Gauging the Magnitude of Civilization Conflict

Multiple studies of Huntington’s suggestion of a clash of civilizations have found no support for it. This study does not reanalyze his thesis, but rather focuses on specific features of the different-civilization conflict he theorizes about. Using empirical analysis I find that different-civilization conflict is more prevalent than same-civilization conflict, and is therefore appropriate for continued scholarly examination. Even so, I conclude that over time it is not only shrinking as a percentage of the overall world conflict as previously reported but is doing so at a rate more pronounced than heretofore realized. My results support Roeder’s findings that the most contentious civilizations are the West, Orthodox, and Islam, with Western states as a group being more contentious than the other two. As for a most contentious civilization dyad, I find the probability of conflict to be about the same for Western-Islamic and Western-Orthodox states. Finally, I conclude that the contentiousness of Western states derives in large part from their tendency to band together or cooperate during violent conflict.