Anti-Americanism and the Clash of Civilizations

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This paper explores the connections between the theme of anti-Americanism the ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis. In addressing the resurgence of ‘civilization’ talk and ‘civilization consciousness’ in recent years I suggest that it betrays a heightened sense of ‘Americanness’ in the United States. The American claims on behalf of civilization express both a heightened awareness of American nationalism based on ideas of American exceptionalism and an insistence on the universal applicability of those claims. Anti-Americanism is in part a reaction to these claims. The conclusion reached is that Samuel Huntington was correct to see cultural conflict as a prime source of global conflict even if some of the conclusions he drew from his analysis were wrong. The aim of this paper is to rescue a cultural interpretation of global conflict from those who have attacked it and those who have most forcefully advocated it.


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anti-Americanism, clash of civilizations, nationalism, cultural conflict, national security