The Public Beheading of Alan Henning by IS -The Clash of Civilizations and The Making of a New World Order:
A review of Samuel P Huntingdon’s Thesis and its Relevance to the New Wave of Global Terror
By Donovan Reynolds and Kevton Foster Bloggers and Independent Writers
ISIS is the unauthorised creation, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It is an expansion of ISI (Islamic State in Iraq) and operates in both Iraq and Syria. Until last year it was an Al-Qaeda affiliate but it has now evolved into an Al-Qaeda rival. ISIS is a very radical Islamic organization whose stated objective is to use force and military conquest to recreate the caliphate and to impose their idea of strict Islamic rule in the Middle East. It uses an image of religious wholesomeness to raise large amounts of money from donors and to recruit many volunteers from around the world to engage in jihad or the ‘fight for Islam’. According to US intelligence sources ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State, can “muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria, “It is also a mafia-like organization which raises a great deal of money through extortion, and looting, selling what it has looted and kidnapping westerners and collecting large ransoms for their release.
Allan Henning, a Salford taxi driver From the United Kingdom was delivering aid to Syria in December 2012 when he was kidnapped and then held hostage by IS. IS threatened to kill him in footage released last month on the internet which showed the gruesome beheading of another British journalist David Haines, and in this video they also threatened to behead US aid worker Peter Kassig. Alan Henning a taxi driver and philanthropist had gone to Syria to help get aid to people of all faiths in their hour of need but was brutally beheaded by IS and his death was callously paraded on video across the internet as revenge for British involvement in the American led war on IS. The gruesome beheading sent shockwaves across the western word evoking rage and deep sympathies internationally. Britain and the US maintain a policy of not negotiating ransoms with terrorists while the French and the German governments are more flexible on the matter. British Prime Minister David Cameron assured Mr Henning’s family that Britain would do all it could “to hunt down his murderers and bring them to justice”. This act is especially despicable to Western societies as it is not only barbaric but archaic and more indicative of warring medieval civilisations.
Therefore, it seems wholly appropriate for us to assume that we are experiencing ‘a clash of civilisations. The Clash of Civilizations is a theory, proposed by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington. He posited that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War era. Huntington was a former White House Coordinator of Security Planning for the National Security Council for President Jimmy Carter. Huntington began his thinking by surveying the diverse theories about the nature of global politics in the post-Cold War period. Some theorists and writers argued that human rights, liberal democracy and capitalist free market economy had become the only remaining ideological alternative for nations in the post-Cold War world. Most notably among such scholars is Francis Fukuyama who has argued that the world has reached the ‘end of history’ in a Hegelian sense.
Huntington believed that while the age of ideology had ended, the world had only reverted to a normal state of affairs characterised by cultural conflict. In his thesis, he argued that the primary axis of conflict in the future will be along cultural and religious lines. As an extension, he posits that the concept of different civilisations, as the highest rank of cultural identity, will become increasingly useful in analysing the potential for conflict.
In the 1993 Foreign Affairs article, Huntington wrote:
It is my hypothesis 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 dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.
Huntington in his seminal thesis on the clash of civilizations explained that some of the factors contributing to this conflict are that both Christianity (which has influenced Western civilization) and Islam are missionary religions, which seek the conversion of others. Islam posits that there is no God but Allah while Christianity posits that there is no other name under heaven whereby salvation can be gained except through Jesus. This constitutes universal, “all-or-nothing” religions, in the sense that it is believed by both sides that only their faith is the correct one. Both religions are teleological who dogmatically posit that their values and beliefs represent the goals of existence and purpose in human existence. Irreligious people who violate the base principles of those religions are perceived to be furthering their own pointless aim, which leads to violent interactions.
More recent factors contributing to a Western-Islamic clash, Huntington wrote, are the Islamic resurgence and demographic explosion in Islam, coupled with the values of Western universalism—that is, the view that all civilizations should adopt Western values. This has infuriated Islamic fundamentalists. The combination of these historical and modern factors, Huntington wrote briefly in his Foreign Affairs article and in much more detail in his 1996 book, would lead to a bloody clash between the Islamic and Western civilizations.
The contemporary struggle against international terrorism is different from any other war in our history. In the case of IS the enemy is not a single political enemy but a group of Mujahedeen thugs. It is a criminal mafia network operating between Syria and Iraq but also having ties to Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram franchises. They have hijacked and corrupted the religious ideas of Islam and distorted it for extracting evil benefits and the exercise of conquests and power under the pretext of establishing an Islamic caliphate. These mafia thugs also hold the misguided belief that they should achieve their evil aim by slavery, kidnappings, robberies, geo-political conquest, beheadings, crucifixions and the forceful religious conversion of people who don’t share their seventh-century beliefs.
President Obama and the west were right on this occasion to launch air strikes on IS operations in Syria and Iraq as they pose a threat not only to the Middle East but to western countries and even those with Islamic immigrant communities. Their appeal is broad and their tentacles of recruitment have an extensive reach into the west where they recruit young vulnerable Muslims in the UK, USA, and Western Europe and as far afield place such as East Timor and Trinidad. The world must send a message to these evil morons who will stop at nothing to spread their evil brand of medieval mayhem upon us. In the same vein while we hunt them down we have to be wary of the unintended consequence of the accidental deaths of Iraqi and Syrian non-combatants so often insensitively fobbed off in the West as collateral damage. While the western governments go ahead to contain these hate mongers, it is imperative that they exercise caution and not flaunt humanitarian laws nor ignore the plight of the refugees that emerge from this conflict. It is of paramount importance that the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations are allowed free and unfettered access to provide assistance and support to those in need as is befitting of their human dignity as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law.
This article was written jointly by Donovan Reynolds CEO and Kevton Foster Managing Editor of Kingston-Mouth .com. Both are Independent Bloggers and Human Rights Activists who are of Jamaican descent and are legal academics who have an interest in Human Rights and International Development issues. Viewers wishing to give feedback on this article may do so in the space