Clash of Civilizations, Culture and Conflict
In a series of influential studies, Huntington (1993a, 1993b, 1998) argued that the fundamental source of conflict in the post-Cold War world will not be primarily ideological or economic, but rather the great divisions among humankind. Given the fault lines between civilizations, the primary axis of conflict in the future will be civilization clashes. This paper tests Huntington’s hypothesis evaluating the impact of civilizations on militarized interstate disputes. In particular, we investigate whether countries that belong to different civilizations tend to be more involved in con.ict than countries that belong to the same civilization. We show that over the period of 1816-2001, dissimilarity in civilization in a dyad has no effect on conflict involvement. However, even after controlling for temporal dependence, and for geographic, political, military and economic factors, being part of different civilizations in the post-Cold War period brings about 63.6% higher probability of conflict than belonging to the same civilization, whereas this effect is insignificant during the Cold War. Moreover, we show that the element of civilizations that triggers belligerent relations the most is the language channel, despite Huntington’s unyielding emphasis on religion.
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