In this world America must learn to distinguish among our true friends who will be with us and we with them through thick and thin; opportunistic allies with whom we have some but not all interests in common; strategic partner-competitors with whom we have a mixed relationship; antagonists who are rivals but with whom negotiation is possible; and unrelenting enemies who will try to destroy us unless we destroy them first.
Samuel P. Huntington is one of the most distinguished, scorned, and controversial theorists of international relations
in the post-Cold War New World Order
period. He is currently Albert J. Weatherhead III
at Harvard University
, director of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies
, and chairman of the Academy for International and Area Studies
Huntington's first blockbuster book, The Soldier and the State, was published for the first time in 1957. In it, Huntington argued that the American people in general were becoming too liberal to deal with crackpot dictators overseas, and that they needed a hardened, rational, conservative military to cover them. He praised West Point, calling it "a bit of Sparta in the midst of Babylon." Needless to say, the book did not go over well in the ultra-liberal Harvard government department, and Huntington had to escape to Columbia University with his academic career barely intact. A few years later, Harvard began to realize the errors of their ways, and invited Huntington back to take up a professorship.
His next controversial bestseller was Political Order in Changing Societies, in 1968. It was one of the first serious studies in the creation and survival of states outside of the Western world, and was apparently inspired by Huntington's brief tenure as an advisor to Lyndon Johnson during the early days of the Vietnam War. Huntington argued that state creation in other parts of the world was totally different than it had been in Europe and America: in many places, for example, the government is fighting to empower itself, whereas in Europe and America the people have fought to disempower the government.
In 1991, he completed a followup to Changing Societies called The Third Wave, concentrating on democratization in various countries after 1974. He studied many successes and failures from this period, and picked out certain elements that each one had in common. One of his main arguments was that authoritarian governments never last for very long, because they eventually aggravate their subjects too much and become overthrown, especially after periods of rapid economic growth and industrialization.
Huntington's last major hit was 1996's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. It was his attempt to explain where international relations were headed in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union. He argued that, with natural ideological blocs gone, states would coalesce into blocs based on religion, language, and culture. He identified several of these blocs, and envisioned a largely tripolar struggle between the Protestant-Catholic West, Islam, and China, three powerful civilizational entities that acted in several 1990's conflicts, with Japan, the Orthodox world, Latin America, and Africa in the wings.
Strangely enough, despite the fact that he was buddies with Henry Kissinger at Harvard, he is registered as a member of the Democratic Party, and has written foreign policy speeches for Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, and Jimmy Carter. He claims to have been influenced by Reinhold Niebuhr and other early hardcore middle-left-wing realists.