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To anyone interested in international relations, the book is as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1996, if not more so.
As a result, the relationship between the two civilizations would become increasingly confrontational, especially as China's economic and military power expands and Beijing begins to pursue a role as a regional hegemon.
The prediction that tension between China and the West would grow after the end of the Cold War has certainly come true.
Huntington contended, in what was perhaps his most forward-looking insight, that clashes between the West and the Islamic world would intensify with the collapse of the Cold War rivalry.
He astutely observed that the fall of the Soviet Union and much of the global communist movement in the early 1990s "removed a common enemy of the West and Islam and left each the perceived threat to the other." Huntington argued that the shared universality of the Western and Islamic cultures, which espouse views that they believe all humans can adhere to, would generate competition and conflict between the two.Indeed, the Islamic State's recent attacks in Paris, which came amid increased Western airstrikes in Syria, seem to suggest exactly that.That said, the tremendous diversity within the Islamic world serves as an important counterargument to Huntington's theory.And so, 20 years later in a world that seemingly confirms Huntington's predictions in many ways, it is just as illuminating to take a closer look at what he got wrong.Huntington believed that the ideological conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union — the Cold War era's two superpowers — would not mark the "end of history," as so many believed, but that it would eventually be replaced by a conflict between civilizations in the post-Cold War world.These events set Western powers on a collision course with many countries and groups within the Islamic world as the rise of radical Islamist militancies coincided with the United States' becoming mired in conflicts throughout the Middle East.While the way in which the United States conducts its global war on terror has evolved over the past two decades, there is no question that a dynamic similar to the predicted Islamic-Western conflict has become an important driver of the modern world order.The first predicted that Western civilization (primarily made up of the United States and Western Europe) would find itself increasingly challenged by non-Western civilizations, especially the Islamic world and China.The second forecast that the fault lines between civilizations, the geographic areas where two or more distinct civilizations are in proximity to one another, would be major sites of conflict in the post-Cold War era.And just as Huntington overstates the civilizational nature of conflicts in the Islamic world, he fails to address many of the geopolitical imperatives behind them, including the opening of fissures within Islam as the Sykes-Picot era declines and the weakening of centralized states' ability to contain those divisions.While Huntington attributed the Islamic world's rise to its demographic expansion, he credited the post-Cold War ascent of China to its economic expansion.