Exhuming Samuel Huntington’s theorems: Civilizational clashes, world order, and the impact on Europe


  • Raymond Taras Tulane University




In the summer 1993 Foreign Affairs issue Samuel Huntington published a pathbreaking article titled “The Clash of Civilizations.” He followed it up in 1996 with a book carrying the modified title The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. What was the reason for listing a fuller title? This article focuses therefore on the remaking of world order calling into question Huntington’s second theorem instead of his celebrated first – civilizational clashes. It provides greater explanatory power to the unipolarity-versus-multipolarity debate that dominates international relations and, presumably, was behind Huntington’s title extension. As a potential civilization clash Huntington categorized Ukraine as a cleft state divided along significant ethnic, linguistic, regional, religious, and urban-rural lines. But the conversion from cleft state to a rebranded Western national identity was not part of his analysis and was instead confirmed following Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories. Much overlooked by contemporary scholars today is the banal fact that territorial contiguity was regarded by many international relations specialists as the chief cause of conflict proneness between neighboring states. The remaking of world order leading to a multipolar system was not what Huntington had predicted and overshadows his ‘clash-of-civilizations’ theorem. Inadvertently, this article maintains, his logic was sidetracked by a more crucial development emerging in international relations, the matter of multipolarity.