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What evidence is there to support the claim that culture is a cause of conflict in international relations? 

 Culture is embedded in human nature and thus should definitely affect our actions, our conflicts. It can be explained by giving six major divisions that Samuel hungtington explains. This essay also explains the current cultural conflicts that exist in the global world and their explanation. The final point will be that of the European union and their issues with their immigration policy.

 To take a realist viewpoint, which seems most relevant in society conflict is a part of human nature, as advocated my Morgenthau. Hence the culture that is created by that man would also presumably be of a conflicting nature. Civilization identity will be increasingly important in the future, and the world will be shaped in large measure by the interaction among seven or eight major civilizations. These include western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization.

 The conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating civilizations. - Samuel hungtington

 The most important conflicts will now be on cultural fault lines; there can be five major causes to back this arguments relevance.

  • The differences between civilizations are not only basic but also real. They are differentiated by ideology, language, culture, tradition and most important religion amongst many other things that are a direct result of their historical events. These differences are the product of centuries and will not disappear easily. They are far more fundamental then differences of political ideologies. Differences are not necessarily a pathway to conflict but the most prolonged and most violent conflicts in history were created by these differences in civilizations. The cold war is one such example.
  • Secondly the world is becoming a smaller place and the interaction between these civilizations is increasing which intensify civilization consciousness and awareness of differences and commonalities with different civilizations. For example the north African immigration into France generates hostility in the host nation and at the same time increases receptivity to immigration by good European catholic poles.
  • Thirdly the process of economic modernization and social change are separating people from longstanding local identities. For example the near extinction of other languages due to English speaking prominence.
  • The growth of civilization consciousness is enhanced by the dual role of the west. A west at the peak of its powers confronts non-wests that increasingly have the desire, the will and resources to shape the world in now west ways. For example the end of the Nehru legacy and the Hinduization of India.
  • Fifth, cultural characteristics are less mutable and hence less easily compromised compared to political and economic differences. In the former Soviet Union, communists can become democrats, the rich can become poor and the poor rich but the Russians cannot become Armenians.
  • Finally economic regionalism between countries that share some sort of a similar civilization is increasing leading to more civilization consciousness.

 The next and probably one of the biggest factors is religious conflict. The iron curtain of Europe has been replaced by a velvet curtain. One has replaced the line that divided the two powers in the day of the cold war with a new divide on the basis. People to the north and west of this line are Protestants and Catholic’s and they share a common experience of European history. The people to the east and south o this line are orthodox or Muslims. This can also be seen originating from the ottoman and Hapsburg empires. The divisions were hardly ever touched by events in the other section. The conflict has been going on for 1300 years. From the constant swinging of balance from the ottoman Turks and the crusaders for Christianity. After World War II the west had begun to retreat. The gulf countries had a newfound strength in oil. They could now have powerful military resources at their will. To counter this balance the west ran many invasions in these countries. France fought a bloody war in Algeria (1950). The Americans in Lebanon, Libya and Iran (1958). The British and French forces invaded Egypt (1956).  This warfare between the Arabs and the west culminated in 1990 when the united states sent massive armies to the Persian gulf to defend some gulf countries against the other. In this aftermath NATO planning is directed directly to these potential threats in the future.

Other examples of the resistance to the west could be seen in Saddam Hussains attack on Israel.  The Arabs supported Saddam Hussain and hi efforts as they were wary of the increasing intervention of the western militia in the Persian Gulf. The west felt threatened by the increasing economic and social development in the Arab countries where the autocratic form of government was seen as a threat.

These are however just examples of just one type of religious conflict. Others would be some like conflicts between the Arabs ad the blacks, the Serbs and Albanians, the Bulgarians and their Turkish minority and the tense relations between the Russians and the Muslims in central Asia.

 The crescent shaped Islamic bloc, from the bulge of Africa to the central Asia has bloody borders.

  • Samuel hungtington

Kin country syndrome is the next most influential factor. Groups or states belonging to one civilization that become involved in war with people from a different civilization naturally try to rally support from other members of other civilization. an example of this would be the conflict in the gulf where one Arab state invaded the other and there where coalitions formed of Arab western and other states. A second would be the increasing support the western forces had for the Bosnian Muslims in Serbia.

Now if we look at causes for this cultural conflict that has risen we could come up with two reasons.

One would be that since the west is now at the peak of its powers its influence on the rest of the world is too great. Some even claim that international organizations like the UN are the western powers representing themselves as the world community.

The very phrase world community has become a euphemism to give legitimacy to the actions of the west.

  • Samuel hungtington

This is viewed by the non-west states as an exertion of their culture on the rest of the world. Even though some people defend the influence by saying, ‘western civilization is the universal civilization that suits all men’ in all practicality western ideas of individualism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, equality, rule of law amongst many others often find little resonance in religions like Islam.

The second reason is the torn countries theory. A country that has a fair degree of cultural homogeneity but is divided as to if the society belongs to one civilization or the other. Turkey is the most obvious example as they have applied to be a part of the European community but at the same time claim to be a institute of Islamic revival. Having been rejected by Brussels and having rejected mecca they had nowhere to go. The president claimed that religion was a cause of this rejection. Therefore they became the new revivers of the Turk civilization that stretched from the borders of Greece to those of china.

The cultural conflict however as above-mentioned can also be seen in countries where immigration has affected quality of life for the locals. Coming from different civilizations makes room for conflict. The number of people that immigrate to France from North African countries has lead to huge outcry. In fact the national football team now boasts of just 3 actual French nationals with the rest of the 21 being immigrants at some point. The issue of the European union is however at the heart of this matter. Globalization and blurring of borders between countries has enabled people to move freely across states and pursue their careers. This in theory is a good step but the problem the European union faces is that of the bigger countries becoming stronger poles. The situation is such where people from the smaller countries that constitute the EU flock to the 6 bigger countries in search of jobs and better opportunities. Now to consider the two perspectives this causes a loss of labor force in the small countries, that Is the crème de la crème of their workforce, the intellectuals are lost to these big countries causing brain drain. From the perspective of the bigger nations they face problems because of loss of local culture and jobs. The locals suffer in these situations and this causes conflict. For the administration it creates strain on limited resources that the state cannot keep providing to the ever-growing population. Even in the recent elections in may the parties that were anti immigration won with majorities that clearly demonstrates mass discontent. Leaders throughout Europe say people are increasingly pessimistic about the bedrock EU principle of open borders, which allows citizens of EU member states to work and receive social benefits anywhere they choose. Anti-immigration activists say governments know this, and are loath to allow referendums that expose the divide between elites and the citizenry on the question of EU migrant policies. The UK now has a governing party committed to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands. This is the first time that a government has had an explicit policy to reduce net migration, although it is increasingly clear that this objective is unlikely to be met by the end of this Parliament. Switzerland also had a referendum where the non-immigration support had the winning vote.

Culture therefore is an ingrained attribute that is central to the idea of conflict and proves to be more relevant than ever in conflicts in recent history.  Dare it be said but a third world war, if it happens will be a war of cultural identities.

 Orientalism Edward said

Martin Jacques

When china rules the world

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Written By Ameya Singh

Founder Young Bhartiya

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