Friday, March 20, 2015

Clash of Civilizations or Egyptian AND USA Revolutions

This is the conclusion of a three part review of Samuel Huntington’s book the “Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order”

To return to the introduction starting with an explanation of the basics of democracy click here
To read part two click here 

Samuel Huntington has been called a false or real prophet based on his book the Clash of Civilizations; presumably this refers to whether or not he could predict the future to some degree. The War on Terror seems to have indicated that to some degree he could and did. A closer look may indicate that the main reason for this may have been because the government was following his advice, at least to some degree and he was providing advice that was designed to bring about the predictions that he was making. One quote he did get right was when he wrote, "First, statesmen can constructively alter reality only if they recognize and understand it.” (p.308) This is certainly true but I’m not convinced that Samuel Huntington understands it as well as many others seem to think. He may be well educated in the traditional thought process in Washington but that may be why he is providing advice that will help bring about the conflicts he predicts instead of trying to avoid them. Samuel Huntington is recommending the same authoritarian tactics that have led to this problem and few people if any that don’t adopt a similar thought process can seem to get into positions of power when it comes to influencing foreign policy. This isn’t something new; in fact it has been going on for decades if not centuries. There presumably has been a system set up to educate the next generation in the same ideology as the previous one; otherwise there would have been more changes and efforts to avoid this. As indicated before the education process recommended by James Dobson surely is a part of this; however this is just the beginning.

The following quote from Dallek’s book may help indicate how authoritarianism may be advanced in the college years: ‘Henry had to prove himself to Elliott, who greeted him coolly at their ï¬Ârst meeting. “Oh God, another tutee,” he exclaimed after making Kissinger stand awkwardly in front of his desk for a bit while he attended to some business. Elliott instructed him to read twenty-ï¬Âve books on Immanuel Kant and write a paper comparing his critiques of pure and practical reason. Henry surprised the professor by reading all the books and completing a paper in three months that dazzled Elliott.’ (Robert Dallek “Nixon and Kissinger” 2007 p.41) Dallek writes about how William Y. Elliot was one of the most influential people in the political science department and how he also had a lot of influence in the political world. Kissinger presumably impressed him with what Elliot apparently considered hard work and presumably to some degree at least he was right. However I suspect he may have also impressed Elliot by adopting the right authoritarian ideology as well. This description of how Henry Kissinger got started is almost certainly not unique although it is rare to see it in writing. There are many other examples of how many of the advisors from the academic world, and the politicians and generals behave in authoritarian coercive manners. These have been indicated in many credible books including the “Pentagon Papers”, Many of Woodward’s books about various administrations, James Carroll’s book “House of War” and many more.

The academic world has often worked closely with the political world; more closely than many people, until somewhat recently including me, realize. By adopting the appropriate authoritarian attitude this may have helped Kissinger gain access to power from an early age and climb his way up. This is how he earned the nickname “Henry Ass-Kissinger” in college. There are of course many other politicians and academics that adopt this authoritarian attitude and selectively acknowledge facts only when it suits their purposes or when they’re forced to do it by others with political power or the ability to communicate their message to the public; in some cases they still simply deny or ignore facts they don’t like. Recent examples of this include Rumsfeld’s recent book tour where he justified the attack on Saddam Hussein by citing the fact that he used chemical weapons against his own people as well as the Iranians without mentioning the fact that he bought the chemical weapons from the US and that Rumsfeld himself met Saddam Hussein on friendly term in the eighties when he worked for Reagan; President Clintons recent public relations tour portraying him as a peacemaker despite his history supporting US military actions; and his wife was recently filmed at a speaking engagement while a protester spoke up and was hauled away by police, when this happened Hillary kept on talking acting as if it didn’t happen.

A few minutes after seeing this video of Hilary on Fox MSNBC showed another one where she was asking Iran to let their people be heard; I don’t think it was the same setting but they were within a day or so of each other and she clearly didn’t seem to be taking her own advice; neither Hilary or Fox made any attempt to actually inform the public what the protester was protesting about.

If this attitude among those in power is maintained and they continue to be presented as competent by the Mass Media and perceived as competent by the public then they may continue pursuing a course of action that is likely to maintain a state of constant war where civilizations are always in conflict as Huntington predicted and his prophecies may continue to come true. If so this will only because the governments continue to bring about the policies that make these predictions come true.

When 9/11 happened many people may have thought that Huntington successfully predicted this clash; and perhaps to some degree he did; however it was only because he saw a pattern and assumed that it would continue into the future. He also recommended the same policies that caused that pattern to appear in the first place. Without more to go on it wouldn’t help to attempt to go into many of the conspiracy theories that have been going on about 9/11 excluding the official conspiracy claim that fifteen Muslims mostly from Saudi Arabia, used box cutters to hijack the planes and crashed them; however considering the absurd activities that had been going on at least two years prior to the event and the way the government responded to it after the event it isn’t surprising that they came about. The truth as portrayed by the Mass Media may be even more bizarre than some of these conspiracy theories if you think about the absurd behavior that escalated no later than the 2000 campaign where both political parties ran grossly incompetent campaigns and then the Florida recount only escalated this absurdity. If there was a reasonably democratic election where the candidates had to go through a good interview process it is hard to believe that either Bush or Gore would have gotten the nomination let alone obtained the presidency through votes or interference by the Supreme Court.

This only escalated once GW Bush made his foreign policy clear. This included a series of blunders that were very likely to escalate tensions around the world for one reason or another. These Blunders included the shutting down of talks with North Korea simply because the new president had a different ideology and the incident involving a U.S. Navy EP-3E Aries II electronic spy plane that collided with a Chinese fighter off Hainan Island. In both cases they began when the Bush administration took a more adversarial policy towards other countries. This only escalated after 9/11 when he started jumping to conclusions and used the help when he could and in at least one major incident accepted assistance from Iran before turning around and labeling them part of the “Axis of Evil” afterwards anyway. This was before Ahmadinejad got elected and they had a more moderate president. There was little speculation among many of the most powerful people in government that his may have been part of the reason that Iran elected Ahmadinejad in the first place; there was plenty of this speculation from other sources including many much more open minded academics; however these people were either ignored or portrayed as fanatics by the Mass Media and the government despite the fact that some of them did as much better job reviewing the situation and showing the work behind their conclusions. These people may be the multiculturalists that Huntington and Schlesinger complained about.

If the politicians from our country and the leaders from other countries continue to rely on authoritarian methods and the threat of force and coercion as the only way to maintain balance in the world then it is likely that the Clash of Civilizations will continue to dominate foreign policy; however if the nonviolent protest that seem to be occurring in the Arab world escalate then perhaps this could offer an opportunity if people take advantage of it and attempt to advance alternative tactics. Huntington and others have indicated that they don’t believe that the Arabs are capable of nonviolence or democracy. Recent events seem to indicate that this assumption may be false; in fact it is almost certainly only their own prejudicial beliefs that led them to adopt them in the first place. Many of these Arab governments have stayed in power partly due to the assistance of the USA government and in some cases they may have stayed in power due to a unified opposition to the policies of the USA. The clearest example of this may be Iran which was ruled by a tyrant for decades with the support of the US government before the Iranian revolution. If not for the support of the US the elections in the fifties may have changed this and led to a more democratic government; or the student protests in the seventies could have provided a second opportunity.

It is too soon to tell for certain but the fact that these protests, especially the ones in Egypt, have had such an impact with a minimum of violence, at least on the side of the protesters, is cause for hope. There seems to be a lot of potential protest in other countries that almost certainly are not just coincidence. These protests almost certainly are the result of a lot of organizing that must have been going on behind the scenes with little or no attention from the Mass Media. In fact there was at least one interview that indicates that this was true in Egypt; at one point Rachel Maddow asked one of the protesters why this came about as such a surprise and he was surprised by the surprise of the media, he stated that they let them know weeks ahead of time and that the Mass media more or less just ignored them. The fact that someone as prominent as Mohamed El Baradei was involved surely should have led the Media to take these advanced notices seriously yet they didn’t for one reason or another. There were news reports about him trying to organize a boycott to the parliament and protests at least as far back as September of 2010 in Global Post and presumably other news outlets that many people are less aware of than the traditional Mass Media. The lack of reporting on this until the traditional Media was “caught by surprise” may indicate part of the problem; and there is a possibility that there are other things that are going on for better or for worse that the Mass media isn’t informing us about.

Some of this may include the lack of reporting on protest movements that are going on that don’t suit the purposes of the Mass Media. In fact I have heard of a few protests that were supposed to be big according to some low profile sources but they either didn’t happen or just didn’t get reported by the Mass Media. There were more protests going on within the United States and there seemed to be signs that they might be escalating but they seem to have tapered off over the last few years or gone unnoticed if they have continued to happen. These protests include the ones that escalated in 1999 in Seattle and were followed up by many others at economic forums and the elections of 2000 and they returned in the lead up to the war in Iraq, there must have been more but they don’t seem to be receiving as much attention until the Stewart/Colbert rallies that were organized a couple months ago although they seemed to be more of a joke than serious protests. Perhaps the best hope could be if these protests escalate peacefully and the people in the western world start paying attention and follow suit. If the peaceful protesters make a better effort to participate in democracy that could be the best chance to avoid the combative tactics typically used by the authoritarians in power and the Tea Party protesters that do manage to get a lot of attention. In fact since I published the first two parts of this review while writing the first protests began in Wisconsin over budget cuts and the Obama Administration put out its recommended budget.

This budget and other options being discussed by politicians seems to involve a lot of cuts for the working classes with little if any attempt to hold the rich and powerful accountable for the corruption that created the budget deficit in the first place. If they continue to blame those without political power for the corruption of those with political power the protests that have been happening in other countries are bound to escalate in the USA; the alternative is to submit to an incredibly corrupt authority and letting them continue the current course which is destroying the economy, the environment and the social programs that the majority rely on. The current form of Capitalism is only providing incentives for the most corrupt; therefore they seem to expect the rest of us to either submit or protest one way or another.
Additional hope may be indicated by reports that Iraq has delayed the purchase of 18 American fighter jets over budget problems and has decided to funnel the money into food for the poor instead. This should raise questions about why they were planning to buy them in the first place if they were having a hard time supporting their own people. There is a strong possibility that they ordered these jets under pressure from the US government that may have been putting undue pressure on them to purchase arms; they have had a track record of doing things like this in the past with allies that have been dependent on the US for decades. In fact this may be part of the reason that Egypt wound up in so much trouble in the first place.

The vast majority of the aid that the US was giving to Egypt was for their military while Mubarak was suppressing his own people. This revolution didn’t happen because of help from the USA; if anything it happened despite it. The people in the USA may actually be able to learn from the way they are protesting not the other way around. If the Arab world stands up to the Military Industrial Complex then ones supporting violent options without the consent of the people will be the western world contrary to what Huntington often says or implies. Surprisingly there are also protest in the western world against Berlusconi in Italy but not for his corruption which has been wide spread for years instead he is being asked to resign or face trial for a sex scandal that has no direct impact on the running of the government. The people in the Arab world seem to be doing a better job addressing the actual problems in the government while those in the West are more concerned about personal scandals.

Ultimately what it may come down to is that if we continue to allow the war mongers and authoritarians on both sides of the potential conflict to make the most important decisions then Huntington will continue to be right about civilizations continuing to conflict; if on the other hand people on both sides of the potential conflicts rise up peacefully and overthrow the government implementing an Educational Revolution
then we might be able to set up democratic governments in many different cultures. To return to the introduction starting with an explanation of the basics of democracy click here
To return to part two click here 

For complete copy of “Clash of Civilizations” PDF online click here

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