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ConSigCor
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Are We Approaching A Domestic Conflict?

By Samuel Culper

“A Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me.” Robert E. Lee, 23 January 1861

Robert E. Lee, still a Union Army officer in January of 1861, penned these words in a letter to his son just three months before resigning his commission and joining in the defense of the State of Virginia.

Over the course of five Aprils that followed, the nation threw itself into a catastrophic war that in many ways still affects us today. Some 620,000 soldiers died, and that’s not counting the civilians who lost their lives and livelihoods as collateral damage during the war. Past the statues, flags, heritage, and myths that surround the Confederacy, the United States — which appear to be quite disunited — struggle with the proper role of the federal government, appropriate limits on federal power, and fundamental civil rights issues some 226 years after the Bill of Rights was ratified by the Congress. It’s been over 150 years since the War of Northern Aggression and we remain as entrenched in our beliefs as ever.

Some argue that we’re now reaching another 1860 moment in American history. Op-eds in national media outlets lend credence to the idea, even as they fan the flames of racial and ideological division, emanating from centuries-old national wounds and exploited to the risk of increased violence. Identity politics pushes us closer to a collection of competing tribal groups, which is often a characteristic of domestic conflicts.

A few weeks ago I was shooting the breeze with a group of veterans about whether or not a civil war would start in 2018 or beyond, and what it might look like. And that’s how this blog was born. Welcome to the very first post as we put our thoughts into words and chronicle the development and likelihood of a domestic conflict in the United States.

I’ll quickly give you my take: we’re already in a “domestic conflict,” albeit a low grade one on the grand scale of things. It’s difficult for me to see the widening ideological gap, the increasing inequality, and the sporadic political violence and not arrive at or near the conclusion that we’re already here. What we’re seeing is called a low intensity conflict.

FM 100-20, Military Operations in Low Intensity Conflict (1990, which I believe is no longer valid), provides us an official definition of the term:

Low intensity conflict is a political-military confrontation between… groups below conventional war and above the routine, peaceful competition… It frequently involves protracted struggles of competing principles and ideologies. Low intensity conflict ranges from subversion to the use of armed force. It is waged by a combination of means, employing political, economic, informational, and military instruments. Low intensity conflicts are often localized, generally in the Third World, but contain regional and global security implications.

In other words, low intensity conflict is marked by politicized tribes and social bases who wage irregular, small-scale wars.

What I’m specifically looking for in this conflict is a development of organized political violence; graduating from sporadic, opportunistic attacks into coordinated insurgent action. I don’t know how soon we’ll see that, or if we even will. For me, that’s the Rubicon that differentiates politically-related violence and a small war.

And it just so happens that the men who write for this blog are not just scholars of war, but also veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other “small wars” — places where we, for right or wrong, grew intimately familiar with insurgent warfare in low intensity conflicts.

Composed of former intelligence and special operations soldiers, our goal is not to be overtly political, but to describe what’s happening in this country and to peel back the hype and misinformation/disinformation out there. So I hope that you’ll join us as we examine, analyze, and explain this burgeoning conflict that we see unfolding in the United States.


Will America Suffer the Same ‘Fate of Empires’?

By Samuel Culper

Sir John Glubb was born in 1897. He served during the First World War in France, then joined the Iraqi Government under British rule in 1926. During World War II, he commanded the Jordan Arab Legion and fought against pro-Nazi Germany and Vichy regimes in Iraq and Syria.

Originally published in 1978, The Fate of Empires should be required reading for every American. In fact, I think it should be a requirement for graduating high school.

Its author, Sir John Glubb, points out that the only thing we learn from history is that men never learn from history. And he explains why, in part, by saying that the history we learn is often propaganda. We’re often taught the periods of prosperity, and forego the periods of failure and disgrace. That, he implies, leads us to not learn the lessons we should, and it’s why we will commit the same mistakes again.

If there’s one lesson, in particular, that we should all learn about history, then it’s about the fate of empires. There have been many empires, and while Glubb points out that empires don’t begin or end on a certain date, they all share one thing in common. From the Assyrian empire which lasted roughly 247 years, to the Roman republic of 233 years, to the Ottoman Empire which lasted 250 years, or the British empire which also lasted 250 years; the lesson learned here is that empires have expiration dates. The average lifespan of empires is about 250 years, from birth to collapse.

He points out that the Assyrians fought with bows and spears, and the British fought with ships and artillery, but the lifespan of both empires was about the same.

This “remarkable similarity” expands through the course of human history, or the history of empires, as it were. This year the American Empire turns 242. We are younger than the average by almost a decade. And while Glubb points out that the average lifespan of empires is just that — an average — in the end, all empires collapse. I think the evidence deserves some due diligence in our thinking about the future.

Glubb writes that all empires have an outburst period, from which they break out rapidly, often due as a characteristic of a unique idea or culture. From there, that “daring initiative” manifests itself into exploration, pioneering, and ultimate expansion. Exploration and settlement turn into commercial expansion, which creates wealth for the burgeoning empire, and it runs parallel to an age of conquest. The merchant sees the accumulation of wealth as a driving force; the military leaders and soldiers see glory and honor in conquest, and the two seem to reinforce each other.

This leads to the age of affluence, where the culture becomes less courageous and less pioneering; their initial exuberance is diminished, and their society becomes comfortable. Glubb writes of this age, “Education undergoes the same gradual transformation. No longer do schools aim at producing brave patriots ready to serve their country.”

This leads to what Glubb calls High Noon. “Enough of the ancient virtues of courage, energy and patriotism survive to enable the state successfully to defend its frontiers. But, beneath the surface, greed for money is gradually replacing duty and public service.”

He continues: “The nation, immensely rich, is no longer interested in glory or duty, but is only anxious to retain its wealth and its luxury. It’s a period of defensiveness, from the Great Wall of China, to Hadrian’s Wall on the Scottish borer, to the Maginot Line in France in 1939.”

Once an empire has progressed through the Age of Pioneers, the Age of Conquests, and the Age of Affluence, it enters into the Age of Intellect. Glubb writes, “[E]very period of decline is characterised by this expansion of intellectual activity.”

He continues: “The full flowering of the Arab and Persian intellectualism did not occur until after their imperial and political collapse. Thereafter the intellectuals attained fresh triumphs in the academic field, but politically they became the abject servants of the often illiterate rulers.”

Glubb describes the inadequacy of this age, a loss of strength which sparks civil dissensions. “Another remarkable and unexpected symptom of national decline is the intensification of internal political hatreds.” Instead of dropping political hatred and standing shoulder-to-shoulder to save the empire in decline, the nation threatens only itself.

Another problem for empires in decline: “One of the oft-repeated phenomena of great empires is the influx of foreigners to the capital city. Roman historians often complain of the number of Asians and Africans in Rome.” Glubb cites several empires that, in their later stages, welcomed very diverse groups of immigrants with open arms. A survey of history shows that while the nation is affluent, all the diverse groups appear of equal loyalty — after all, they’re all enjoying the nation’s wealth. “But in an acute emergency, the immigrants will often be less willing to sacrifice their lives and their property than will be the original descendants.” The Roman Empire created new citizens in order to expand the tax base at the same time it was devaluing its currency to meet its obligations — classic late stage behavior.

Throughout human history, this last and final stage of empires in decline is marked by defensiveness, pessimism, materialism, frivolity, an influx of foreigners, the welfare state, and the weakening of religion.

This essay — it’s only 26 pages — was written in 1978, but could describe the current era in America. We’re a nation deeply divided among many fault lines, and our divisions are growing. There’s evidence that the Right is moving farther right and the Left is moving father Left. That’s been happening slowly over the past 20 years, and more rapidly in the last decade, according to an October 2017 Pew Research report. Could America be in the Age of Intellect, and could it be our last stage before collapse?

[ 05-31-2018, 05:28 PM: Message edited by: ConSigCor ]

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"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

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ConSigCor
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Five reasons why we’ll have another domestic conflict

By Samuel Culper

One Friday night about a month ago, I sat down to write out 10 reasons why I thought the United States was headed towards a domestic conflict. My goal was to flesh out some ideas that many of us have considered intuitively, but provide some research and structured thinking to them. I got to the fifth reason and realized that it was an exercise in futility because I didn’t need 10 reasons. You likely don’t, either.

Demographically, culturally, fiscally, we’re hemorrhaging as a country. Studies show that most immigrants, legal or illegal, have a political predilection towards larger, more authoritarian government. They do or will vote Democrat. That’s why amnesty is the death knell for the right-leaning electorate. And amnesty is only a matter of time, which means the GOP as a nationally viable party could have an expiration date within your lifetime. Several states, including Texas, were decided by fewer votes than those states have illegal immigrants. Amnesty pushes those states blue, which then push a far Left agenda in a Democrat-controlled Congress. That writing is on the wall.

Without amnesty, studies show that larger percentages and greater numbers of future generations are slightly or consistently liberal. Millennials are the least white voting generation on record; Generation Z is less white than Millennials, and these two groups are or would vote for Leftist populists (like Bernie Sanders) in far greater numbers than previous generations. If we look at political leanings by generation (graph below), we can see the decline in percentage of those mostly or consistently conservative. (Look at each generation in 2017, for instance.) The opposite is also true: the Baby Boomer generation in 2017 had a greater percentage of mostly or consistently liberal than the Silent Generation; Generation X had a higher percentage than the Baby Boomers; and the Millennial generation has a higher percentage than Generation X. Each generation is becoming more liberal due wholly to immigration. Because immigration is little more than importing future Democrat voters, I don’t see how the GOP hangs on to anything outside of regional power without a cultural resurgence (like Reagan, for instance).

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This is the bloodless coup that makes the revolution possible. The Left couldn’t seize power any other way.

We hear that Generation Z is the more conservative than the Millennial generation. If true, that trend is largely driven by whites. Generation Z is the most diverse generation on record; nearly half are minorities. Given voting patterns among minorities — and I’ll be happily wrong — I remain skeptical that Generation Z will be the conservative savior voting class in another decade.

Fiscally, for all their gnashing of teeth, President Trump and the Republican Congress are being just as reckless in their spending as their predecessors. We’ll have a trillion dollar deficit this year, followed by a recession around 2020 which is likely to rival 2008. Many Americans are going to be out of work again; unhappy again, needy again, and looking for answers. We know from history that high youth unemployment is a recipe that increases the likelihood of civil unrest, at a minimum. These are economic conditions with social consequences; namely more reason to be unhappy with the way things are, or will be.

This is not a prediction of “the end of the world as we know it” but a prediction of some very turbulent times ahead which may be a few short years away.

Given the gift of hindsight, we understand that the pendulum swings — left to right and back again — almost like clockwork. Sometimes it swings farther than we’d like, but there seems to always be another election cycle around the corner. But history shows that all political systems are eventually disrupted, and so the question that Americans have before them is What happens when the pendulum stops swinging?

America is no stranger to political conflict, violent or otherwise, although we have certainly seen darker days. There have been local rebellions, small wars, strikes, riots, and massacres in virtually every decade of the 20th century. The Long Hot Summer of 1967 alone had riots in 159 cities — the late 1960s may be the most violent period, domestically, in the past hundred years. The 2010s so far have been a turbulent decade, yet domestic political and cultural unrest have not erupted into sustained violence that pushes us past irrevocable conflict. Political and social violence will always be a part of America, until America exists only in history books. As is the way of all empires, America, too, will end one day.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson last year opined on the collapse of America and the multicultural conflict that’s brewing. He wrote at National Review:

History is not very kind to multicultural chaos — as opposed to a multiracial society united by a single national culture. The fates of Rwanda, Iraq, and the former Yugoslavia should remind us of our present disastrous trajectory.

Either the United States will return to a shared single language and allegiance to a common and singular culture, or it will eventually descend into clannish violence.

With that, here’s where I stopped with my five reasons.

1. When Americans believe the ‘Social Contract’ is failing them, they seek to revise or leave it. The Social Contract states that citizens give up some power to the state so that the state can enforce law and order. This is the foundation of “liberal democracies”, whereby the people give legitimacy and authority to the government in exchange for some security. This is not a referendum on the merits of the social contract, however, what we’re seeing is a “contract” under some duress. When terms of the contract can’t be revised through politically-engaged social movements, it’s changed through violence. We can observe this in the lead up to the American Revolution (e.g., “no taxation without representation”) and again concerning States’ Rights prior to the secession of the South (e.g., Lincoln’s election despite not carrying a single Southern state). More recently, the Obama administration was radical. It heavily favored international interests at the expense of the nation; it weaponized neo-liberal policies against traditional America. Obama ‘fundamentally transformed’ the terms of the social contract, and Americans, through the election of Donald J. Trump, showed their desire to have the social contract reformed. At some point in the near future, some Americans may find the current social contract so intolerable — or consider the prospects of changing the terms through politics so unfeasible — that they decide to fight over it.

2. As America becomes ungovernable, it will split into governable factions. One concept I’ve talked about before is that of exponential difficulty in governance. In 1790, America had just under four million citizens, or about 153,846 citizens per Senator and 61,538 citizens per Representative. In 2018, there are 3.2 million citizens per Senator and 737,931 citizens per Representative (based on an estimated 321,000,000 citizens). As the nation has grown, we’ve become more poorly represented. This is a large dilution of representation (especially considering that the interests of so many non-citizens are represented so widely). Similarly, government has grown exponentially, but our representatives’ ability to govern has not kept exponential pace. This means that as the nation grows more complex, it also becomes more ungovernable. As Johns Hopkins professor Michael Vlahos describes it, recent political events represent an “existential shift” in the nation. Let’s look at two specific cases. In 2011, the Texas state legislature considered passing a bill that would outlaw patdowns by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents in Texas airports — open defiance to federal laws. That move triggered federal authorities so badly that the Department of Justice threatened that the TSA would be forced to ban all flights out of Texas if the bill were passed. “Either Texas backs off and continues to let government employees fondle innocent women, children and men as a condition of travel, or the TSA will cancel Texas flights,” one Texas legislator summarized. When Texas was put to the test, the state decided that it was governable after all. Now let’s look at California’s sanctuary state situation. California is being openly ungovernable over federal immigration laws, and its state authorities cannot be made to enforce federal laws. If this is the hill that California is willing to die on, then they’re going to have their chance. Should they remain defiant and the Department of Justice is unable to end that defiance of federal law, then we could see other states follow over this and other matters. Secession is being floated as an alternative. Imagine what red states will do when faced with an indefinite, and perhaps permanent, period of Democratic rule after amnesty gets passed.

3. As Americans move father apart politically and ideologically, they will likely favor alternatives to the ‘united’ states. Twenty-three years ago, Pew Polling began asking a series of questions aimed at measuring the political sentiment of the nation. As of 2017, their study shows a widening ideological gap among several key factors. In fact, in the past 23 years of polling, these gaps have never been wider. According to Pew, “the average partisan gap [on all issues] has increased from 15 percentage points to 36 points.” And Pew also notes that the percentage of democrats and republicans who view the other party unfavorably has also grown — in fact, it’s more than doubled since 1994. Nearly half of all participants viewed the opposition party as unfavorably. Ultimately, this study shows that more Americans are moving either further left or further right on most issues. This is probably why, in recent years, more publications have focused on both amicable and violent separation in America.

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4. Societies collapse when decisions beneficial for elites in the short term are bad for the people in the long term. Anthropologist, environmental icon, and UCLA professor Jared Diamond made an observation in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed that societies (in this case, empires) can collapse for a number of reasons. Diamond argues that when elites make poor decisions — especially so when those elites are insulated from the consequences of their poor decisions — they create fault lines that lead to future instability and collapse. Diamond calls this a “blueprint for disaster”, yet this is exactly what Americans have observed of their politicians for decades. (Here’s a report entitled, “LAWS THAT DO NOT APPLY TO CONGRESS” which appears to be published by the Democrat-led House Rules Committee. It clearly shows a laundry list of laws that apply to the public, but not to Congress. This is how Congress insulates themselves from their own poor decisions, ensuring poor decisions in the future which will inevitably lead to collapse.) Furthermore, our four to six year political cycles ensure that every politician focuses on short term popularity (i.e. re-election) in favor of ensuring long term national success. This incentivizes the electorate to support what Bastiat called Legal Plunder — government theft against one class in order to support another class. (“As soon as the plundered classes gain political power, they establish a system of reprisals against other classes.” – The Law, 1850) This system of short term decision making and the use of government as a blunt force instrument against political enemies will continue indefinitely until brought to an end, which leads to my next point.

5. Eventually, government will grow so powerful that one political party is likely to not give up power. This is what conservatives widely feared under the Obama administration, and it’s what liberals fear under the Trump administration. It’s what each political party is likely to fear during every administration past this juncture, and eventually one will finally be correct. It was my fear that the Obama administration had created such a powerful executive branch that he would not be willing to give it up to a Republican. Whether through an incompetent conspiracy (now being revealed through revelations that Obama-era apparatchiks planned and supported a soft coup against President-elect Trump) or the sheer will of the American electorate, the neo-liberal power structure couldn’t hang on. Maybe this is a lesson that another administration will take to heart as it go to greater lengths to ensure partisan succession in a future presidential election. Through the growth of government, it bears to reason that every successive president wields more and more power, until eventually one is no longer willing to allow his political opponent to use that power against his party. When liberals accused Bush of ushering in a dictatorship, I didn’t think they were that far off base, considering the effects of the Patriot Act and domestic surveillance (and how easily that could lead to a dictatorship), followed by the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and I’m a veteran of both). When conservatives accused Obama of ushering in a dictatorship, I didn’t think they were far off base, either. But now after all the hand-wringing and accusations of Trump ushering in a dictatorship, I wonder just how long it will be until a future president seizes the reigns and actually becomes a dictator. The key assumption is that the power of the executive will grow to represent a point of no return, at which point no one wants to give up Frodo’s ring. And that’s when we’re going to have a major domestic conflict, either top-down or bottom-up in nature.

There are assuredly other reasons to believe that conflict could happen at some point. We haven’t mentioned the potential for a black swan event, such as a political assassination, a terror attack, a world war, a cyber attack, or any other case of systems disruption; a “national emergency” where a president could invoke war time powers and wreak havoc on the peaceful transfer of power.

For me, these are enough reasons to establish that conflict is at the end of our trajectory. It could be two years, or it could be twenty, but we’re already seeing a low grade domestic conflict marked by sporadic political violence. And we know that things could certainly get much worse. Given what’s likely to occur in the future, is there any reason to believe that the social climate in America improves? I don’t.

[ 05-31-2018, 05:36 PM: Message edited by: ConSigCor ]

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"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

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ConSigCor
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The Potential for Revolutionary Activities in 2018, 2020, and Beyond

By Samuel Culper

“Are we reaching a point in the so-far-failed Resistance where little is left except abject violence in the manner of the Roman or French Revolution?”

– Victor Davis Hanson, writing at the National Review

Leading up to the November 2016 elections, I wrote to subscribers that my most pressing concern regarding national instability was a failed election. A replay of the 2000 “hanging chad” incident, a cyber attack, evidence of widespread voter fraud, a case of actual collusion, or any number of potential catastrophes could have derailed what’s left of our Republic and potentially induced widespread, organized political violence.

One of my greatest concerns as we look to 2018 elections, 2020, and beyond is still organized political violence and revolutionary activity. I make a distinction between politically-related violence and organized political violence. The sporadic assaults against Trump supporters is politically-related violence; an armed take over of a college campus (à la the 1970 Columbia ROTC take over), government building, or a coordinated campaign of violence against politicians or politico-cultural figures are examples of organized political violence. The former we’ve grown accustomed to, the latter could be the start of a domestic conflict. Extreme events are unlikely but not impossible, especially considering what’s at stake in the elections and the future of the country. There are a number of potential scenarios we could see going forward.

Let’s start with political subversion, which we’re already seeing. There’s no doubt that the collusion investigation, which to date has reportedly produced no evidence of collusion, and the intent to remove a sitting president is a revolutionary act. Moving beyond the usual mud slinging in politics, the activities of government apparatchiks to undermine a legitimate president and the media’s efforts to foment illegitimate fear, unrest, hatred, and opposition are historical precursors for revolution.

Along these lines, a Coup D’etat is a violent or non-violent overthrow of an established government, usually by a small number of people at or near the top of the ruling class or military. One could argue that, along with political subversion, there’s been and continues to be an attempted coup against President Trump, although not in a traditional sense.

Unlike a coup, which is organized and executed at or near the top of power, an insurgency’s heavy lifting is done at the bottom. We’re undoubtedly seeing a (mostly) non-violent political insurgency, which historically carries some risk, under the right conditions, of developing into an armed insurgency. We can define insurgency as “The organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region” (Defense Department). We’re not yet at the point of armed insurgency, however, there are indications of intent. I typically characterized the Right as having the capability but lacking widespread desire, and now the Left as having the desire but lacking the capability. We have, however, observed behavior among extreme Left groups of adopting gun culture — everything from purchasing firearms and ammunition to holding range days and firearms training. It’s one indication that the extreme Left is marginally, yet incrementally, developing the capability to foment an armed insurgency. About fifty years ago, Leftist revolutionary groups in the United States carried out over 2,500 bombings in less than two years, along with police assassinations, bank robberies, and other violent activities. By their own words, they really thought a revolution was about to break out (Days of Rage). Few of those responsible for the bombings were caught, fewer were tried in court, and many of them are still alive. It’s not inconceivable that undesirable election results in 2018 or 2020, or some federal policy perceived as crossing a red line, could drive their contemporaries to the same kinds of activities. It’s not a prediction, but there exists the potential.

Short of an insurgency that seeks to overthrow a government, there’s insurrection and rebellion. An insurrection is localized violence carried out by an organization desiring to change policies. A riot intended to overturn or modify government policy, deter an undesirable outcome, or punish a government or institution would be an example of insurrection. Lastly, there’s rebellion, which is an attempt to create a new, independent regional government through violent means.

Shortly after the 2016 election, I started tracking 20 early warning indicators of revolutionary movements in the United States. We started with six or eight indicators around Thanksgiving 2016, and by Thanksgiving 2017, we had moved up to 12 of 20 active indicators, either strong or weak. As of this morning, I’ve added another, which brings us to seven strong indications and six weak indications, for a total of 13 out of 20.

For those new to understanding indicators, they’re a way intelligence analysts can judge how near or far we are from an event, or how dull or intense an event or condition is becoming. If three or four of 20 indicators are exhibited, then we’re on the low or unlikely end of the spectrum. If that number starts ticking up to 10 or 12, then we’re seeing moderate growth in likelihood or intensity. If the number of indicators grows to 15 or 17 or more, then we could produce a warning that a situation is serious or dire, perhaps imminent, or of a high intensity. At 13 of 20 today, this is a moderate issue and it’s something we’re actively tracking.

Leftist revolutionary movements are becoming more organized and active in the United States, although most of this activity occurs underground and is limited to just a handful of cities and regions. The week to week activities of these groups include outreach and recruiting, community organizing, and some agitation. There are a number of groups training with firearms and there are even some cadres of military veterans teaching basic infantry skills to a few of these groups.

While the number of active early warning indicators of Leftist revolutionary activity has doubled in the past year and a half, that’s not to say that the trajectory is set. Conditions change, and attitudes and opinions and behaviors change often with them. Major Democratic victories in 2018 and 2020 could stifle the growth of revolutionary sentiment, or it could rapidly expand it under favorable conditions. It’s too early to predict what will happen, however, it’s not too early to prepare for potential instability.

If you’re interested in the potential for these scenarios, or concerned about where we could be headed as a country, then stay up to date with developing conditions with our threat intelligence reports. Each Friday we publish two intelligence summaries:

Alt-Observer, a weekly look at the development of domestic conflict, revolutionary political movements, tribal violence, and other factors that disrupt our “civil” society.
National Intelligence Bulletin, which covers issues of national security, domestic systems disruption, risk of failing critical infrastructure, and threats to social, political, and economic stability.



If you enjoyed this article and want more of my thoughts on intelligence, security, and defense for an uncertain future, be sure to subscribe to my email updates.

[ 05-31-2018, 05:58 PM: Message edited by: ConSigCor ]

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"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

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The Answer
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"And then what"

This is the question for all wannabe revolutionaries. Let's say you win. Let's say you complete your objective of "turning over the table" of the grand poker game. You've turned the table over. AND THEN WHAT.

For collectivists, the answer is: more death and destruction. Humans are conscious at the INDIVIDUAL level. Groups of humans do not perceive reality together. Only individuals perceive reality directly. So, if your goal is to reduce humanity down to collective groups, you've got a big problem. Humans aren't wired that way. Collectivists will inevitably will do much more harm than they do good, because at root humanity is a collection of individuals, not a collection of collections.

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Semper Vigilantes, Numquam Exspectantes

Always Watching, Never Waiting

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ConSigCor
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Stay tuned there is much more to this series.

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"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

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ConSigCor
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What Will Our Domestic Conflict Look Like?
Domestic Conflict


By Samuel Culper

Last August, I announced the start of a new project focused on understanding “Low Intensity Conflict” because that’s what probably best describes the future of the United States. That was eight months ago and I surmised that our domestic conflict had already started, although at a very low level. Today I want to address some open ends of that first post and describe what I believe political violence will look like in the future.

One reason why I stopped using the term “civil war” is a) because it’s very vague, and b) because I’m not sure that we’ll actually have an outright civil war. Of course, we might, but I’m less sure of that than I am that we’ll have a domestic conflict marked by political and tribal violence, disestablishment of the rule of law, and maybe regional independence movements. As opposed to a conventional, force-on-force conflict, we’re much more likely to experience irregular, tribal warfare referred to as “Low Intensity Conflict”.

FM 100-20, Military Operations in Low Intensity Conflict (1990, which I believe is no longer valid), provides us an official definition of the term:

Low intensity conflict is a political-military confrontation between… groups below conventional war and above the routine, peaceful competition… It frequently involves protracted struggles of competing principles and ideologies. Low intensity conflict ranges from subversion to the use of armed force. It is waged by a combination of means, employing political, economic, informational, and military instruments. Low intensity conflicts are often localized, generally in the Third World, but contain regional and global security implications.

Earlier this week, an acquaintance told me flat out, “It will never happen”. Well, it’s already happening. “Punch a Nazi” and “Bike lock your local red hat” are maxims of political violence that perfectly describe low intensity conflict (LIC). It’s not outright war; there’s no widespread, daily fighting in the streets to gain territory or expand borders. It’s really more akin to gang or tribal conflict than it is to traditional war. And that’s exactly what LIC is. The organizing being done on the Far Left and Far Right are a precursor to conflict waiting for a flashpoint or catalyst. The militias on the Right and the radicals and revolutionaries on the Left have organized for decades. They’re here, they’re angry, their views of American history and their desired future are inimically opposed, and there could absolutely be a tipping point that, in their eyes, demands violence. This is not an analytical leap because this type of violence is already happening, just at a very low level. The real leap, however, is to view these indicators and their exhibited desire to commit violence on behalf of their ideology, and then say or believe that things are going to get better instead of worse. I’m seriously interested in the case for how and why political, racial, and social wounds are more likely to heal than worsen, and how and why our political divide is more likely to be bridged than widened.

That being said, one popular misconception is that everyone will be involved in a domestic conflict, and that’s just not the case. Scan the history of insurgencies, insurrections, and other small wars, and you’ll find that it’s a small percentage of the population involved in the actual fighting. Depending on the conflict, maybe five, ten, or up to twenty percent (on the high end) are involved in sustained fighting, and everyone else is just trying to survive. Even then, I don’t imagine pitched battles of hundreds or thousands, but sporadic and opportunistic attacks involving small groups of individuals. Let’s look at violence in Iraq and Afghanistan as an example: yes, there were days and weeks long battles, usually as a result of a military operation. Take away the military operations, and we’re left mostly with small group actions, unpredictable small arms fire, bombings, raids, and other short-duration attacks — in other words, activities typically employed by irregular forces in a low intensity conflict. Average citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan were involved, but relatively few dedicated their lives to sustained conflict against U.S. and Coalition Forces. That’s likely to be the case in America, as well.

Another popular misconception is that this will be a nationwide conflict. Some might say, “Well, if one percent of the population takes part in the fighting, that’s 3.2 million fighters”. I can appreciate the mathematics, but this is highly unlikely to be a nationwide conflict. There may be cases of violence that span coast to coast, yet this conflict is much more likely to be local and regional; confined mainly to cities and built-up areas where the political friction of ideology, race/ethnicity, and class turns into violence. For most Americans, this is going to be like watching a wildfire or hurricane consume a region. News casts will interrupt with breaking coverage, but most Americans won’t be directly affected. Indirect effects are an entirely different story.

Low intensity conflict spans well beyond physical fighting to include economic, financial, and informational/cyber disruption, too. Boycotts motivated by politics or ideology are a great example of LIC, and those are routine by both the Left and Right. Chick-fil-A, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Israel/BDS, advertisers on political talk shows, Target, and the NRA are just some of the more recent and notable targets of economic and financial disruption due to political ideology. One thing that either hasn’t happened with any regularity or has not been publicized, however, is cyber disruption motivated by domestic political ideology. American and international Hacktivists (not to mention foreign cyber units) could play a significant role in attacking anything from the websites of companies and political opposition to critical infrastructure during a domestic conflict.

I’ll continue to write about this topic indefinitely because I think there’s a significant chance that our low-level conflict worsens, especially in light of the next recession, the potential for financial and economic instability, political turmoil and the fallout of elections in 2018-2024, and social movements that are really quite toxic for the country. This cumulative approach to understanding potential tipping points is helpful, and I think that those who say that worsening domestic conflict is unlikely or impossible underestimate the great challenges we’ll have in this country, not just in the next two or six years, but over the next decade and beyond.

My conclusion is this:

There’s a significant likelihood of worsening domestic conflict
Violence is going to be geographically limited
Most Americans won’t be targeted or directly affected
Relatively few Americans will take part in politically-motivated violence
Good likelihood of increased government authority
Unlikely to significantly worsen on its own; waiting on a flashpoint or catalyst
Americans sitting on the sidelines are going to feel the effects indirectly
Potential for systems disruption
Potential for foreign exploitation
Resulting civil unrest likely to pose other threats and challenges


And, by all means, if you disagree, let’s hear it. Leave a comment below.

If you’re interested in the potential for these scenarios, or concerned about where we could be headed as a country, then stay up to date with developing conditions with our threat intelligence reports. Each Friday we publish the National Intelligence Bulletin, which covers issues of national security, domestic systems disruption, risk of failing critical infrastructure, and threats to social, political, and economic stability.

If you enjoyed this article and want more of my thoughts on intelligence, security, and defense for an uncertain future, be sure to subscribe to my email updates.

[ 06-06-2018, 06:00 PM: Message edited by: ConSigCor ]

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"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15960 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
airforce
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I don't disagree. In truth, a case can be made that we're in a low-level conflict now.

Onward and upward,
airforce

Posts: 18046 | From: Tulsa | Registered: Jan 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator
ConSigCor
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quote:
Originally posted by airforce:
I don't disagree. In truth, a case can be made that we're in a low-level conflict now.

Onward and upward,
airforce

That is exactly the point Sam is making with this series of articles. This conflict has been ongoing for years and is just now reaching the tipping point of going hot.

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"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15960 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
ConSigCor
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Thinking About Domestic Conflict on the National Level

By Samuel Culper

Last week I published my most recent thoughts on the potential for a domestic conflict. I just want to point out that thinking locally should come before thinking nationally. There’s the obvious reasons that what happens 1,000 feet from you is more important than what’s happening 1,000 miles from you, and if your area is affected by systems disruption, what’s happening nationally isn’t going to be on your radar. During Hurricane Harvey, for instance, when a deluge of rain pounded on roofs and the flood waters were rising, no one in Houston was concerned about the wildfires in California.

The second reason we should analyze the local effects of domestic conflict before we do the national effects is because the nation is made up of states and regions, states are made of up counties, and counties are made up of cities, towns, and the rural areas in between. If we don’t understand what’s happening in cities and towns, then we won’t have a clear picture of what’s happening across the county. If we don’t understand what happening in counties, then we can’t have an accurate statewide picture. If we don’t understand what’s happening in states and regions, then we can’t have an accurate nationwide picture. Everything starts locally. Your town is a building block informing the national picture.

That said, the nature of conflict is a spectrum. On the near end — the low intensity side — we have interpersonal conflict, followed by gang and tribal conflict, followed by state-sponsored violence and — arriving at the high intensity end — conventional military conflict. Most of what we’re likely to experience is termed “low intensity conflict“; a mixture of insurgent-style violence, state-backed counterinsurgency efforts, and peacekeeping operations marked by civil and social strife. While the military may be involved, their activities are more likely to resemble law enforcement actions than a high intensity, conventional military campaign. Political objectives will be of a higher importance than military objectives, which is to say, the need to enforce law and order will surpass the need for a military victory. In fact, as we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, an overly aggressive approach is far more likely to make things worse, especially in the day and age of fifth-column news outlets and social media. Were it not for the exploitative 24/7 news coverage of the death of Trayvon Martin, which enabled the community organizing that resulted in mass protests and violence, I’m not sure that the Ferguson riots would have happened. Mainstream media has a say in who gets to be the heroes and villains, and those are the conditions we can expect should the current domestic conflict worsen.

It’s very important for us to understand the underlying cause of the conflict: civil and social strife. The cause of this strife is centered on racial and socioeconomic conditions. On one side is a group of people struggling to maintain tradition in a society swinging towards not just the non-traditional but towards a post-modern system where equal outcome is not just encouraged but enforced by law. Capitalism and white supremacy are often to blame for the country’s ills, yet it was capitalism that pulled Western Civilization out of feudalism that still exists in other parts of the world. And as for white supremacy, whites founded the nation, set up the government influenced by their classical Greek ideological ancestors, invented most of the technologies in use around the world today, and were a large majority of the population for most of this country’s history. Those who desire to erase that heritage are ideological enemies, even if they live in the same country. And it’s this divergence over how Americans see the past and view the future that’s driving the conflict. Multiculturalism encourages groups to maintain differing and sometimes inimical beliefs and attitudes with the expectation that these groups won’t end up competing against each other for cultural and political dominance, and they’re absolutely, 100% incorrect. As has been said before of multiculturalism, a country can be racially diverse and culturally homogeneous and be at peace, it can be culturally diverse and racially homogeneous and be at peace, but it can’t be both culturally and racially diverse. That’s a recipe for internal conflict.

So it stands to reason that areas of America that are culturally and racially homogeneous are less likely to be affected by socially-driven violence — it’s not necessarily unlikely to be affected, but less likely than diverse, multicultural areas of the country. This is where the agitation and friction happen that “rub raw the sores of discontent”, in the words of Saul Alinsky. Where the political violence is likely to worsen is where these sores of discontent exist. The worse they’re rubbed raw by agitators, the more people will be agitated to action and the wider the violence will be. What’s more is that America has a cadre of full-time, professional agitators in colleges and universities, pop culture, and in the mainstream media working tirelessly to rub raw these sores of discontent in order, ostensibly, to produce social change, but in reality to further their movement’s political power, which carries the risk of increased state-backed violence.

There could be any number of tipping points: an attack against someone in your community, a murder or justifiable homicide, a police-involved shooting, an instance of police brutality, an economic recession that puts people out of work, an undesirable outcome of a local, state, or national election, or some other local social, political, or economic factor could induce violence.

Keep in mind that millions of Americans don’t need to be agitated, radicalized, or moved to violence for there to be a domestic conflict. And just because you believe that political violence is irrational doesn’t meant that the ones carrying it out agree. (Suicide bombing in Iraq or Afghanistan never made sense to me, yet it didn’t stop people from killing themselves and others for their religious beliefs.) We probably all agree that murdering someone over flashing a gang sign is irrational, but it’s not for those involved in a gang war. We probably all agree that killing a random police officer is not a justified response for the actions of another, but that doesn’t stop murderers from killing police officers. Just because you don’t see the risk doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Right now, you may not feel a sense of urgency. Maybe that’s because you live in a reasonably safe area, maybe it’s because times are relatively good and many Americans are comfortable, or maybe it’s because you haven’t seen or don’t understand the growth of revolutionary and extremist groups in this country; but the threat is real and so is the risk. Worsening social, political and economic conditions increase the risk of domestic conflict, and in the age where every action is politicized, I see no significant reason why social wounds will heal or political divides will be bridged. And if the next recession is as bad as 2008 and puts as many people out of work, then we could inherit a real mess.

If you’re interested in the potential for these scenarios, or concerned about where we could be headed as a country, then stay up to date with developing conditions with our threat intelligence reports. Each Friday we publish the National Intelligence Bulletin, which covers issues of national security, domestic systems disruption, risk of failing critical infrastructure, and threats to social, political, and economic stability.

If you enjoyed this article and want more of my thoughts on intelligence, security, and defense for an uncertain future, be sure to subscribe to my email updates.

--------------------
"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15960 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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