U.S.: On the Way to Right-Wing Coup and Civil War?

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  • 29 April 2022

Today, amid heightening negative trends in the world economy, social and property polarization, the deepest crisis in international relations and the insufficient effectiveness of socially-oriented programs of national development, the prerequisites for coup d’état and civil war in various countries arise. For example, Africa reached last year an annual record (4) in the number of successful military coups in the 21st century. Currently, dozens of civil wars, minor internal conflicts, a skirmishes and clashes are lingering in the world, in the vast majority and with the largest number of victims – in the countries of Asia and Africa. Often, civil wars are accompanied by direct or indirect participation of external state and non-state actors.

Unfortunately, the threat of a right-wing coup and civil war has greatly increased in recent years to become the subject of heated discussions in the United States, not only in the academic environment, but also in the military, political and business circles, and in the media. Public opinion polls suggest that this threat is perceived as real by large sections of Americans. The purpose of the article is to find out the likelihood whether an ultra-right dictatorship could emerge in the United States in the near future, coupled with the possibility of their collapse during the civil war into a number of states with different regimes and aspirations. The author does not consider the worst options inevitable, much less desirable, and capable of easing pressure on Russia. A right-wing coup and/or civil war in the largest economic and military powerhouse can have extremely negative consequences not only for Americans but for the whole world. At the same time, destabilization of political systems, coup d’état and civil wars due to the development of the global crisis may also take place in other developed countries. This requires a thorough analysis of negative scenarios within the framework of interdisciplinary international groups.

Politicization of the armed forces and the possibility of a coup through the eyes of the military

In May 2021, more than 120 retired generals and admirals published an open letter questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election and ‘dictator’ Joseph Biden’s ‘Marxist’ course. “Under a Democrat Congress and the Current Administration, our Country has taken a hard left turn toward Socialism and a Marxist form of tyrannical government”, the letter said. This unsubstantiated passage to the centre-right Joe Biden did not prevent the retired military from accusing the administration of “using the U.S. military as political pawns with thousands of troops deployed around the U.S. Capitol Building, patrolling fences guarding against a non-existent threat…, seriously degrades readiness to fight and win our Nation’s wars, creating a major national security issue”. Meanwhile, without a powerful army, tyranny in such a huge country as the United States is practically impossible. What does not fit into the creation of a tyrannical government and the statement of the authors of the letter is that the existing anarchy in certain cities cannot be tolerated. Anarchy can lead to tyranny, but it is unlikely that anarchy can run the show in cities under tyranny. The viability of the president Joe Biden was also called into question: “The mental and physical condition of the Commander in Chief cannot be ignored”. Suffering from dementia, weakening the army, not even ensuring order on the streets, but the dictator is Biden?

Everything would be nothing more than a ridiculous accusation of the president to attract public attention in the framework of an unprincipled partisan struggle, if it were not for one important circumstance – the accusation came from a group of military men who recently held important positions in the US armed forces. These military men largely retired, and some even strengthened, their political and economic positions, for example, they took responsible positions in the military-industrial complex. According to Peter D. Feaver, a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University, “what makes the letter so disturbing is that the 124 signatories are all retired members of a profession whose treasured principles demand that it be subject to civilian command and should remain separate from parochial partisan politics”.

In July 2021, US Army Lt. Col Allen West (Retired) and over 600 other US military veterans released a letter denouncing Marxism and socialism in the United States. The letter stated, “…the hard left turn toward Socialism and Marxism endangers our citizens and the future… We are disgusted by the dismantling of the rule of law in our great country… A revolving door for criminals and a two-tiered justice system that offers up different penalties based on the viewpoints of the accused must end… We decry the assault on our constitutional rights through censorship of written and verbal expression and we point out the complicit arrangement between private corporations and those in power to present only one point of view”. The controversial content of this letter reflects the general democratic dissatisfaction of Americans with the merged oligarchic monster of the state bureaucracy and ultra-rich, justified anger at the obvious failures in the fight against criminals and drug dealers, “the dismantling of the rule of law in our great country”. However, it also contains hawkish opposition to the establishment of cooperative relations with Chinа and a call to fight back “advancement of socialism” within the USA. Unfortunately, it was precisely from such disadvantaged strata that the NSDAP successfully recruited its mass base in the 1920s-1930s, trained Nazi storm troopers, and then SS units.

In the military environment itself, hawkish positions are generally in the interests of some senior officers who hope to make good money in the conditions of the cold hot war (see more about cold hot war), and they are attracted by lucrative places in large military corporations after they retire. However, the bulk of the military, apparently, is destined to become cannon fodder in new wars in the “defense of the nation” around the world.

It is very disturbing that U.S. active-duty military personnel and reservists have participated in a growing number of domestic terrorist plots and attacks, according to the data from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The percentage of all domestic terrorist incidents linked to active-duty and reserve personnel rose in 2020 to 6.4 percent, up from 1.5 percent in 2019 and none in 2018. In 2020, the FBI alerted the DoD that it had opened 143 criminal investigations involving current or former service members—of which nearly half (68) were related to domestic extremism.

In recent years, the US has seen a significant increase in the number of paramilitary organizations (the so-called “militia movement”), which include many former military personnel, with right-wing groups showing particular activity. The CSIS concluded that right-wing terrorism, compared to other types of political violence such as radical-left or Islamist-motivated, has increased at a significantly higher rate. Right-wing extremists are responsible for two-thirds of the attacks planned and actually carried out in 2019 and for around 90 per cent of those from January to May 2020. The violence perpetrated by these paramilitary groups is by no means regional in nature or origin. In the past six years, a total of 42 states have been affected by right-wing extremist violence. In September 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) named the danger of right-wing extremist violence as serious as that of jihadist groups such as ISIS or Al Qaeda. In February 2020, the FBI also expressed its concern (Grumke, 2020).

According to the report titled “Standing By: Right-Wing Militia Groups & The US Election.” prepared in October 2020 by two organizations, ACLED and MilitiaWatch, the right-wing militias steadily ramped up their activities in the US. “These armed groups engage in hybrid tactics. They train for urban and rural combat while also mixing public relations, propaganda works, and ‘security operations’ via both online and physical social platforms to engage those outside of the militia sphere. There is an increasing narrative and trend that groups are organizing to ‘supplement’ the work of law enforcement or to place themselves in a narrowly defined ‘public protection’ role in parallel with police departments of a given locale”. Arie Perliger, a criminology professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with expertise in far-right extremism, is concerned about militia cells or loose-knit networks of conspiracy theorists working underground. “All over the country, you have significant groups and cells and activists who are frustrated and angry, and they represent the threat”.

Thus, by the fall of 2020, the process of radicalization of military personnel, their involvement in illegal anti-state activities has become a noticeable and alarming fact for US law enforcement agencies. The active-duty military personnel, retired reserve and inactive reserve units composed of service members, the standby reserve — made up of both active and inactive members, and individual ready reserve, which has no training obligations — except in times of emergency or war – and does not receive regular pay – all these categories are affected by the process of radicalization to a different extent (more research is required here). Some of them are members of right-wing paramilitary groups or support them.

The tragic events of January 6, 2021 triggered the political radicalization of the US armed forces and partly explains the appearance of the above letters from former military personnel. Lloyd J. Austin III, the Defense Secretary, a retired general who sat on the board of the defense company Raytheon, declared in January 2022, “I will fight hard to stamp out sexual assault and to rid our ranks of racists and extremists and to create a climate where everyone fit and willing has the opportunity to serve this country with dignity.” He went on, “The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies, but we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks” The Defense Secretary went on to order a “stand down” of the entire US military over the next 60 days in order for commanders to address “extremism” in its ranks.

If the measures taken were aimed at actually identifying active terrorists, Nazis and racists, they would have to be extremely targeted. However, more and more evidence suggested that, in fact, an attempt was being made to broadly purge the armed forces of Trump supporters. Congressman Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.) suggested that at least 75% of the National Guard might be compromised because they voted for Donald Trump. According to Thomas Kolditz, a retired Army brigadier general, and who now runs the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University:

“… Trump’s supporters in the military who think that what happened [on Jan. 6] was a good thing need to be managed out of the military as soon as possible…We’re not talking about half a dozen people. We’re probably talking about thousands across the Department of Defense. Many of them will have already run their mouth, put things on social media. But this was an insurgency, a crime against the state. And it’s a duty obligation of the defense leadership to make sure that there are no, essentially, sleeper cells, people in the military who, for whatever reason, think an insurgency is a good idea or justifiable”.

Any broad interpretation of this purge provokes a corporate rebuff from the army and can push its conservative majority into the hands of right-wing radicals. Republicans and Trump personally per-ceive the purge as a direct attack on their powerful positions in the armed forces. Headlines like Fox News’ “Biden defense chief starting ideological and un-American purge of the US military” gain numerous supporters in the comments. Also widespread in the social networks are articles and photo reports on how thousands of national guardsmen, sent to guard the Capitol after January 6, were turfed out of the Capitol building and sent to sleep in car parks, before being allowed back in late at night after complaints from lawmakers. Despite the quick reversal, two Republican governors commanded their troops home in protest. Very soon, between 150 and 200 National Guard deployed to Washington, D.C., to provide security for President Joe Biden’s inauguration tested positive for the coronavirus. Thus, there are good reasons to conclude that both leading parties are actively trying to use the army for political purposes, guided by their own party interests and without taking into account the interests of the military. This may be a rather provocative and very dangerous game not conducive to US prosperity.

The events of January 6 became the starting point for the further development of the politicization of the armed forces in the context of a growing systemic crisis of power (see more). There is an infiltration of far-left ideas into the armed forces in the form of an eclectic symbiosis of Wokeism, Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory, Cancel Culture and other concepts with very dubious statements, such as Ibram X. Kendi’s assertion that “racial discrimination is not inherently racist [if it’s] creating equity?”. Wokeism — a system of thought and behavior characterized by intolerance, policing the speech of others, and proving one’s own superiority by denouncing others – causes rejection in most Americans. At the same time, the socio-economic realities that give rise to such phenomena in the approaches of the ultra-left as racism in the approaches of the ultra-left remain in the shadows. Oddly enough, such approaches find understanding among the current leadership of the Pentagon. For example, during a budget hearing held by the House Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff defended teaching “critical race theory” to US Army cadets at West Point — and said it’s important for those in uniform to understand “white rage.” He added, “On the issue of critical race theory, etc., a lot of us have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is”. Milley’s remarks came just days after US Navy Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, was grilled by GOP committee members about sailors being advised to read the 2019 book “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi.

In December 2021 group of Republican senators sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressing their concern that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)’s established Countering Extremism Working Group (CEWG) could be used to “target service members who voice opposition to woke, leftist ideology under the guise of protecting … ‘national security interest.’” The senators in their letter said:

“The CEWG’s tasks appear to be more in line with an intelligence collection effort focused on service members than an honest effort to improve the DoD. These tasks include incorporating algorithms and additional processing into social media screening platforms, and training military leadership on “gray areas” such as reading, following, and liking extremist material and content in social media forums and platforms…It is imperative that the Biden Administration and the DoD use existing resources to target legitimate threats, not use this working group as a cudgel to harass or silence conservative members of the armed forces”.

Of course, “ultra-left expansion” gives rise to “ultra-right consolidation” of another part of the armed forces, which is largely latent in nature, but will become apparent with the further development of the national crisis.

There is not only a fierce inter-party struggle for the minds of military personnel, but also the practical use/non-use of the armed forces in the interests of political confrontation has become an almost daily reality. For example, in early March 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has refused the Biden Administration’s request for National Guard troops from the state ahead of Biden’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday. “Last week, the Biden Administration requested the assistance of State National Guards to deploy to Washington D.C.” DeSantis wrote in a tweet. “I have rejected this request — there will be no [Florida National Guard] sent to D.C. for Biden’s State of the Union.” There are obvious contradictions between the administration and the military on a number of issues. So, in February 2022, the Army investigation into the Biden administration’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan last year found the White House and State Department were too late in reacting to the Taliban’s final offensive. Biden rejected the report.

The position of the administration of J. Biden is sharply criticized on key issues of domestic and foreign policy by influential groups of retired military men. Yes, April 12, 2022, a group of 46 US retired generals and admirals are urging President Joe Biden and Congress to reject the new nuclear deal with Iran. The statement, among other things, mentions the following: “As retired American military leaders who devoted their lives to the defense of our nation, we oppose this emerging deal that is poised to instantly fuel explosive Iranian aggression and pave Iran’s path to become a nuclear power, threatening the American homeland and the very existence of America’s regional allies”.

Against this background, dozens of websites have appeared in the United States that, along the chain, disseminate information about a conspiracy against the republic, insubordination of military commanders to “the criminal Biden regime” etc. They are criticized by the information resources of supporters of the Biden administration as fake news. For example, reposts of Real Raw News stories and screenshots of their headlines have often circulated separately on Facebook, where PolitiFact and other fact-checking organizations have debunked them after they have been flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. This has the opposite effect: within several months mentions of Real Raw News, realrawnews.com and related hashtags have more than doubled across social media, broadcast and traditional media according to an analysis from Zignal Labs Inc., a media intelligence firm.

It is no coincidence that three retired US generals in December 2021 that another US coup attempt in 2024 could split the army and plunge an unprepared nation into civil war. “Imagine competing commanders in chief — a newly reelected Biden giving orders, versus Trump (or another Trumpian figure) issuing orders as the head of a shadow government,’ they wrote. “Worse, imagine politicians at the state and federal levels illegally installing a losing candidate as president…All service members take an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution. But in a contested election, with loyalties split, some might follow orders from the rightful commander in chief, while others might follow the Trumpian loser… Under such a scenario, it is not outlandish to say a military breakdown could lead to civil war”. Michael Flynn, a retired United States Army lieutenant general, former national security adviser in the Trump administration, appeared to call for a Myanmar-like coup to take place in the U.S. during a conference in Texas called “For God & and Country Patriot Roundup”. Given the wave of crime and violence that has swept the United States, and the severity of political contradictions, the worst-case scenarios do not seem unlikely at all.

Politicians, big business, expert community, media, polls about the possibility of coup d’état and civil war

Politicians do not lag behind the military in their gloomy forecasts. For example, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who was censured along with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) in the beginning of February 2022 for defying party leadership, gave a stark, hyperbolic warning during an appearance on CNN with host Wolf Blitzer, proclaiming that the U.S. is on the brink of a civil war. “Am I hearing you right, Congressman? You fear potentially there could be a civil war here in the United States?’ a seemingly incredulous Blitzer asked. ‘I do. And a year ago, I would have said, no, not a chance. But I have come to realize when we don’t see each other as fellow Americans, when we begin to separate into cultural identities, when we begin to basically give up everything we believe so we can be part of a group, and then when you have leaders that come and abuse that faithfulness of that group to violent ends, as we saw on January 6, we would be naive to think it is not possible here. And it is not like the blue and gray north and the south, it just turns into violence like you see in other countries,’ Kinzinger told Blitzer.” Earlier in November 2021, Sen. Ted Cruz has called on his home state to secede from the U.S. if Democrats “fundamentally destroy the country,” adding that Texas should “take” NASA, the military and the country’s oil supply along with it.

Billionaire investor Ray Dalio said in February 2022 that the US appears to be on the path to “some form of civil war.”Dalio based his analysis on historical cases — arguing that the combination of financial burdens, such as large deficits, high taxes and inflation, and large wealth and value gaps in a nation “leads to some sort of fighting for control.” He also argued that the country is witnessing greater amounts of populism and extremism, and outlined what he believes is a path to civil war through the lens of historical examples. A big divide, he said, is the gap between right-wing and left-wing politics, where both “sides” are “unwilling to compromise”.

Back in October 2018, Canadian writer and journalist Stephen Marche published an essay in The Walrus magazine titled “The Next American Civil War” outlining several possible scenarios for the violent collapse of the United States. He has since produced a book about it, The Next Civil War. (“Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future”) (Marche, 2022a) [1]. Drawing on sophisticated predictive models and nearly 200 interviews with experts—Civil War researchers, high-ranking military officers, law enforcement officials, secret service agents, environmentalists, military historians, and political scientists. Marche predicts a horrifying future crash that many are afraid to admit. After talking with military and counterinsurgency experts about what it would take to control the US population, S. Marche found that combat plans for the next civil war had already been drawn up. Not novelists, but colonels. According to S. Marche “The United States is coming to an end. The question is how” (Marche, 2022a) [2]. Perhaps some of the civil war scenarios offered by S. Marche are not very plausible. However, the very fact that they are discussed outside the realm of fantasy fiction speaks volumes. He is apparently right in assuming that “foreign governments need to prepare for a post-democratic America, an authoritarian and hence much less stable superpower. They need to prepare for a broken America, one with many different centers of power. They need to prepare for a lost America, one so consumed by its crises that it cannot manage to conceive, much less to enact, domestic or foreign policies” (Marche, S., 2022a) [3].

Among those raising the alarm is Barbara Walter, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, and author of a new book, “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them” (Walter, 2022a) [4]. Walter previously served on the political instability taskforce, an advisory panel to the CIA, which had a model to predict political violence in countries all over the world – except the US itself (Smith, 2022). Walter has studied the preconditions of civil strife all over the world. In addition, she says that, if we strip away our self-satisfaction and July 4th mythologies and review a realistic checklist, “assessing each of the conditions that make civil war likely,” we have to conclude that the United States “has entered very dangerous territory.” She is hardly alone in that conclusion. The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Stockholm recently listed the U.S. as a “backsliding” democracy. Barbara Walter came to the conclusion that future civil war in the USA “… would look more like Northern Ireland and what Britain experienced, where it’s more of an insurgency,” Walter continued. “It would probably be more decentralized than Northern Ireland because we have such a large country and there are so many militias all around the country”.

  1. Walter, in her assessments of the situation, used the data of the Polity Project at the Center for Systemic Peace of coding authority characteristics of states in the world system. The CSP ranking, called the “Polity Score” captures this regime authority spectrum on a 21-pont scale ranging from -10 (hereditary monarchy) to +10 (consolidated democracy). The Polity scores can also be converted into regime categories in a suggested three-part categorizationof “autocracies” (-10 to -6), “anocracies” (-5 to +5 and three special values: -66, -77 and -88), and “democracies” (+6 to +10). The United States’ Polity Score dropped from +10 in 2015 to +5 — an anocracy — for 2020. Polity data has been collected on the United States since 1776. The last time the US were an anocracy or a regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features between 1797 and 1800, A partial democracy is three times as likely to experience civil war as a full democracy.

According the Political Instability Task Force it wasn’t the poorest countries that were at the highest risk of conflict, or the most unequal, or the most ethnically or religiously heterogeneous, or even the most repressive. It was living in a partial democracy that made citizens more likely to pick up a gun and begin to fight. Saddam Hussein never faced a major civil war during his twenty-four years in power. It was only after his government was dismantled and power was up for grabs—when it went from −9 to the middle zone—that Iraq erupted in war. Anocracies, particularly those with more democratic than autocratic features—what the task force called “partial democracies”—were twice as likely as autocracies to experience political instability or civil war, and three times as likely as democracies. Recall, too, that the risk of civil war for a decaying democracy rises significantly soon after it enters the anocracy zone (see more: Walter, 2022a) [5]. Joe Biden’s peaceful inauguration, and the reinstated restraints on presidential power, led the CSP to bump up the United States’ polity score, from +5 to +8 (Walter, 2022b).

According to Political Instability Task Force the Rapid regime change—a six-point or more fluctuation in a country’s CSP ranking—almost always precedes instability, and civil wars are more likely to break out in the first two years after reform is attempted. The US has left the zone of anocracy. But the crisis in the country and in the world is escalating, while the inter-party confrontation is not weakening, the viability of the authorities leaves much to be desired, which makes it not just probable that the US will again enter the zone of anocracy. Most likely, this entry will be faster and deeper, and therefore more dangerous, creating the conditions for a civil war.

Discussion of the possibility of a coup d’état and/or civil war has become a common topic in the US media, including leading sources of information. This topic is no longer a theoretical issue of the distant future. The beginning of its cautious discussion was laid back in the years of D. Trump’s presidency. Thus, in 2017, the former Obama Administration defense undersecretary counselor Rosa Brooks discussing the possibility of getting rid of Trump before the next election, allowed the possibility of a coup in a piece for Foreign Policy, writing: “The fourth possibility is one that until recently I would have said was unthinkable in the United States of America: a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders”.

The Americans’ systemic conviction, growing with the use of modern information technologies, of the possibility of a coup d’état has borne fruit. According to the LAPOP Lab at Vanderbilt University released in January 2022 the share of Americans in willing to tolerate a coup increased from 28 percent in 2017 to 40 percent in 2021. That’s a 43 percent increase, and the highest rate seen in the United States since the LAPOP Lab organized in 2010 the U.S. survey online interviews with Web-based national samples of 1,500 respondents. It is also one of the largest increases the organizers of the survey have seen in this measure across the Americas. Compared to other countries they study, the U.S. now ranks near the middle on this measure, just higher than Brazil and Mexico — countries with relatively recent histories of authoritarian rule. Where the people believe in a coup, they usually do not rule out a civil war – this is quite logical.

In June 2021 31 percent of probable US voters surveyed said they think “it’s likely that the United States will experience a second civil war sometime in the next five years.” Democrats at 37 percent were slightly more fearful of a second civil war than Republicans at 32 percent, the poll from Rasmussen Reports found. According to a Bright Line Watch and YouGov survey also conducted in June 2021, the support for secession is growing among every partisan group in the months following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Overall, 37 percent of respondents indicated a “willingness to secede from the United States”. A 2021 national survey by pollster John Zogby found a plurality of Americans (46%) believed a future civil war was likely, 43% felt it was unlikely, and 11% were not sure. War seemed more likely for younger people (53%) than older ones (31%), and for those residing in the South (49%) and Central/Great Lakes region (48%) relative to those in the East (39%). Thus, politicians, expert community, media, polls testify the real possibility of coup d’état and civil war in the US.

Thus, in the USA, along with the justified concern of some about possible tragic events, there is clearly is clearly observed a certain preparation of public opinion for the perception of the inevitability of a coup d’état and civil war. It in itself is an indirect proof of the interest of certain circles in such a development of events.

Formation of a nationwide crisis

The model for identifying the conditions for civil war within the framework of the Polity data series seems to be limited and incomplete, since it does not capture the complex of factors leading to anocracy. The latter does not appear spontaneously and is formed within the framework of the formation of a nationwide crisis. Such a crisis is characterized by a sharp aggravation of political confrontation in the elite against the backdrop of a systemic and profound deterioration in socio-economic indicators of development. It is the formation of such a crisis under the influence of a complex of internal and external factors that weakens autocracies and democracies and brings them into a state of anocracy. Anocracy, precisely because of this, means a greater likelihood of acute conflicts and civil war, which fixes a certain maturity of the prerequisites for the formation of a national crisis. In the US, this process has a long history and has gone through a number of stages.

First stage. Some of the prerequisites for the crisis have been taking shape over decades: there has been an increase in the national budget deficit, external debt, the degree of depreciation of critical infrastructure, and some other important indicators of national development have worsened. For example, the US national debt to nominal GDP increased с 2000 г. с 55% до 107% в 2019 г. (129% in 2020 and 124% in 2021 are caused by the pandemic and further concentration of resources in the hands of the super-rich, which will be shown below). In the previous two decades (1980 – 1999) this figure increased from 32% to 58%. Meanwhile, The World Bank group found that if the debt-to-GDP ratio exceeded 77% for an extended period, it slowed economic growth. Every percentage point of debt above this level costs the country 0.017 percentage points in economic growth. The study is based on a yearly dataset of 101 developing and developed economies spanning a time period from 1980 to 2008. At this stage, the delay in solving the fundamental problems did not, however, carry an immediate threat of the collapse of the country and civil war, but hindered its development, which caused socio-political discontent.

Other prerequisites were formed, first of all, under the influence of the consequences of the Great Recession of 2007 and 2009 when the housing bubble burst, causing employment, GDP to plummet for the longest period of time since the 1930s. According to Joseph E. Stiglitz, “Before the crisis in 2007, the financial sector garnered for itself almost 40% of all corporate profits in the United States. It became an end in itself rather than a means to an end…You cannot eat, wear, or enjoy finance; it is a means to an end ― to make the economy more productive. But it wasn’t making our economy more productive; it was making our economy less productive”. The crisis in the US due to financial speculation has led to severe and well-known consequences for the country and the whole world.

During the second stage of the formation of the prerequisites for a nationwide crisis, the country’s recovery from the “great recession” left much to be desired. The standard of living has fallen, especially noticeable with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the US Billionaire Wealth Surged by 70%, or $2.1 Trillion, During Pandemic; they were worth a Combined $5 Trillion in October 2020. The separation of the wealth of the financial elite from the prosperity of the nation has been a destructive trend for at least the last decade. The America’s billionaire class looked more or less balanced in the early 2010s; billionaire wealth totaled about 10 per cent of GDP at that time, which was in line with the average for wealthy countries. By 2015, the picture had changed dramatically on one of my three key measures. Billionaire wealth had surged to 15 per cent of GDP. But the sheer scale of US billionaire wealth mushroomed in the space of one year to nearly 20 per cent of GDP (Sharma, 2021) [6]. The rich, becoming richer, do not want to pay taxes. More than $160 billion lost annually is from taxes that top 1 percent chooses not to pay.

Having created a colossal bubble on the unsecured rise of financial markets, these same forces want to play on their collapse, blaming Russia for it while solving both the US elite geopolitical tasks (separation of Russia from the EU, termination of the North Stream 2, difficulty for China’s Silk Road, etc.), in return, cashing in on the supply of gas to the “allies” in the EU at a price 5-10 times higher than Russia, arming and rearming Europe against the “terrible enemy” from the East etc.

At the beginning of 2020, Musk’s net worth was nearly $30 billion. In the midst of January, Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk surpassed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to become the richest human on the planet, with a net worth of $189 billion. Musk’s wealth increased by $160 billion over the course of a year. Russian billionaires also made good money while the Russians fought to survive in a pandemic, but they are certainly far from the “success” of their American counterparts to “make money out of thin air”. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (BBI) rating, the wealth of all Russian billionaires in the aggregate increased by $56.215 billion in 2021, i.e. half as much as the wealth of just only one of the 745 American billionaires. This hardly indicates the democratic nature of capitalism in the United States, on the contrary, its highest level of monopolization and oligarchization, i.e. close ties of ultra-rich state, political, corporate and military elites into one inseparable corrupted entity but with acute internal contradictions.

The degradation of the country’s democratic institutions became obvious to the majority of the population. A decade ago, the United States received a score of 94 out of 100 in “Freedom in the World”, Freedom House’s annual report on political rights and civil liberties. Today, whereas France and Germany remain at 90 or above, the United States has fallen to a score of 83, “leaving it in a cohort with newer democracies like Romania, Croatia, and Panama”. The global influence of the United States “mean that its woes have a uniquely damaging effect on democracy in the rest of the world”. The overall state of democracy in the U.S. declined in 2021, according to an annual ranking published by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, which cited the continued erosion of trust in the country’s institutions. The U.S. retained its rank as the 25th most democratic nation, out of 167 countries analyzed, but remains in the “flawed democracy” category after being demoted from the “full democracy” group in 2016. “The US’s overall performance is held back by a number of weaknesses, including extremely low levels of trust in institutions and political parties; deep dysfunction in the functioning of government; increasing threats to freedom of expression; and a degree of societal polarisation that makes consensus on any issue almost impossible to achieve,” the report said.

It was during this period that the US transition from the status of democracy to the status of anocracy took place. The social and political split is deepening, the threat of the collapse of the country and civil war is becoming real, tens of millions of Americans are aware of it. In response, the accelerated enrichment of the elites in the context of the pandemic and the inability to put forward a working program for the renewal of the country. The intensity of inter-party and intra-party disagreements is increasing. The refusal to recognize the election results by President D. Trump, the January attack on the Capitol crown the previous period with a formal and by no means obvious triumph of democracy, without eliminating the underlying causes of its crisis.

The third stage is the events of the last year, when, with the persistence and further growth of the problems of the previous stages, new problems appear in various spheres of life. The US government reported that inflation had risen at an annual rate of 8.5% in March, higher than expected and at a level last seen in 1981. And the reason is not the crisis in Ukraine and large-scale sanctions against Russia, which only exacerbate this trend. Back in November 2021, consumer prices jumped 6.8% from 12 months ago, the fastest pace since 1982, according to the Labor Department. According to the Bank of America chief investment strategist Michael Hartnett, “‘Inflation shock’ worsening, ‘rate shock’ just beginning, ‘recession shock’ coming”. US relations with China and especially with Russia have deteriorated as never before, which creates additional economic and military-political risks and destabilizes the country. Trust in President Biden is declining. Just one-third of Americans approve of the job President Biden is doing, a new low for the president, in a Quinnipiac University poll in January 2022. The poll showed Biden’s approval rating had dipped slightly from November, when his approval rating was at 36 percent. It continued a troubling trend for Biden, whose approval rating has steadily declined in each Quinnipiac poll released over the last several months. According to most polls, at least a third of Americans consistently do not believe in the fairness of the 2020 presidential election. Some surveys give even higher figures. To better understand the impact of the past two years on individual stress, the American Psychological Association partnered with The Harris Poll to conduct a survey between February 7 and 14, 2022. The survey findings make clear that U.S. adults appear to be emotionally overwhelmed and showing signs of fatigue. The vast majority of adults (87%) agreed it feels like there has been a constant stream of crises over the last two years, and more than seven in 10 (73%) said they are overwhelmed by the number of crises facing the world right now. Such psychological states of society are extremely favorable for coup d’état. The person is so tired that (s)he is ready, if not to accept, then to reconcile with any force that will establish order, or even accept the idea of the collapse of the country.

The split in the American elites (partly reflected by the increasingly tough confrontation between Democrats and Republicans) is natural within the framework of a systemic crisis. Such a split is far from healthy inter-party competition and drastically reduces the effectiveness of the public administration system. This inefficiency does not allow correcting imbalances in the socio-economic and political system of the US, and the systemic aggravation of existing problems naturally leads to a nationwide crisis that promises social and political upheavals in the country in the near future.

The infiltration of the far-right into the armed forces and the reduction of gun control are links in the same chain of events?

Recall that general Lloyd Austin, during his confirmation hearing as Defense Secretary in the Senate, stated that the armed forces must “rid [their] ranks of racists and extremists”. He also recognized: “I expect for the numbers to be small. But, quite frankly, they’ll probably be a little bit larger than most of us would guess… I would just say that small numbers in this case can have an out-sized impact”.

US President Joe Biden acknowledged his own country’s vulnerabilities as he hosted a virtual Summit for Democracy in December 2021. For the first time, the USA was labeled a “backsliding democracy” in a 2021 report released in November by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. This label was mainly due to the 2020 elections results being challenged, which culminated in the storming of the US Capitol building on January 6 by supporters of former president Donald Trump. If democracy in the United States is under threat, which is quite understandable, Russia does not want to have US and NATO troops on its border: it is not known who will be in power tomorrow in the United States.

“America has an extraordinary number of guns and private militias,” they write. How many? They cite the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s estimate of 434 million firearms in civilian possession in the U.S. right now. That would be 1.3 guns per person. “Semi-automatic weapons comprise around 19.8 million in total,” they add ominously, “making for a highly armed population with potentially dangerous capabilities”. Not only this. In late June 2019, Kentucky became the 16th state to allow adults to carry concealed firearms in certain public places without a permit, background check, or successful completion of a gun safety training cours. In Much 2022, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 215, which will allow residents over the age of 21 to carry firearms without a permit. Ohio is the 23rd U.S. state to enact such a measure. This process is accelerated and supported by the Republicans, which reflects both the growing fears of the white middle class for their lives in the face of rising crime and racial conflicts, as well as the understandable interests of the arms business. At the same time, law enforcement officers are very reserved about the decrease in gun control in the hands of the Americans. In Ohio, Hamilton County Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey was one of more than 80 opponents to testify in December before a state Senate public safety committee against Bill 215: “To allow people to carry concealed with no background check, no documentation of who they are and no training is dangerous,” McGuffey told ABC News. “I am not against the Second Amendment — the right to bear arms. What I’m asking people to do is consider that there must be some failsafe placed into the system”.

At the legislative level in the United States, a very dangerous trend has been clearly defined: less control over weapons in an environment where the main political opponents (Republicans and Democrats) are more than ever ready to use them against each other since the Civil War? And if someone is interested in these failures on a massive scale, in the conditions of an aggravation of the situation, mass unrest? Are conditions deliberately created for massacre in a crisis, an uncontrolled growth of violence, which may give grounds for restoring order with an iron fist? By whose hand, in whose interests, when and for what purpose – that is the question, although the answer is obvious…

Conclusion

In a country with a president whose legitimacy is doubted by tens of millions of Americans, the effectiveness of governance is significantly undermined by the very need to take into account these doubts and act with an eye on them. This is based on the optimistic interpretation of events by the current US authorities, according to which the elections were fair, and the storming of the Capitol was the anti-constitutional actions of the ultra-right. However, according to former President Trump and millions of his supporters, the election results were rigged. In this case, one has to take into account the possibility of a government that “stole the elections” being in power. This uncertainty not only weakens the position of the Biden administration, but also increases political risks against the backdrop of a growing national crisis.

Different scenarios of a right-wing coup are possible: within the framework of the existing constitutional order, followed by a quick/slow (partial/full) dismantling of democratic norms, already emasculated in the interests of the oligarchy. Another option is to use existing legislative procedures in a state of emergency, which is then used to modify the political system in any direction. A military coup is also possible under the conditions of a temporary unstable balance of struggling civil antagonistic forces, a crisis state of the whole society (Pashentsev, 1997 and 2016) [7]. The military then acts as a temporary stabilizing force (successfully or unsuccessfully) or an agent of one of the major trends in civil society. This requires the practice of involving the military in internal political conflicts. In the United States, this practice clearly took shape in January 2021 (although, apparently, there is a moment of exaggeration of its significance for partisan purposes).

The possibility and scenarios of a civil war also vary depending on the depth of the national crisis, the degree of politicization of the armed forces, the methods of eliminating a single state (peaceful / military), external factors of influence (from the global economic crisis to targeted influences from other countries or international organizations), the number fragments of a single state claiming independence, the nature of the emerging political regimes in new state formations, and other factors.

Both weak democracy, or rather, focusing on the secondary attributes of democracy, and not its essential moments, and weak authoritarianism equally lead to anocracy. In fact, only two systems: a strong socially oriented democracy, corresponding to the realities of the 21st century, or a fascist-type dictatorship can keep the country from disintegration and civil war. The first can do it strategically: for a long and lasting perspective, radically changing the country and influencing positively international development. The second system can only delay the disintegration of the country, turning it into one big concentration camp (where, due to modern and promising technologies, few people will realize this) and, promising to deal with America’s “enemies” all over the world. One such “thousand-year-old Reich”, having existed for only twelve years, but managed to carry over fifty million people to the grave. This time, the North American empire will be able to end all of humanity, including the Americans themselves.

In the international aspect, only the elimination of the main opponents – China and Russia – can delay (but not cancel) the need for the US to move away from the “decaying democracy”, which is beneficial to the most irresponsible, ineffective sections of the American elite, at the same time, increasingly threatening its very existence as a whole. Hence, the ongoing far from well-thought-out, but energetic efforts of this elite to destabilize Russia and China. If even one opponent trembles, it will be possible to use it to crush another. Russia with the help of China – mainly economically. China with the help of Russia – military blackmail (strategically, anti-Russia in the form of the current Ukraine is needed not only for a barrier between Russia and Europe, but also for the formation of an anti-China from a weakened Russia as a result of bringing an obedient regime to power. It is hard to imagine that such an insurance system was not thought of in the United States in the 1990s. In any case, such figures as George Friedman spoke frankly on these topics, describing the need to stimulate military-political contradictions and conflicts in Eurasia in the interests of the United States.

If Russia and China do not capitulate in the coming years, the ultra-right in the United States will not be capable of dictatorship (unfortunately, today they are better consolidated and seem ready for this), and the democratic circles will not be able to radically renew the country (on alternatives to social development in 21th century, see for more details: Pashentsev, 2020) [8], then with the aggravation of the national crisis, it is more than likely that the United States will quickly enter an anocracy, followed by the collapse of the country and a civil war. Both the Americans and the international community must be prepared for its tragic consequences. With the development of the global crisis, anocracy may appear in many other countries, including the developed countries of Europe, in some even earlier than in the United States. It is possible to effectively counteract negative scenarios only by offering an effective alternative. There is still time for this, but it is getting shorter.

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Text appeared first at: https://russiancouncil.ru/en/analytics-and-comments/analytics/u-s-on-the-way-to-right-wing-coup-and-civil-war/.

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