America so far has been fortunate in that it has never experienced total war close to home in the modern era.
The last time a major war was fought on American soil, it was fought with 1860s technology. From then on most of the fighting was out of sight, out of mind, and there were always people who managed to remain unaffected.
The remainder of wars have always been fought far afield, and the losses have seldom been more than 5% of the adult male population. The total US losses in the entire Vietnam war were less than the British lost in a single day at the Battle of the Somme.
This relative lack of cultural experience with the horror of total war, this distance, this relative good luck, is going to come back to haunt us very soon.
Consider the following factors that could easily lead to a bloody civil war on 3 or more fronts in the next decade:
*There is a cocksure and cavalier attitude toward violence and inequality that dominates US culture. The thought that “might makes right” is the prevailing zeitgeist, and rule by fear- whether a government that fears its people or a people that fears its government- is considered the norm when it comes to rule of law (thanks in no small part to the legacy of the Puritans).
*The government and military are becoming increasingly unconcerned with following international laws and treaties, and have become very well-versed in exploiting loopholes.
*Authorities across the country (federal, state, and local) are becoming increasingly paranoid about the activities of the people, and increasingly heavy-handed toward anyone who steps out of line. Bills are in the works to allow the authorities to be even more heavy-handed than they already are, including bills to censor the Internet and bills to erode protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
*Many overlapping factions, ranging from far right to far left, are calling for revolution in the US currently. They often use the same rhetoric, the same symbolism, and the same channels of communication, but their end goals are disparate. You often find hardened anticommunists with theocratic leanings rubbing shoulders with tech-savvy anarchists. They have identified the US government as a common enemy for various reasons, but they are making a crucial mistake: they assume the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” and have not yet thought about how badly their differences will affect their actual approach to revolt (nor will they, until the first shots are fired).
*Many of these factions (especially the Religious Right) have a good bit of corporate money flowing into them, and some even have cronies in civilian defense contractors who have access to weapons and training far superior to that of the numerous unincorporated militias springing up.
*Some of those trying to whip up anti-government fervor appear to be in the pockets of large banks and corporations. Follow the money from some of the most shrill pundits and you find names like Koch Bros, Bank of America, and Monsanto among others. No doubt the big players would be keen on using a coup as a bid to grab power.
*There are large, well-funded, and well-armed mercenary armies in this country (dubbed “defense contractors” in Newspeak). They are not bound by the same laws as soldiers, and have been implicated in the summary executions of civilians on numerous occasions. Some will undoubtedly side with the US government, but others- owing to the large amounts of corporate funding from many big business and big religion special interest groups, will no doubt turn on the government and cause substantial problems.
*It remains to be seen just how well US troops will actually follow orders if and when they are ordered to turn on their own people. Many undoubtedly will, but if large numbers of soldiers desert to join the various revolutionary fronts, a small revolt could mushroom into a full-blown and very long civil war.
*If the US brings in support from allies to fight rebels, then other nations less friendly to the US government will no doubt send money, weapons, and even troops to help support the rebels. Some countries may even hedge their bets and aid both sides. If this happens, then a simple revolt or civil war could mushroom into a world war, fought mainly on US soil.
But the worst thing about all these factors is that they are all in place and ready to roll. I think, shy of our government abandoning its police state tactics and instituting some real reforms (highly unlikely), the tensions are so close to boiling point that it won’t be long before we see another Waco or Ruby Ridge type event; only this time, it will be followed closely by another, and then another.
For my part, I’ve already made it clear that I don’t intend to be involved in any capacity. My first priority will be to get myself and my partner somewhere safe and stay there until things blow over. Sadly, I fear that once this is unleashed, the country I was born in during this life will no longer be a place worth returning to. I predict that either big business interests will win over the government and install a plutocracy, with a theocratic figurehead to keep the masses obedient and ignorant, or that the US government will win but will become so paranoid and tyrannical in the aftermath of the revolt that it will become a military dictatorship. The things that have made being born in this country worthwhile are bound to be lost if things continue on their present course.
I feel angry and frustrated beyond words. I feel like I really did sacrifice everything in vain back in 1915. The “War to End All Wars” has been a cruel joke, and soon the nation that benefited the most by staying out if the early years of that war- a nation of bright, promising, and dynamic people and landscapes of indescribable beauty- will become its blood-soaked punch line.