Political Civil War
In a Twilight Zone déjà vu there are fascinating yet disturbing historical parallels as Inauguration Day approaches. The shot that killed the US Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt trying to enter the US Capitol building and who now serves as the martyr rallying cry of the pro-Trump extremists, can be eerily compared to the first shot that ignited America’s Civil War at Fort Sumter in 1861, both occurring during a period of a nation deeply divided.
For some historical perspective in July 1864 Confederate Lt. General Jabal Early led a battle-hardened, grizzled military force towards Washington DC known soon to be called the Battle of Fort Stevens and almost succeeded in breaching its defenses. Fortunately for the Union, Early’s long march towards the capital under blistering summer conditions and the need to rest for several days upon arrival delayed the main assault by several days. This fortuitous delay enabled the Union Army to frantically muster enough men to carry out a canon bombardment which discouraged a main assault.
In January 2021 pro-Trump supporters had far more success with less personnel than Lt. General Early in breaching the Capitol building’s under-manned security, entered the building and came within a hairsbreadth of capturing members of Congress.as hostages.
Ironically, despite pro-Trump supporters having far less firepower than Lt. General Early, the National Guard will post 20,000 in & around the city for the upcoming 2021 inauguration, slightly less than the 23,000 troops that defended Washington DC in 1864, which powerfully underscores the seriousness of the crisis.
Warlord Trump’s Werewolves
There’s no doubt that this 21st century political civil war is just getting started that will regularly go beyond heated verbal rhetoric. This third surge is undoubtedly a man-made political plague instigated by the proverbial presidential stamp of approval to not only continue rather escalate the fight well after he leaves office. The pro-Trump supporters “voted” with their military surplus boots in storming the Capitol. They may not have “captured” members of Congress but their mission was a success beyond their wildest dreams. This has only emboldened and galvanized this new movement.
More disturbingly is that this event represents a far-deeper breach into the minds of Americans and despite all its democratic laws and military might, exposes the fragility and vulnerability of America’s democracy.
Although Biden clearly won the election with the Electoral College and popular vote it was far from decisive. For this reason this non-decisive victory provides pro-Trump supporters fodder to pursue the “stolen” election claim, one that was not won “beyond a reasonable doubt”, a phrase that cannot be defined quantitatively. Only a Biden landslide would have been the coup de grâce and pre-empted mass violence at the Capitol. Interestingly the election results indicate considerably more about the weakness of Biden’s victory than of Trump’s defeat.
In war there are often a handful of violent diehard holdouts after a formal surrender encouraged by the defeated or deposed leadership. A similar situation might occur in the aftermath of Trump’s election defeat. Trump may be censored on social media yet a multitude of pro-Trump groups have already arisen to communicate his “gospel” to those who consider our constitutional laws as mere guidelines.
In an oft-repeated historical pattern, after regimes were defeated militarily, the ousted government still held powerful political sway in present-day democracies. The US is no exception. The Trump administration and subsequent scorched earth tactics at the US Capitol building is justifiably alarming and reveals the breath & depth of his influence.
Trump’s charismatic powers run far & deep among his diehard constituency. He received over 74 million votes amongst a wide range of citizens from the unemployed, blue collar disaffected workers to the hidden, albeit wealthy and powerful, not to mention millions of sympathizers all of which represents a daunting demographic. The dramatic violent maelstrom on the Capitol building is confirmation that these 74 million strong voters have his back.
One doesn’t have to read between the lines of Trump’s public statements before, during or after the storming of the US Capitol that he’ll relish assuming the role of a post-presidential warlord and take advantage of an America, physically, economically and psychologically weakened by the pandemic.
The Two Front War
The present-day devastating pandemic surge throughout the country is a drain on the economy that threatens to blow past stress test parameters and triggers an economic seizure and possible collapse.
The incoming Biden administration, along with the “good” members of the GOP who support our democratic institutions, face a daunting two front war each of which has equal top priority:
· The first is international, the continuing external threat primarily from the emerging troika of China, Russia and non-states, who now smell blood in the water, and intensify their cyber-intrusions.
· The second is domestic, the internal threat from the pro-Trump continency who, aside from the violent shock troops, has hidden and powerful supporters at all levels of business and society that could undermine socio-economic recovery efforts.
The Biden administration is in an unenviable lose-lose situation that serves merely as a paper stop-gap until the decisive presidential 2024 election that will indelibly determine America’s path in the 21st century.
The Sequel | The Security Nightmare
The overwhelming attention is focused on a potential replay of violence by pro-Trump supporters not only at the inauguration rather at cities throughout the country and during the rest of this dark winter. What is overlooked or perhaps rarely mentioned, are the equally violent extreme leftist counterparts that are just itching for a “pitched battle” whether before, on or after inauguration day in any city or town in the US in a perverse re-enactment of the urban pitched battles during the Weimar Republic.
These unfolding events were articulated in my article published on 7 August 2020 entitled The Upcoming Phases of Turmoil specifying the intensity of violence before the election, the period between the election and inauguration and post-inauguration.
Furthermore the catalysts of violence are the newly inspired lone wolves and anarchists whose sole objective is violence and mayhem> They represent the accelerant that fuels the hatred by hiding under the socio-political banner of either side as they did with the nascent BLM movement.
If violent clashes escalate well past the inauguration period, there’s the potential for the state or federal government to declare a state of emergency and lockdowns. Further along should these emergency measures fail to quell the violence, they may become codified America. This step of last resort will trigger America’s descent down the slippery and often politically unrecoverable path towards a dark democracy whose constitutional rights are interpreted as privileges to be taken away selectively at the whim of the public/private, corporate/governmental masters in an organically produced domestic real-life version of the dystopian series “The Man in the High Castle”.
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The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.