants in Japan and South Korea still show that democratization is highly prized in tangent with a state-driven form of capitalism.

Huntington also criticizes Mearsheimer, specifically over his predictions on Russia and Ukraine, although he makes two contradictory claims. First, Mearsheimer predicts that ‘the situation between Ukraine and Russia is ripe for the outbreak of security competition between them. For a great power like Russia that shares a long and unprotected common border, like the one between Russia and Ukraine, often lapse into competition driven by security fears. Russia and Ukraine might overcome this dynamic and learn to live in harmony, but it would be unusual if they do’ (Mearsheimer 1993, 54 cited in Huntington 1996, 37). Huntington refutes this argument and instead argues that a civilizational approach is a better explanation of the peace between the two countries because they share the same civilizational culture – thus, peace is the more likely outcome. However, in a later section of Huntington’s book, the second point he makes on Ukraine/Russia, is that he describes Ukraine as a ‘cleft country’, which is torn, in a sense, between two civilizations (Huntington 1997, 166). ‘A civilizational approach’, Huntington argues that it, ‘highlights the possibility of Ukraine splitting in half, a separation which cultural factors would lead one to predict might be more violent than that of Czechoslovakia but far less bloody than Yugoslavia’ (Huntington 1997, 37).

When viewing the world in 2018, 25 years after the publication of The Clash of Civilizations, Mearsheimer’s thesis certainly looks better than Huntington’s given Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the interjection of covert Russian forces in the Eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Huntington is still correct in his assessment that a split of Ukraine would be bloodier than Czechoslovakia, but less so then Yugoslavia, but incorrectly diagnosed Mearsheimer’s state-centric argument that Russia and Ukraine would likely engage in some form of violent war over security concerns, rather than civilizational kinship. Against Mearsheimer, Huntington’s thesis is certainly less accurate in some places. Mearsheimer correctly predicts the likelihood of violence between Russia and Ukraine, something that Huntington dismisses because he assumed that civilizational identity would become paramount, rather than the security-based rivalry that Mearsheimer asserts. Huntington’s discussion of Ukraine as a ‘cleft country’ revitalizes his argument because it implicitly notes the possibility that Ukraine would splinter – a bold prediction to make when assessing any country. Moreover, Huntington’s assessment that Ukraine would split in a manner more violent than Czechoslovakia, but less violent than Yugoslavia, is currently correct. Mearsheimer thus holds some leverage over Huntington on this issue, but the depth and specificity of Huntington’s predictions purport his sophisticated foresight.

9/11, the Afghan and Iraq wars, the Failure of the Arab Spring, and the Rise of ISIS

Turning specifically to Huntington for the remainder of the chapter, what are the successes of his argument? Huntington’s thesis presents some explanation of 9/11, the failure of the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIS, and the threat of terrorism especially in the West. Yet, at the same time, inter-civilizational fault lines have not produced mass conflict. Civil wars are relatively rare even in places where civilizations meet (see Goldstein, 2011). Parts of Huntington’s thesis hold in the measures noted above, but his explanation should have generated more conflict, and less cross-civilizational cooperation such as the rise of BRICS, and the inter-civilizational coalition to defeat ISIS.

Where has Huntington been successful? In his book, Huntington provides 19 bullet points (Huntington, 1997, 38-39) that show how the post-Cold War world is moving towards a civilizational approach. Since the publication of his book, there are certainly many more bullet points that could be added. However, four major events fall categorically successful for Huntington’s prediction. As noted in the above section, Huntington’s theory showed significant accuracy in 2001 with 9/11 – if Huntington’s clashing civilizations thesis had been taken more seriously, some argue, the US could have better prepared for a 9/11-type event. In the aftermath of 9/11, the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq also provide some justification for Huntington. The war on Afghanistan received widespread support and NATO’s triggering of Article V – Huntington predicted the concept of civilizational kin rallying, especially in times of war or major attack. The Iraq War was much more contentious, and, in some senses, caused inter-civilizational disagreements since France, Germany, and Canada, among others in the West opposed the invasion of Iraq, all trying to offset the ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis by not aligning with the wider Western civilization. This cuts against Huntington’s thesis to some degree, but the waging of war by a country from one civilization (the West) against another (Islamic) bolsters the original ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis.

At the outset of the Arab Spring when Mohamed Bouazizi self-immolated in Tunisia in December 2010, it kick-started a chain of protests across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). When President Ben Ali of Tunisia was ousted followed in quick succession by President Mubarak of Egypt in January 2011 and then President Gadhafi of Libya in the midst of a bloody civil war, it seemed like the MENA region – the last vestige of widespread autocracy – might begin the process of democratization. The President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh also resigned, and liberal reforms took hold in Morocco, Kuwait, and Jordan among other cases. Fukuyama’s thesis recovered somewhat in 2011 and 2012 despite the downturn of democracy elsewhere in the world.

However, as protests in Syria beginning in March of 2011 segued into a fissiparous civil war, the early optimism of the Arab Spring began to wane, before finally petering out. Democratic successes are still evident in some MENA societies, and further reforms may still be enacted, but at least for now, the Arab Spring movement has subsided. Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ theory did not predict the short-term failure of the Arab Spring. However, he did predict that Islam would be the prominent defining feature of the MENA region as an Islamic civilization controversially implying that some of the values would be anathema to values in other civilizations such as democracy in the West.

The rise of ISIS as a significant player in the conflicts in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, but also in Yemen and Libya, does not necessarily uphold Huntington’s thesis, but provides some suggestion of Huntington’s prediction. Since Huntington (1997) divided the world into nine different civilizations including an Islamic civilization, the goal of ISIS is to unify this civilization under a radical Islamist banner. Huntington is incorrect in the sense that a majority of people in the Middle East and North Africa still reject the ISIS-vision of a radical form of sharia law, but Huntington argues that Islam will be the key defining feature of the civilization. At this point, Huntington’s thesis still holds since a group like ISIS rose to prominence.

A global war involving core states of the world’s major civilizations is highly improbable but not impossible. Such a war, we have suggested, could come about from the escalation of a fault line was between groups from different civilizations, most likely involving Muslims on one side and non-Muslims on the other (Huntington 1997, 312).

On one of Huntington’s most controversial points, ‘Islam has bloody borders’ the rise of ISIS suggests some accuracy on the part of Huntington given the deadliness of this group. Missed in the wider narrative, however, is the prevailing peace in the world. The political scientist, Joshua Goldstein, shows that interstate war has declined dramatically such that in some years, there were no interstate wars at any place in the world (Goldstein 2011). Although conflict has increased since 2011, interstate violence remains relatively rare. Thus, Huntington’s assertion that ‘Islam has bloody borders’ is on one level true, it ignores the decline of violence everywhere. Based on Huntington’s prediction, one would actually expect a lot more violence in places where the Islamic civilization meets other civilizations, and yet political violence, and both interstate and intrastate wars remain relatively low compared to other points in human history.

Overall, on all four points, and despite some shortcomings, Huntington remains relevant to the post-Cold War debate. At the end of his book, Samuel Huntington openly wrestled with the idea of a clear civilizational identity. He argues, for example, that the United States should reject multiculturalism in order to preserve its place in the Western civilization,

The futures of the United States and of the West depend upon Americans reaffirming their commitment to Western civilization. Domestically this means rejecting the divisive siren calls of multiculturalism. Internationally it means rejecting the elusive and illusory calls to identify the United States with Asia (Huntington 1997, 307).

There is a portion of the above quote that suggests Huntington predicted the rise of an American presidential candidate like President Donald Trump – someone with an America First type disposition that is generally viewed as more nationalistic than previous presidents. Trump’s success, in some ways, is due to a Huntingtonian admonition to rally around one’s civilization (see Huntington 2004), one that President Trump has thus far fulfilled given his disdain for globalization, and his desire to reduce illegal immigration especially from civilizations outside of the West. Although there are some clear distinctions, President Trump’s rhetoric and actions mirror some of the three sentences listed above as important by Huntington to maintain the United States’ role as leader of the West. Huntington’s work was very controversial when first published in 1993 leading to a vociferous debate in the pages of Foreign Affairs and elsewhere. When viewing the world in 2018, Huntington is no less controversial, but also still seems to speak to the present. As a means of testing whether his thesis still holds intellectual ground 25 years later, the mere fact that Huntingtonian assessments are still relevant in the 2016 and 2020 US Presidential Election debates, shows an answer in the affirmative. The same critiques of Huntington being too broad, not specific enough in some areas, and conceding some ground to his intellectual rivals exemplified by Fukuyama and Mearsheimer, all remain. Nevertheless, scholars cannot discount Huntington because core parts of his arguments still remain relevant to the narratives of today even if Huntington is clearly incorrect in some places.

* The author would like to thank Jacob Mach for his help with researching content for this chapter. The original idea for this chapter comes from Dr. Andrew Barnes and Dr. Steven Hook of Kent State University.

[1] Mearsheimer made this statement at the 2013 International Studies Association conference in San Francisco, California, on a panel discussion.

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Watch the video: A Historical Analysis of Samuel Huntingtons Clash of Civilizations- Long Version (December 2021).