Imperialism and Today

After reading this article, many people might assume that this article discusses civilization identities and how these identities will replace all other identities, how nation states will disappear, how each civilization will become a single political entity, and how groups within a civilization will not have conflict between each other or even possibly fight each other. The article does however, bring up the notion that there are differences between civilizations that are real and important; that the consciousness of civilizations is increasing; that conflict between civilizations will dominate globally; that international relations, typically played out within Western civilization, will be de-Westernized; that conflicts between groups in different civilizations will be more frequent, more sustained and more violent than conflicts between groups in the same civilization; that a central focus of conflict for the immediate future will be between the West and several Islamic-Confucian states. This is not to say that this article promotes conflict between civilizations. It does however, describe what the future may be like. If these notions are possible, then it is our duty to consider their implications for Western policy.

With all of the above in mind, these implications need to be divided into two categories: short-term and long-term advantages. Short-term advantages would be that it is in the best interest of the West to promote greater cooperation and unity within its own civilization. This unity will allow the incorporation of Eastern European and Latin American cultures into the West because their cultures are close to those of the West. They can also promote relations with Russia and Japan while preventing the escalation of local inter-civilization conflicts into major inter-civilization wars. This unity will also allow the West to limit the expansion of the military strength of Confucian and Islamic states because they can moderate the reduction of military capabilities and maintain military superiority in East and Southwest Asia. The differences and conflicts among Confucian and Islamic states can be exploited while also supporting the other civilizations of groups that can sympathize with Western values and interests.

When looking at long-term advantages however, other measures could be called for. Western civilization can be considered both Western and modern. Those civilizations that are considered non-Western have attempted to become modern without becoming Western. Japan, as of now, is the only civilization to have successfully succeeded in this journey. Those civilizations that are attempting to become modern continue to acquire the wealth, technology, skills, machines and weapons that are part of being modern. They will also attempt to take this notion of modern society and apply it to their traditional cultures and values. Because of this, their economic and military strength will increase and the West will increasingly have to accommodate these Non-Western modern civilizations whose power approaches that of the West but whose values and interests differ significantly from those of the West. When this happens, the West will be required to step up their game. They will do this by maintaining economic and military power necessary to protect their interests in relation to these civilizations as well as developing an understanding of the basic religious and philosophical assumptions underlying other civilizations and the ways in which people in those civilizations see their interests. They will need to identify elements of commonality between Western and other civilizations. The future of the West depends on not having universal civilizations but instead having a world of different civilizations in which each of them can learn to coexist with one another.

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