By lex, on December 28th, 2008
Samuel P. Huntingdon wrote two of the more important books of your correspondent’s intellectual development (such as it is), “The Soldier and the State,” and “The Clash of Civilizations“, both of which were far ahead of their times and remarkably prescient.
In the first, the Harvard political scientist said, per Robert Kaplan, that:
America’s liberal society… required the protection of a professional military establishment steeped in conservative realism. In order to keep the peace, military leaders had to take for granted—and anticipate—the “irrationality, weakness, and evil in human nature.” Liberals were good at reform, not at national security. “Magnificently varied and creative when limited to domestic issues,” Huntington wrote, “liberalism faltered when applied to foreign policy and defense.”
Foreign policy, he explained, is not about the relationship among individuals living under the rule of law but about the relationship among states and other groups operating in a largely lawless realm. The Soldier and the State concluded with a rousing defense of West Point, which, Huntington wrote, “embodies the military ideal at its best … a bit of Sparta in the midst of Babylon.”
In the second, the professor – initially denied tenure at Harvard after Soldier for his pol-mil heterodoxy (the military are only to be understood as reactionary swine, after all) – argued that Islam has “bloody borders”, a concept that numerous apologists refuted with, “yes, buts” that sought to obfuscate without convincingly doing so because, well: Islam has bloody borders.
It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations … Conflict between civilizations will be the latest phase of the evolution of conflict in the modern world…
Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation (sic) whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.
This of course was anathema to the “we are the world” crowd, cross-matrixed with the “why can’t we be friends” cohort.
His clarity and insight will be much missed.
(The world) is a dangerous place, in which large numbers of people resent our wealth, power, and culture, and vigorously oppose our efforts to persuade or coerce them to accept our values of human rights, democracy, and capitalism. In this world America must learn to distinguish among our true friends who will be with us and we with them through thick and thin; opportunistic allies with whom we have some but not all interests in common; strategic partner-competitors with whom we have a mixed relationship; antagonists who are rivals but with whom negotiation is possible; and unrelenting enemies who will try to destroy us unless we destroy them first.
* 08-30-2018 Links Gone; no replacements found – Ed.
** 08-30-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.