More Clashing of Civilizations

Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” idea refuses to fade away. Now, Takashi Inoguchi weighs in over at e-international relations.

Inoguchi rightly praises Huntington for anticipating the rising importance of China, Islam, and religion.

But Inoguchi’s main criticism concerns “core states.”

I also criticized Huntington on this point. Here is what I said some time ago:

because he envisaged war, he prescribed a new set of rules to prevent it in which leading states of each civilization would be recognized as having special rights and responsibilities to police their civilizations, intervening where necessary. But this updated spheres-of-influence notion was a non-starter. It was unnecessary to keep the peace, and it was unrealistic, since lesser states were never likely to give their civilization’s big power the right to intervene in their affairs.

Inoguchi adds that many civilizations have no core state. Buddhism has no core state; Confucian countries (Vietnam, South and North Korea, and Japan) do not accept China as core; Islam does not have a core state. (Inoguchi might have added also Latin America or Africa as places without a civilizational supervisor.)

The key point, though, is that there is no need for core states to exist because there is no need for a great-power concert with spheres-of-influence to keep the peace. The peace of the world is not so fragile that it requires this.

This is one thing Huntington got wrong. Other things he got right.

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