Ending the Next Civil War Won’t Be That Easy

Some once part of the U.S. military are, to put it mildly, delusional about a possible internal rebellion:

At issue is an article in the respected Small Wars Journal titled “Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A ‘Vision’ of the Future.” It was written by retired Army Col. Kevin Benson of the Army’s University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and Jennifer Weber, a Civil War expert at the University of Kansas. It posits an “extremist militia motivated by the goals of the ‘tea party’ movement” seizing control of Darlington, S.C., in 2016, “occupying City Hall, disbanding the city council and placing the mayor under house arrest.” The rebels set up checkpoints on Interstate 95 and Interstate 20 looking for illegal aliens. It’s a cartoonish and needlessly provocative scenario.

Let’s start with the obvious: the scenario these two armchair experts set forth isn’t a greater threat to the integrity of the United States than John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry was.  What came after the election of 1860–the secession of the Southern states and the division of the United States military which had dispatched John Brown–was a different story altogether.

These two share the same assumption that the militia movement did/does: that all it takes to threaten the end of the United States requires a few fanatics starting something somewhere.  It won’t work for the militia movement and neither will it work for these two.

The failure of the United States won’t start at the bottom but at the top, as was the case with the Soviet Union.  Our country’s basic driving force is shifting rapidly to a patronage-driven system, where the government as patron hands out goodies and basically creates enough clients to keep it in power.  That’s the critical dynamic we have in this year’s election, a choice between those who want to keep the patronage intact and those who ostensibly don’t.  Up until now the key reason this has worked is because we borrow enough money to prevent the tax increase necessary to fully fund the system.

Sooner or later the growth of the debt will come to the point where the fact that we’re the world’s reserve currency and can print money without accountability will be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the obligation, at which point the bureaucracy itself–and that includes the military and the states–will be defunded, along with many other recipients of this largesse.  Then we will find out that we are like Geraldo Rivera’s description of the Afghans: our loyalty cannot be bought but can be rented, and that loyalty defaults when the rent is in arrears.  Under these circumstances, and considering our views of life are defined by our zip codes, a national division is highly likely, as was the case in the breakup of the USSR, also the result of national bankruptcy.

If I were the left, I would start trying to figure out the best way to get the deficit under control, because if you’re power base is the government and the government runs out of money, your power base is gone.  But they are so fixated on expansionist policies they cannot see their own survival is on the table.  So they–and we–will suffer the consequences.

The people who come out the best in such a situation are those who are ready to pick up the pieces and go on.

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