In his Essay ???The Clash of Civilizations,??? Samuel P. Huntington sets forth his hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in the future will not be primarily ideological or economic, but rather culturally based. Specifically, according to Mr. Huntington ???it is far more meaningful now to group countries not in terms of their political or economic systems or in terms of their level of economic development but rather in terms of their culture and civilization.??? Mr. Huntington also goes on to state in support of his thesis that ???economic regionalism is increasing. The proportions of total trade that were intraregional rose between 1980 and 1989??¦ [On] the one hand, successful economic regionalism will reinforce civilization-consciousness. On the other hand, economic regionalism may succeed only when it is rooted in a common civilization??¦??? However, I disagree with Mr. Huntington??™s theory and counter instead that it is the resultant effect of increased economic globalization and competition that will be the fundamental source of future conflict.
???Globalization??? is ???the process of international integration, required due to the increasing connectivity and interdependence of the worlds markets and businesses.??? Advances in telecommunications infrastructure, including the rise of the internet, represent major driving forces toward globalization and the increased international connectedness of many economies, all of which lead to the further intertwining of economic and cultural activity. While this has increased opportunity, it has also, at the same time, increased competition. For example, in 2000, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) identified four basic aspects of globalization: (1) Trade and transactions; (2) Capital and investment movements, (3) Migration and movement of people; and, (4) The dissemination of knowledge.
???Economic Globalization??? refers to increasing the economic interdependence of national economies across the world through a rapid increase in the cross-border movement of goods, services, technology and capital. Thus, globalization is centered on the reduction of international trade regulations as well as tariffs, taxes, and other impediments that suppress global trade, and economic globalization is the process of increasing economic integration between countries, leading to the emergence of a global marketplace or a single world market. Thus, depending on the particular fact pattern or situation posed, economic globalization can be viewed as either a positive or a negative phenomenon.
A case in point would be the economy of the European Union which in 2011 generated a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in excess of 17.6 trillion dollars, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and making it the largest economy in the world. The European Union economy consists of a single market for each of it 27 member states and is represented as a unified entity in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Further, the European Unions share of Gross World product (GWP) stands at approximately one fifth. The European Union is also the largest exporter in the world and as of 2008 was the largest importer of goods and services. Of note, internal trade between the member states is also aided by the removal of barriers to trade such as tariffs and border controls, and by not having any currency differences to deal with amongst most members. That is an overview of a positive phenomenon with regard to economic globalization. However, the European Union has also served as a negative example of the potential effects of this phenomenon, most notably during the height of the European Economic/Debt Crisis.
This is because during this era of Economic Globalization, the European Debt crisis not only affected the 27 members of the European Union, but also had the result of affecting economic recovery in the United States. Specifically, in the spring of 2010, the U.S. economy was just starting to emerge from its recession after showing several months of steady growth. However, concern then soon erupted over Europe??™s ability to deal with the debt crisis, which began in Greece; ultimately spread to other countries, and global stock prices plummeted. As a result, the U.S. economy also slowed sharply over the course of the next several months. Then again, just this past Spring (2012), after the U.S. economy had at last seemingly regained momentum and recording healthy job growth; European economic troubles worsened, and U.S. job growth again slowed drastically. Clearly, the link between economic growth in Europe and the United States is now tighter than in the past.
In terms of political instability and/or fall-out, at the height of the European Economic Crisis the news was replete with reports of rioting and the protests that ensued. Further, and as a direct result of the handling of the European Economic crisis, a number of national governments prematurely ended, and/or the outcome of elections significantly impacted, in the following countries: Greece, France, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the Netherlands.
Thus by way of summary, when all of the above factors are combined it clearly creates the potential for political instability and international discord. It is for these reasons that I disagree with Mr. Huntington??™s hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict will be culturally based versus ideological or economic. Although I do not discount that the differences between civilizations are real and important, it will more likely be the impact of economic globalization and the competition that will manifest themselves as the dominating source(s) of future conflicts.
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