Saturday, October 21, 2006

New world order

New world order – as a result of civilisation clashes

World politics entered a new phase after 9/11 world trade centre bombings. Two visions have taken the centre stage in this new phase. Each of these visions catches aspects of the emerging reality.

Any new world order historically has been preceded by chaos and conflicts. The fundamental source of conflict in this new phase our world has entered will be on two primary fronts one being ideological (religion) and other being economic. The dominant of these factors would be cultural which is akin to ideological. 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 of whose examples we are seeing it be in Middle East, Kashmir, Iraq, some call this jihad and other call this terrorism. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.

Civilization is a cultural entity, is thus the highest cultural grouping of people. Civilization identity will be increasingly important in the future, and the world will be shaped in large measure by the interactions among seven or eight major civilizations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization. The most important conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating these civilizations from one another and in particular we are in the beginning of a greater conflict between the Western and Islamic world.
Why is the conflict? Primarily differences among civilizations are not only real; they are basic. Civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition and, most important, religion. The people of different civilizations have different views on the relationship with God. These differences are the product of centuries of suspicion and audacity which stems from the misinterpretations of the word of god and will not disappear soon. They are far more fundamental and deep rooted than when compared to differences among political ideologies and political regimes.
In much of the world religion has moved in to fill this gap, often in the form of movements that are labelled fundamentalist." Such movements are found in Western Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as in Islam. In most countries and most religions the people active in fundamentalist movements are young, college-educated, middle- class technicians, professionals and business persons.
West is at a peak of power. At the same time, perhaps as a result, a return to the roots phenomenon is occurring among non-Western civilizations. Increasingly one hears references to trends toward a turning inward and "Asianization" in Japan, the end of the Nehru legacy and the "Hinduization" of India, the failure of Western ideas of socialism and nationalism and hence "re-Islamization" of the Middle East, and now a debate over Westernization versus Russianization in the former USSR. A West at the peak of its power confronts non-Wests that increasingly have the desire, the will and the resources to shape the world in non-Western ways.
Conflict along the fault line between Western and Islamic civilizations has been going on for 1,300 years. After World War II, the West, in turn, began to retreat; the colonial empires disappeared; first Arab nationalism and then Islamic fundamentalism manifested themselves; the West became heavily dependent on the Persian Gulf countries for its energy; the oil-rich Muslim countries became money-rich and, when they wished to, weapons-rich. Several wars occurred between Arabs and Israel (created by the West). British and French forces invaded Egypt in 1956; American forces went into Lebanon in 1958; subsequently American forces returned to Lebanon, attacked Libya, and engaged in various military encounters with Iran; Arab and Islamic terrorists, supported by at least three Middle Eastern governments, employed the weapon of the weak and bombed Western planes and installations and seized Western hostages. This warfare between Arabs and the West culminated in 1990, when the United States sent a massive army to the Persian Gulf to defend some Arab countries against aggression by another. This centuries-old military interaction between the West and Islam is unlikely to decline. It could become more virulent. The Gulf War left some Arabs feeling proud that Saddam Hussein had attacked Israel and stood up to the West. It also left many feeling humiliated and resentful of the West's military presence in the Persian Gulf, the West's overwhelming military dominance, and their apparent inability to shape their own destiny. Many Arab countries, in addition to the oil exporters, are reaching levels of economic and social development where autocratic forms of government become inappropriate and efforts to introduce democracy become stronger. Some openings in Arab political systems have already occurred. The principal beneficiaries of these openings have been Islamist movements. In the Arab world, in short, Western democracy strengthens anti-Western political forces. This may be a passing phenomenon, but it surely complicates relations between Islamic countries and the West.
The conflict of civilizations is deeply rooted elsewhere in Asia, though not on religious lines for now, but clearly showing sings of religious unrest. The historic clash between Muslims and Hindus in the subcontinent manifests itself now not only in the rivalry between Pakistan and India but also in intensifying religious strife within India between increasingly ultra right wing Hindu groups and India's substantial Muslim minority. The destruction of Babri Mazjid in Dec 92 brought to the fore the issue of whether India will remain a secular democratic state or become a Hindu one, and ever since then there is an ongoing struggle between secularists on one side and fundamental groups on the other side.

It is in the sweep of the Islamic nations from Maghreb to Pakistan that the struggle for a new world order will begin.

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