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Historically speaking, empires on average last for around 250 years, after which they tend to either slowly — or very, very quickly — fall apart due to overreach and internal conflict. It is not surprising that America will celebrate its 250th birthday in 2026.

But when a friend radical of mine said to me, at the end Trump’s presidency ended, that he believed America was heading for civil war, I rejected the claim outright. Why? How?For civil war to become possible it takes an extraordinary confluence between crises and mistakes.

It’s a whole new world in 2021, not 2015. But 2021 is a different world than 2015. It is now part of the fringes and elitists of society. While some support the ‘national divorce, others oppose it. Others say they’d rather declare war on their rebellious countrymen than to let them continue their ways unassisted.

National Guard troops were deployed to downtown Minneapolis amid the 2020 trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted for the murder of George Floyd

National Guard troops deployed to Minneapolis as part of the 2020 trial against Derek Chauvin, a former officer of police who was convicted in the killing of George Floyd.

This morbid fascination with civil conflict seems rational, considering the times. It has been an extraordinary year in terms of indicators of political decline. Since 2021, the U.S. have seen each of the noteworthy ‘horsemen’ of the apocalypse that traditionally herald revolution and strife. 

There is a political division within the elites and an increasing loss in legitimacy to the people. The population also suffers from military defeat abroad. This creates a very serious crisis in the real economic system with no clear end in sight. 

While any one of these crisis would be serious enough by itself, taken together they are a real threat to stability. The question is: How likely are civil war and national divorce or any other ‘troubles scenario? 

In order to accurately answer the question, there are some misconceptions.

The most worrying aspect of American politics today is the feeling that so many people are indoctrinated by an unspoken bloodlust. 

Sometimes, that bloodlust is not even thinly-veiled; after the unarmed USAF veteran Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot through a locked door in the Capitol building, many anonymous (and some less anonymous) commentators intimated that perhaps the problem with police violence in America wasn’t that officers were shooting and killing too many unarmed people — but rather that maybe they just weren’t killing enough of them. 

After a year of violence that decimated many US cities, there has been a shift to openly celebrating the same useless violence against the other team. This is a sign of dangerous polarization.

 From this sort of bloodlust flows another very common assertion: that a civil war, if waged on American soil, would be over quickly, and lead to a fairly effortless massacre of any insurrectionists in flyover America. It is argued that because of the advanced capabilities and availability of tanks, guns, air-bombs, drones, and other weapons, the US military can win. A civil war would be impossible due to the extreme imbalance between power and dissatisfaction within the population.

This is dangerously false. Although the US military may be powerful and wealthy, its purpose is to attack other states. The rules and regulations that govern war between states are binding. They are based on agreement. Although it may seem strange to say this, considering that an enemy country can’t just refuse a war declaration, it is true. It is possible to have a formal and informal definition of what constitutes combatant.

Protesters crowd inside the U.S. Capitol Building after rioter Ashli Babbitt is shot by Capitol Police in Washington DC on January 06, 2021

Following the shooting of Ashli Bettbitt by Capitol Police, Washington DC on January 6, 2021 rioters Ashli and Ashli have gathered in protest outside the U.S. Capitol Building.

Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, was fatally shot after breaching the Capitol building.

After attempting to break into the Capitol Building, Ashli Babbitt (an Air Force Veteran) was shot and killed.

A mob of supporters of President Donald Trump fight with members of law enforcement at a door they broke open as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building

An angry mob of Trump supporters fought law enforcers at the door that they broke as they attacked the U.S. Capitol Building.

 In contrast, warfare in primitive or tribal societies does not make any distinction between a civilian and a soldier. You are not enemies. Killing a twelve-year old girl to draw water at the creek and ambushing her is considered normal. The European practice of calling uncivilized individuals’savages” is rooted in this fact. Rather than being a racist chauvinism or a slap on the face, Europeans often found themselves shocked by Native Americans’ and other cultures’ ‘not following the rules’.

However, it is not a good idea to follow the rules. Insurgency in America is just as rational as Native Americans were to obey the rules. The Americans are not required to use blinking flashing lights in order to help drones target them. That simple fact is enough to make it almost impossible for the US counterinsurgency force to succeed.

In counterinsurgency warfare, everything that makes the US armed forces great — high-tech weapon platforms with immense destructive power — are not just useless, but counterproductive. An Idaho tank stationed outside of a mall will shoot at nothing. Or it could be at very high risk for killing innocent Americans because they are ‘looking suspicious’. American weddings are not being raped like Afghans. It does little to help counterinsurgency goals. This only increases the likelihood that the family members of the deceased will fight.

Also, the U.S. military is at most an order of magnitude smaller than necessary to accomplish this task effectively. Operation Banner saw the British deploy only 20,000 troops in Northern Ireland during Operation Banner to control that troubled province. Although the U.S. Armed Forces are comprised of approximately 1.3million active-duty personnel, it is divided over five branches (Army Marine Corps Navy Air Force Coast Guard) and only a minority of these military personnel are combat troops. The odds of the United States armed forces being able to mobilize more than 100,000 soldiers willing and able to carry out the task of carrying an M4 carbine down Anytown’s main street in Texas are very slim. That’s about the same size as Texas.

A British soldier patrols in Northern Ireland in 2000 in response to the Irish Republican Army's move to disarm the province's police chief

A US National Guard soldier patrols around the Kenosha County court house in 2020 amid the trial of a police officer, who killed Jacob Blake

(Left: A British soldier patrols Northern Ireland during 2000, in protest at the Irish Republican Army’s attempt to arm the police chief. (Right) A US National Guard soldier patrols around the Kenosha County court house in 2020 amid the trial of a police officer, who killed Jacob Blake

There’s also the fact that America has a significant political divide between coastal and rural areas. The armed forces are dependent on these areas for recruiting troops. Red America’s overrepresentation in the Armed Forces is not going to change. As such, the U.S. doesn’t just have too few soldiers, it has potentially unreliable ones, and the more brutality is used against recalcitrant red states, the more these soldiers will be ordered to fight and kill their own friends and family — a recipe for serious mutiny and disobedience.

There is another elephant in the room. If an American drone pilot blows up a wedding in Afghanistan accidentally, then the Afghan families of the victims have little recourse. However, if an American drone pilot accidentally sets fire to a American wedding, the drone pilot’s family will still be in America. Due to unreliability in some parts of our armed forces it is unlikely that the addresses and names of hated butchers will remain secret.

The provisional IRA made a habit out of attacking soldiers in Northern Ireland. They also attacked commanders, officers and politicians for revenge as well as to show their might. From Lady Mountbatten’s near miss against Margaret Thatcher, to a number of lesser-known targets the IRA shows just how hard it is to guard against an enemy that doesn’t wear a uniform in front of their enemies.

Now that we have all said that, what is the likelihood that any kind of civil conflict will occur in the United States’ near- or mid-term future?

The truth is that it’s not very likely. It’s not the fact that America will soon turn 250 years old, which is important. What is more significant is the obvious and severe signs of sickness within the country’s body politic. After 20 years of failure nation-building, America’s military ranks are now sluggish and battered. Meanwhile, the higher officers corps feels increasingly isolated from the outside world. This mirrors the same cultural, social and economic divide which is currently poisoning American civilian life.

Large segments of the electorate have lost faith in their electoral system and the legitimacy of its elite. America today is an infested swamp of new religions, soothsayers, and prophets. They range from vaccine scientism to Q, as well as various forms of pseudo-gnosticism, which focuses on trans persons. 

More than a hundred people rallied against vaccinations and mandates at City Hall Park in New York City in November 2021. Many displayed conspiracy theory statements as well as unsubstantiated information

Over 100 protestors gathered against vaccines and mandates at City Hall Park, New York City, November 2021. Many people displayed conspiratorial statements and unsubstantiated information.

To a student of history, this should also be a familiar — and quite ominous — sign: France in the 1780s had its own scientism and mesmerism, and Russia in the 1910s and 1980s was rife with soothsayers and itinerant preachers of new strange faiths.

The growing supply crisis is the most concerning. If this crisis was merely a shortage of options at the supermarket, it would be manageable. This scenario could mean that 2020s America may have seen a golden age of Soviet-style political jokes. However, it’s also disrupting the productive sector by removing the resources needed for farmers to operate their harvesters, and denying car producers the necessary metals to produce cars. As America’s elites wake up to this danger, the longer the crisis continues, the worse the economy will get and the more difficult it will be for them to make the needed reforms.

There is only one moment in history when civil wars are most likely. It is the time that a corrupted elite makes necessary reforms and has allowed underlying problems to fester for years. This is the time when state are weakest and most vulnerable to internal catastrophes. This is unfortunately where America may be heading today.