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Empirical Perspective on Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations”

Huntington’s main thesis in “The Clash of Civilizations” argued the fundamental conflict that the irreconcilable differences and clashes in the post-Cold War world would be based on cultural views of different nations and civilizations. Cox, Oneal, and Russett put forward the counterargument by claiming the statistical analysis of clashes between militarized interstate during the time-lapse of 1950-1952. Contrary to Huntington’s thesis that envisioned that the clash of civilization would turn the 21st century into a battleground, they claimed through their statistical findings that interstate militarized conflicts have an indirect influence on the nations. Russett, Cox, and Oneal undertook an assessment at the dawn of the 21st century to contradict Huntington’s statement that on the basis of political and ideological struggles civilizations in the 21st century would be a battlefield. They predicted that inter-states with similar civilizations and cultural values were involved in militarized clashes more than the states with different civilizations. (Russet, 2000)

Cox, Oneal, and Russett presented their model that internal conflicts between civilizations might exist and could increase the probability of violence. However, external disputes could not really exist while communicating between different groups of different civilizations. (Fox, 2002) In response to their argument, Huntington replied that his central theme was the disintegration of civilizational and cultural identities in the post-Cold War world whereas they analyzed interstate conflicts during Cold War as it was ended in 1989. Whereas, he talked about the emerging 21st century in his writing. Huntington shot back that his every word is about “the emerging world” and “post-Cold War world” not about the conflicts during the Cold War and therefore his central argument could not be disproved. (Huntington, 2000)

Building upon Cox, Russett, Oneal’s model, I disagree with Huntington’s argument of the clash of civilizations among different cultures and civilizations. There are no statistics to empirically prove that diverse religious groups of different civilizations without any significant case of politicization can directly contribute to armed disputes. (Fox, 2002) I opine that political changes and socio-economic arrangements in the religiously-divided inter-state civilizations might lead to disputes. However, in a broader sense, clashes following civilization and religion would not matter most in international disputes as Cox, Oneal, and Russett also stated. It is understood that Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and people of other religions would most likely have disputes with the members of their own religion not with the religious people of other cultures and civilizations.


Huntington, S. P. (1993). “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, 72(3), 22-49.

Russett, B., Oneal, J., & Cox, M. (2000).”Clash of Civilizations, or Realism and Liberalism Déjà Vu? Some Evidence.” Journal of Peace Research, 37(5), 583-608.

Huntington, S. (2000). “Try Again: A Reply to Russett, Oneal& Cox.” Journal of Peace Research, 37(5), 609-610.

Fox, J. (2002). Ethnic minorities and the clash of civilizations: A quantitative analysis of Huntington’s thesis. British journal of political science, 32(3), 415-434.



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