Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is Terrorism a result of globalization? Of the 'clash of civilizations'?

For this post I am going to respond to the question in the sliderocket (as pointed out by Professor Webb) : "Is Terrorism a result of globalization? Of the 'clash of civilization'?". This is two-sided question, so I am going to attempt to answer each part.

1) "Is terrorism a result of globalization?"

Is terrorism as a concept a result of globalization? Certainly not. Terrorism goes back thousands of years and is present through many different societies. Terrorism is not something new to the human experience.

However, terrorism has become more dangerous and more effective through globalization.

With the development of new technologies and more advanced weaponry, the ability to conduct terrorist activities, at least in my view, has become easier. In addition, through the new global media and through the internet, terrorists are able to communicate to infinite more people and secure more resources than ever before. For instance, Al-Qaeda has been able to spread their message across the world through viral videos and other material. In addition, the Al Qaeda leadership was (and still) able to recruit, train, fund, and communicate with operatives abroad. Without the internet or global media, it would be much more difficult to do this. The fact that the world is more interconnected also makes terrorism more potent. A bomb in New York or London affects the markets and policies in China, India and Europe. An attack in one part of the world sends ripples across the globe; making the message and intent even clearer. Actions are no longer localized; they're globalized. The ease at recruiting, training, funding, and communicating has eased and perhaps spurred terrorist activities across the globe. Terrorism is not the result of globalization, but it is certainly aided and received more potency due to the results of globalization and an increasing interconnected world.

2) "Is terrorism a result of the clash of civilizations?"

Both yes and no. Cultures have blended and mixed for thousands of years. Look at Hellenism. It is a  hybrid of classical  cultures. Was there terrorism back then? Maybe, but nothing historically huge that I can see. If terrorism was directly because of the clash of cultures, then wouldn't American have many, many terrorist organizations? Of course there have been terrorist groups that have sprang up in all parts of the globe through time, and there has been much animosity between different nationalities. In my view, terrorism is a product in of 'the clash of civilizations' in the new way globalization has opened cultures up to each other. Let me clarify. Now, more than ever before, people of different cultures, nationalities, and beliefs are interacting with each other. Each has their own views on how the world works, what's right and wrong, etc. etc. In addition, companies, products and beliefs from every part of the world are entering regions where there was ether minimal contact, or weren't exposed before. Some people and groups, see this new, large influx of ideas as a threat to their traditional values and ways of living. Some groups go through the proper channels in government and sometimes get their voices heard. Others (ether because of government, lack of education or other) resort to violence to get their point across.

The feeling that one's culture is being imposed upon is not something new, but the way it is happening with technology is. Thus, through the use of global technology and interconnection we see a rise in terrorist activties by the 'clash of civilizations'.

Globalization is new to the world, and no one has quite figured out all its implications, and how to adequately deal with it. However, a rise and ease of terrorism is certainly a factor and result of a globalizing world. In an age where a World War III scenario would destroy all life on earth, conventional wars between sovereign powers are substantially declining, and the intense mixture of culture; terrorism has filled the gap for violence quite nicely.


  1. That was no Powerpoint slide, comrade - it was Sliderocket (

    On the substance, I'll hold off to see how/if others respond.

  2. 1)agreed. Going by Gambil's definition of terrorism, it's nothing new, but, as with everything else, has a potential new well of power and influence thanks to increasing technology (used for good or evil).
    2)In regards to the US, first must note that Huntington discusses a clash of *civilizations,* not a clash of cultures- crucial differentiation. He makes a point of allowing for conflict within civ.s, but considers the broader patterns more ingrained, influential, whathaveyou (Sen's main opposition to him, but I can certainly see his point).
    Next point: Important to recognize that increased contact between people of different cultures, etc, does not necessarily result in the negative. Ideally, the more contact we have with those different from ourselves, the greater chance we have to better understand and, ultimately, accept (even learn from) them. ...but yes, unfortunately not everyone sees it this way.
    last note: I have to respectfully disagree that globalization is new to the world. Exploration, trade, war, etc, have brought different peoples into contact for quite some time, though to varying degrees. I would, however, agree that what is new to the world - and thus also effecting terrorism - is the extent to which it has come into play (much thanks to technology, as you point out).

  3. I think globalization helps to escalate the tensions withen the framework of a "clash of civilizations." By having outside influences (Western countries) interfering with an internal conflict it does not allow for the cultures inside that particular space to work on a solution. In Hollis article (read a week after this disucsion), he talked about how the goverments in the Middle East never had the opportunity to go to "war." With that said, by having the Western powers prevent the Middle East from going to war, it did not allow these countries to develop thier own political dynamics and therefore caused more resentment against the West.