Political scientists greeted the end of the cold-war by proclaiming that a new era in international relations had begun. However, seventeen years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall and yet no satisfying or widely accepted label has been attributed to this new era; it is still simply referred to as the post-cold war era (Skidmore, 1998). Optimists such as Bartley (1993) and Mueller (199) argue that the end of the cold war will lead to more widespread economic development and to growing demands for democracy, which in turn will bring about the obsolescence of major war. However, one of the most controversial and pessimistic attempts to define this era was made by Harvard Professor, Samuel Huntington in his 1993 article titled "The Clash of Civilizations".
According to Huntington (1993 and 1996), conflicts of the future will not be based on traditional ideological or economic grounds, but rather "conflict between civilizations will be the latest phase in the evolution of conflict in the modern world".
Huntington (1993) further asserts that this conflict will be most evident in the division between "the west and the rest". In order to examine the legitimacy of Huntington's prophecies this essay will critically analyse his definition of civilizations and how they can be identified and also whether current trends in international relations will lead to global convergence or conflict between "the west and the rest".
However, before exploring Huntington's (1993) vision of future conflict between "the west and the rest" it is first important to examine how he is able to group the world into both civilizations and into the much broader category of "the rest". The current balance of power in world politics is United States hegemony (Kegley 2006), however Huntingtion's (1993) realist hypothesis identifies serious threats to global order...