Ever since Huntington proposed his 'clash of civilizations' thesis there has been a vigorous debate over its validity. (1) This debate has only intensified since Huntington elaborated on this thesis in his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order. (2) While Huntington's thesis contains several arguments, perhaps the most well known and controversial is the argument that the end of the Cold War resulted in a change in the nature of world conflict, with post-Cold War conflicts being based more on culture, mostly defined by religion, than those that occurred during the Cold War. (3) He argues that during the Cold War, most of the world's conflicts were between Western ideologies (the conflict between democracy and communism), but now that the Cold War is over, most of the world's conflicts will be between civilizations, specifically between the West and the non-West. Modernization, rather than inhibiting religion, as many argued it would, tends to produce renewed commitment to indigeno us cultures. (4) Without the Cold War to inhibit them, these civilizations will assert themselves on the world stage, resulting in clashes between them. Huntington also predicts that, in particular, there will be increasing clashes between the West and both the Islamic and Sinic/Confucian civilizations. (5)
These civilizational conflicts are divided by Huntington into three categories: core state conflicts, which are between the dominant states of different civilizations; fault-line conflicts between states of different civilizations that border each other; and fault-line conflicts within states that contain groups of different civilizations. This work focuses on the latter of these types of conflicts and attempts to use quantitative methods to assess whether Huntington's arguments regarding an increase in civilizational conflicts is born out. Specifically, this work uses data from the Minorities at Risk dataset to assess whether the quantity and intensity of ethnic conflicts that can be defined as civilizational have risen since the end of the Cold War in comparison to other ethnic conflicts.
THE DEBATE OVER THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS HYPOTHESIS
The debate over Huntington's thesis is voluminous and cannot be fully addressed here. However, there are several elements of this debate that are particularly relevant. They include several critiques of his thesis. First, many argue that nation-states and realpolitik will remain the major driving force between conflicts. (6) Another version of this type of argument is that the civilizations Huntington describes are not united and most conflicts will be between members of the same civilizations. (7) Secondly, many make the opposite argument that due to post-Cold War economics, communications and environmental concerns the world is becoming one unit, thus inhibiting all conflict. (8) Thirdly, some combine the above two arguments, and predict that there will be clashes both at levels more micro and more macro than civilizations. (9) Fourthly, others simply argue that today's conflicts are not civilizational without making any judgements with regard to whether these conflicts take place at a more micro or macro level. (10)
Fifthly, many argue that Huntington ignored some important phenomenon that will impact on conflict, thereby making his theory irrelevant. These phenomena include improved conflict management techniques, (11) world wide trends toward secularism, (12) information technology, (13) that most ethnopolitical conflicts result from protracted discrimination rather than cultural roots, (14) the relative importance of culture and economics, (15) and the desire of non-Western civilizations to be like the West. (16)
Sixth is the argument that Huntington has his facts wrong. Some, simply argue that the facts do not fit Huntington's theory. (17) Pfaff accuses Huntington of ignoring facts. (18) Some, like Hassner, even go as far as to accuse Huntington of bending the facts to fit his theory. (19)
While the above are by no means all of the criticisms of Huntington's theory and many of these criticisms clearly contradict each other, they all have one common theme that is of particular relevance to this study, the argument that post-Cold War conflicts will not be particularly civilizational. Huntington's reply to most of these critiques can be best summed up by his statement: 'got a better idea?' (20) He cites Kuhn's famous work on scientific paradigms which, among other things, argues that a paradigm need only be better than its competitors, it doesn't have to explain everything. (21) Huntington argues that the Cold War paradigm was not perfect, and neither is the Civilizations paradigm. There were anomalous events that contradicted each paradigm. However, both paradigms have strong explanatory power for the era which they explain, and, more importantly, this explanatory power is greater than any competing paradigm. (22)
While Huntington's detractors clearly do not agree with this, it is clear that with a few notable exceptions discussed below, most of Huntington's critics, as well as Huntington himself, rely mostly on anecdotal evidence. (23) This type of approach, while useful for theory building and taking a first look at an issue, is flawed in that it is easy for both proponents and critics to cite examples and counterexamples for each side of the argument without either side convincing the other. The debate over the clash of civilizations argument is an excellent example of such a deadlock, the nature and implications of which are discussed in detail by Deutsch, who argues that:
introspection, intuition [and] insight [are] processes that are not verifiable among different observers ... But even though we can understand introspectively many facts and relations which exist, it is also true that we can understand in our fertile imagination very many relations that do not exist at all. What is more, there are things in the world that we cannot understand readily with our imagination as it is now constituted, even though we may be able to understand them ... in the future, after we have become accustomed to the presuppositions of such understanding. We can, therefore, do nothing more than accept provisionally these guesses or potential insights ... If we want to take them seriously, we must test them. We can do this by selecting ... data, verifying them [and] forming explicit hypotheses as to what we expect to find ... And we then finally test these explicit hypotheses by confrontation with the data ... In the light of these tests we revise our criteria of relevance, we get new and revised data and we set up new methods of testing. (24)
That is, when studying a subject anecdotally, different observers generally come to different conclusions. Only a more comprehensive methodology, such as quantitative analysis, can analyse all of the anecdotes in an organized manner and provide objective results. Accordingly, the quantitative evaluation of Huntington's arguments presented here is sorely needed.
The few studies which do use quantitative methods to test the clash of civilizations argument, while informative, do not definitively answer whether there has been an increase in ethnic civilizational conflict in the post-Cold War era. Some studies focus on international conflict. Thus, Russett, Oneal and Cox find in direct tests of Huntington's arguments that civilizational differences have no impact on international militarized disputes and that conflicts within civilizations are more common. (25) Henderson indirectly tests Huntington's theory and finds that while religious differences increase international conflict, the impact of culture on conflict is not unidirectional. (26) Davis, Jaggers and Moore also indirectly test Huntington's arguments and find that the mere presence of cross-border ethnic linkages alone is not enough to influence international conflict and foreign policy behaviour, but they can be of influence when combined with other factors. (27)
Others address other aspects of Huntington's theory. For instance, Midlarsky finds that Islam is linked to autocracy on two out of three measures (28) and Price finds that Islam neither undermines nor supports democracy or human rights. (29)
Others address domestic conflict. Henderson and Singer find that cultural and ethnic diversity do not influence domestic conflict. (30) However, their sample is based on the Correlates of War data from 1946 to 1992, so their findings apply mostly to the Cold War era. Ellingsen found that there is no real change in the dynamics of ethnic conflict from the Cold War to the post-Cold War eras. (31) Gurr using a sample of the most violent conflicts in an earlier version of the Minorities at Risk dataset, the data which is used in this study - finds that there is no …