By Richa Crockatt
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Extra resources for After 9 11 - Cultural Dimensions of American Global Power
The passage of the Patriot Act, with its threat to constitutional rights, is one source of concern, as is the general climate of suspicion of individuals with Middle Eastern connections or even appearance. In this connection America’s deep military and political entanglements in the Middle East complicate matters for Muslims in America and elsewhere. Failure to make progress on a settlement of the Palestinian–Israeli conflict is doubly damaging: damaging to the parties directly involved and damaging to Muslims everywhere, who suspect that the American administration’s failure to push more strongly for a settlement reflects its true estimation of the significance of the Palestinian issue for them and also tends to reinforce the association of Islam with Anti-Americanism and the clash of civilizations 29 terrorism.
From the American point of view (shared by Tony Blair), the idea that a strong Europe should act as a counterbalance to US power was tantamount to obstructionism. Indeed, there was no place in the American scheme of things for that old realist nostrum: the balance of power. Finally, anti-Americanism attaches also to the third aspect of civilization-consciousness: the effort to enlist all nations in an enterprise which transcends the scope and interests of any one nation, that enterprise being civilization itself.
The longer-term reason for the renewed emphasis on culture in discussions of international relations relates to the changes brought about by the end of the Cold War, among which were, according to the influential argument of Samuel Huntington, the replacement of political ideology and economics by culture as the chief source of international conflict. There was and is huge room for argument about all the terms of the arguments referred to here. ‘Politics’, ‘ideology’, ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’ are all susceptible to multiple and complex definitions, to say nothing of the relations between them.