|Abstract: ||During the Cold War a simple, bipolar model of world politics was dominant. After the Cold War, some politicians and scholars believed that the West had won, and that the Western conception of liberal democracy would become a model for the world. This view was, however, almost immediately challenged by the idea of ”Asian values” proposed by certain East Asian political leaders and intellectuals. To the debate about Eastern, Western, and universal values, Samuel Huntington contributed his dramatic thesis of ”the clash of civitlizations.” This thesis caught the attention of many scholars because it evoked both Western fears of challenges from non-Western resentment at Western cultural hegemony. The thesis also seemed consonant with the ”Asian values” challenge. This view of the Huntington thesis is, however, mistaken on several counts. First, the thesis rests on a highly implausible account of human nature and history. Second, the argument is based on a misreading of post-Cold War global politics. Third, the Huntington thesis, far from reinforcing the ”Asian values” argument, is inconsistent with it. Fourth, the ”Asian values” argument is itselfbased on a misreading of contemporary politics. Fifth, the Huntington thesis and the ”Asian values” argument are both dangerous because they could become self-fulfilling prophecies of violent conflict. Sixth, Huntington's policy conclusions about human rights and international order inconsistent with the thesis of the clash of civilizations.|
This article concludes, therefore, that both Huntington's thesis and ”Asian values” argument should be rejected as empirically misleading and politically dangerous. In their place, we should reaffirm the internationalist program of human rights promotion, which Huntington and the ”Asian values” advocates have called into question, mistakenly, and with potential harmful consequences for the future of international relations.