Huffington Post, December 30, 2008
This week, big minds are mourning the passing of the great Harvard historian Samuel Huntington, who died December 27 at the age of 81. Among the terms he added to the lexicon, academic and otherwise is “clash of civilizations.”
This thesis has resonated deeply, if unconsciously, into the American psyche. In the summer of 1993, four months after the first attack on the World Trade Center, Huntington published a paper in Foreign Affairs called, “The Clash of Civilizations?” The question mark was key, and did not carry over to the book that was released five years later in 1998, this time one month before Osama Bin Laden’s second fatwa against the west and Israel. Huntington theorized that, with the end of the Cold War and the removal of ideology as a source of conflict, it would be cultural and religious differences that would now propel history. So it was not the end of history after all, as Francis Fukuyama suggested, but rather the next stage in the evolution of global conflict.