13 January 2009

Gaza clash of civilizations gets most media coverage

Though its originator died last year, the media coverage given to the Gaza conflict shows that the "clash of civilizations" thesis put forward by Professor Samuel Huntington is still valid.

The Guardian reported Ugandan rebels kill scores of civilians in Congo and Sudan:
Between last Friday and Sunday, rebel fighters killed 13 people in attacks on three villages in north-east Congo. A spokesman for the Congolese army said tracking the rebels, who are renowned for their bush skills, was difficult due to the lack of roads in the area. The worst attack occurred at Nagero, the headquarters of Garamba national park, where the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, was believed to be hiding. Among the eight victims were two park rangers and the wives of two wardens.

Kony, a self-proclaimed mystic, began his rebellion in northern Uganda against President Yoweri Museveni in the late 1980s, but soon turned on the local population. More than 20,000 people, mostly children, were kidnapped, becoming sex slaves, porters or fighters. At least 10,000 people died, while 1.6 million were forced into displacement camps.

But by far the greater media coverage is given to the intercivilizational conflict in Gaza, whereas the one in central Africa is intracivilizational, and therefore attracts less media attention.

Where there is a local conflict that does not involve different civilisations, there is less interest and participation by other countries – in Rwanda or the Congo, for example. Though other countries have become involved either in supporting one side or the other in the conflict or in trying to bring about peace between the belligerent parties, these are usually neighbouring countries from the same civilisation.

Huntington likened the different civilizations to geological tectonic plates, and predicted that most conflicts, and the most severe ones, would take place on the "fault lines" between civilizations. Gaza is on one of the fault lines, and the north-east Congo is not.


Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow) said...

what about the interests of external players? The Gaza conflict hooks in huge international players in a way that the Congo does not. The Muslim/Jewish world is enormous - and focusses lots of external attention. The Congo has failed to arouse either Christian or Muslim outrage: we are all still trying to own up to our slave-trading past and so would rather forget places such as this.

Steve Hayes said...


That's the whiole point about the "clash of civilizations" thesis -- civilizations are cultures writ large, and conflicts on the "fault lines" between civilizatiosn tend to draw in the core states of the civilizations. So Gaza is on a fault line between Western and Muslim civilizations, and so draws in other Western and Muslim countries, while all the players in the Congo conflict are in one civilization, the African one.

as-Salam wa al-Hurriya said...

It's far to simplistic to state that all African peoples are part of 'one civilization'. In the end the whole definition of 'civilization' is ambigous, and difficult to apply.

The most stark difference is perhaps rather economic interests. Western multinationals have limited interests in Gaza (unless Halliburton will seek a reconstruction contract?), whilst economic interests in the DR Congo are huge. Thus the plundering of DRC is kept of the media map as much as possible. See http://gaza-peace-n-freedom.blogspot.com/2009/01/michel-hamas-is-responsible.html

Anonymous said...

All good points here -

I'm currently studying this specific interest and indeed it appears that links via trade links, economic ties etc are most important. Add a dash of 'Africa is a country' thinking on part of the Western world, you have some major influences.

Also of interest to me is the colonial links - I'm looking at how Belgium media reacts - we'll see.

I note now that Western money is heading towards the DR Congo again, I'm eager to see the implications of this (IMF bank loan).

Well, keep up the good work.




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