Civil war is a term most US citizens associate with slavery and things that happened generations ago. Yet with all the unrest, we have to wonder what a civil war would be like today. It’s an interesting and complex question. Sadly, many countries are at war with themselves. Hence, we have a good idea of what it looks like in other places. However, America, like most first-world nations, is generally more stable and technologically advanced than these war-torn countries… for now. Moreover, we have a huge active military. After extensive research, I’ve found some solid answers about the likely appearance of a new civil war. Plus, there’s another frightening question that most people aren’t asking. I’ll share that as well, along with the answer.
What would a civil war be like today? A civil war today would be a nightmare that destroys many essential elements of our society. Vital services would all but disappear along with easy access to whatever remained. Moreover, given the pandemic issue, it would likely result in far more deaths than those from mere fighting.
Will A New US Civil War Happen Soon
A civil war in America today would be devastating to everyone involved, including bystanders and the innocent. Putting aside the issue of who starts it, an extended civil war would likely end our society. Regardless of religious, ideological, racial, political, or a combination of motivating causes, there would be no clear start or quick finish. Nor would there be a clear winner.
There are enough varied divisions in our culture that active fighting-in-the-streets-style civil war would only benefit this nation’s enemies. When you weaken a superpower, the vultures circle. America has plenty of naysayers and ‘vultures’ who would gladly carve up the remains.
However, that part would not happen next week if open fighting happens in the streets. Allowing a country to tear itself apart from inside makes it far easier to invade later. It wouldn’t even be an invasion so much as a debt collection by force in some cases. China and Japan, for example, own more than two trillion dollars worth of US debt.
With huge swathes of land and resources, this country has always been a goldmine. The people here would not be the highest valued commodity if the US were to become more vulnerable from heightened internal strife. From lumber to minerals, physical acreage, and more, the US failing would be a boon to many people. Sadly, it’s unlikely that those people live here.
Some few wealthy, fortunate, or brilliant people might make their fortunes. There are always people who benefit from war, and entire families and many businesses who specialize in doing so. America makes a lot of weapons.
To put things in perspective, in 2018, the US over a hundred and ninety-three billion dollars worth of arms sales. It’s foolish to assume some of those weapons wouldn’t return here. Worse, they will not be in the hands of our soldiers or civilians.
Even if one side of civil war could manage a quick, sweeping defeat, it would weaken the whole country. All those weapons we’ve sold would no longer be a benefit, but rather a serious problem.
People Think Civil War Is Coming
As self-fulfilling prophecies go, there’s none worse than predicting civil war. Regrettably, it is always possible. Most importantly, people are very torn on the subject, but quite a few believe it is coming regardless of how, when, or even why.
According to a USA Today article, a lot of people expect civil war. Thirty-one percent of potential voters surveyed said, “It’s likely that the United States will experience a second civil war sometime in the next five years.” The Rassmussen Poll that revealed this also offered insight few people are discussing.
At the time of this poll, about thirty-two percent of Republicans anticipated a civil war. However, a slightly higher thirty-seven percent of Democrats agreed. Though this only offers a political breakdown, it shows clearly that people across the board see the possibility. Both sides can see and prepare for the issue well in advance, and some people inevitably are already.
People across the board are prepared for civil war on some level. Still, not everyone agrees. Alarmingly, many historians have compared the current environment of the US to the unrest found before the previous civil war.
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On the other hand, not everyone believes it will happen. Kip Cassano, a former Army Officer, and Research Professional point out, “The centerpiece of a civil conflict — a military composed of leaders willing to choose sides — seems unlikely. Our armed forces have remained firmly neutral politically for 150 years. There is little doubt they will remain so.”
How Would a Civil War Look Today
A civil war today, in the midst of the Covid19 Pandemic would result in far more deaths than the fighting alone. A modern civil war would look like isolated outbreaks at first. Much like the pandemic, people would likely expect it to come under control quickly. Also, like the pandemic, it would take longer than the average person anticipated. Life is not like TV.
The initial fighting would likely be purely civilian. Regardless of which groups came to a head, the military would make an effort to remain neutral. Moreover, the armed forces will be dispatched to quash fighting, enforce martial law, and serve the communities.
Even the greatest military in the world can’t stop determined people. Mob mentality leads to widespread damage. Furthermore, it makes even bright and well-organized people into mindless destructive forces. A group is not an individual, and becoming part of one can remove inhibitions and culpability.
High Tech and No Tech Warfare
That said, we also have the technology to contend with. People’s reliance on technology is one-half of that equation. The other is that it also provides people with unprecedented and unanticipated ways to help and hinder any fighting. Guns aren’t everything.
Average citizens have access to drones, night vision, and more. Video doorbells and HAM radios don’t take sides, and anyone can use them to get a better perspective on what’s happening in their area. Additionally, cell phones and social media to coordinate efforts are more prevalent here than in any area currently having a civil war.
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Our very propensity for social media and tech has changed the way factions fight. People identify themselves as parts of more than one group. These subgroups within the country would also likely mean that no single organized A vs. B style civil war would occur.
Instead, people from opposing groups would fight, but the lines between them are not clear. For example, political groups may fight. However, the religious factions within that party might also end up facing off in a different skirmish.
People Go Without
With widespread destruction and societal breakdown comes a lack of technology as well. Pockets of tech would certainly remain. Yet, after enough damage, the tech that drives our daily lives would become spotty at best.
Death rates for every cause would rise sharply. Most of our medical technology depends on a functional system of supplies. The medical staff and supplies must reach our hospitals. That means they need working phones, vehicles with gas, computers to order supplies, and more merely to meet current needs. If things get worse hospitals will be hard-pressed to operate at all.
Electrical power, food, water, and safe passable streets are among the more deadly issues. It is easy to see a scenario where a few months of US civil war could have a truly staggering body count. Not all of it would come from battles.
Additionally, more than half of all Americans aren’t prepared for a disaster like a storm. People don’t have weeks of food and water. They don’t keep medical supplies. Moreover, the majority of people in this tech-savvy country don’t have much skill at surviving.
For the first time, Americans would-be refugees trying to cross borders. It’s possible that far fewer deaths in a modern civil war would result from fighting than the fallout of doing so.
Is the US Already In a Civil War Today
How do you define a civil war when groups have no clear allegiance lines because people everywhere are parts of subgroups? What does that kind of civil war look like today? From the inside, it looks different than the outside.
It is strange to think that people can be at war and not know it. Though things are rarely as simple as watching two old-fashioned armies go head to head in a movie. The very nature of war and civil war have changed.
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People are already fighting in the streets. Confidence in the government has eroded severely. Modern civil wars are far less definite or identifiable than their predecessors. We have bombings, militant groups breaking into buildings, massive demonstrations in the streets, and service interruptions now.
Conflict Journalist Robert Evans told Vice, “We are in a state of civil war, whenever, in more than one geographical location in the United States, it becomes commonplace for multiple non-state armed groups to fight each other with deadly force. When that is an occurrence that is common in more than one location in the country, that’s a civil war.” If that doesn’t sound familiar, then turn on the news.
Wars are assigned both start and finish dates by historians. These are significant. However, they are not indications of when a conflict began or when the last shot was fired. Thus the question becomes, has it already begun? History will decide for us.
Civil war once meant freedom from oppression. That was a long time ago. Modern civil wars destroy the people they seek to save, destabilize governments, and wreck any practical protections to the nations’ land and wealth.
Whatever the “TV” or idealistic notions of civil war may be, the reality is far different. In 2020 a country cannot save itself by tearing itself apart. Civil wars are a long, drawn-out process. When cities and crops burn, the fire doesn’t care who was on the ‘good or right’ side.
A civil war today would destroy what both sides sought to save. There very likely wouldn’t be a country you recognize to live in a decade from now, even if some of the lands still carried the name.