American society is highly divided one. The last time Americans were so opposed to each other was back in the 19th century, and it didn’t end well.
When even the national security experts agree that there are at least 30% chance of a second American civil war, a wise man stops to think. It is one thing for the fringe websites and obscure radio stations to predict civil war, but these are the men that usually know what they are talking about. Not all of them agree that the second civil war is imminent, but even the skeptics aren’t ready to dismiss the possibility of it.
One thing is certain. Second American civil war will be nothing like the first one. And we are not talking about the difference between muskets and M16s, but rather the entire concept. Last time there were two clearly defined sides, with a clearly defined territory and clearly defined forces. If the recent conflicts in the Middle East have thought us anything, it is that there is nothing distinctly defined in modern warfare.
It will be messy. A second civil war on the US territory would be more similar to what we have witnessed in Yugoslavia during the nineties. “The war among brothers” as it’s called in Balkans would be a grain of salt compared to which lengths could a civil war in America escalate. The number of victims would be closer to what we have seen during the civil wars in Russia or China in the 20th century.
It is hard to imagine how much of an impact would a war on US soil had on the rest of the world. The US interest in rest of the world would become things of secondary interest which would countries such as China, Russia, and North Korea try to use.
The effect that it would have on America as a country and their citizens would be even more devastating. If such thing as a new civil war occurs, it could result in cataclysmic consequences in which law and order would be hard to restore. Also, this type of conflict would change the outline of global politics. The outbreak of civil war in Syria took thousands of lives and created millions of refugees. It brought the entire Middle East into conflict, and not to mention the involvement of world powers such as America and Russia. The US civil war could also create refugees who would seek refuge in Canada or even Mexico. And who knows how would these neighboring countries react. To see the mess which civil war creates you need to look no further than Syria.
Perhaps the best example of how a second American civil war would play out is the rise of ISIS. The Islamic state came to being not as a single offensive force that conquered vast patches of territory, but as a confederation of loosely connected groups each taking their own neighborhood and connecting with each other in a fascinating display of network violence. This could be a clear blueprint for any conflict on American soil.
Groups like Antifa and Alt-right, who lack any centralized structure and are both incapable and unwilling to coordinate on the national level can use their decentralization to their advantage. They would wage asymmetric warfare, aimed at maximum effect through violence and casualties. Any future homeland conflicts would have to be looked through the prism of modern insurgencies in Arab countries and the inability of U.S. military to decisively stop them, despite the vast firepower it has at its disposal.
We have learned repeatably from conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria that modern armies deal poorly with insurgent campaigns, especially in urban areas and that United States military isn’t an exception. The one factor that may be different is that in the past the military was deployed in foreign lands and communication with native population was difficult and cultural barriers too high to effectively employ “hearts and minds” campaign, essential for any counter-insurgency campaign to work.
In case of the second American civil war, the situation would be even worse, since the civilian casualties would have to be kept at a minimum, something modern armies aren’t always prepared to do. A string of terrorist attacks could easily bring the nation to its knees, and if perpetrators are US citizens of appropriate ethnic background (e.g., white), it would be very hard to stop them. That is why thinking of civil war in traditional terms can be a fatal mistake, as it would leave us unprepared for the real shape of the second American civil war.
Two aspects of America would ensure that any civil conflict would spread out like a wildfire. First, the number of weapons Americans have in their homes. There are estimated 357 million weapons in civilian hands in the country, a staggering figure made worse by the fact that population at the time, according to estimations from 2017, was 325 million. That means that there are 30 million more weapons than people living in America.
Most of these are civilian guns, but a vast number of them is easily transformed into a fully militarized version in a very short time. Add to this various organized civilian groups that are essentially paramilitary organizations, like several militia organizations and border watch groups, just itching to start using their shiny guns, and the recipe for disaster becomes clear. Closely connected to them are preppers’ organizations, who would see American 2nd Civil War as a fulfillment of their doomsday prophecies. Although some of these can be dismissed as wannabes, a significant number of these groups’ members have a military background, which could make them formidable opponents.
The other factor is American military. Although constitutionally obliged to support the existing government, in case of an open civil war, there is no telling what might happen. The wholesale desertion of entire units isn’t an unimaginable scenario and something that can top the scales of conflict very fast. Complete company of Abrams tanks or a battalion of marines are forces to be reckoned with, especially if all they are facing are civilian groups.