State Failure and the Clash of Civilizations: An Examination of the Magnitude and Extent of Domestic Civilisational Conflict from 1950 to 1996

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Date Published:

Jul 1, 2003


This study quantitatively examines Samuel Huntington?s ?clash of civilisations? theory using data from the State Failure dataset which focuses on intense and violent internal conflicts between 1950 and 1996. The proportion of state failures which are civilisational has remained mostly constant since 1965. The absolute amount of civilisational conflict has dropped considerably since the end of the Cold War. There is no clear evidence that the overall intensity of civilisational state failures is increasing in proportion to non–civilisational state failures. Also, the predictions of Islam?s ?bloody borders? and the Confucian/Sinic–Islamic alliance against the West have not yet occurred. In fact, Islamic groups ?clash? mostly with other Islamic groups. However, the majority of the West?s civilisational conflicts, during the Cold War and to a lesser extent after it, are with the Islamic civilisation. Thus it is arguable that untington?s prediction that the Islamic civilisation is a potential threat to the West is probably more due to the end of the relevance of the Cold War paradigm than any post–Cold War changes in the nature of conflict. This highlights the potential influence of paradigms on policy and should serve as a caution to academics and policy makers to be more aware of the assumptions they make based on any paradigm.


Last updated on 06/23/2016