Reading Exam about Three Articles

The Clash of Civilization as a theory suggests that the diversity of people’s cultural and religious identities is bound to be the primary source of conflict among nations during the post-cold war world. In his article, he argues that unlike in the cold war era where conflict was for power, in post-cold war era it will be between nations and groups of culture and religion. In The Clash of Ignorance, Said argues against one of the major ideas from The Clash of Civilization, which distinguished Islam and the west as two major political entities that are causing conflicts. While The Clash of Civilizations defines Islam and the West as two main sources of conflict in future, The Clash of Ignorance, which draws from The Clash of Civilization, ardently disproves of the lucidity and distinguishing of the two civilizations as a likely key source of conflict in post-cold war era.

In his explanation, a person lives in a broad group of identification that is cultural, community, state, nation or a country, where there are similarities between these entities. Huntington (1993) explains that civilization, which is broader, and similarities could be in an entire continent. He says that the Western civilization has gone far way in influencing development of civilization among many countries making it seem as the best option and dominant. However, he explains that this will change at some point since other civilizations will also influence the world and hence conflicts will arise. Among them, Islam and West civilizations will be the major conflict. In his article, he believes that Islam is violent religion citing evidence of the Muslim fundamentalist movements that are becoming more popular, and believes that their civilization is causing instability across borders.

On the other hand, Said (2001), in his article, argues against all this ideas from Huntington’s article. First, he argues that the Muslims who were involved in the September 11 attack were a small group of people who did not represent the complete Muslim religion; hence, Islam should not be implicated as a terrorist religion. In his article, he says that Muslim extremist should be viewed as a very imprecise aspect of the religion. He says that these are Islamic extremists, who misrepresent the religion, and the West uses them as evidence to reinforce their argument of the alleged conflict between Islam and the West as Huntington suggested. In his article, he proves his point using examples of societies where Muslims and Westerners live together harmoniously.

Moreover, he argues against the claim that Muslims are convinced of being superior to other civilizations worldwide. He does this by questioning on the sufficiency of their ability to research on all Muslims across the world and citing examples of Muslims embracing modern technology together with even many taking into the western way of dressing where they put on suits. In his article he responds to an allegation made by the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that Islam does not allow modernity by giving examples of various technologies that they use including one used by the 11th September 2001 attackers. In his article, he aims to lay emphasis on the lack of a clear difference that divide the Islam and the West by using examples of the many plural societies where people from both sides live in coexistence.

According to Said, he says that Huntington wants to make civilization and identity into something else other than what it is, and he suggests that westerners should welcome Islam, as they are all the same and can live in harmony. Putting a distinct difference between the two civilizations and citing them as future sources of conflict is wrong especially since Huntington portrays Islam as a violent religion, which it is not, except for the few extremists that misrepresent Islam. I seem to be in favor of Said’s argument since it tries to show that there are no distinct features of Islam that should be attributed to cause conflicts and they can exist together since it is evident in several nations and regions including America and Europe, who are the Westerners.

While Huntington wrote of the possible sources of conflict in the post-cold war being cultural and religion, where the different civilizations will influence the shape of the world, unlike the way it has been dominated by the westerners, conflicts may arise because of the differences. On the other hand, Said writes his article seven years later after the 11th September 2001 attack in response to the Huntington’s article disagreeing on the fact that the article was verified to be true on the issue of Islam against the West conflict.

Summary of Michael Ignatieff’s Article

In his article, Ignatieff suggests that with a military of unsurpassed might, the United States is ruling a new kind of empire where it controls several nations. He says that, “It is the only nation that polices the world through five global military commands; maintains more

than a million men and women at arms on four continents; deploys carrier battle groups on watch in every ocean; guarantees the survival of countries from Israel to South Korea; drives the wheels of global trade and commerce; and fills the hearts and minds of an entire planet with its dreams and desires,” (Ignatieff, 2003). While being an imperial is not just about being the most powerful, it also means laying rule, enforcing them and ignoring those that do not compare to its ambitions such as the Kyoto Protocol on environment. Americans are faced with a big challenge of not only creating peace in Iraq, but also in the Middle East to be safe from terror.

While Ignatieff thinks that containment measures to contain weapons of mass destruction that are suspected to be made in Iraq, the Bush administration feels that containment is no longer possible and is preparing to get into war to control the weapons. The reason for not considering containment is that Saddam may not use them, but could continue producing the VX gas, which would add more fear. He says that a government that oppresses its people and goes across the border to invade others and use its people’s wealth to build lethal weapons and make palaces has no moral authority and even the United Nations does not support such impunity.

Ignatieff identifies some of the burdens that face an imperial nation trying to help another nation gain freedom. He says that it will take a very long time to retain order in Iraq, let alone achieving democracy. He says it will involve a lot of work since the communities are divided and unless the Americans remain there to maintain order and democracy until they can learn to trust each other, it will yield no fruit. Taking on Iraq will involve talking the communities to accept it; the nations around it will have to agree to it since democracy for one will affect the others. Another challenge is overthrowing an Arab government in Iraq, while leaving other countries such as Palestinians and Israelis to continue fighting, which will still affect the other Islamic governments.

According to Ignatieff (2003), operations in Iraq will involve other commitments to create peace for Israelis and Palestinians, which would help Palestinians, make a stable country and rebuild it. To keep peace for Americans and the Israelis, since a successful strategy for fighting terror will depend on ensuring enough peace for both Israelis and Palestinians to reduce the extremists. Ironically, reducing the risk since a successful invasion in Iraq will mean more terror for Americans from the Arab world if they leave the rest of the Middle East in crisis. He says that this is the minimum justice the Americans can do to ensure its safety from terrorists.

Conclusively, Ignatieff states that, “This is finally what makes an invasion of Iraq an imperial act: for it to succeed, it will have to build freedom, not just for the Iraqis but also for the Palestinians, along with a greater sense of security for Israel. Again, the paradox of the Iraq operation is that half measures are more dangerous than whole measures. Imperial powers do not have the luxury of timidity, for timidity is not prudence; it is a confession of weakness” (Ignatieff, 2003). The intervention in Iraq will involve many commitments for Americans, which will be long term in order to achieve the goal of combating terrorism and maintaining peace in the Middle East and remaining safe.





















Huntington, S. (1993). The Clash of Civilization. Foreign Affaires, 136-144.

Igntieff, M. (2003). The American Empire: The Burden. New York Times Magazine, 154-163.

Said, E. (2001). The Clash of Ignorance. The nation, 146-149.




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