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When Al-Qaida attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, Samuel P. Huntington was nearing the end of a distinguished career as a political scientist. He had been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences before the age of 40. Later he became president of the American Political Science Association. His scholarly work attracted attention outside of academia. But in the wake of “Nine-Eleven,” Huntington attained a whole new level of notoriety. He realized the blessing and the curse of being at the epicenter of a great foreign policy debate. The attackers justified their actions in terms of civilizational differences rooted in religious conviction. Suddenly Huntington’s warning in 1993 that cultural differences would generate conflict seemed prophetic. However, it was not long before critics of the Bush Administration’s conduct of the “war on terror” blamed the Clash of Civilizations thesis for blurring the distinction between radical Islamist groups and Islamic civilization as a whole, thereby fueling a false narrative of fundamental conflict between Islam and the West. 1

Lost in the controversy was Huntington’s admonition that the United States should minimize the clash of civilizations by accepting the need to coexist, and especially to avoid cross-civilizational interventions. 2

The enduring validity of Huntington’s thesis is that significant cultural differences limit prospects for a global community based on universal values, and that failure to accommodate such differences can be damaging to both order and justice in international politics. His contention that civilizations are the most important source of identity, and hence conflict, in world politics has been widely criticized. 3 Huntington himself blurs the distinction between civilizational and national identity when he links most of his nine civilizations with a “core state.” The policies of these states are not merely driven by economic factors or power relationships. They are also informed by political culture, a complex of values, habits and traditions underlying political attitudes and ideologies. Huntington himself blurs the distinction between civilizational and national identity when he links most of his nine civilizations with a “core state.” The policies of these states are not merely driven by economic factors or power relationships. They are also informed by political culture, a complex of values, habits and traditions underlying political attitudes and ideologies.

By the end of the twentieth century there was reason to believe that order based primarily on the autonomy and security of individual national states would evolve into a global community defined by democracy and human rights. States would share power with a network of robust, “transnational” institutions and acknowledge that the pursuit of justice for all people was integral to international order. In 1991 Huntington pointed to a worldwide movement of many regimes toward some form of popular sovereignty. A year later Francis Fukuyama argued that with the defeat of fascism and communism, liberal democracy and free market economics had no more serious ideological rivals. Therefore international conflict would diminish as more countries became democracies and shared the democratic values growing out of American and Western European political culture. 4

But Huntington also cautioned that the “wave” of democracy could be reversed, as it had been before. Five years later, the Clash of Civilizations described a panoply of political cultures. Huntington observed that in Russia one could already see the beginnings of a nationalist reaction to efforts, spearheaded by the United States, to promote Western-style liberal democracy. About ten years later, Vladimir Putin’s regime introduced the concept of “sovereign democracy,” defined as a distinctly Russian form of democracy, free from Western interference. 5

It corresponded to a pattern of steadily increasing political repression. One might have expected a move to expel Russia from the Council of Europe, which requires adherence to specific democratic and human rights standards as a condition of membership. But doing so would risk badly damaging relations with Russia. Therefore it was necessary to compromise the official commitment to justice for the sake of order. How to manage the relationship between order and justice is a perennial dilemma, especially when there are competing political ideologies. The clash of political cultures between Russia and America in relation to the international order is one example of how challenging this is. The interaction between sovereignty and values has been an important feature of the international system.

Sovereignty and Values in the “Westphalian System”

The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 laid the basis for the principle of state sovereignty. The signatories mutually agreed to recognize the authority of whatever government ruled within the borders of a state, and that consequently no state would attempt to interfere in the domestic affairs of another. This form of governance between states was a revolutionary departure from the medieval state system, which was based on hierarchical relationships among rulers within a Christian community whose laws applied universally. Realms could be invaded and rulers deposed if deemed in violation of community norms, which were interpreted under the authority of the Catholic Church. The system broke down as powerful monarchs and religious dissenters sought greater autonomy. To settle the Thirty Years War, the devastating culmination of more than a century of religiously infused conflict in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, it was necessary to accept the division of the church and the legitimacy of all rulers, regardless of whether they were Catholic or Protestant, by virtue of their effective control over a territory.

Over the next 250 years European states added the balance of power and national self-determination to sovereignty as foundational principles of the “Westphalian system.” Alliances were formed to prevent the emergence of a dominant power. They were not permanent, since a given state could find it advantageous to ally with a former adversary if a new, common threat to their security emerged. As nationalist movements emerged, sovereignty became associated with the right of each nation to have its own independent state. The Westphalian system is often associated with a “statist” or “realist” paradigm of international politics, which holds that all countries, regardless of culture, define their interests primarily in terms of acquiring or maintaining political, military and economic power to maximize security and prosperity. The Catholic Church condemned sovereignty because it removed the state from accountability to universal principles of justice. 6

Daniel Philpott shows, however, that sovereignty was not merely the outcome of pragmatic reasoning about the realities of power. Its development was influenced by two values rooted in Reformation theology: freedom of conscience in matters of belief and the removal of ecclesiastical jurisdiction over secular matters. 7 Similarly, the commitment of states in the Westphalian system to abide by treaties reflected the virtue of “good faith” found in canon law. The principles of national self-determination and the obligation of governments to protect religious and ethnic minorities within their borders evolved during the 19th century. Acceptance of these “rules of the game” is the basis for characterizing the Westphalian system as a “society of states.” These rules were embedded in “a common culture or civilization” and reflected not only “common interests” but also “common values.” 8 The Westphalian system’s development was driven by the need to restore and maintain order in Europe, but it was not disconnected from moral values.

During the twentieth century, world order increasingly became linked to the pursuit of justice as manifested in the promotion of the peaceful settlement of disputes, democracy and human rights. Two devastating world wars led to efforts to prevent war through arms control and the practice of “collective security.” Membership of the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations, was based on national sovereignty, but member states agreed to assume collective responsibility for developing a body of international law and institutions, and to accept the obligations necessary to make them effective. By the middle of the century, United Nations membership became truly inclusive when former European colonies received their independence based on widespread agreement that the principle of national self-determination was to be applied worldwide. Declarations of “universal human rights” and democracy promotion expected all sovereign states to conform to global norms.

By the 1990s the international community was increasingly willing to authorize intervention against the will of states for purposes of humanitarian relief, resolution of internal conflict, and protection of individuals against violations of their human rights. 9 However, critics charged that interventions in fact tended to “serve the national interests and ethnocentrism of powerful states.” 10 Less powerful states began to resist proposed international norms addressing not only intervention, but also conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction, as threatening to national sovereignty. The clash between intervention and sovereignty is a clash between justice and order. This is inevitable so long as states are the principal actors in world politics, and so long as there is no cosmopolitan culture extending beyond elites. It can only be mitigated if sovereign states actively seek to identify common interests and to develop common values. Effective international norms are possible only to the extent that they take into consideration cultural differences and can be made acceptable to the political community of a given state. 11

Huntington argued that “the sustained international primacy of the United States is central to … international order in the world.” Without the US “shaping global affairs” the world would be poorer, more violent and less democratic. He observed that the international institutions established after World War II were based on patterns of cooperation developed by the West, and reflected a “commitment to democratic and pluralistic politics.” If the power of the West declined, he contended, those institutions would no longer be sustainable. For example, the 293 degree to which human rights are respected and reflected in government actions was strongly correlated with civilizational differences. The Universal Declaration of Human rights grew out of Judeo-Christian values and the Western natural law tradition. Huntington believed that the absence of this tradition in Asia meant that human rights would slide downward on the international agenda as Chinese cultural influence increased. He cited a Malaysian official’s admonition that “efforts to promote human rights in Asia must … reckon with the altered distribution of power in the post-Cold War world.” 12

While this assertion of the primacy of Western values might seem ethnocentric, one must interpret it in light of what Huntington said about the danger of civilizational overreach. Promoting the universality of Western culture, he warned, could only be done at the expense of a given people’s ability to govern itself according to its own values. “Western intervention in the affairs of other civilizations” was not only an injustice, but it undermined order. He called it “the single most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multi-civilizational world.” 13 While clearly Huntington believed the United States needed to maintain its economic and military power for the viability of Western civilization, his focus on “civilizations” as a primary factor in world politics reflected a “constructivist” theory of international relations. Constructivism holds that ideas are at least as important as material considerations in determining a state’s policy. 14 Divergent political cultures meant that there was little chance that the United States would affect Russia’s ideas about democracy. However, in the last years of the Cold War this seemed to be changing.

America and Russia: the Old Clash

A victor in the war against Napoleon, Imperial Russia joined other members of the anti-French alliance in affirming the principle of the balance of power at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Prior to World War I, Russia formed the Triple Entente with France and Britain to counter the rise of Germany. However, the growing acceptance of national self-determination and constitutional government as a necessary attribute of the governments of sovereign states complicated Russia’s relationship to the Westphalian system. It remained an autocratic monarchy presiding over a multi-national empire. The United States was a democratic republic based on limited government and individual rights guaranteed to citizens. Although by 1900 the United States joined Japan as the newest of the world’s great powers, it stood apart from the Westphalian system. During the century prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, U.S.-Russian relations were mundane except for two notable events: the treaty to purchase Alaska (1867) and President Theo- dore Roosevelt’s mediation of the Treaty of Portsmouth (1905), which ended the Russo-Japanese War.

With the entry of the United States into World War I and the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution during the war, America’s and Russia’s relationship to the international system as well as to each other changed radically. Even prior to World War I, rising demands for liberation from colonial rule and the rise of radical socialist movements cast the great European powers as unjust rulers. The balance of power, which had minimized international conflict for nearly a century, failed in 1914 to prevent a war even more destructive than the Thirty Years War and the Napoleonic Wars. When the Bolsheviks gained power in 1917, the new government under Vladimir Lenin violated treaty obligations by withdrawing Russia from the alliance against Germany and by publishing secret agreements between Russia and its allies. Although Woodrow Wilson set out to reform the international system, America returned to its traditional policy of maintaining its distance from it when the U.S. Senate rejected participation in the new League of Nations, which Wilson had championed.

Lenin seemed to uphold the principle of self-determination by declaring that non-Russian-peoples who had been incorporated within the Russian Empire were now free to rule themselves. However, this was a tactic in a radical foreign policy seeking to overthrow monarchies and republics alike to accomplish the socialist revolution. Bolshevik Russia signified its rejection of non-intervention by forming the Communist International in 1919, an international network of revolutionaries. The Soviet Union, a new kind of state on Russian territory, was to be the nucleus of a new kind of world order, a coalition of socialist states serving a universal mission that transcended national sovereignty. Both Wilson and Lenin envisioned a global order defined by justice and democracy. The key to achieving this was the proliferation of democratic governments throughout the world, but they had radically different conceptions of democracy. Wilson’s liberal democracy was defined by political pluralism; Lenin’s socialist democracy by subordination of differences to the collective interest of society, as determined by the absolute rule of the Communist Party. 15

After a long civil war and failed attempts to bring about the socialist revolution elsewhere in Europe, Soviet Russia subordinated its radical foreign policy to the goal of developing and defending socialism within its borders. To do so it had to stabilize relations with other countries. By 1925 it obtained diplomatic recognition from most countries in Europe, exchanged ambassadors with the United States in 1933, and joined the League of Nations in 1934. However, since the United States was not a member of the League and strongly opposed communism, its relation- ship with Russia was minimal. Lenin’s successor, Josef Stalin, downplayed its radical Marxist ideology in favor of Russian nationalism. He justified his iron-fisted rule as necessary for the survival and development of the nation. “One feature of the history of old Russia,” said Stalin, speaking in 1931 on the need for rapid industrialization, “was the continual beatings she suffered because of her back- wardness.” Reciting a litany of defeats at the hands of the Mongols, Poles, Swedes, British and others, he declared, “We refuse to be beaten!” 16 Contemporary Soviet films celebrated the medieval prince Alexander Nevsky along with tsars Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great as patriotic fighters. Stalin’s speech proved prophetic when Soviet Russia refused to be beaten after Hitler’s Germany invaded it in 1941, straining it to the breaking point. Stalin assumed a pivotal role in remaking the international order after World War II. The architects of the United Nations buttressed collective security with an element of the balance of power. Alongside the General Assembly, they created a Security Council centered on the five most powerful states in the world, based on the configuration of power anticipated at the end of the war. Unanimous agreement among the dominant states would be the basis for effective deterrence of aggression. Lenin had removed Russia from the international system; Stalin returned it.

From the beginning the geopolitical and ideological rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States severely weakened the Security Council. Soviet Russia sought to extend its power by supporting anti-colonial movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America and all regimes friendly to radical socialist policies. America sought to restrict Soviet power through a series of alliances with anti-communist regimes as well as the extension of American economic power based on free trade. Both sides supplemented military and economic power with the extensive use of propaganda to reinforce friendships and weaken the ideological appeal of the adversary. The two “superpowers” learned to coexist of necessity because neither could be sure of surviving a nuclear attack by the other. Arms control agreements, cultural exchanges and trade relationships moderated the fundamental conflict but did not end what became known as the Cold War. It was not only a struggle for superiority in military, economic and political power, but also a clash of civilizations. It was a more direct and comprehensive version of the inchoate ideological competition between Lenin and Wilson. Soviet democracy promised total political and economic and equality under the leadership of a hierarchical party. American democracy defined itself in terms of individual rights, free enterprise, the legal settlement of disputes, and a Judeo-Christian religious heritage.

Much like Huntington’s call for coexistence among civilizations, George F. Kennan’s scheme for the “containment” of Soviet Russia, articulated at the beginning of the Cold War, was an attempt to limit conflict. It called for avoiding armed intervention in Russia’s sphere of influence, defending allied democracies in Western Europe and Japan, and trusting that the American model of democracy would prove more attractive and durable than Soviet communism. 17 Although the US-Soviet rivalry was characterized primarily by conflict and included several dangerous confrontations, a diplomatic relationship evolved. Its highlight was an agreement in which the Soviet Union formally recognized certain Western values that it had previously regarded as diplomatically irrelevant in exchange for the West’s recognition of Eastern Europe’s post-World War II borders and the expansion of East-West trade. 18

Little more than a decade later the Cold War version of the clash of civilizations surprisingly and suddenly came to an end. In 1986, the new General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev, began a series of radical economic and political reforms. He determined that if these were to be successful, Soviet foreign policy had to change, too. He called for the building of a “Common European Home” to overcome the division between East and West. Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly in 1988, Gorbachev lamented that from the beginning the UN found itself under the “onslaught of the cold war” and was “for many years … the scene of propaganda battles and continuous political confrontation.” He called for movement towards a “new world order,” which he defined as a “world community of States … which subordinate their foreign policy activities to law.” 19 When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the Soviet Union voted in the United Nations Security Council to authorize armed intervention to end the occupation.

As the Cold War ended, it seemed possible that Russia might transform itself into a Western-style constitutional democracy. By 1989 the country was on the way to free elections and an autonomous legislature, free of Communist Party command for the first time since 1918. A free press and other manifestations of civil liberty soon emerged. The end of restrictions on international travel and private ownership greatly increased the West’s economic and cultural influence. In 1988 Gorbachev facilitated commemoration of the millennium of Christianity in Russia. Shortly thereafter Soviet officials initiated a series of cultural exchanges between American evangelical educators and their Russian counterparts in schools and colleges. 20 While Gorbachev sought to reform the Soviet system, his political rival, Boris Yeltsin, dissolved the Soviet Union, ended the privileges of the Communist Party, and relinquished state control of the economy. He invited American policy experts to advise on the creation of liberal democratic political institutions and on transitioning to a free market economy. The apparent commonality of values between Russia and America promised to raise the level of both order and justice in the international system.

America and Russia: the New Clash

The comity between America and Russia proved to be short-lived, and by the second decade of the twenty-first century it had deteriorated into what has been called a new Cold War. 21 When Gorbachev expanded political freedom and demanded greater accountability of those in power, he encountered opposition from holders of important positions who did not want to lose their privileges as a result of market-oriented reforms and competitive elections. Others opposed him for weakening the Soviet state by drastically reducing its military forces, withdrawing from Eastern Europe and Afghanistan, and cutting ties with radical socialist regimes and revolutionary movements around the globe. Still others believed that his reforms broke faith with Lenin’s vision of equality under the guidance of a unified, enlightened leadership by moving toward European-style democratic socialism, seen as corrupted by its compromises with capitalism and liberalism. Yeltsin’s precipitous dissolution of the Soviet Union, an economically integrated, multi-national world power, engendered widespread resentment. Instead of a broader distribution of wealth, privatization created vast inequality by selling the lion’s share of state wealth to a small group of insiders at fire-sale prices. For many Russians, “democracy” became associated with economic privation, corrupt and incompetent government, and national humiliation. An exhausted Yeltsin handed over power to Vladimir Putin, whose formative experiences had been as a Soviet intelligence officer. Gorbachev had tried to change the political culture of the Soviet Union into one valuing political accountability and civil liberty at home and giving priority in foreign policy to support for international law and institutions. Instead, what emerged under Putin was a political culture that exchanged Soviet socialism for authoritarianism as the key to restoring social order and national pride.

The turn away from democracy and human rights in Russia reflected the persistence of the authoritarian legacy of tsarism and Leninism, the collapse of the economy and culture under Yeltsin, and a widespread belief that Russia was under siege. Jack Matlock, the US Ambassador to the Soviet Union warned,

If Russians are told incessantly by outsiders that Russia is a failure because communism and the Soviet empire collapsed, … it will doubtless be more difficult for responsible Russian leaders to bring their country through its current time of troubles with political and economic freedom intact. 22

Soviet officials were given verbal assurances that there were no plans to incorporate states bordering the USSR into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. However, in the 1999-2009 time period, 13 Eastern European countries were added to the body, which had been created as an anti-Soviet alliance in 1949. Russia condemned NATO’s extensive bombing campaign in 1999 to stop the Serbian government from killing civilians while combating the Kosovar Liberation Army. Members of the KLA destroyed ancient churches in Kosovo, the historical heartland of Serbian Orthodoxy, and practiced violent retribution against the Serb minority caught in the now Muslim region that was trying to secede from Serbia.

America’s overall foreign policy strategy confirmed Russia’s impression that the United States gave little weight to Russian interests. Post-communist Russia was the most important target of President Clinton’s effort to promote American-style democracy and entrepreneurial capitalism as the means to satisfy “universal yearnings” and establish “universal norms.” 23 The George W. Bush Administration was guided by “hegemonic stability theory,” according to which the key to world order was the ability and willingness of a single dominant state to enforce the rules of the international system. It described its foreign policy as a “distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests.” If the US could not get the international community to sanction its promotion of freedom or fight against terrorism, it would “not hesitate to act alone.” 24

Putin’s “sovereign democracy” has been described as “authoritarian competitive,” in that democratic elements (opposition parties, rule of law, elections) are allowed to exist but are heavily circumscribed or subjected to harassment by those in power. 25 Silencing of independent media, restrictions on voluntary organizations concerned with political matters, widespread use of detention and judicial action against political opponents, and centralization of power are only some of the ways by which the Putin government tightened its control of the political process. In a 2014 poll Russians named Gorbachev 299 as the worst leader of the country in the twentieth century. They chose Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet leader who ruled at the height of the Cold War, as the best. But even Brezhnev’s popularity was dwarfed by the resounding 84% approval rating Putin enjoyed after his confrontation with the West over the Ukraine in 2014. 26

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, framed the Ukrainian conflict in terms of a clash of religious civilizations. He declared that Russia has always been “spiritually opposed” to the West and its values, which are “ever more detached from their own Christian roots.” 27 The Russian Orthodox Church has been an important ally in the effort to resist liberal internationalism. For example, in 2009 the Russian government, in consultation with church leaders, proposed a resolution to the United Nations Council of Human Rights affirming the relationship between traditional values and human rights. A press release from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared, “No state or group of states has the right to monopolize the interpretation of human rights norms.” 28 Under Yeltsin Russian educational authorities had invited American evangelical Christians to establish a Russian-American Christian University, which opened its doors under a bi-national administration in 1995. But in 2007 Russian Orthodox nationalists demonstrated against the school, citing the example of the medieval Orthodox warrior-saint, Alexander Nevsky, lauded as the “defender of the Russian land from foreign, Western aggressors.” 29

The “Russian Doctrine,” formulated by a nationalist group with links to Russian Orthodox circles, celebrated Russia’s “civilizational independence” and accused the United States of causing instability in world politics by prioritizing “American values” over international law. 30 Putin defined Russian identity in terms of a unique type of civilization, based not on Russian ethnicity but on a Russian culture that has operated within a multi-ethnic environment for a thousand years. Addressing the Federal Assembly he declared that Russia did not claim hegemony or “try to teach others how to live their lives,” but respected peoples’ independence and identity. 31

Russian officials’ declaration of a fundamental conflict between Western and Russian civilization is credible to the Russian public. Long before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn complained that American intellectuals had no appreciation for the richness of Russian national tradition, reducing it to little more than an authoritarian and anti-Semitic antecedent to Stalinism. More generally, he criticized the West for its materialism, legalism and individualism. “Mere freedom per se does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and even adds a number of new ones.” 32 Like most Russians, Solzhenitsyn believed Gorbachev and Yeltsin kowtowed to the West while Russia sank, whereas Putin provided economic and political stability and restored pride in being Russian by drawing on a millennium of struggle and achievement for inspiration. To Solzhenitsyn’s widow, who described herself as a political “centrist,” the Western press was less anti-Putin than anti-Russian. 33 Even Russian liberals, while admiring Western civilization, were speaking Putin’s language when they criticized Huntington for believing the West’s version of democracy to be superior and for failing to appreciate the role of Russian civilization as a bridge between cultures. 34

Getting Beyond the “New Cold War”

The Putin government’s prevention of political opposition and suppression of civil liberties are violations of internationally recognized norms of democracy and human rights. Russia’s power and many Russians’ acceptance of a political culture that prioritizes order and nationalism make any international effort to change these policies risky. During the Cold War, some voices in the United States called for aggressive action to “roll back” the Soviets’ occupation of Eastern European countries. George Kennan’s advice on dealing with Soviet communism 301 then seems prudent for dealing with Russian nationalists now: “Give them time; let them be Russians; let them work out their internal problems in their own manner…towards dignity and enlightenment in government.” Stephen F. Cohen argues that during and after the Cold War the worsening of East-West relations made it difficult for reformers to move Russia in a more liberal direction. 35 From this realist perspective, order is more important than justice. It is necessary to “practice self-restraint in the pursuit of ideals.” 36

However, prudence does not preclude efforts to promote compliance with standards of democracy and human rights. Liberal internationalists hold that this is best accomplished primarily through the institutions of a global community. There are two problems with this. First, despite the proliferation of transnational networks and international governmental organizations, the global community is made up of a large number of states with varying interests and resources. Second, universal norms are irrelevant if they cannot be related meaningfully to a country’s already existing laws, are perceived as alien to its political culture, or are not politically compatible with the interests of those in power. If this is the situation, then they can only be effective if there are changes in institutions, values or interests that bring about a favorable shift in the preferences of the policy makers. 37

“Conservative internationalism” offers a better framework to guide US relations with Russia today, but only if the United States is part of a league of strong democracies. It shares Huntington’s assumptions that Western civilization’s influence is crucial to international order and justice, but that transferring Western-style democracy to other cultures is problematic. In contrast to liberal internationalism, conservative internationalism aims to limit, not expand, the jurisdiction of transnational institutions. In contrast to realism or nationalism, it regards protecting and strengthening democracies and increasing their number around the world to be as important to national security as ensuring sufficient power to deter aggression from potential rivals. In relating to authoritarian adversaries it practices “armed diplomacy” to counter states who are prone to use force to advance their foreign policy interests. A willingness to use force while offering a “diplomatic off ramp” seeks to prevent a desperate, all-or-nothing situation requiring a greater use of force to rescue a threatened ally. Conservative internationalism opposes “transplanting” democracy where it does not exist and accepts that it may expand only slowly or incrementally. 38

It is important to distinguish Conservative internationalism from other tendencies that share some of its assumptions but contradict its more measured approach to promoting and defending democracy. One of these is the “neo- conservative” thinking that motivated the fraught efforts to build democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to defeat terrorism. The other has been President Trump’s confrontational approach to the United States’ democratic allies. 39 These aberrations can be avoided to the degree that conservative internationalism calls for a contemporary version of a Westphalian society of states. Mark Amstutz seems to have this in mind when he identifies the “renewal of nation-states” as the key to a just global order: “To advance the global common good, major powers must be powerful and liberal—that is, capable of influencing other states and democratic in order to foster responsible domestic and international behaviors.” 40 Such a society exists insofar as there is a special relationship between the United States and its democratic allies in Europe and elsewhere. It does not preclude involvement with the broader network of global institutions, a reality of the contemporary world, but its members are accountable first of all to one another. 41

Getting beyond the “new cold war” requires a new version of the containment strategy: protect democracies through armed diplomacy until such time as Russia’s political culture changes. This means, for example, commitment to the defense of the Baltic States from Russian invasion, but limiting intervention in the Ukraine, a country divided by political culture and without a well-established democracy. Vigorous defense against cyber attacks on electoral systems and sanctions for egregious human rights violations need not preclude cooperation with the Putin regime on matters of mutual interest, such as cultural exchange or defense against terrorism. Public diplomacy should provide information to the Russian public that would commend liberal democratic values as a means of evaluating political practice in both America and Russia. The U.S. government should openly criticize suppression of civil liberties and free elections, while assuring the Russian government that it does not seek to change from the outside what Russians must change from within their own culture.

Cite this article
Stephen Hoffmann, “Huntington, World Order, and Russia”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 48:3 , 289-302


  1. See, for example, Shireen T. Hunter, The Future of Islam and the West: Clash of Civilizations or Peaceful Coexistence? (Westport, CN: Praeger, 1998).
  2. Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003), 316.
  3. For a good summary see Anna Khakee, “Plus ça Change… Civilizations, Political Systems and Power Politics: A Critique of Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations,’” in The ‘Clash of Civilizations’ 25 Years On: A Multidisciplinary Appraisal, ed. Davide Orsi (Bristol, England: E-International Relations Publishing, 2018), 87-88.
  4. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991); Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: The Free Press, 1992).
  5. See Raymond Sontag, “The End of Sovereign Democracy in Russia,” Center on Global Interests, July 3, 2013,
  6. See Daniel Philpott, Revolutions in Sovereignty: How Ideas Shaped Modern International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 87, 261-262.
  7. Ibid., 104-108, 147-149.
  8. Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), 13, 16.
  9. Philpott, Revolutions, 39-43.
  10. Joelle Tanguy, “Redefining Sovereignty and Intervention,” Ethics and International Affairs 17.1 (2003): 143. The United Nations’ World Summit in 2005 formalized the principle of “the Responsibility to Protect” as one of the attributes of sovereignty.
  11. Bull, Anarchical Society, 85, 317; David Lumsdaine, “Moral Rationality and Particularity: A Response to John Hare,” in Sovereignty at the Crossroads? Morality and International Politics in the Post-Cold War Era, ed. Luis E. Lugo (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1996), 97, 99.
  12. Huntington, “Why International Primacy Matters,” International Security 17.4 (1993): 83,; Huntington, Clash, 302; Huntington, “If Not Civilization, What? Paradigms of the Post-Cold War World,” Foreign Affairs 72.5 (1993): 189, 193.
  13. Huntington, Clash, 310, 313, 316.
  14. Ibid., 33-34, 135. On the importance of ideas in foreign policy, see Philpott, Revolutions, 8-9, and Andrew Moravcsik, “Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics,” International Organization 51.4 (1997): 546-547.
  15. Arno J. Mayer, Wilson vs. Lenin: Political Origins of the New Diplomacy, 1917-1918 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959); Anton Fedyashin, “How Lenin and Wilson Changed the World,” The National Interest, Mar. 25, 2017,
  16. J. V. Stalin, Works, vol. 5 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1955), 40.
  17. “X” [George F. Kennan], “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” Foreign Affairs, 25.4 (1947): 566-582.
  18. 8Section VII of the “Helsinki Accords” of 1975 provided for “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.” Daniel C. Thomas argues that the Soviet Union’s acceptance of human rights norms to enhance its claim to be a legitimate member of the international system laid the groundwork for the unexpected change in Soviet foreign policy little more than ten years later. Daniel C. Thomas, The Helsinki Effect: International Norms, Human Rights, and the Demise of Communism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).
  19. Mikhail Gorbachev, “From the Address to the 43rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly,” in The Road We Traveled the Challenges We Face: Speeches, Articles, Interviews (Moscow: Izdatelstvo Ves Mir, 2006), 26-45,
  20. For the evangelical connection with Russia, see Perry Glanzer, The Quest for Russia’s Soul: Evangelicals and Moral Education in Post-Communist Russia (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2002).
  21. Stephen F. Cohen, Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 171-187.
  22. David Mayers, The Ambassadors and America’s Soviet Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 248.
  23. P. Edward Haley, Strategies of Dominance: The Misdirection of U.S. Foreign Policy (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2006), 72-80.
  24. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President of the United States, 2002), 1, 6, organization/63562.pdf.
  25. William Zimmerman, Ruling Russia: Authoritarianism from the Revolution to Putin (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), 2-7 and 308-310.
  26. “Russians name Brezhnev Best 20th-century Leader, Gorbachev Worst,” Russia Today May, 2013,; Sam Greene and Graeme Robertson, “Explaining Putin’s Popularity: Rallying Round the Russian Flag,” Washington Post, Sept. 9, 2014.
  27. Paul Goble, “Moscow Seeing the Ukraine Conflict as a Spiritual Struggle,” East-West Church & Ministry Report 22.4 (2014): 5. (Reprinted from Paul Goble, “Moscow Draws a Religious Line in the Sand in Ukraine,” Eurasia Daily Monitor 11.104 (2014).
  28. Kristina Stoeckl, “The Russian Orthodox Church as Moral Norm Entrepreneur,” Religion, State and Society 44 (2016): 139,
  29. Geraldine Fagan, “Russia: Building Places of Worship in Moscow Still a Struggle,” Forum 18 News Service, Dec. 3, 2007,
  30. Http:// Using, select “Theses of the RD” and scroll down to section IV, paragraph 7.
  31. “Integration of Post-Soviet Space an Alternative to Uncontrolled Migration,” Russia Today, Jan. 23, 2012,; Vladimir Putin, “Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly” (Moscow, December 12, 2013), President of Russia. events/president/news/19825. Search the document for “hegemony.”
  32. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Mortal Danger: How Misconceptions about Russia Imperil America (New York: Harper & Row, 1981); Solzhenitsyn, “Harvard Address,” The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings 1947-2005 (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2006), 573.
  33. Laure Mandeville, “Solzhenitsyn’s Widow on Putin, Russian Soul and French Lit,” World Crunch, Mar. 25, 2018,; X. S., “Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Widow on What Went Wrong,” The Economist, Nov. 26th 2015,
  34. Andrei P. Tsygankov, “The Irony of Western Ideas in a Multicultural World: Russians’ Intellectual Engagement with the ‘End of History’ and ‘Clash of Civilizations,’” International Studies Review 5.1 (2003): 61-66. The idea of Russia’s role as a mediator between cultures has its roots in the traditional claim that as the “Third Rome” Russia’s civilizational mission was to extend Christian civilization beyond the European world. The contemporary version of this is the concept of “Eurasianism,” which holds that Russia should reject European civilization in favor of a larger cultural identity uniting Russians and the non-Russian, Asian peoples of the former Soviet Union and areas adjacent to it. See Marlene Laruelle, Russian Eurasianism: an Ideology of Empire (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2008).
  35. Stephen F. Cohen, Soviet Fates, 188, citing Kennan, American Diplomacy (New York: Signet Books, 1952), 112. Cohen, Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics and History Since 1917 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 157, and Soviet Fates, ch. 7.
  36. Charlie Laderman, “Conservative Internationalism: An Overview,” Orbis 62.1 (2018): 15, citing Henry A. Kissinger, A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-1822 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1957), 206.
  37. Moravcsik, “Taking Preferences Seriously,” 525.
  38. Henry R. Nau, “Why ‘Conservative,’ not Liberal, Internationalism?” Orbis 62.1 (2018): 22-29.
  39. See Laderman, “Conservative Internationalism,” 17-18, and Henry A. Nau, “Trump’s Conservative Internationalism,” National Review, Aug. 24, 2017, 33-36.
  40. Mark Amstutz, “The Renewal of Global Order,” Providence: A Journal of Christianity and Foreign Policy 5 (2016): 22-32.
  41. See Heiko Maas, “Making Plans for a New World Order,” Handelsblatt Global, Aug. 22, 2018. The German foreign minister calls for an association of states characterized by a balanced partnership whereby European countries and the United States take an equal share of responsibility.

Stephen Hoffmann

Taylor University
Stephen P. Hoffmann is Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, at Taylor University.