What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: Is there really a clash of civilizations?

Vali Nasr: Well this is not a problem between Christianity and Islam, even though it’s increasingly being made into one. And partly because both countries, now some of the most engaged and hard line political groups tend to be religious. There’s the evangelicals and fundamentalists in the U.S., and the fundamentalists and hard liners in the Muslim world.

But in reality, this was not a problem that arose out of theological disagreements between Christians and Muslims. It is not like the disputes that the Vatican now has with the Orthodox church that requires the Pope to go to Istanbul and have a one-on-one discussion with the patriarch and resolve it.

The problems, even though they are put in the language of Islam in the West, really come from policy disagreements. The core of this is that the United States, however way it perceives its interest in the Middle East, has gone about protecting and promoting in a particular way that has run into trouble on the ground and has run into resistance.

Ultimately it’s about policy options. It’s not something that the U.S. says here or there. It’s about what U.S. will do here or there. It’s whether the U.S. will continue.

I think the most significant issue is whether the U.S. will continue to look at military options as the primary vehicle for protecting and promoting its interest in the Middle East and the Muslim world or not. Whether it continues to define the war on terror in a language of a war that then presupposes all kinds of civilizational [sic], cultural conflict, as opposed to much more of a law and order issue. These are debates we can have domestically about handling crime.

It is not that our interests are going to go away. It is not that our interests are always goignto be respected and received in the Muslim world with a welcome. They will not.

But the contingents come because of the particular policies that we have adopted in terms of pursuing them.

If we looked at the Muslim world right now, the United States in the past five years [i.e. circa 2002 to 2007] has invaded two Muslim countries. It is poised to invade a third one, Iran. Its level of military funding and direct involvement in other countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon – is on the rise. And that is, right now, the most contentious issue.

Recorded on: Dec 3, 2007

 

Vali Nasr: Is there really ...

Newsletter: Share: