UNITED STATES INFORMATION SERVICE
TEXT: AMB. HUNT SPEECH AT PANEL ON `CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS'
(Panel features Samuel Huntington, other experts) (1800)
Vienna -- U.S. foreign policy will continue to stress unity instead of division,
instead of conflict, and tolerance instead of hatred, U.S. Ambassador to Austria Swanee Hunt
told a recent panel discussion on the ideas presented in "The Clash of Civilizations and the
Remaking of the World Order" by Samuel P. Huntington.
The discussion followed a speech by Huntington himself at a December 12 event sponsored
by the Austrian Industrialists Association and the daily DER STANDARD. Huntington,
director of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, first
presented his ideas in a 1993 article published in "Foreign Affairs," which was expanded into
a book in 1996.
Ambassador Hunt noted that "President Clinton has made very clear his commitment to
multicultural trade, broad-based military alliances, and political networks to create
connections where otherwise there would be only a clash." For example, in
Bosnia-Herzegovina "the Clinton administration backed proponents of a multicultural state,
threatened by ethnic cleansing."
There are "two different paradigms" in Bosnia, Hunt said, "one of division, and one of
integration. The ultimate question is not which is true, or even which is more accurate. The
question we must each answer, every hour of every day, is, which are we working to fulfill?"
If people choose the paradigm of unity, she added, they will "focus on tolerance and even
appreciation across the dividing lines. And that very assumption will help create the reality."
Although there are strong forces that can pull us apart, the ambassador said, "our task, as
believers, as domestic social activists, or as foreign policy experts, is to work steadfastly
toward the opposite: toward the Good that exists fundamentally, toward coalitions among
ethnic groups in our American cities, and toward global alliances that build trust and promote
Participants in the panel discussion were: Professor Huntington; Ambassador Hunt; Ursula
Stenzel, People's Party representative at the European Parliament; Dr. Richard Schenz,
chairman of the board of the Austrian Petroleum Industries; Mag. Helmut Schueller, vicar
general of the Archdiocese Vienna; and Prince Karl Schwarzenberg, former advisor to
President Havel. Moderator of the discussion was Dr. Gerfried Sperl, chief editor of DER
Following is the text of Ambassador Hunt's speech:
Three More Lenses
Dr. Huntington has offered us a certain lens through which to view the world, and the serious
reader has a wealth to learn from his exposition.
Similarly, my remarks reflect three lenses through which I view that same world: lenses of my
eight years of theological studies, 19 years' experience working in America's inner cities, and
the past three years involved in the tragic war and uneasy peace in the Balkans. Where Dr.
Huntington's lens is wide angle, mine form three concentric circles, beginning with a telephoto
look at the inner core of what it means to be human, widening to a group portrait, and
expanding to the professor's wide angle.
The first lens I will only touch on, although it is, perhaps, the most worthy of our time. But this
is not really the proper occasion to explore theological ramifications of "The Clash of
Civilizations." Let me say, simply, that our understanding of ourselves, individually or in
community, grows out of a theological core, or our understanding of Being. My personal faith
is in a God identified with the Good in such a way that calls us toward a higher consciousness.
I would love to spend the next hour developing that idea, and how I see Dr. Huntington's
Weltanschaung as a stage within that process. But given our time constraints, I'll get to a
similar place more concretely by forgoing theological language and looking through my other
My second lens is the American inner city. My experience is in Denver, Colorado, which has
a low-income community with about 100,000 people: 50% of them Hispanic, 25%
African-American, 5% Asian, 4% Native American, 16% White. I have a private foundation
that has made over 700 financial grants to organizations working in this community.
The grant proposals we receive range from assertion of ethnic differences, to multi-cultural
blending. In the first category I would put mono-cultural events such as the annual Black Arts
festival, a three-day celebration in the park five blocks from my home, with hundred of poets,
gospel musicians, painters, soul food, and African dyed-cotton ethnic garb.
Another annual event that celebrates a different culture is the Cherry Blossom festival. It
emanates from Sakura Square, which includes not only Japanese restaurants, but also
apartments housing Asian elderly and a Buddhist temple. Other Denver Asians are
Vietnamese whose restaurants line a stretch of Federal Boulevard, and 6,000 Hmong
refugees from Laos.
Then there's the annual Denver Pow Wow, with tribal dancers, silver and turquoise jewelry,
and story tellers. And let's not forget the Hispanic Cinco de Mayo parade, with throbbing
guitar music and sombreros, tortillas and enchiladas, ending with a candlelight mass at the
Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I know all these communities quite well -- for two reasons. First, I believe that pride in one's
heritage adds to self-esteem, which in turn, helps people make choices that move themselves
out of poverty. So I support these events and dozens more like them.
But the second reason I know them is that I've helped put together numerous coalitions in
Denver. For example, to bring the Anne Frank exhibit to our city, I created a steering
committee of civic leaders for fund-raising and expert advice. Who were those civic leaders?
We started with the organizers of the Black Arts Festival, the Cherry Blossom Festival, the
Pow Wow, and the Cinco de Mayo parade. Every one of them has reason to hope that the
Anne Frank exhibit succeeds, because when Denver citizens learn basic tolerance for those
who are different, every group benefits.
Within our foundation universe, those ethnic leaders are natural competitors. We have a
limited number of dollars to give away. But on another level, above the competition, they
create a synergy much stronger than any one single group could.
To use Dr. Huntington's language, in Denver, micro-civilizations often clash. They compete for
the same jobs, the same scholarships, the same elective offices. They may accuse each other
of blindness, insensitivity, unfairness, and neglect. But they also rise above their differences,
and the result is a socio/political strength that can win a tax initiative, keep kids out of gangs,
or elect a black mayor. The difference between those times of cooperation and the times of
competition is palpable. The tone pervades our society. You can detect it in the comments of
taxi drivers, radio disk jockeys, university professors, or ministers in church. And you can
measure it on election night in votes to establish English as the only official language, or votes
to safeguard minority rights.
The fault lines of the city can literally be drawn by a realtor, advising a future home buyer
whether this is the right sort of neighborhood for someone of "her type." But those fault lines
are crossed millions of times every day, as people throughout America create associations
that defy most of the differences.
My theological and domestic policy lenses line up at those times when individuals or
communities come together -- despite their differences -- with a vision of making their world
better, that is, adding to the Good, or, if you will, participating as co-creators with what we
Now, the third and final lens. I've had the privilege to represent President Clinton not only
officially in Austria, but also in the Balkans, where I've focused on encouraging women
leaders. I've been inspired by the wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of boys and men who
will never come home. Meanwhile the women wait, terribly damaged, physically and
psychologically, by a war foisted on them through nationalist campaigns, infamous for
I could tell you about how orthodox Serbs destroyed one mosque after another, or how they
deliberately targeted the steeples of Croat Catholic churches. I could describe how
demagogues exhorted troops to remember ethnic conflicts of centuries passed. In fact, I could
find thousands of examples of Dr. Huntington's fault lines slicing across those Balkan
But I could also tell you a story about the women survivors of the massacre at Srebrenica, the
worst atrocity Europe has seen since World War II. I was in Tuzla in July to observe the
one-year anniversary of that Serb slaughter of about 8,000 unarmed Muslim men and boys.
As we planned the memorial service, I asked the refugees if they could possibly take the step
of inviting the Serb women in nearby Banja Luka to join them. The woman across from me,
one of the leaders, looked me straight in the eyes and said, "We're all mothers."
You see, two different paradigms exist in Bosnia: one of division, and one of integration. The
ultimate question is not which is true, or even which is more accurate. The question we must
each answer, every hour of every day, is, which are we working to fulfill?
Paul Tillich taught that symbols not only describe the past and present; they also point to and
even shape the future. If through my lens I focus on divisions, I will behave in ways that fulfill
my expectations. I'm less likely to try to bring individuals or nations together across those
deep dividing lines.
If, on the other hand, my paradigm is one of unity, then I'll focus on tolerance and even
appreciation across the dividing lines. And that very assumption will help create the reality.
The same is true in the practice of foreign policy. President Clinton has made very clear his
commitment to multicultural trade, broad-based military alliances, and political networks to
create connections where otherwise there would be only a clash. In Thailand recently, he said,
"for all the distance and differences between us, (we) share a common vision -- the dream of
an Asian-Pacific region where economic growth and democratic ideals are advancing steadily
and reinforcing one another." Likewise, in Bosnia, the Clinton administration backed
proponents of a multicultural state, threatened by ethnic cleansing.
Dr. Huntington has persuasively documented the forces that pull us apart. But as I overlay my
three lenses, it becomes clear that our task, as believers, as domestic social activists, or as
foreign policy experts, is to work steadfastly toward the opposite: toward the Good that
exists fundamentally, toward coalitions among ethnic groups in our American cities, and
toward global alliances that build trust and promote reconciliation.
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