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Perception, not culture, may cause international conflict
“Don’t start the argument all over again, Bill,” he said, “or it will take all night.”
“Who’s a-arguing?” said William, who thought it was Bert that had spoken.
“No good boiling ’em! We ain’t got no water, and it’s a long way to the well and all,” said a voice. Bert and William thought it was Tom’s.
Dr Newton Howard, an MIT academic, disputes the ‘Clash of Civilisations’ theory by arguing that human perception fundamentally underpins how governments navigate international relations. It is misperception that leads to conflict.
When understood as an effect of misperception and misconceptions, international conflict inhabits the actionable realm for those seeking to avoid conflict. Conceiving international conflict as inevitable, which the ‘Clash of Civilisations’ theory does, is something Dr Howard sees as a hazardous attitude: “Were such a perspective to become sufficiently prolific among world leaders, a self-fulfilling prophecy might well arise based on the perception that conflict is inevitable and the utility of diplomacy is negligible.” 
Fortunately, language presents a promising platform for identifying and reconciling misperceptions. When monitored as an indicator of perception and thought patterns, language used by state representatives exhibits an association with conflict and other political activity. Governments can avoid escalating tensions by understanding how language mediates misperception and antagonism.
Dr Howard concludes his analysis by asserting that, while culture may affect international relations, it does not provide a convincing explanation of conflict, and to overlook other factors is a mistake. One such factor with much to offer is the ‘Clash of Perceptions’ explanation currently gaining significant interest and development.