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Are we on the edge of something worse?

Here is an interesting study for you all as you watch the world news unfold and we begin to head into another election cycle.

In the wake of World War II, a large majority of countries positively experienced economic development and grew to new strengths but some have suffered repeated cycles of violence. 20% of the world’s countries have experienced civil wars and civil war conflicts since 1960 and that is no number to sneeze at.

The prevalence of civil conflict and its deep and persistent effects have led researchers to understand the roots of civil conflict outbreak, incidence, duration and intensity.

Recent studies have selected two targets of study when it comes to the causes of civil war. Economic determinants and natural factors.

The first considers economic determinants such as the level of economic development, income volatility or international commodity prices. The second considers natural factors such as the abundance of natural resources (such as oil, gas or diamonds) or the local climate conditions.

Political scientists and economists define conflict in a given country as an internal conflict that concerns at least two parties (government being among them), with a use of armed forces resulting in human deaths. A conflict is categorized as a civil war if there are over 1000 (battle-related) deaths per year and as a civil conflict if there are over 25 (battle-related) deaths per year. Who knew?

Civil conflict is one of the most deadly of all human phenomena. Since the end of World War II, more than 5 million people have died because of civil war battles worldwide.

Civil conflict generally affects large proportion of the population, for example, during civil conflicts an average of 26% of private homes are looted, 32% of families are displaced for at least a portion of time and 19% of families will have at least one family member tortured.

Other consequences of civil war include a poverty boom, the often necessary collapse of civil liberties and political rights, the tragic deterioration of health and education, the increase in inequalities, and the destruction of human and physical capital that hinders economic performance.

With all this said, can you imagine a civil conflict or civil war in the United States? We have all seen the macro/micro effects of events like the Ferguson riots, the stand-offs in Portland and the unrest in Baltimore. Recently we have even seen the impact that civil unrest has been playing in Atlanta (see previous posts). But all these were stand-a-lone events. What if we experienced this nationwide? Could we?

It seems like violence is almost everywhere in the United States right now and politically motivated violence is right up front. As we still discuss and investigate the famous January 6 uprising, a large study now confirms one in five Americans believes violence motivated by political reasons is—at least sometimes—justified. Nearly half expect a civil war, and many say they would trade democracy for a strong leader.

Firearm deaths in the United States grew by nearly 43% between 2010 and 2020, and gun sales surged during the coronavirus pandemic. Now I am not a gun control guy by any means, but this is telling me that there is a lot of capability out there should we ever enter the arena of civil conflict or worse yet, civil war in this country. Our American history, while short on a global scale, places the Revolutionary War and the Civil War far behind us and that history is so distant to us in 2023 that I doubt Americans really know what this could look like now in an age of technology, population explosion and open markets.

More than 8600 English and Spanish speaking adults were recfently surveyed by the Ipsos Knowledge Panel- an online research panel that has been used widely for research on violence and gun control and what they discovered about the attitude of Americans is hard to comprehend when one thinks about the consequences should opinion become reality.

Although almost all respondents thought it’s important for the United States to remain a democracy, about 40% said having a strong leader is more important. Half expect a civil war in the United States in the next few years. If the hairs on the back of your neck are not standing up, let me repeat… nearly half of the American public would surrender democracy for a strong leader and believes we are on the edge of civil war.

Worse yet, a majority of the respondents indicated that they would willingly take part in the war. 7% of the respondents were clear that they would kill a person if called upon in the situation of a civil war. That is representative of 18 million U.S. adults.

With extremist movements and rhetoric on the rise and fueled by flailing ratings and 24 hour coverage, a growing number of people including historians believe that we are on the brink of disaster. I myself included. Now, what kind of disaster? Of that I am not too sure but I believe we could be looking at violence in our streets like we have not experienced since the north and south took up arms.

While I do not believe we will see an all out civil war, I believe that the coming violence we may see could be great and the consequences could be unfathomable.

One important thing to know about civil war is that it’s very rare. There are civil wars that last a long time, but onsets of new civil wars are quite rare, especially in the last several decades. Another important point is that civil wars rarely happen in wealthy countries and although we are struggling to make ends meet right now, the United States is still an extremely wealthy country.

So what do I think we are looking at? I believe, as do many of the level headed historians out there, that we are looking at increased violence caused by political upheaval and that we could see hundreds of armed Americans answering the calls to duty they receive on the internet, in social media and through radical campaigning. We absolutely have already seen the radicalization of both major political parties in the U.S., both in terms of political reasoning as well as the willingness to use violence as a messenger.

A month ago I started to blow the whistle on the group in Atlanta protesting the new law enforcement training center that was being created within a wooded area of the city. Shortly after I started to blog about the group, the violence level rose and using the indignation experienced nationwide after the death of Tyre Nichols, the group in Atlanta was able to grow exponentially almost daily in both numbers and in followers and sympathizers.

Now the group has made the front page as over 200 of them are marching in Atlanta as I write this. In the wake of last weeks attacks on the developing law enforcement city, law enforcement has released some of what came of the groups last “night out”. It started as a protest gathering and music festival at Atlanta’s Gresham Park, and then turned chaotic as almost 150 people descended on the center. As it turns out, there was actually over 1000 on scene. Twenty-three people from 15 different states and two other countries are now charged with domestic terrorism. Only two are from Georgia!

While I am still researching, I have been able to determine that one of the arrested activists was a leader at the Charlotte Uprising and one was a leader in Minneapolis during the George Floyd riots. if you are going to create an army, you recruit, right?

In searching records and social media, it was easy to find that several of these individuals apprehended had ties to high profile far-left movements and organizations which begs the question, are they fighting for clean air in Georgia at all or just fighting to have a fight? This was no protest. The “protestors” conducted a coordinated attack on construction equipment and police officers at the construction site east of Atlanta, using large rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks.

According to a press release put out by the activists, tomorrow there will be a special day for families in Atlanta. The press release reads:

“On Saturday, March 11th from 10:00am to 2:00pm, Atlanta student leaders, children, families, educators, and community members will come together for a Youth Rally and Festival at Brownwood Park in East Atlanta to protest the destruction of the Weelaunee Forest (South River Forest) and the development of ‘Cop City.’ This peaceful youth and family-centered event will include a rally and march, live music and entertainment, free lunch and snacks, art activities, and a teach-in about the movement to defend Weelaunee Forest and stop cop city.”

The group apparently does not remember bringing explosive devices, Molotov cocktails and guns to the party on March 6th as they released another statement regarding the arrests of the 23 saying that “At some point” during what they refer to as a peaceful gathering and “Police retaliated viciously by raiding the entire forest”.

Are we ready for a civil war? There is no way. Are we going to see an actual civil war soon? I doubt it, but we had better start at least preparing for what may be coming down the road in our direction as these groups continue to grow and mix their causes while a new set of political candidates hit the road with more hateful speech and extremist ideas. A civil conflict is not off the table yet.

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