The distinguished Chicago historian William H. McNeill put it very well when referring to Huntington's recommendations: a prescription for World War III. He didn't mince words in his book review; but I doubt it's necessary to be worried, because no one who matters is going to take this book seriously.
Huntington's divisions of civilizations are arbitrary and inconsistent. Some, like "Orthodox", referring to Russia and Eastern Europe - and believe it or not, "Buddhist" - are religious; while others, like "Sinic" (China) sound ethnic, and "Latin America" looks like nothing more than a linguistic civilization (based on Spanish, that is).
He calls for total integration - political and economic - between North America and Western Europe. How likely is THAT going to happen?. Europeans have enough trouble integrating themselves into one whole unit. Also, the cultural gulf between America and Europe is widening. Just look at the unpopularity of McDonald's restaurants in France. Nor are Germans crazy about everything American, either.
America itself is changing demographically. In 50 years' time white Americans may well be the largest minority, with no single group in the clear majority. This will make America even more different from Europe. Huntington calls for "Westernization" of Latin America. The fact is, America is Latinizing.
The notion about putting an end to trade with Asia is absurd. It would be a disaster for American businesses and the US economy, which could be plunged into a depression so severe as to make the 30's look like a boom. No sane American farmers or CEO's would support that.
If reform continues in China, it will make the country so powerful as to make a conflict between America and China a global catastrophe.
Russia's own trade with China is developing fast. Relations between the two countries have never been better and keep improving. If America can't get France and Germany (two countries from Huntington's Western Christendom "civilization") to go along on tiny Iraq, the possibility that America can get Europe and Russia on its side in a total war with China and Japan is pure fantasy. Huntington's scenario should put Tom Clancy to shame.
In any case, the assumption that China and America are on a collision course cannot be sustained. Just as America is changing, so too is China. Just as America's center of gravity is shifting away from the Atlantic and towards the Pacific, so China too will eventually liberalize and orient towards the West.
Economic reform already has made the people far more open than they used to be. Just look at the effort the people in Beijing are making to learn English, in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. The communist government for all its rhetoric never hesitates to hold up the Space Shuttle as a shining example of AMERICAN technology - it's on every poster. This trend will continue, notwithstanding Huntington's doubts.
Trade between China on the one hand and Europe, America, and Russia on the other is developing so quickly, that I don't see how Huntington can bet on a growing rift between the Sinic "civilization" and the rest of the world. With trade also comes cultural and value influences, as McNeill points out brilliantly. Huntington has to be quite myopic to despair of longterm changes. Perhaps he reads too little history.
As an ethnic Chinese born in then British-controlled Hong Kong, but also a Canadian citizen, having travelled all over America and Europe, I see more and deeper links between civilizations in the future. McNeill calls cultural interchange the basic pattern of history. With ever faster communication links - jets, internet, television - civilization boundaries are more porous and blurry than ever. Even the cleft between Islam and the West is not unbridgeable. (Of course, there will always be a small group of extremists - on both sides.)
Viewing the future with a Cold War mentality, from a time when America and Russia had little to trade with each other except bullets and propaganda, Huntington simply assumes the same will happen, this time on ethnic/religious/civilization lines rather than ideological ones. It makes me wince to think that a professor at Harvard - TR's and FDR's own alma mater - can be this dumb. A man of TR's realism or FDR's practical sense wouldn't even bother to pick up a book like this.
Shut up in a library all day, extrapolating things in a simple-minded manner, seeing everything in black and white, Huntington draws ivory-tower lessons from his books. He should get out in the open air, travel a bit more, and meet more people.