Monday, January 05, 2009

Fareed Zakaria on Samuel Huntington

From today's Washington Post:
Living through change, people have often stuck with their oldest and
most durable source of security: religion. That was the most important
message of "The Clash of Civilizations." While others were celebrating the
fall of communism and the rise of globalization, Huntington saw that with
ideology disappearing as a source of human identity, religion was returning
to the fore.

My own relationship with "The Clash of Civilizations" is complicated.
When I was a graduate student, I was asked by Huntington to comment on a
draft of the essay. A few months later, shortly after becoming managing
editor of Foreign Affairs, I helped publish it. I still think Huntington
got some important things wrong, but much in that essay is powerful and

My relationship with Sam Huntington, however, was uncomplicated. I
admired him through and through. He was a pathbreaking scholar, a generous
teacher and a devoted friend. His work was remarkably broad. His first book
practically invented the field of civil-military relations; his last was on
demographics and culture. He was also broad-minded. While many academics of
his age and political persuasion -- temperamentally conservative -- were
seared by the campus chaos of the 1960s, Huntington saw the student
radicals as part of a recurring tradition of American puritans, righteously
enraged that American institutions didn't live up to the country's founding
principles. He closed one book by noting of such critics: They "say that
America is a lie because its reality falls so far short of its ideals. They
are wrong. America is not a lie; it is a disappointment. But it can be a
disappointment only because it is also a hope."

I learned from the books but also from the man. I never saw Sam
Huntington do anything deceitful or malicious, or sacrifice his principles
for power, access or expedience. He lived by the Anglo-Protestant
principles he cherished: hard work, honesty, fair play, courage, loyalty
and patriotism.