Clashing On

Clashing On

Mini Teaser: Clashing OnPierre Hassner and Samuel HuntingtonPierre HassnerThe exchange (one can hardly call it a debate) provoked by SamuelHuntington's savage reaction to my review (Spring 1997) is at thesame time sad, funny, and boring.

by Author(s): Pierre Hassner

Clashing On
Pierre Hassner and Samuel Huntington

Pierre Hassner
The exchange (one can hardly call it a debate) provoked by SamuelHuntington's savage reaction to my review (Spring 1997) is at thesame time sad, funny, and boring. Sad, because he chose to consideran article that started by calling him "perhaps the most brilliant,articulate, versatile, and creative living political scientist" andended by stating that "nobody would be better able to provide thissynthesis" (between modernization, culture, and democracy) "thanSam Huntington himself" as, in his words, a "mixture ofdisingenuousness, inaccuracy, misrepresentation, and calumny."Rather than rising to the challenge of indicating how one mightintegrate his new theory with his earlier work, or put thecontradictory dimensions of our situation into perspective, heresponds with a violent attack on my professional standards, mygood faith, and my personal integrity, which of course I had neverdreamed of doing to him. Funny, because his rage leads him to suchblatant contradictions and unsupported insults that he inevitablyexposes himself to the very accusations he levels against me. And,above all, boring, because, due partly to my naivete andnegligence, partly to his pettiness and paranoia, this response hasto use the limited space available on irrelevant questions ofdetail concerning inaccurate quotes, supposed intentions, anddistant events, rather than on central, substantive issues.
I must start with two completely artificial accusations to whichHuntington gave prominence at the beginning and at the end of hisdiatribe.
First, as to "self-plagiarism" and "pre-formed" judgment on thebook. I had written not one, but two papers in French onHuntington's original Foreign Affairs article, one in Commentaire(Summer 1994) entitled "Un Spengler pour l'aprs-guerre froide", andthe one which he triumphantly quotes, in DŽfense Nationale (April1996). I made abundant use of them for my English review of hisbook. He claims: 1) That I "informed neither the editors nor thereaders of The National Interest that [I] was reprinting materialwhich was part of another paper"; and 2) that "by not informinganyone what [I] was up to, [I], of course, avoided awkwardquestions about the authenticity of [my] review", which, he claims,rests on a judgment formed before I had read his book.
Both claims are outrageous and contradictory. My first reactionwhen I was asked to write the review was to tell the editor of TheNational Interest that I had already done two reviews of thearticle and could probably use them as a starting point for myreview of the book. Huntington could easily have checked this pointbefore launching his accusation. Second, I made the differencebetween my judgment on the whole theory (common to the article andthe book), and my judgment on the book itself, crystal clear. Itold the editor of The National Interest, once I had read the book,that I was afraid that my review would be less acceptable toHuntington, whom I considered a friend, than my French articles(which he seemed to have accepted) because I found the book moreobjectionable than the article, particularly in its analysis of thewar in Yugoslavia and in its policy prescriptions. And I made thisdifference explicit in the review: "Huntington's book is, ifanything, more extreme than his article. It adds or expands aprescriptive and a predictive dimension that are the mostdisputable and dangerous parts of his argument."
Conversely, I wrote him a personal letter that he did not see fitto answer, but which he did feel free to quote, saying that I wasstanding by my criticism of the book's policy prescriptions butthat I also retained the admiration for his work I expressed in theFrench conference paper. How could I have hidden anything, sinceone paper was read in front of him and the other was sent to him byCommentaire? Conversely, if the English book review did not addanything to the French articles, how come he thanked me publiclyand effusively for the nice words about him in the conferencepaper, but reacted with such fury to the English article? Anyway,what was there to hide? Huntington triumphantly and indignantlydiscovers that "even references (for example, to Weber's'disenchantment of the world', or Freud's 'narcissism of smalldifferences') reappear verbatim in the review." I have acounter-revelation of my own: The expression "clash ofcivilizations" appears both in his article and in his book (onlywithout a question mark)! Why on earth, if he re-uses the sameconcept, should I not be allowed to re-use other well knownconcepts to complement or qualify his analysis? All this is tooridiculous and artificial for words.
The second personal accusation, on which Huntington ends his reply,is just as unjustified but more grave since he says that I descendto "personal vilification" (or to "a particularly slimy form ofpersonal attack") "through the tactic of suggesting something bydenying it." I had written: "Nobody would accuse Huntington ofbeing a friend of, or an apologist for, Slobodan Milosevic orJean-Marie Le Pen." He comments: "Of course, nobody would do that,but Hassner cannot resist suggesting the possibility of doing so."Yet I had gone out of my way to eliminate the possibility of thisinterpretation by writing: "Neither Mazzini nor Wilson had anythingin common with Hitler, yet the myth of an 'international ofnationalisms', of a spontaneous harmony between nations, did leadto disaster, as did the line adopted in 1914 by respectable Germanthinkers from Max Weber to Thomas Mann." Am I then guilty of thesame "calumny" and "slimy form of personal attack" against thesefour thinkers? Do I suggest the possibility of assimilating them toHitler? When Professor William H. McNeill states in an even morebalanced and moderate review than mine in the New York Review ofBooks that Huntington's policy recommendations "seem more like aninvitation for World War III than a prescription for an endurablefuture", does it suggest that Huntington wants World War III? WhenProfessor Barry Buzan speaks of Huntington's "real potential togenerate self-fulfilling prophecies" and states that "Islamists,exponents of Asian values, Atlanticists, declinists, racists, hardrealists, assimilationists, and devotees of religious politics willall find comfort in its pages" (Survival, Spring 1997, p. 18) is heguilty of the same "slimy personal calumny"? Does Bruce Nussbaumfall into the same category by accusing him of "providingpseudo-intellectual ammunition to nativists everywhere seekingjustification for ugly thoughts and uglier deeds" (Foreign Affairs,March/April 1997, p. 165)?
Can Huntington really not distinguish between intentions andconsequences, between admiration for a thinker and a warningagainst the misunderstandings his work may generate? He ought to befamiliar with this distinction through the many storms he hascreated, especially with his famous 1968 remark on Vietnam to whichI was alluding, and which he misrepresents in his response: "In anabsentminded way, the U.S. in Vietnam may well have stumbled uponthe answer to wars of national liberation. The effective responselies neither in the quest for conventional military victory nor inthe esoteric doctrine or gimmicks of counterinsurgency warfare. Itis instead forced-draft urbanization and modernization which bringsthe country in question out of the phase in which a ruralrevolutionary movement can hope to generate sufficient strength tocome to power [Foreign Affairs, July 1968, p. 652]."
He also should know that I have always made this distinction, andought to remember that I demonstratively followed Michael Kidron indefending him against moralistic attacks at a conference inMonterosso, Italy in 1973, and was taken to task for this by someof my leftist colleagues. But shouldn't he be able, aftertwenty-nine years, to recognize that this statement, while notcriminal, was not very sensitively phrased and could be mistakenfor an apologia for modernization through bombing?
This brings us to the general problem of my incursions into thepast, where I must plead partly guilty. I was so intrigued byHuntington's being both more creative and more accident-prone thanmost--a mutual friend used to say, "Sam has one of the best mindsthere is, as long as he hasn't made up his mind"--that I used a notparticularly enlightening "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" metaphor, andquite unnecessarily ventured into a paragraph of retrospective andimpressionistic review of his past work. I did it from memory in atotally unscientific way. Huntington does not mention my callinghis major book "the most authoritative work on the consequences ofsocial change on political order", nor my praise for his articleson "endism" or "declinism", on transnational organizations, or on"the change to change." Presumably my lack of accuracy does notapply there.
But Huntington finds fault with all my references to the caseswhere he was either wrong or misunderstood. Again I must strain thepatience of the reader and the editor lest it is believed that Iconcede the points.
On political parties: While the section in Political Order inChanging Societies (1968) on "Leninism and Political Development"contains no reference to the Middle East, it does, contrary to whatits author now says, contain a discussion of political parties inthe Middle East. It flatly asserts that "the stability of amodernizing political system depends on the strength of itspolitical parties", indicates the absence of political parties inSaudi Arabia as a sign of weakness, and states that "thedifferences in political stability in the Arab World betweenTunisia on the one hand and the Eastern Mediterranean on the otherwere in large measure the difference between the broad scope andhigh institutionalization of Neo Destour and the highinstitutionalization but narrow scope of the Ba'ath."
Given Bourguiba's fate and (unfortunately) Assad's permanence inpower, or the compared fates of Algeria and Morocco, one wonders ifthat judgment was justified. More generally, is it today insultingor wrong to remark that, unlike many of his other insights,Huntington's enthusiasm for the single party and its role indevelopment was misplaced or, at least, greatly exaggerated?
On NATO strategy: Huntington is so keen to prove my "carelessnessabout facts" that he makes his own role less original and lessearly than it was. I did not refer to his 1983 article as heclaims; I mentioned the seventies because I remember discussing theissue briefly with him at the Brussels NATO conference in 1979. Theidea in question, of combining defenses against nuclear attack withthe threat of conventional retaliation into Eastern Europe, alsoappears in the book The Strategic Imperative (1982), a collectionof papers from discussions that took place during the 1979-81period, edited by Huntington. As for the substance, Huntington'slong paragraph of rebuttal is entirely beside the point. I neverattacked Air/Land Battle, Air/Land Battle 2000, or the Rogersdoctrine, on which I was extensively briefed when I was studyingthese issues in the "European-American Workshop on SecurityResearch", under the guidance of my late friend and mentor AlbertWohlstetter and in the company of professional strategists likeHenry Rowen and Brig. Kenneth Hunt (both of whom sent meenthusiastic letters about my review and seemed to find no faultwith the paragraph on strategy). I do not remember hearing in thosedays the idea of "conventional retaliation" mentioned once. Thetalk was about interdiction, "striking the second echelon", and soforth, and did not refer to Huntington. The adverse psychologicalreactions were not those of East Europeans, whom nobody consulted,but of the Western, particularly the West German, allies whoabhorred any strategy that might have looked offensive. Theeconomic costs I mentioned were those pertaining to ballisticmissile defense, whose programs were subsequently reduceddrastically, in great part, I thought, for budgetary reasons.
Now, at long last, my quotes from, and comments upon, the bookitself. Here I must acknowledge two mistakes and apologize for themwhile insisting that there was no hidden, malign intention behindthem. Huntington did not say Germans welcomed Polish immigrants, hespoke of "French increased receptivity to immigration by goodEuropean Catholic Poles." I was wrong to confuse French andGermans, but since Huntington's point is precisely that religioncounts more than nationality in this matter, perhaps my sin is nota mortal one.
The other error has even less to do with substance but is even lessforgivable for I made two mistakes. When quoting his sentence,"Multiculturalism at home threatens the United States and the West;universalism abroad threatens the West and the world", Iunwittingly substituted "interventionism" for "universalism", andthen I compounded my mistake when I did not spot a printing errorthat had substituted "internationalism" for "interventionism." ThatI had written "interventionism" and not "internationalism" is notdemonstrated but made plausible, for those who would not otherwisetake my word for it, by the fact that in the same paragraph I quoteHuntington, this time correctly: "Western intervention in affairsof other civilizations is probably the single most dangerous sourceof instability and potential conflict in a multicivilizationalworld." That my mistake does no violence to Huntington's thought isevident by the fact that he criticizes both Western interventionismand universalism. That there was no malign intent behind it isshown by the fact that I criticize much less his presentanti-interventionism (after all, unlike Huntington, I have been aconstant critic of excessive American military interventions fromVietnam to Granada) than his joining the chorus of multiculturalistand radical critics of Western philosophic, moral, and politicaluniversalism in the name of the diversity of civilizations.
I apologize both for my mistake and for the inevitable length ofthese explanations. But if Huntington sees in them a confirmationof my lack of professional and ethical standards, perhaps he canexplain how such a rigorous and severe upholder of these standardsas he claims to be can have made at least one much more serious,more important, and more explosive misquotation. On page 271 of hisbook, he attributes to French President Jacques Chirac, with allthe marks of direct quotation (quote marks, special type, foreignlanguage) the formulation: "les odeurs d'Islam." AnyFrench-speaking reader cannot fail to observe that this is a totalfalsification. What Chirac said in OrlŽans (June 19, 1991), afterspeaking of the understandable revolt by French workers againstsocial security for polygamous immigrant families, was: "Si vousajoutez ˆ cela le bruit et l'odeur, le travailleur franais sur lepalier, il devient fou." The subtext may well have been anti-Arab,but the word "Islam" was never pronounced, nor any generalizedassociation with smell attributed to it. Perhaps Chirac was guiltyof "politically correct sugarcoating", but was it for Huntington toput more inflammatory words in his mouth? I prefer to think thatHuntington was the victim of a source he failed to check.
Coming back to my own sins, this is as far as my confession goes.All the other passages attacked by Huntington are either legitimateparaphrases or substantive criticisms that he chooses to interpretas personal attacks instead of answering them.
On the Balkans: If, in his words, "Russia should be responsible formaintaining order within the Orthodox world" (which includesSerbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, and Greece); if Slovenia andCroatia, as Catholics, are co-opted into NATO ; if, throughcontraction or otherwise, Turkey is no longer supported by the Westin order to balance Russia as it was both in the nineteenth centuryand during the Cold War--why is it false to say that Russia wouldbe left in control of the Balkans?
On intracivilizational conflicts and contacts betweencivilizations: Of course Huntington mentions them. I quoted hisstatement that less than half of today's ethnic conflicts can bedescribed as intercivilizational. But I tried to show, using hisown example of Yugoslavia, that he exaggerates the escalatorypotential of the latter (the "inter" conflicts) as compared to theformer (the "intra"). Similarly, he fails to draw the consequencesof the reactive and modern character of fundamentalism for thedepth and durability of the religious revival (as shown, forinstance, in France by Olivier Roy for Islam and DanileHervieu-LŽger for Catholicism) or those of intercivilizationalcontacts for cultural identity. After all, Huntington cannot haveit both ways: his book is called neither "the clash of groupidentities" nor "the relations or interpenetration ofcivilizations." It stands or falls by the prevalence of the macro,civilizational level over the others, and of conflict over peacefulintercourse between civilizations. I have a right to disagree withthis emphasis, as have countless other readers, without his cryingfoul.
The same goes for my judgment on his variations, on hisprescriptions, and on his theoretical virtues and weaknesses. Thepoint is not whether he has changed his mind, as he has a right to.(Although it would be interesting to know what happened in 1993between the beginning of the year, when he was identifying Japan asthe main threat and arguing for American primacy in support of"universal, political, and economic values" and of world, includingAsian, security ["Why International Primacy Matters", InternationalSecurity, Spring 1993], and a few months later, when he waspreaching multipolar modesty and denouncing Western interference inother civilizations' affairs [Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993].) Thepoint is that, in my view, he was much too universalist, globalist,and interventionist before the spring of 1993, and has gone muchtoo far in the opposite direction since.
On the issue of democracy, where he returns to the accusation ofpersonal calumny and feels he has to show his Freedom House andNational Endowment for Democracy credentials, I absolutely neverclaimed that he no longer supports the expansion of democracy andhuman rights. On the contrary, I explicitly say that of his three"theoretical rockets" the first, concerning the danger that socialevolution entails for democracy, "seems to correspond to his mostpermanent inspiration", and I go as far as to suggest that "nobodywould be better able to provide [a] synthesis" of the return totradition and religion, of modernization and its discontents, andof the viability of democratic beliefs and institutions "than SamHuntington himself." (This is one suggestion I am ready to withdrawin the light of his totally disappointing response.) My onlycomplaints are, first, that, as others like Daniel Bell haveremarked about the article, democracy is almost absent from thisparticular book, that his insistence on the diversity of cultures,his criticism of Western universalism and intervention in theaffairs of other civilizations, his acceptance of the interventionof core states, seems to point to another direction than his"Democracy" books. Second, Huntington does not attempt to analyzethe mutual influences between the various levels (as did, forinstance, Jacob Burckhardt, who was neither a social scientist norone of the "great simplifiers" against whom he warned, when hesystematically examined the interactions between state, culture,and religion). Finally, in his prescriptions, he gives too littleweight to the opposition between civilization and barbarism--whichhe touches on only superficially in the very last pages of thebook--as compared to the opposition between cultures.
I thought these were constructive criticisms expressed in afriendly tone. Professor Huntington has preferred to see in them anenterprise of character assassination and to adopt a strategy ofmassive retaliation rather than discriminating response. If hecannot distinguish between an exhortation to philosophic andpolitical clarification and coherence and a personal calumny, thatis his problem, not mine. Professor Luigi Bonanate writes that"Huntington communicates with himself but not with others"("Globalizzazione o Democrazia, overro alla scoperta di unequivico", Teoria Politica, 3, 1996, p. 8). This is certainly truein the negative, but I wish it were true in the positive. I wishHuntington were capable of a real dialogue between the variousdirections of his own thought. Instead, it seems that he prefersinsult over dialogue with others, because he is unable or unwillingto face a dialogue with himself.
I beg the reader to bear with me for one final personal paragraph.I have reached the age of sixty-four without having written a greatbook or having made an important contribution to human thought. Butat least I could claim, until now, that unlike so many others, Ihad made no enemies, and that nobody had disputed my integrity.Indeed, I have survived debates and disagreements with illustriouspolemicists such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and Stanley Hoffmannwithout ever insulting or being insulted, and I regret that thisoccasion took another turn. I hope to have convinced the readersthat I was, indeed, "playing it straight" in my review. I leave itto them to judge whether Sam Huntington has done so in hisresponse.
Samuel Huntington:
Hassner's lengthy, convoluted statement deserves only a few briefcomments.
First, he calls his statement a "confession", and it clearly is. Hecannot and does not deny the inaccuracies and misrepresentations inhis review but instead, as he says, offers "explanations" for them.Readers can judge the validity and persuasiveness of these rathertortured efforts. It should also be noted that he does not evenattempt to explain some errors and misrepresentations in hisreview, such as half of his alleged quotations from The Clash beingmisquotations and his false charges that I am a "culturaldeterminist" and espouse a "'billiard ball' model of internationalrelations."
Second, in my response to his review I referred to Hassner's"rather cavalier disdain for accuracy." That disdain is manifestagain in his admission that he made references to my work "frommemory in a totally unscientific way" and his dismissal of hiserrors as involving "irrelevant questions of detail concerninginaccurate quotes, supposed intentions, and distant events." In apathetic effort to retaliate, he then accuses me of misquotingPresident Chirac. But Hassner is again in error. Readers will findChirac's words I cited, "les odeurs d'Islam", quoted in a story byRoger Cohen in the New York Times, March 13, 1994, section 4, p.3,and Mr. Cohen has reaffirmed the accuracy of the quotation.
Third, on the covert self-plagiarism issue, Hassner argues that hewasn't hiding anything from me because I had seen copies of hisearlier papers published in France. But that, of course, is not thepoint at all. He did hide his self-plagiarism from the readers ofThe National Interest and, to my knowledge, from its editors. WhenI first received a copy of his review, I immediately called OwenHarries, editor of The National Interest, and asked him if he wasaware that portions of the review had appeared elsewhere before mybook was finished. He said he did not know this and expressed greatsurprise that this was the case.
Fourth, Hassner accuses me of avoiding dialogue with him and otherson the key substantive issues concerning The Clash. He is partlyright. It is quite impossible to have a useful dialogue withsomeone like Hassner who has so little regard for the truth. Thecharge that I have avoided dialogue with others, however, is totalnonsense. During the last three and a half years I have beeninvolved in scores of--probably over a hundred--seminars anddiscussions on this subject with scholars and students all over theworld, dialogues that almost all the participants have said werestimulating and constructive.
Finally, in his last self-pitying paragraph Hassner claims that upto now in his life he "had made no enemies." In his mid-sixties hehas certainly learned that one sure way to make an enemy is tospread falsehoods, insults, and misrepresentations about thatperson and his work.

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