It’s likely you won’t agree with all of Huntington’s ideas, but he maintained a deeply learned understanding of the animating ideas behind Western/American political organization with keen observation of what was happening on the ground in foreign countries. Here’s a brief summation from Robert Kaplan’s article:
“• The fact that the world is modernizing does not mean that it is Westernizing. The impact of urbanization and mass communications, coupled with poverty and ethnic divisions, will not lead to peoples’ everywhere thinking as we do.
• Asia, despite its ups and downs, is expanding militarily and economically. Islam is exploding demographically. The West may be declining in relative influence.
• Culture-consciousness is getting stronger, not weaker, and states or peoples may band together because of cultural similarities rather than because of ideological ones, as in the past.
• The Western belief that parliamentary democracy and free markets are suitable for everyone will bring the West into conflict with civilizations—notably, Islam and the Chinese—that think differently.
• In a multi-polar world based loosely on civilizations rather than on ideologies, Americans must reaffirm their Western identity.”
Huntington grew up an FDR liberal, and seemed to maintain humility and some respect for ideas that perhaps he no longer always found tenable personally, but realized were crucial for America’s survival…and a crucial component of America’s assumptions (often not correct) about the rest of the world.
Addition: Of course it’s quite possible he still found many of them tenable as well…here’s a quote from Leo Strauss:
“Strauss noted that thinkers of the first rank, going back to Plato, had raised the problem of whether good politicians could be completely truthful and still achieve the necessary ends of their society. Are myths needed to give people meaning and purpose and to ensure a stable society or can men dedicated to relentlessly examining, in Nietzsche’s language, those “deadly truths,” flourish freely? In The City and Man, Strauss discusses the myths outlined in Plato’s Republic that are required for all governments. “
See Also: Google books has ‘Political Order In Changing Societies‘ and ‘Who Are We?: The Challenges To America’s National Identity‘ (previews)available.
Huntington’s page at Harvard here. Reihan Salam has a short piece here.
Also On This Site: I still have my doubts about that Nietzschean influence on our thought and politics: A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche Connection…which also can be found in the new ‘experimental philosophy’ school: Christopher Shea In The Chronicle Of Higher Ed On Experimental Philosophy