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Cultural Conflict? US Hegemony?

Posted September. 15, 2001 08:28,   


``There will be great thunder upon the city of God (New York). Two brothers (World Trade Center) will be torn apart in confusion, and the great leader (President Bush) will surrender, and when the great city catches fire, the third great war will begin.``

The shock of the great tragedy of the series of terrorist attacks on America seems to have awoken even Nostradamus. Although netizens are making a great fuss about this `accurate prophecy` it is a groundless rumor without a clear source. If one wishes to calmly assess the cause and the actual facts of this unparalleled terror incident, one should not invoke the spirit of a medieval prophet but read books dealing with terrorists, America`s foreign policy, and the dynamics of international politics.


There has been little academic research done in Korea concerning terrorism. There is only a handful of decent translations. As an introductory book, we have `Terror, Terrorist, and Terrorism` (Young Moonhwasa,1997) written by Choi Jin-Tae, a visiting professor at Soon-Chun professional college. This book contains basic information concerning the types of terror, main occurrences, and terrorist groups in different regions, among others.

However this book failed to recognize the paradigm shift of terror from `propagandistic incitement` to `mass murder`.

When it comes to a foreign book which deals with the patterns of the `new terrorism` such as that evidenced in the recent terror series in America called the `Gray War`, we may talk about the book `Countering the New Terrorism` (Ian O Resser, RAND, 1997, Not yet translated into Korean) published by RAND, a US civilian research center sponsored by the US department of National Defense.

The book `The Strategy for Preventive Defense` (Press 21,2000) written by William Perry, the former Minister of Defense, and others, warns of the possibility of frequent `disastrous terrors` within the US territory. Although it also offers ways of preventing terrors, it is not helpful.

▼ Pax Americana

The center of this terror can be traced back to Pax Americana. Brezinsky`s book `The Giant Chessboard` (Sam-In, 2000) captures the arrogance of America that invited such calamity upon itself. With the cold war era behind, America is playing the game on the `world` board by skillfully moving around the `horses` of the Muslims, China, Russia, and Japan, in order to maximize her profit.

However today`s reality has gone crisscross with Brezinsky`s idea. America has been checkmated while she was running alone brandishing the castles and the guns.

Many scholars have already warned of the danger of America`s domineering foreign policy. One scholar that stands out is Noam Chomsky, the shooter of America`s foreign policy. Chomsky, a Jewish born who once participated in the restoration of the nation of Israel, ruthlessly denounces America`s Israel-centered policy in the Middle-East. His book, `507 years, the conquering continues` (2000) is a compilation of a masterpiece that talks about America`s `history of two faces` where America, while proclaiming freedom and democracy, has been promoting exploitation and schism behind the scenes.

If the two books aforementioned are leaning toward either extreme, the Korean book, `Pax Americana and International Order in the 21st Century`(Oh-Reum, 2000) maintains an objective outlook. Despite its somewhat rigid format of being a collection of dissertations, the question raised by about twenty scholars of international politics amuses the general public: `Is America Worthy Of The Title Pax Americana In The 21st Century?`

▼The Dynamics of International Politics

How will this terror be recorded in the world`s history? Joseph Nigh`s book `Understanding International Disputes` (Hanwool, 2000) offers a keen macroscopic insight into wars and disputes. The book explains the history of international strives by grafting it onto the theories of international politics since the time of the ancient Polyponsesos War to the Gulf War of 1991, Concerning the terror attack on America, the last chapter which explores the `new world order` of the 21st century through concepts such as `transnational threat` and `transnationalim` is an interesting read,

▼Cultural Conflict or Co-Existence?

Many view this terror as `America versus the Muslims` or a `Cultural War`. This view originated from Samuel Huntington`s representative book, `Clash Of Civilizations` (Kim Young Sa, 1997) which saw the world order in terms of `Western culture versus Middle-Eastern and Muslim Union culture`. Although this book is often referred to as the `exemplary answer book` whenever there occurs Arab-related tension, it is also often criticized for `culturally reproducing political and military cold wars of the past`.

A book that stands in opposition against Huntington`s concept is Haralt Muller`s `The Co-Existence of Culture` (Poo-Reun Soop, 2000). The author, the head of a German civilian research center (HSFK) that studies peace, writes in this book, ``International disputes have to do with the struggle over race and territory, not a conflict between cultures.`` The author not only refutes Huntington`s theories one by one, but he also maintains good balance in showing that even historically only `co-existence` and `dialogue`, not `dispute` were the solution for world community.

Yun Jeong-Hoon digana@donga.com