A decade ago, Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington predicted a "clash of civilizations" that would pit culture against culture in a war of values rather than borders. His influential book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, excited politicians and outraged pacifists. But 10 years later, anxious and confused Westerners are dusting off their copies and debating whether Huntington's prophecy is coming true. On the face of it, there's scant reason for reassurance. Al Qaeda warlord Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead, and Osama bin Laden is in hiding. But young disaffected Muslims are joining militant movements in ever-greater numbers, and hatred of the United States and the West is escalating. Meanwhile, the so-called "war on terror" continues, fought by legal and illegal means that convince even moderate Muslims they are the targets of an anti-Islamic crusade. Insecurity abounds among non-Muslims, with experts as well as ordinary people decrying the anti-terrorism campaign, and 86 per cent of leading American foreign policy analysts calling it a failure in a recent survey. The jihadists, and their opponents on the extreme Christian right, are gaining an edge with apocalyptic warnings that a "final battle" between the Muslim world and the West is now inevitable. "I've met Arab teenagers who were trying to raise $100 for a bus ticket to the Iraqi border to join the fight against the Americans," says Middle Eastern scholar Fawaz Gerges, author of Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy. "They weren't even religiously educated Islamists. It's shocking how radicalized large segments of the Muslim population have become, worldwide." But Gerges and others who study the progress of jihadism and the war on terror say that building a basement bunker is premature for worried people on both sides of the cultural divide. The real clash, they insist, is not between Muslims and the West, but within Islam itself. There is also a fierce battle between Western liberals and conservatives struggling for the souls of their countries. "We're talking about a clash of fundamentalisms in both camps," says Gerges. "In the Muslim world, a thin layer of culture and tradition is being imposed on the wider community. Even though the people who are doing it belong to a tiny minority, they are very effective at campaigning and they have set powerful forces in motion." America, says former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, follows the same dangerous pattern: "It is sometimes convenient for purposes of rhetorical effect for national leaders to talk of a globe neatly divided into good and bad," she warned in a recent essay in the Los Angeles Times. "It is quite another, however, to base the policies of the world's most powerful nation upon that fiction. The (George W. Bush) administration's penchant for painting the perceived adversaries with the same sweeping brush has led to a series of unintended consequences." In America, analysts say, such apocalyptic thinking fits neatly into the culture of fundamentalist Christianity, and a substantial number of Americans believe the end of the world is inevitable. Launching wars against "evildoers" and unbelievers is a way of provoking a "final battle" of all against all. Bush's religiously tinged rhetoric convinces some of his critics that a clash of civilizations is his goal. "One suspects that the right is full of apocalyptic excuses for not facing the huge challenges looming in the future," says Deepak Chopra, author of numerous books on spiritual healing. "There is a whiff of apocalypse hanging over the Iraq war, whose rationale may have a lot to do with the Book of Revelations, the rise of the Anti-Christ, a climactic battle in the Holy Land and so on. "These scenarios are not divinely manifested, though — we make them happen out of our own will, expectations, and perverse love of crisis," he said in the Huffington Post. Extremists in the Muslim world are also courting the Armageddon that a clash of civilizations would create. And, analysts say, the invasion of Iraq has intensified and speeded up the violent evolution of jihad. "There is a sense of apocalypse now," says Reuven Paz, director of the Project for the Research of Islamist Movements at the Israel-based GLORIA Center. "Not just youngsters, but people with families, in their 30s, are willing to go to Iraq and blow themselves up. That is something new. About 700 people a year are killing themselves there. They feel that they are living on the eve of the end of history, and the great victory of Islam is coming." New, too, is the attraction to terrorism of middle-class and wealthy young Muslims in Arab countries and the West, who are backing and planning attacks against "infidels" and "occupiers." And, Paz says, their nihilism is reflected in an American policy of endless war against terrorism that was exemplified by the invasion of Iraq. "When the Americans started the Iraq war, they waked all kinds of sleeping demons, both Sunni and Shia. They aroused many social and cultural ones, not just in Iraq, but throughout the Arab world. That has fuelled the jihad. If you look at the reaction to the killing of Zarqawi, you see that hundreds are thanking the Americans, because now there will be an even bigger wave of jihad." Loretta Napoleoni, London-based author of Insurgent Iraq: Al Zarqawi and the New Generation, agrees: "It's turned into an anti-imperialist movement without end," she says. "Many of the jihad recruits aren't interested in classic motivations like recreating the Islamic Caliphate. The ones who were arrested in (the recent bomb plot in) Ontario may not even have a final objective. As long as they attack, it's sufficient. It's purely nihilistic, like some of the old anarchist movements in Europe. And because the people who attack are gone afterwards, it's much more difficult to find out who (the cells) are and how they operate." But while a minority of Muslims are embracing jihad, many others are moving in the opposite direction, say those who have closely studied the politics of the Muslim world. "Arabs are desperately looking for democracy, and there is real dynamism to the movement now," says political scientist Amr Hamzawy, a senior associate with the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "They are fed up with their ruling elites and they've lost trust in governments and leaders." But ironically, Hamzawy says, the West, and particularly the U.S., has supported autocratic leaders who violently suppress democratic movements. "Traditional American support for the region's autocrats has created a very negative image among the Arab masses. The way in which Western countries have reacted to (the Palestinian militant group) Hamas's election victory, and America's support for the Saudi regime and (President Hosni) Mubarak in Egypt, as well as the invasion of Iraq, explains why there is so much anti-American feeling in the region." And, he says, "the perception in Washington is that if you let Arabs vote, they'll take the most radical alternative." Whether larger segments of the Muslim world become radicalized — and a clash of civilizations becomes likely — depends on whether the West can defuse the crises over Hamas, Iraq and the Iranian nuclear program, Hamzawy says. It also depends on whether Muslims themselves can open a frank debate on democracy and jihad — something that has begun in the wake of the London and Madrid bombings, as well as the foiled Toronto bomb plot. "Non-violent movements have benefited a lot from the jihadists' growing lack of credibility," Hamzawy says. "It has always been a game between Muslim moderates and extremists, and what we are now seeing is a return of the moderate Islamists. That is a good sign, but only if there is agreement to build viable democratic systems." America, too, needs dialogue if escalating warfare is to be avoided, according to Charles Pena, author of Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism, and senior fellow with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. "We have to examine how our own policies are contributing to the Muslim terrorist threat," he says. "Part of the problem is using the term `war.' If we are going to use military force to define the means by which everything is accomplished, war will be both endless and unwinnable." The more people who are killed by American forces, Pena adds, "the more hatred there will be. There are people, like Zarqawi, who should legitimately be attacked, although his death causes ripples. But the problem is when you bomb a house in Kandahar and kill 17 civilians, or hit innocent civilians in Iraq." In the U.S., Pena says, war has become the first line of resistance, and there is no debate on how to arrive at a more constructive policy. "This administration has made it much worse. But whether the Republicans or Democrats are in charge next, we're going to see more of the same because we really don't understand how American foreign policy affects terrorism, and nobody wants to have that debate." Is a clash of civilizations likely, given the uncertain alternatives? The answer, critics say, may be in the equally powerful force of diversity. "There is no such thing as the Islam (the West) imagines, the looming monolith, the new bogeyman, the `Green Menace' taking the place of the now-dead `Red Menace,'" says Mustapha Tlili, director of the program Dialogues: Islamic World-U.S-the West at New York University's Remarque Institute. "There is an Islamic spiritual community, there are Muslim countries, there are Muslim people, Islamic traditions and various expressions of Islamic faith." "Belief in religious separation and the allegedly inescapable hostilities linked to it has to come to terms with the existence of other powerful forces related to other identities — economic, political, social, linguistic and many others," points out Nobel laureate Amartya Sen in Slate magazine. "The theory of an overarching `clash of civilizations' not only has to face the difficult problem of explaining so many different types of movements in the world today, it would not be able to provide much of an explanation for some of the most prominent political developments in contemporary history."