What would an American "civil war" look like?

It’s not hard to imagine. There was another brawl in Portland last weekend. Throw in a few more James Hodgkinson-style assassination attempts, maybe some more James Fields-style vehicle attacks on protesters or counter-protesters. Perhaps the police start declaring legitimate rallies / protests “unlawful assemblies” and using force to break them up because they’re so fraught with danger, maybe the protesters of whichever side decide to retaliate with more Micah Johnson-style attacks on law enforcement. Perhaps someone assassinates a SCOTUS justice or Senator or something. It’s not very difficult to see how something like that might escalate into something resembling a civil war, even if it doesn’t quite feature both sides squaring up across from each other on the town green.

And a civil war in America, with college-educated chemists and mechanical engineers and the like on both sides would truly be something horrific to behold. It would have the potential to be a hell like which the world has never seen before.

Piling onto this, other countries <i>will</i> get involved. It won’t matter who has the “guns” or who doesn’t when it starts, because countries wanting some payback are going to make sure that everyone does before too long. By guns, I mean things like ATGMs, EFPs, SAMs, the whole panoply of man-portable destruction, and friendly advisers who will all too happy to show people how to use them.

Think a cross between Syria and the Balkans, circa 1993. And if you say that, “people don’t hate each other here like they did there,” wait for the first few atrocities, especially if the perpetrators aren’t punished. Then people will.

I think we’ll see violence get to the late 60s-early 70s riots, then to something like late 50s Saigon politically-inspired killings, before a serious civil war starts, if ever. Further, I think you need a serious market crash before any of the above happens–get people starving and idle and pissed. But once it starts…

We really don’t want this to happen.

What it would look like, is a lot of people moving to Canada.

I don’t think we’re headed to a civil war. However, I could see a couple of scenarios resulting in a civil war or at least mass civil unrest.

  1. Outraged by what they see as Trump’s fascism and racism, isolated left wing groups begin a campaign of asymmetrical attacks on police, ICE, and politicians. Law enforcement uses heavy handed tactics to bring the attackers to justice, and right wing paramilitaries carry out reprisals. The situation devolves into something like The Troubles, only worse. Russia provides guns to both sides.

  2. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric finally goes around the bend, and he begins supporting, or at least tolerating, vigilante violence against immigrants. Immigrants and their allies fight back, but they’re outnumbered and outgunned. This would be less a civil war than a Rwanda style genocide.

  3. Trump calls for the National Guard to enforce border security, or go to a war he just started, or do something else. Some state governors refuse to comply. Trump tries to force their hands. Everybody picks sides. Most everybody dies.

The right wing paramilitaries would probably have the upper hand in guns at first, but with no shortage of guns to be had in the US, left wing paramilitaries would catch up. Urban gangs would be an interesting wild card. Would they just continue being criminals, or would they turn their guns on one side in the fight? If the latter, I’d presume they’d be opposed to the right wing paramilitaries and law enforcement, so that could neutralize the right wing paramilitaries’ initial advantage in guns. Also interesting is what our neighbors would do. Would Canada and Mexico just watch in horror, or would they jump in? Would Mexico and other Latin American countries try to secure their citizens living here? Would Canada tacitly allow paramilitaries to cross the border? Would another country, horrified by the prospect of a nuclear armed nation devolving into general chaos, step in to support Trump just so the nukes stay under control?

I don’t think any of those things are likely, mind you, just not out of the realm of possibility.

And Mexico.

Assuming they’d let the refugees in. Even the non-Hispanic refugees.

BTW, two things:

  1. I don’t think a civil war is going to erupt anytime soon either.

  2. If it did, the red side, which includes most of the gun owners, military, and law enforcement, would absolutely kick the ever-loving shit out of the blue side, and Mexico, and Canada, and anyone else if needs be.

If the conservatives call for an Article V Convention (we’re only 2 states away from that possibility)…it’s over. There will be breakaway “republics”.

Let’s face it: there are parts of this country that wants to disown other parts of this country. I’m not claiming liberals have high ground here - goes both ways.

Agree with one. Why do you think though that two is true? As I wrote above, everyone’s going to get help if this ever goes hot. ‘Gun owners’ may…may skew red (but see criminals), but I don’t think that .mil is the solid red bastion that you may think it is. Same with the cops. In fact I would bet you that their leadership skews far more blue than red. Not that blue or red divisions will matter in a hypothetical US civil war. I think the divisions would skew cultural and racial instead.

Moreover, I’ll wager the paramilitary blue side (Antifa, etc…) is far more organized, funded, and committed than a bunch of “sheepdogs” waiting for someone to tell them to get off their ass, put down Bracken’s latest, buckle on their plate carrier, pick up their KAC-clone, and…shoot who exactly?

I again think your point 1 is true, for now, but a no-shit economic crisis—e.g., the Persian Gulf countries all decide to throw nukes at each other—could change that awfully fast. How long does this country hold it together if, e.g., the EBT/AFDC/whatever you call it in your town cards stop working at Wally World?

These scenarios are always ridiculous yet intriguing to discuss. I frankly have a great deal of trust in the military leadership of America. The men and women who went through West Point and the Naval Academy and hold advanced degrees in a variety of fields and command the loyalty and respect of well-trained troops, are not going to let their country down, regardless of any chaos in the civilian government. I know too many military officers personally, to believe they would not rise to the occasion in this situation and do what needs to be done. The American military is not a bunch of untrained and undisciplined thugs and its members tend to lean more towards moderates than ideologues, at least in my own experience with them.

In some kind of chaotic civil-war America, I would be more wary of corrupt city, state, and county law enforcement, than the military turning its weapons on their fellow Americans.

Here is some reading material:

Also, from the 2016 POLICE Presidential Poll:

But, you’re right that there are a lot of potential divisions for a civil war besides red vs blue. Could be racial, economic class, or perhaps state vs state.

This isn’t 1776 or 1860. People who own handguns and rifles aren’t going to matter. What would matter in a modern civil war is which way the military goes. Whichever side controls the tanks and the artillery and the planes wins the civil war. Anyone who tries to resist with their personal weapons is a casualty.

As for which way the military would go, the general opinion I’ve heard from people inside the military is that officers are more likely to be Republicans and enlisted personnel are more likely to be Democrats. Which means the likely Democrats outnumber the likely Republicans five to one.

You seem to be misinformed. I’d encourage you to review the 538 link I posted a few minutes ago.

That is a 2009 article. I posit that eight years of Obama may have changed things a tad in the FO/GO ranks. I don’t remember reading for awhile, any more of the “The Christians are Taking Over!” articles that plagued discussion of the late W Administration US military. And I’m laughing at the reaction of a hypothetical 2009 TRADOC group to the idea of, “You know, what this Army really needs are more women going to Ranger School.” Things have changed.

For cops, I’ll give you that maybe, the rank and file are right wing leaning. The bosses are pretty heavily pro-left wing, and anti-personal liberty.

My personal sense, and I don’t have a handy cite to back this up, is that municipal police chiefs are generally left-leaning and sheriffs generally lean right (probably has something to do with Trump winning 2,600+ counties compared to Clinton’s ~490).

The first “militia” chants, “Lock Her Up!” while being indicted. The rest go back to their little Montana/Oregon used-to-be-thriving-horse-ranches less than a year ago. Their blonde/orange leader runs to Russia, being bankrupt. The closest thing to a civil war we’ll have.

Hordes of drunken rednecks would storm the cities in rusty pickup trucks but after they’d cleared out the coffee shops and artisan cheese market, they’d have to go door to door, dragging the liberals away from their macbooks before they can find a way to weaponise their snarky tweets and blog posts.

LOL! Keep thinking that only Fox News watching conservatives work in the military and law enforcement.

Keep in mind that a lot of the former military officers are disgusted by what they’ve seen with Trump. These are people who know what Putin is doing and they believe that Trump is a witting asset of his - not my words, but theirs. People like Barry McCaffrey. People like Malcolm Nance. Jesus Christ, people like the guy who called Barack Obama a “total pussy”, Ralph Peters, are absolutely disgusted and revolted by what they view as treasonous behavior on the right. People like General McMaster quit. There are other military officers who have quit. Morale within the national security apparatus is at probably an all-time low. These are people who would be inclined to vote Republican in the past, but these are people whose job is to deal with facts, because understanding reality - not fake, propaganda reality - is the difference between beating and losing to our adversaries. The fact is that the Republican party they used to vote for has become a cult. They know this. They just don’t know how to stop it. They assume that people will come to their senses, that political institutions like the Department of Justice will eventually withstand the beating that they’re taking from a right wing putsch to dismantle these institutions and democracy as we know it. They wait and they hope that it doesn’t devolve into civil conflict. But if it does, I suspect that a lot of Fox News binging lazy boy recliner warrior conservatives are going to be surprised at how many real warriors don’t have their backs.

You quoted him as saying “most”. Where are you getting “only” from?

I don’t think we’ll see a 1860s-style army-vs-army civil war any time soon, but some kind of low-level violent right-wing insurgency seems totally plausible. Going into the 2016 election I was expecting to see a spate of bombings/shootings if Hillary Clinton had won. Even with Trump as president, it’s easy to see this happening under the right circumstances. For example, suppose the evidence of Trump’s criminality continues to mount and he’s not able to pardon or otherwise obstruct his way out of jeopardy. Perhaps he’s lost political support somehow and is facing impeachment followed by criminal prosecution, or Ivanka is being prosecuted, or his businesses are under serious scrutiny. In that situation, it seems totally plausible that he might send out a Tweet like, “ROBERT MUELLER/MICHAEL AVENATTI/13 ANGRY DEMOCRATS ARE ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE! HERE ARE THEIR HOME ADDRESSES. 2ND AMENDMENT PEOPLE NEED TO PROTECT OUR COUNTRY!!!”

Even if it’s not Trump himself, it’s not hard to imagine Sean Hannity and/or other conservative media personalities playing the right-wing militia card if they feel they can’t maintain power electorally. From there we could easily see a cycle of reprisals spiraling out of control.