After 9/11 the US response to Al-Qaeda – the Global War on Terror – was heavily influenced by the ‘clash of civilizations’ theory. First introduced by Bernard Lewis in 1993 in an article entitled ‘The Roots of Muslim Rage’, this theory was taken up by Samuel Huntington in his famous book
The Clash of Civilizations: Remaking of World Order in 1996. After the end of the Cold War global conflict will not be economic or ideological but cultural and religious. ‘The clash of civilizations’, Huntington wrote, ‘will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.’
This theory of global conflict proved enormously influential with neoconservatives in the US and heavily influenced contemporary US and UK policy. Richard Bonney’s controversial new book takes as its subject Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis and looks at the history of this so-called struggle of civilizations before it came to prominence in the twenty-first century. It identifies the twenty-first-century proponents of the thesis, such as Bernard Lewis and Daniel Pipes, their links to the Bush government, and their roles in exploiting this tradition of hostility between the West and Islam.