To globalization and other forces transforming national societies, we must now add the power of terrorism. Terrorism has privatized even war -- as we can see from Osama bin Laden's jihad against the whole of western Christendom. It no longer takes another super-power to pose a grave threat even to the American giant. The specter of asymmetric warfare, of which terrorism is its most visible aspect, will be with us for the next several years.
We Filipinos have long been acquainted with terrorism. Our citizenry, in fact, have been among its first victims in the post-cold war era. Islamist extremists have struck in many places in Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines. Local insurgents and separatists apparently have linked up with an extremist movement active in all the Muslim communities of southeast Asia -- which has a grandiose program to unite parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines into one Islamic state. Islamic terrorists regard themselves as fighting to establish a global community of believers that -- as in the days of Arab glory, more than a thousand years ago -- would be governed by the Koran and ruled by a "successor" to the prophet Mohammed, or caliph, who would possess both temporal and spiritual powers. But this myth of a return to Islamic purity is as propagandistic and as illusory as Hitler’s dream of a thousand-year Reich or Stalin’s vision of a classless society.
Islamic fundamentalism, however, may finally exhaust itself, since it lacks the intellectual resources capable of giving the Muslim peoples the civilizational vigor they need to compete on equal terms with the modern and secular west. To avert the "clash of civilizations" that some thinkers see as impending, world leaders are promoting a "dialogue of civilizations" being encouraged by the united nations and promoted by the ecumenism of Pope John Paul II.
Obviously, a "dialogue of civilizations" will be drawn-out and complicated. But i think it is tremendously important as a parallel mechanism to conventional diplomacy at a time when religious, cultural, and civilizational affiliations have all became potential and even active sources of global tension and conflict.
Globalization and culture
The globalization of culture is also fanning the flames of discontent and anti-American resentment across the world. Globalization is associated with the spread of the less savory aspects of western pop culture -- commercialism, consumerism, hedonism -- a catalog of isms and drug abuse are perceived in many quarters of the developing world as an assault on their traditional customs and values, particularly among Muslim communities, including in the Philippines.
There are deep cultural reasons for anti-American sentiments that are rising in some parts of the globe. Obviously, for much of the third world, America has come to personify all the western powers that created empires during the period of colonization -- whose influence on their developing societies has been so strong and so disruptive over these last 500 years.
Anti-Americanism is also being driven by the fear that the world is being "Americanized." cultural globalization has hit some poor countries harder than economic globalization has done. In such countries, American customs and values -- which are the dominant strains in the intrusive internationalist culture -- are fast spreading, especially among young people, through the mass media and the internet.