The global recession not only impacts Western and developed countries, but its effects are also applicable to those from the Third World. On 2 April, 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown declared an end to the "Washington consensus" at the G-20 Conference in London. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, this economic policy prescription of open borders, floating exchange rates and fiscal prudence has been favored by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. With the global credit crisis and subsequent recession, politicians have risen to decry the neo-liberal ideology which encouraged relaxed trade restrictions on capital, over-sight deregulation, and the flow of goods. In fact, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on 26 September, 2008, remarked that "we must rethink the financial system from scratch, as at Bretton Woods" [Parker, Barber, Dombey, 2008]. As such, the international community is presently faced with an economic crisis testing the ability and effectivity of First World nation-states to lead in recovery, growth and development. For sixty years, the United States has been at the forefront of political and economic leadership in Western Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa; however, it appears that its hegemony as a super-power is beginning to wane. If so, what is the present and future theoretical framework for global power and conflict?
In light of the over-whelming attention and concern over global finances, Samuel Huntington's hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in [the] new world will not be primarily ideological or economic but will be cultural appears specious. Of course, the two decades following the end of the Cold War also witnessed a dramatic increase in non-traditional warfare, and grotesque acts of terrorism produced by cultural intolerance and hatred.
[...] American intervention has developed on the global stage in its manipulation of soft and of hard power to achieve policy ends; notably, those of the Washington consensus, and active military involvement. Of course, this perspective of representing ‘Civilization,' or one civilization in conflict with others, has in fact enabled the United States (as the hegemonic leader of the Western or First World) to profit from the Third World in the liberalization of trade, privatization of state enterprises, and the introduction of IMF and World Bank funding in return for “good governance” and democracy initiatives. [...]
[...] Huntington's hypothesis was to re-define future global conflict based on cultural differences rather than economic or political factors. On the surface, it appears that events over the past decade have yielded some credence to his proposition. In particular, tensions between the Occidental and the Oriental (or the West and Islam). Such thinking is nonetheless a distorted illusion which ignores individual difference, and the dynamics at work within societies to shape their direction. By inventing the artificial geographical and geopolitical borders of ‘civilization,' Huntington has created his own categories and mutually opposed groups. [...]
[...] “Proponents of this new orthodoxy claim that such democratic capitalist systems promote a prosperous and peaceful world because they are not best able to generate economic growth and do not go to war with each other” [Leftwich, 1993]. Leftwich continues to add that the application of democratic governance to national development, as if it were a natural and easy transition without cultural or other precursors, is not only a short- sighted policy decision but deeply flawed. In fact, the history of economic development in the Third World has proceeded with limited democratic government or authoritarian-control. [...]
[...] Huntington argues that the shift from an ideological conflict between capitalism and Marxism which characterized the former Cold War hegemonic rivalry is no longer applicable. The war for the ‘hearts and minds' of peoples in nation-states has been replaced by a cultural and religious divide which pits nations and groups of civilizations against one another. For Huntington, inter-civilizational conflict is manifested based on the demarcation of fault line conflicts and core state conflicts. A fault line conflict exists on a local level where adjacent states belonging to different civilizations, or within those with a mixed population, erupt in hostilities. [...]
[...] From this perspective, international development becomes a tool to promote and to maintain Western economic and political dominance over the ‘global community.' Huntington positions global conflict as the sharp interplay between the margins of civilizations. While his theory is reductive and narrow in its scope of dominant cultures, it does lend itself to post-colonial criticism. Huntington's hypothesis at once enacts an imperial mandate, seeking to control opposing cultures and to project Western hegemony, and fabricates the opposing civilization as By fabricating the cultural antagonism of a Clash of Civilizations, Huntington has performed the act of estrangement, and decentring the subject criticized by Said. [...]
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