Sadik J. Al-Azm, the “apostate of Damascus,” takes issue with Samuel J. Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis in a Boston Review piece (thanks to Paul Ogden and Bell):
The two supposedly clashing sides are so unequal in power, military might, productive capacity, efficiency, effective institutions, wealth, social organization, science, and technology that the clash can only be of the inconsequential sort. As one literary metaphor says, If a stone falls on an egg the egg breaks, and if an egg falls on a stone the egg breaks too. From the Arab Muslim side of the divide, the West seems so powerful, so efficient, so successful, so unstoppable, that the very idea of an ultimate “clash” is fanciful.
Al-Azm doesn’t consider, however, the possibility that the side with the overwhelming technological advantages may also lack the will and the insight necessary to resist, and even properly to identify, the enemy. That for all its advantages it suffers from an internal rot that goes a long way to level the playing field.