History in the Making

Document Type



Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the "Clash of Civilizations" theory has become an unavoidable aspect of academic debate between those scholars who either endorse or angrily reject its thesis of a conflict between Islamic and Western societies. During these academic debates, scholars have often compared the world views and beliefs of Samuel Huntington and Osama bin Laden in order to demonstrate the development of a similar intellectual trend in Western and Islamic societies. The comparison, however, is often made casually, without serious examination or analysis of the significant similarities and differences in their ideas. Due to the sensitive and often emotional nature of the debate surrounding the "Clash of Civilizations," it is important to determine exactly what similarities and differences exist between the two viewpoints, so as to avoid incorrect generalizations. Whereas Samuel Huntington and Osama bin Laden share a common belief in a "Clash of Civilizations" and utilize much of the same historical evidence, they draw very different conclusions as to the nature and causes of the conflict. As a result, the vocabulary and terminology as well as the established conditions for termination of the conflict are radically different. The purpose of this paper is not to determine the validity of the claims of either Osama bin Laden or Samuel Huntington, but merely to examine and analyze their writings, interviews, and statements to compare the content and themes of their respective paradigms.