If the United States sees a civil war, it will not look like the last: historians

  • Some on the far right have been calling for civil war since an FBI raid on Trump’s Florida home.
  • Some experts say the harbingers of a civil war have appeared in the United States in recent years.
  • But they also say that such a conflict would be very different from the Civil War of the 1860s.

Following an FBI raid of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, some far-right figures have been spreading violent rhetoric online – including calls for war.

The Republican Party has long billed itself as the defender of “law and order,” but in the aftermath of the raid, GOP lawmakers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called for defunding the FBI.

Greene also referred to “civil war” on social media as fellow Republicans liken the FBI to the Gestapo and describe the raid as the kind of thing that only happens in “third world” countries.

Meanwhile, pro-Trump internet channels have seen a spike in Civil War talk from the raid.

The FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home came at a historically divisive time for the United States, a time when millions of voters continue to believe the misconception that the presidential election of 2020 was stolen from Trump.

Such misguided claims were at the heart of what catalyzed the deadly January 6 riot on the United States Capitol last year, and historians and democracy experts warn that such lies continue to foster the potential for further violence. They also say that if the United States had a civil war, it would not be like the first.

Fiona Hill, who served as the top Russian expert on the National Security Council during the Trump administration, said in a conversation with Insider last month that the mistrust of the electoral process and government institutions fomented by Trump and his GOP allies has created a “recipe for communal violence.” Hill warned that the United States could ultimately “find itself in a civil conflict”.

The country is at a point where “trust in different communities and authorities” has eroded “to such an extent that people are starting to fight with each other,” Hill said.

But she also pointed out that a civil conflict these days probably wouldn’t look like the American Civil War, an extraordinarily bloody fight between the Union and the Confederacy that left about 618,000 to 750,000 Dead Americans.

“I don’t think we would end up in the kind of conflict that we had between the states – the Union and the Confederacy – back then,” Hill said. “But people’s sense of civil and civic ways to resolve disputes is out the window.”

Less than a week after the raid on Trump’s home, a gunman attempted to break into the FBI’s field office in Cincinnati. Authorities have not announced a motive, but are investigating whether the man – who was eventually killed by police – had links to far-right extremism.

Suspected shooter Ricky Shiffer appears to have issued calls for war and violence against the FBI on the Trump Truth Social social media network.

“If you haven’t heard from me, it’s true that I tried to attack the FBI,” one message read. The account bearing Shiffer’s name repeatedly repeated Trump’s election lies, by CNNand several reports also suggest that the suspect maybe in the capitol January 6th.

“All the warning signs of a civil war have appeared”

January 6

Pro-Trump protesters gather outside the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.


Jon Cherry/Getty Images



Barbara F. Walter, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, who specializes in political violence, warned in a april stand for the New Republic that over the past six years “all the harbingers of a civil war have appeared in the United States, and they have appeared at an astonishingly rapid rate”.

Walter, who researched the civil wars extensively, expanded on this in an interview with the Washington Post last month. Like other scholars examining these questions, Walter said the United States was not headed for a conflict akin to the struggle between North and South.

“When people think of civil war, they think of the first civil war. And in their minds, that’s what a second would look like. And, of course, that’s not the case at all,” said Walter at the Post. “What we are heading towards is an insurgency, which is a form of civil war. It is the 21st century version of a civil war, especially in countries with powerful governments and powerful armies. , what the United States is.”

Walter went on to say that an insurgency is “more decentralized” and tends to be a fight between multiple groups. “They use unconventional tactics. They target infrastructure. They target civilians. They use home terror and guerrilla warfare. Hit-and-run raids and bombs,” she said.

Right-wing extremists have been known to turn to ‘The Turner Diaries’, a novel that has been called a far-right bible, for a blueprint on how to topple a powerful government like the United States, Walter said. . The book, revered by white nationalist groups, tells the fictional story of a civil war against the US government.

“One of the things he says is, Do not engage the US military. You know, avoid it at all costs. Go straight to targets across the country that are hard to defend and scatter, making it difficult for the government to identify you, infiltrate you, and completely eliminate you,” Walter told the Post.

Studies show that terrorists like the Oklahoma City suicide bomber were inspired by “The Turner Diaries.”

During a recent meeting at the White House, a group of historians warned President Joe Biden that the United States faces threats similar to those the country faced before the Civil War, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Historian Michael Beschloss, who has argued that American democracy is in existential danger, was reportedly among the scholars who spoke to Biden. Although he is sounding the alarm about the threats that American democracy currently faces, Beschloss also says that a civil conflict in the United States would probably not resemble the devastating war of the 1860s.

decided said in a social media post on Thursday that “if a civil war faces Americans (God forbid), two armies are unlikely to fight over one overriding issue (slavery), as in 1861-1865 , but sporadic, growing outbursts of violence against our federal government as it attempts to uphold the rule of law.”

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