Must civilisations clash?

Jesuits of the Stensen Institute in Florence invited Samuel Huntington of Harvard to participate on 7 May in a debate on geo-political positions of America, Europe and the Catholic Church. His controversial ?clash of civilisations? theory (that alliances and conflicts will henceforth revolve around cultural affinities and differences) has evoked strong responses around the globe. Critics maintain that it glosses over the motives that underlie economic alliances between Western super-powers and some Muslim ruling potentates. Huntington, who says that clashes between cultures will occur at the global level, referred to the Pope?s faith that such conflicts can be avoided, wishing it were true, but seemed reluctant to grant that as a realistic position. While speaking of the Middle East, he remarked that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein did not justify a military intervention, and that serious risks remain, especially if the reorganisation of a federal Iraqi State fails. Touching on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, he said that both parties would have to make important concessions if there is to be an enduring peace in the region. He prophesied that the next serious risk of military escalation would be East Asia where a conflict between China (an ancient civilisation) and the United States (the world?s main power after 1945) might well break out for political and economic reasons. [HL30506]