Many people tag the spat in middle-East, the genocide of the Rohingyas, atrocities in Kashmir, and brutality in Palestine as a clash of civilization – the clash between Islam and the West. However, it is not so.
Indeed there are conflicts and conflicts will remain – as far as there are nations – always. Conflicts are not due to civilization, but because of national interest. The phenomenon of national interest is such beautiful as it always bound some states under one flag. The current scenario is closing countries of the East to be in one group. Thus, the world is moving towards, what Bertrand Russell called, the East vs the West.
Whenever one thinks about the clash of civilization, most of the times the picture which is portrayed in one’s mind is of the fight is between state and non-state actors. Either it is Middle-East, Africa, or any other part of the world, the racial confrontation is always between a recognized state and some belligerent group. Americans vs Taliban; Myanmar against the Rohingya; all the cases aren’t between two states directly. However, the real clash would be among states because of non-state actors aren’t a legitimate subject of international norms. Moreover, the latter lack international platforms to justify their acts. These are the states which pronounce the legitimacy of rebels by supporting them diplomatically. Hence state is the sun of international relations, around which all the forces revolve.
State frame their policies not on the basis of civilization, but by looking at national interest. Look at the bonding of communist China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. States sometimes use the name of civilization to motivate their masses for national consensus, yet the slogan of civilization is limited to the boundaries of national interest. It never exceeds the utmost interests of the state. Thus, national interest encourages bonding on one hand and discourages on the other.
States cooperate where there is a harmony of interests. Nevertheless, the state doesn’t work over their interests, unless they are intimidated by the threat of losing some bigger interest than that. In few cases they also sacrifice their gains, being in a bloc.
Nonetheless, they do so only in hope of gaining more in the future. Where the gains aren’t prospected, states look for other options – no matter to which civilization they have to bond with.
In the 20th century, the East was not as organized as the West. For fulfilling national interests, the eastern states had to rely on the west. It reluctantly allowed the entry of the west in most of its interior disputes because it wasn’t on the driving seat. Most of its states were colonized by the Europeans. Some others weren’t liberated yet. Remaining were not in the position to challenge the hegemon. During the cold war, Soviet showed some resistance; but Moscow itself broke away due to her stagnant vision of the world, and gluing on an ideology. Such policies of the Soviet won her more foes than friends. Resultantly, the only retaliatory in the East knelt down.
The 21st is different. The new millennium has brought enlightenment for the East. National interests are yet nexus of the states, and will remain in the future too. However, the field of interest is moulded. Now not only military power is essential but also the soft power of economy. The Asians socks-up for the game and boosted their organization by strengthening the existing platform of collision in the East such as Asean, SCO, etc. Such harmony of interests, espoused states for mutual cooperation within the boundaries of the East.
Economy is the utmost need of any state. It was the reason for the eastern states had to “do more” at the behest of the west. Now, the situation is changing. The rise of Asian economies is refraining the other stagnant economies of the region to beg from the old masters – the western states. The mass economy of China is not the only rivalry of the US economy, but it is also snatching periphery Asian states from Washington. The economic aspirations and an organized union are drawing Asians more closer to each other, as they had been never in the previous times.
Similarly, the Western counties are in a single bloc as they have been since long. The unity has survived many storms including the Brexit and the recent Trump’s duties on European imports. Whenever western powers need the support of each other they all come on one page. The problem may be of extremist attacks in France or chemical attack on an agent of the UK, the western states can be seen shoulder to shoulder. Thus, the time, situation, and needs have divided the world into two parts – not under two states but under various core states present in both groups.
One may argue that some states of Asia, like Saudi Arabia, are not supporting the Eastern bloc, and the West still has dominance in the East. The fact is that neither these states are core states for the ultimate clash nor they have the geopolitical capability to be used for the clash. These are little proxies in the ultimate game. Moreover, if the west has proxies in the East, the East too has influence in the west. The example of Italian and the Dutch Elections, which were won by close friends of Putin, is pertinent in this regard. Hence, both camps are also equal in this concern. Furthermore, one can’t predict Western influence in the middle east in the long run.
The clash always starts from the acts of subjugation of one party by the other. When the party to be subjugated is weak it doesn’t retreat. However, when it become strong enough to reply, it does. The Europeans are fond of making colonies. With the stressing over of ‘jus cogens ‘, strengthening of international organization and development of awareness they couldn’t colonize. Though, the west had continued her imperialism through intervention on the weak and unorganized. But, now the East is more organized, more self indulgent, and will be increasing its strength, in terms of economy and military, in the upcoming time too. The top Eastern core states, China and Russia, has started retaliating the western blows economically as well militarily. It is no wonder that why Washington has termed China and Russia more threatening than terrorism.
The clash has started and will rise with the passing time. The Middle East crisis, the skirpal-nerve-attack-issue and economy war between Washington an Beijing are all examples of the clash between the East and the West. All the members of from both the regions are supporting their region. The nations which have reservations earlier in the region — like Vietnam have a reservation on the matter of south China sea with China — are being persuaded by the core states.
So, ultimately the clash is between the East and the West. The national interest of nations is pushing them to be teamed up in regions, not in civilizations. Besides, the reawakening of the East made her to retaliate the western moves. West has already been under one flag. The strengthening of some Eastern states is closing up the eastern countries. The power game has made both the regions against each other. And the game is on!