May 24, 2005

Resolving the Clash of Civilizations

My new Tech Central Station column is up: Resolving the Clash of Civilizations. Don't miss this one.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 24, 2005 08:19 PM

"This isn't just about Lebanon, either," he said. "You want to know what we're doing? I'll tell you what we're doing. We are resolving the clash of civilizations."

How refreshing that we can finally admit the obvious. Whether the reasons are religious or ideological, or for oil, it doesn't really matter. This clash is only the latest round in the series of East/West clashes that goes back millennia to the Persians and Greeks.

Posted by: spaniard at May 24, 2005 09:35 PM

Great column Michael. This should be required reading for anyone with any interest in the Mideast.

Posted by: TallDave at May 25, 2005 07:15 AM

Several countries have managed to reconcile east and west, including Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and to a lesser extent Turkey, Thailand, and India. Indonesia and Malaysia are attempting the transition, but corruption and islamic inertia hamper the effort. Islam in its fundamental sense is inimical to modernism and democracy as it is understood in the west. The Lebanese are very brave, as are most Iraqis.

Posted by: barfdog at May 25, 2005 07:17 AM

Great column. I flew into Beirut a couple of times in 1983 (a couple of months before the Marine barracks was attacked) and I remember thinking what a gorgeous city (right between the beach and the mountains) that could be if they could straighten things out politically. It looks like they may finally be on their way there.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at May 25, 2005 07:26 AM

Very hopeful here, Michael. Lebanon could be the real tipping point for the Middle East. It would provide a peaceful model for its neighbors, all he US has to do is stand firm rhetorically.

It looks like moe than one level of change is happening (and rapidly - given Huntingon's civilizational timescales); one political, and one cultural.

Posted by: jdwill at May 25, 2005 08:12 AM

Lebanon represents a real chance for the ME to chart a new course into the future,but frankly Iraq is much more important in that regard.Beirut once had the reputation of the most cosmopolitan city in the whole region and with any luck and good will among its people it should easily recapture past glories.Between the examples of Lebanon and Iraq, we can all hope that the jihadis are squeezed into relative nothingness, if not literally into a very fine dust.

While on the subject of a 'clash of civilizations',the head doofus(oops Sec-Gen) of Amnesty International has just said that "Guantanamo has become the gulag of our time,".

What planet do these people actually inhabit? Without going into specifics,if Gitmo was a true gulag,we would not have heard of it until well after the fact,and we would not have to worry about the 'stories'told by the inhabitants since they would probably simply be 'gone'.Let's get real here folks. This is similar to the 'you're a Nazi' meme. A real Nazi would disabuse these clowns of their cluelessness in about 15 minutes,and a 'real' gulag would make Gitmo appear as a country club in comparison.This type of loose faulty logic demeans both language and those suffering under the boots of true tyrants.

For those interested in abusing themselves in more detail:

Another Clash of Civilizations

Posted by: dougf at May 25, 2005 08:35 AM

Uh, MJT, this is an odd criticism: I think the article is too short. Did the editor trim it down, or did you do it yourself?

Posted by: Solomon2 at May 25, 2005 09:05 AM

Great article, especially this quote:

"Look," he said. "If you have a hard time figuring what the civil war was about, don't feel bad. No one in Lebanon really understands either."

I hope Lebanon's revival succeeds politically and economically. It does sound like a nice place to visit.

Posted by: mary at May 25, 2005 09:07 AM

I wonder how much influence we will have on the rest of the Middle East.
Some have said that totalitarian dictatorships lasted for so long in the Middle East because everyone saw the Lebanon example.
Now, they are saying the flower is starting to bloom in the Middle East because we ran to the streets in front of the Army guns and the Syrians.

Posted by: lebanon.profile at May 25, 2005 09:51 AM


Excellent article, excellent work in Lebanon this (Arab) Spring. Keep up the good work, serious liberal voices such as yours are and will be crucial.

I post some further thoughts at Clash of Civilizations.

Posted by: Dadmanly at May 25, 2005 01:40 PM


Great column, once again.

Posted by: Asher at May 25, 2005 03:57 PM

Very nice column. It's insightful and brings the Cedar Revolution to life. I agree with you completely - the Cedar Revolution is a peaceful event that unites two spheres in the world.

Also, I think what's often overlooked is how significant it is that virtually all of Revolution happened from within. That's a big deal for the Middle East.

But you’re column sheds another light on a major quality of what’s going on. Great read. Thanks.

Posted by: Troy Specter at May 25, 2005 04:28 PM

»Beirut may be the only place in the world
»where you can buy a necklace with a Christian
»cross and a Muslim crescent moon fused together
»as one.

There are christian churches amalgamated with jewish ones. Must count as heftier than a necklace, uh?

Posted by: George Yu at May 25, 2005 06:12 PM

This is similar to the 'you're a Nazi' meme. A real Nazi would disabuse these clowns of their cluelessness in about 15 minutes

That "'you're a Nazi' meme" is one of my pet
gripes those who use it NEVER use "you're a Stalinist' meme"

And Stalin made Hitler look like a boy scout

Posted by: Dan Kauffman at May 25, 2005 07:02 PM

Dan, Stalin made Hitler look like a brutal bastard. They were the worst of the worst. (add a sprinkle of Mao 50mil, Saddam and Mugabe)

T-bone, Thank god the "clash of civilizations" has been averted! I doubt that the enemy will see it that way. Their religion is death, death to America and death to any who will not bend to their gods will (I am not refering to Muslims, I am refering to Them).

Posted by: Mike #3or4 at May 25, 2005 09:27 PM

Michael, I really liked your graph on a leader:
I interviewed student leader Nabil Abou-Charraf in a café across the street from Lebanon's parliament. He belonged to the core group of 200 dissidents who had been protesting Syria's occupation for years. Until the massive demonstrations after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, he was routinely arrested, beaten, and tortured. Now he has strength in numbers.

I can imagine a young Ho Chi Minh against the French in the 30s, and the Japs in 40s...
I think of Nelson Mandela, in prison for so long.
I think of the unnamed Chinese student in front of the tanks, and recall reading that numerous other Chinese were murdered, run down, by similar tanks.

The willingness to suffer, possibly die, for your principles is very powerful. In the Godfather II, there is a scene of a pro-Castro revolutionary blowing himself up with a police, and the mob guys say Get Out of Havana. The revolutionaries will win.

Suicide murderers have moral power because they give their lives for whatever it is they believe. American soldier deaths have even more nobility -- because they are fighting for freedom and democracy.

I feel your great article may help more folk understand and support the Lebanon experiment to avoid a clash (or another Lebanon Civil War -- a Clash verstion I).

I wish you had mentioned a Free Market -- where politicians are NOT allowed to make it illegal for Muslims and Christians to peacefully trade and come to commercial agreements. (The Jim Crow laws in the US were anti-Free Trade ) Buying and selling to strangers is one of the best ways to take a first step towards tolerance of the Other.

[Would you rather have comments here or on TCS? I think YOUR site is generally a bit better on comments]

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at May 26, 2005 01:16 AM

Lovely sentiment. But would they let their daughter marry one?

Posted by: niceasfarasitgoes at May 27, 2005 07:24 AM

Notice the Koranimals mass by the tens of thousands to protest alleged Koran mishandling, but nary a peep from them to protest muslim terrorism.

The truth couldn't be more obvious.

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