In a blog post today over at Foreign Policy, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel supposes how the U.S. could get to a Second Civil War. Here are some excerpts, followed by my thoughts. (Before I get to my thoughts on the content, let’s reflect on the context. Here’s a retired Army LTC who estimates that there’s now a 40% chance of civil war/domestic conflict. While the title of his ramblings doesn’t exactly fit the content of the article, and the tone of the article gives us insight into his political leanings; what he’s describing is a strategy to push a civil war.)
If we have a second Civil War, trying to understand what is happening will feel more like Ukraine in 2014 than Virginia in 1861.
Generally agree. The only similarities between the War of Northern Aggression and the next domestic conflict would be along lines of demographics and traditional culture, which now expand westward to the Mountain West/American Redoubt. What’s unique about Ukraine is that it’s fundamentally a conflict of ethnicity backed by state powers, albeit with great geopolitical implications. I think that’s a fair way to describe the next domestic conflict, as well.
So, if you are a New Right strategist today — call them the Great Disruptors — the question is, how do you confront those inevitabilities?
First, you continue at the low level, with some really advanced, effective gerrymandering… You continue to enflame working class whites, who have been ignored by the Democrats for decades. You also try to limit immigration and free trade as much as possible.
By “New Right” I’ll assume that the author is using the term to describe the anti-establishment Right, and used in a similar fashion as “New Left”. Shortly before this quote, the author described the demographic changes in America as “irreversible,” which he says drives this conflict. I generally agree with that. And I agree with his next statements, although with one caveat: effective gerrymandering would actually prevent a civil war pursued by the right wing. The chief grievance is that America’s demographics have largely benefited the Left, and so gerrymandering is one way to restore appropriate representation. The argument is really that America’s heritage is being taken from its rightful heirs, especially when “heirs” has been redefined to include and prioritize non-citizens.
The author, though, betrays his political ideology. He would likely never have written that Obama “enflamed working class blacks” to get elected, yet he levels that accusation against the political Right. And while both would be true, the author implies that one is wrong. As much as political pundits have claimed that Trump’s election was a rejection of identity politics, the opposite is true. The election of Donald Trump was about the embrace of identity politics.
So what’s the next step? You up the ante. You make it holy war. You persuade your base that there is no other way but violence. I believe many, perhaps most, of the members of Trump’s base will sign up for that.
This is a real stretch for me to believe, especially because the exact opposite is now happening. The political Right are the ones complaining about political violence and, until a couple weeks ago, political violence was mulled over as a reasonable response to Trumpian “fascism”. Indeed, some on the Left have yet to condemn left wing political violence. As for Trump’s base adopting violence, the same would be said of any other social base when extinction is on the horizon. The author nearly gloats that changing demographics are changing the political landscape — a demographic shift largely pushed by the Left and that largely benefits the Left. This sounds like the old quote about war and politics, but rearranged to say “Politics is war by other means.” This is a political war, it’s a political conflict that’s being waged, and we’re probably approaching a breaking point. The extent to which Trump’s base, or Clinton’s base, or Bernie’s base, or anyone else’s base, adopts violence has more to do with severely limited options and the belief that success is possible through violence, than with a predilection alone towards violence. Trump’s base is not the one promoting political violence, but they are the best equipped to carry it out. And that’s probably what scares the Left so greatly.
Many people in the South and heartland in general often think of themselves as patriotic, loyal Americans, more so than “liberals,” “Yankees,” “elites” and people from the North and urban areas… Southerners nowadays, including Texans, often see themselves as the “realer Americans,” the people who really stand up for the country, who have a better feel for what it stands for.
How do you translate those feelings into tactics? Well, first, you don’t secede. Rather, you set the stage for yourself to be the big winner, the good guy. You make yourself “America” and make the “other guys” the troublemakers and secessionists. All you really are doing, you insist, is trying to make this country great again. Sound familiar?
If I were a truly Machiavellian New Right strategist, I’d focus my fire on the state of California. Make it The Other. Attack it relentlessly. Threaten its culture and power. Cut off water that flows into it from outside the state, essential to its people and agriculture.
Who does this guy think is in charge at the White House? Anyone who would promote these kinds of “attacks” on California? Until this point, the author was arguing a realistic cause and realistic response, but this is beyond the pale of sanity. The current White House, still filled with Obama staffers and globalists, would never allow this to happen. This just not a realistic scenario.
The Disruptors would accept violence as part of the equation. I don’t foresee set-piece battles between great armies, but I think they understand the strategy would involve persistent conflict that kills hundreds or even thousands on the way to achieving its aims. If they can get away with it with minimal bloodshed, great; if not, “so be it.”
The author accuses in advance the Trump base of accepting violence, however, it’s been the exact opposite for the past year. It’s been the Left pushing violence in response to political positions. It’s been the Left advocating violence as a last ditch effort to avoid what they perceive as a fascist state. It’s been the Left actually in pursuit of a fascist state.
In March, my totally unscientific hunch was a second civil war had less than a 20% chance of happening. Now I’m guessing it’s closer to 40%… If anything, I expect it to worsen.
[F]or the New Right, it is the only alternative to political extinction. Soon, they will have no choice but to be bold, drastic and ruthless. We’d be foolish not to expect something real and violent as a result. [source]
I don’t disagree with the first point; namely that there’s a growing likelihood of domestic conflict. On a long enough time horizon, this likelihood approaches 100%. But there’s a lot of time between now and then. I still believe that at the end of this decade and into the early 2020s is when we start seeing very real manifestations of domestic conflict. As for the author’s charge of “political extinction,” it’s unfounded. Conservatives, the New Right, the Alt-Right, are simply not facing extinction. Conservatism and traditionalism will continue regionally — in the majority of this country, by the way — and that’s where the real risk of domestic conflict is encountered: the small blue dots in seas of red. My belief is that Balkanization will be the ultimate effect of a domestic conflict, but “political extinction” is just not a possibility. That’s just wishful thinking on the part of the author’s.