Sectarian Violence

These days’ people immediately think of the country of Iraq when they hear the words sectarian violence or cultural conflict.
Many of these individuals would be surprised to find that sectarian violence exist all over the world. Just hours ago a clash in southern Kyrgyzstan between Kyrgyz and Uzbek people claimed 26 lives in less than 24 hours. Buildings were set on fire and many individuals were treated for stab and gunshot wounds. It is unknown what caused this recent clash, but it is known that it was culturally motivated. “Sectarian Violence,” 2010) Also in the news this hour is the reporting of sectarian violence in Karachi, Pakistan that has increased a recent death toll to 5 in the just the last 15 days. (Raza, 2010) Cultural conflict is not just centralized in one location, it can be found all over the world. Samuel P.
Huntington, a professor of International Studies and former chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, produced an essay called “The Clash of Civilizations? detailing his theory that the end of history will come about through cultural conflict instead of an economic or ideological reason. (Huntington, 1993) Looking at the news for the last seven hours would lead a lot of individuals that Huntington’s theory is right on track. Discussion: Sam Huntington’s “hypothes is that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will be the battle lines of the future. ” (Huntington, 1993) Many indivudauls may agree with Huntington, especially after reading the book entitled The Iraq Papers.

This book states that sectarian violence causes the largest number of Iraqi civilian casualties. Iraq is in the grip of a deadly cycle: Sunni insurgent attacks spark large-scale Shia reprisals, and vice versa. Ehrenberg, McSherry, Sanchez, & Sayej, 2010) This book also identifies that “sectarian violence – particularly in and around Baghdad – has become the principal challenge to stability. ” (Ehrenberg et al, 2010) There are, however, some individuals that feel that Huntington’s theory is very vague and very circumstantial. Jonathon Fox, an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, completed his own quantitative analysis for the period of 1989 – 2002 and found the exact opposite of Huntington’s analysis.Fox’s researched proved that cultural conflicts were less common than non-cultural conflicts and that the Cold War had no significant effect on the ration between the two. (Graham, 2004) Another key fact in Fox’s research that hurts Huntington’s theory is that most cultural conflict that did occur was more likely to be between groups that were culturally similar.
(Fox, 2002) Conclusion: With research showing that Huntington’s theory is circumstantial but the news proving that sectarian violence is rising throughout the world, how are we to say if the history will end over a cultural battle?We must not just look at the violence between different cultural groups; we also have to look at any unison between them. I feel that it is very hard to prove Huntington’s theory. With the right resources and finance, it is possible to deter cultural groups from their violent ways. Peace talks have been conducted for decades between cultural groups to stop violence and brutal attacks. Huntington may prove to be right in his theory, but for now, we must wait and see the outcome of sectarian violence all around the world.

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