Monday Reads: Are We Headed For Civil War?
Posted: May 23, 2022 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: just because, morning reads | Tags: Barbara F. Walter, Civil War, Donald Trump, January 6 insurrection, Republicans |
The news this morning is full of stories about corruption by Trump and his cronies; but even more horrifying, Trump himself spent the weekend ranting on Truth Social–his own social media company–and he seemed to suggest that he wants a civil war in the U.S.
Business Insider: Trump reshares post on Truth Social that appears to suggest or predict a civil war in America.
Trump re-posted a suggestion from a Truth Social user called “MAGA King Thanos,” who commented on a screenshot of a tweet from El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele.
In the tweet, Bukele wrote: “The most powerful country in the world is falling so fast, that it makes you rethink what are the real reasons. Something so big and powerful can’t be destroyed so quickly, unless the enemy comes from within.
Bukele’s remarks came in response to a Bloomberg tweet on coping with inflation in the US if one earns under $300,000 a year.
The post that Trump re-shared captured the Truth Social user’s comment on Bukele’s tweet, which read “Civil war.”
Here’s the post Trump shared:
More from Business Insider:
Bukele is El Salvador’s millennial president — a controversial figure who once switched up his Twitter bio to call himself “the coolest dictator in the world.”
Trump’s re-post was picked up on by conservative political activist George Conway, the husband of former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway.
“Nothing to see here. Just a former president of the United States sharing a social media post advocating or predicting civil war in the United States. No biggie,” he tweeted.
Trump’s comment was also swiftly rebuked by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of Trump’s staunchest critics in the GOP.
“Any of my fellow Republicans wanna speak out now?” Kinzinger tweeted. “Or are we just wanting to get through ‘just one more election first…?”
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell also weighed in on Trump’s post, tweeting: “Donald Trump is calling for Civil War. Of course, like Vietnam and the walk to the Insurrection, he won’t be man enough to fight it.”
In January, Barbara F. Walter published a book called How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them. I believe I put something in a post about it at the time. Here are some articles from the time the book came out.
Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: ‘We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe,’ new study says.
A startling new finding by one of the nation’s top authorities on foreign civil wars says we are on the cusp of our own.
Barbara F. Walter, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego, serves on a CIA advisory panel called the Political Instability Task Force that monitors countries around the world and predicts which of them are most at risk of deteriorating into violence. By law, the task force can’t assess what’s happening within the United States, but Walter, a longtime friend who has spent her career studying conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Rwanda, Angola, Nicaragua and elsewhere, applied the predictive techniques herself to this country.
Her bottom line: “We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe.” She lays out the argument in detail in her must-read book, “How Civil Wars Start,” out in January. “No one wants to believe that their beloved democracy is in decline, or headed toward war,” she writes. But, “if you were an analyst in a foreign country looking at events in America — the same way you’d look at events in Ukraine or the Ivory Coast or Venezuela — you would go down a checklist, assessing each of the conditions that make civil war likely. And what you would find is that the United States, a democracy founded more than two centuries ago, has entered very dangerous territory.”
Indeed, the United States has already gone through what the CIA identifies as the first two phases of insurgency — the “pre-insurgency” and “incipient conflict” phases — and only time will tell whether the final phase, “open insurgency,” began with the sacking of the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6.
Things deteriorated so dramatically under Trump, in fact, that the United States no longer technically qualifies as a democracy. Citing the Center for Systemic Peace’s “Polity” data set — the one the CIA task force has found to be most helpful in predicting instability and violence — Walter writes that the United States is now an “anocracy,” somewhere between a democracy and an autocratic state.
Dropping five points in five years greatly increases the risk of civil war (six points in three years would qualify as “high risk” of civil war). “A partial democracy is three times as likely to experience civil war as a full democracy,” Walter writes. “A country standing on this threshold — as America is now, at +5 — can easily be pushed toward conflict through a combination of bad governance and increasingly undemocratic measures that further weaken its institutions.”
The Boston Globe published an interview with Walter by Shannon Larson: Q&A with Barbara F. Walter, author of ‘How Civil Wars Start,’ on the prospect of open civil conflict breaking out in the US.
Barbara F. Walter, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego, has spent over three decades studying civil conflict. In her new book, “How Civil Wars Start: and How to Stop Them,” Walter examines the rise of violent extremism on a global scale and warns of the increasing likelihood of a second civil war breaking out in the United States.
“January 6, 2021 was a gift to the American people,” she tweeted on the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the Capitol. “It made it impossible for the country to ignore or deny the cancer that has been growing out of the public eye for years. We can fix this!”
From the interview:
1) In your book, you write that the United States is “closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe.” How did you reach that conclusion?
“I’m a quantitative social scientist who studies civil wars. That means that I don’t study just one civil war in one country. I study all civil wars that have occurred over the last 80 years (and there have been over 200 of them). There has been an enormous amount of data collected by scholars on the factors that lead to civil war — so we know what things tend to put countries at greater risk of civil war.
“In addition, between 2017 and 2021, I served on the Political Instability Task Force run by the US government. The Task Force included political scientists, economists, anthropologists, and data analysts. The task of the Task Force was to put together a predictive model that would help the US government predict where around the world political instability and political violence was likely to break out. The Task Force included over 50 variables in the model — variables that the experts thought might matter, like poverty, income inequality, the ethnic diversity of a country, the size of a country, etc. Only two factors turn out to be highly predictive: anocracy and ethnic factionalism.”
2) What is an anocracy? What does it mean when a government is defined as such?
“Anocracy is a term that political scientists use for a government that is neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic, it is something in between. You can think of it as a partial democracy, weak democracy, illiberal democracy. It turns out that it is in this middle zone — between democracy and autocracy — that most civil wars occur. The second factor was whether a political faction had emerged in an anocracy that was based on ethnic, religious, or racial identity, and that faction then had the goal to gain power in order to exclude everyone else.”
3) What are some of the more notable examples in recent history demonstrating that the country is heading down the path toward a civil war?
“The US’s democracy has been weakening since 2016. It was downgraded first in 2016, then again in 2019, and then finally again after the January 6th attack on the Capitol, when it was classified as an anocracy for the first time since 1800.
“And then, one of America’s two big parties — the Republican Party — has become a faction based on race. As late as 2008, white Americans were equally likely to be a Democrat as a Republican. Today, 90 percent of the Republican Party is white, and it is doing everything possible to disenfranchise those who don’t vote Republican.” [….]
6) What would a modern civil war look like?
“The next civil war will look nothing like the last civil war. 21st-century civil wars tend to look much more like insurgencies — often fought by multiple factions, militias, and paramilitary groups — sometimes working together, sometimes competing. And they tend to use unconventional methods such as terrorism and guerilla warfare. It will look more like Northern Ireland and the 1st and 2nd intifada than Gettysburg.”
I’ve quoted quite a bit of the article, because it is behind a paywall.
This piece by Stephen Marche at The Guardian is also an important read. The next US civil war is already here – we just refuse to see it.
The United States today is, once again, headed for civil war, and, once again, it cannot bear to face it. The political problems are both structural and immediate, the crisis both longstanding and accelerating. The American political system has become so overwhelmed by anger that even the most basic tasks of government are increasingly impossible.
The legal system grows less legitimate by the day. Trust in government at all levels is in freefall, or, like Congress, with approval ratings hovering around 20%, cannot fall any lower. Right now, elected sheriffs openly promote resistance to federal authority. Right now, militias train and arm themselves in preparation for the fall of the Republic. Right now, doctrines of a radical, unachievable, messianic freedom spread across the internet, on talk radio, on cable television, in the malls.
The consequences of the breakdown of the American system is only now beginning to be felt. January 6 wasn’t a wake-up call; it was a rallying cry. The Capitol police have seen threats against members of Congress increase by 107%. Fred Upton, Republican representative from Michigan, recently shared a message he had received: “I hope you die. I hope everybody in your family dies.” And it’s not just politicians but anyone involved in the running of the electoral system. Death threats have become a standard aspect of the work life of election supervisors and school board members. A third of poll workers, in the aftermath of 2020, said they felt unsafe.
Two things are happening at the same time. Most of the American right have abandoned faith in government as such. Their politics is, increasingly, the politics of the gun. The American left is slower on the uptake, but they are starting to figure out that the system which they give the name of democracy is less deserving of the name every year.
An incipient illegitimacy crisis is under way, whoever is elected in 2022, or in 2024. According to a University of Virginia analysis of census projections, by 2040, 30% of the population will control 68% of the Senate. Eight states will contain half the population. The Senate malapportionment gives advantages overwhelmingly to white, non– college educated voters. In the near future, a Democratic candidate could win the popular vote by many millions of votes and still lose. Do the math: the federal system no longer represents the will of the American people.
The right is preparing for a breakdown of law and order, but they are also overtaking the forces of law and order. Hard right organization have now infiltrated so many police forces – the connections number in the hundreds – that they have become unreliable allies in the struggle against domestic terrorism.
I’ve focused this post on civil war, because I think this is where the Trumpists and the rest of the Republicans who cower in fear of their base are taking us. And I don’t think the Democrats are taking this seriously enough. I hope I’m wrong about that.
More stories to check out today:
The New York Times: Kushner’s and Mnuchin’s Quick Pivots to Business With the Gulf.
Crew: The Secret Service spent nearly $2 million at Trump properties.
The Guardian: Capitol attack panel to hold six public hearings as it aims to show how Trump broke law.
Just Security: Prosecuting Trump for the Insurrection: The Well-Founded Case f.or Optimism.
The Daily Beast: How Trump’s Fear of Getting Pied in the Face May Come Back to Cream Him.
The Washington Post: Russian diplomat resigns protesting Putin’s ‘aggressive war.’
The New York Times: U.S. Military Airlifts Baby Formula From Europe.
CNN: Biden says US would respond ‘militarily’ if China attacked Taiwan, but White House insists there’s no policy change.
Melissa Murray at The New York Times How the Right to Birth Control Could Be Undone.
Politico: State Democrats, abortion-rights activists ‘incredibly frustrated’ with federal inaction.
Have a nice Monday, Sky Dancers!!
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They’re idiotic villainous crazies, of course.
Except for the fact that it’s what Putin wants — which makes it a great blaring flashing red contrary indicator — it often seems like the best thing that could happen is partition. The coasts and the more sensible regions around the Great Lakes go ahead and shed the losers of the Civil War. They’re worse than a dead weight we have to pour money into at this point.
But it can’t be good because it’s what Putin wants. And it abandons all the millions of good people who live there.
WA state could kick out the MAGAts on the eastside of the state and make room for blue-state refugees. Yeah, not very realistic. But in the coastal states, measured by voting population, (as opposed to Electoral College nonsense), I bet there’d be be enough votes for partition. But I’m dreaming; it’ll never happen.
We’d have to do it district by district. This is something Iike what conservatives want anyway. I had a friend who truly believed his tax money should go solely to his district. He was one of those guys who thinks his success was 100% self-made. The ATL metro is chock-block with incorporated affluent white suburbs with privatized police, etc.
It’d tickle me pink to make those a holes have to apply for a passport to come downtown.
Odd how so many right-wing Xian groups forget the teachings about feeding the hungry, healing the sick and helping the poor.
And now the Baptists have a child abuse scandal, a very big one.
Yes, let’s see how they try to get out of that.
They all smirk at the Catholics but they all do it. In my short stint at SDA academy we had at least half a dozen student/faculty sex scandals.
I call it the balloon theory. When you squeeze the “no dancing, no make up, no smoking, no alcohol, no meat, no movies” end of the balloon, the other end is going to bulge in some really strange ways.
Public repression leads to closet debauchery. IMO. But what do I know.
These crazy motherfuckers never give up.
Yet they want to enslave women’s uteruses.
I have been saying for years that the neo-confederate christo-fascists have been romancing the idea of another civil war for decades. That is why the paramilitary fetish, and the sudden infatuation with authoritarians and iron fisted strongmen. The revival of idiotic McCarthy era communist rhetoric by people like Zane Coulter and sudden abandonment of the belief in one man one vote because of white replacement theory.
You can only defeat the liberal majority with electoral shenanigans for so long. You can only maintain minority rule through Supreme Court intervention once. Maybe twice. Eventually demographics and population are going to overwhelm the ability of foreign interference to keep unpopularly buffoons in office.
At some point you are going to have to go with threats of violence and intimidation, and if that isn’t suffice they are ready to try bloodshed.
Decades of worrying over, how Hitler could have won if only…, and what if the south had just managed to get foreign recognition…Ever notice what a huge portion of alternate histories deal with the Confederacy and the Third Reich? Those were the times two most recent democracies, turned by white supremacists, who then let it all slip through their fingers.
One way or another they have to contrive a justification for establishing “order” , with rich oligarchs, right wing demagogues, the church and the military in charge. And any who resist better be ready to fight.
The increase in the paramilitary ideology with their military-style weapons is worrisome. They’re so angry. They give off a smell (metaphorically) of gnawing, frustrated hate. With that much angry hatred they can’t think. They nonsensically feel that there’s a finite amount of good fortune in the world and someone going from poverty wages to a living wage threatens them. And they feel uneasy or insecure in the presence of anything unfamiliar — different skin tones, languages, religions, cultures, so they react with hate and anger.
You can feel uncomfortable or insecure around unfamiliar people or situations without that turning into fear or anger. That hate reaction isn’t innate, at least not in most people. I’m sure it’s fostered in their children by parents who get angry at anything different. And by churches that preach hellfire and damnation but ignore their founder’s teachings on forgiveness, love, helping others, and doing unto others as you would have done unto you.
I go back to Bill and Hillary. The bad guys hype themselves in to such a foaming at the mouth state that they feel no obligation to ANY ETHICAL STANDARD WHATSOEVER. They justify it as “Dems are so bad that the gloves are off.”
Rush Limbaugh calls an 11 year old little girl child a dog on national television, but it is ok because it it the Clintons.
Twenty years later they storm the goddamned capital in violent insurrection under confederate battle flags but it is ok, because you know LIBERALS!
On little insult allowed to pass stacks on another, and then another. NOW , no lie is too big or over the top. No insult or slur is OUTRAGEOUS! It is all just what they do.
What did Clemenza tell Michael Corleone, “Like they should have stopped Hitler at Munich, they shuold never have let him get away with that. They was just asking for trouble.”
We should have stopped them at Gingrich. We was just asking for trouble.
They interviewed two Republican Georgia voters about the Senate race between Reverend Warnock and Hershel Walker. One man said that that he respected the job Reverend Warnock has done so far, and that Walker’s history of unstable behavior, suicidal gestures and domestic abuse gave him pause. The other man said he has no problem with Walker because any conservative is better than any liberal communist.
That is a perfect answer. Let’s not forget that when Martin Luther King Junior was alive he was dismissed by southern politicians as a communist. It is fitting that the man who now serves in MLK’s old pulpit is being smeared as a communist. The shit is getting thick so Socialist is no longer good enough.
(Some of) The Christian Right prefers an unstable inexperienced domestic abuser to an honorable long serving pastor who pulled himself up by his own Jesus straps, because he won’t play the racism gas lighting game. I have to put that little caveat because one of the two dudes was sane.
I am not saying that Trumper churches are full of shit, but that barn smell is coming from somewhere.
Domestic abuse shows us what the person does to someone with less power. I wouldn’t trust Walker to treat anyone fairly unless they’re richer or more powerful than he is, in which case he’d grovel to them. Warnock, OTOH, inspires nothing but respect.
Totally. Even without the politics, the contrast in the too individuals could not be more stark.
The pro-Walker guy means he wants male white supremacy and Walker is supposed to give it to him. Whereas Warnock promises to do the opposite. The guy is not wrong.
The dictionary definitions of the words the supremacists use are irrelevant. Obviously they can’t say what they really mean. It’s not respectable anymore. I guess when even the supremacists can’t admit who they are, we’ve made some kind of an inch of progress?
Not respectable anymore but they are working on it. Gaslighting terms like “political correctness” and “woke” are not just for rehabilitating the “n-word.”
They want “polite society” to endorse the full boat of racism and bigotry as freedom of choice and free speech. Or at least get the Supreme Court to say that discrimination is a constitutional guaranteed right.
I hope this prediuction fails, bu tI believe that is where we are headed.
You’re right that they’re certainly doing their best to get back to what passes for respectable with them. Horrible how much success they’ve already had. I have to agree that the outcome you fear looks like having way too good a chance of happening.
(Do . not . understand . why every single member of government, who is a human and not a roach, isn’t running around with their hair on fire. They had to pass real voting rights in the first two weeks of this admin! Get Guido from the Mafia to talk to Manema if that’s what it took.)