Samuel Huntington Tribute

The resurgent violence in Gaza makes the recent death of Samuel Huntington particularly timely.

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An elegantly written opinion piece (“Samuel Hungtington’s Warning” by Fouad Ajami in today’s Wall Street Journal) contradicts the simplistic rejection of the author of The Clash of Civilizations as a super-patriot. He wasn’t. As Ajami modestly — in fact, humbly — explains, Huntington’s vision of the clashing multi-polar geopolitical world was prescient. Ajami had dismissed Huntington’s “clash” concept in a piece for Foreign Affairs in 1993, shortly after Hungtington’s “clash” hit the stands. But 15 years later, the tide of events turned:

“Fifteen years later, I was given a chance in the pages of The New York Times Book Review to acknowledge that I had erred and that Huntington had been right all along.”

As Bret Stephens in today’s WSJ wrote in “Hamas Knows One Big Thing,” citing the Greek poet Archilochus, the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Stephens continues, and I paraphrase:  Prior to Israeli’s statehood in 1948, the Zionists were the hedgehog, and what the Zionists knew was that their destiny was statehood in Palestine. But now it’s the Palestinians who are the hedgehog, and the one thing they know is that Israel will never be able to defeat them. Why? Disastrous PR and impossible branding.

Israel’s brand as holocaust surviving, anti-British imperialist David battling Arab enemies on all sides has been destroyed over the last few decades. And today Israel has been rebranded in the perception of multitudes around the globe as the brutal, evil occupier. Israel’s the fox who knows many things, but the Palestinians are the hedgehog who knows the one essential thing: First-world powers  may engage in wars — but they can no longer win them. And while Israel is not exactly a first-world power like the U.S., its intimate association with the U.S. makes it one.

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Filed under Current Affairs, History, Politics

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