Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Potential Man-Made Disaster (part 2)

Last week I laid out the groundwork for a potential disaster called “gun control”. Lest you be mistaken, there are people in power who want to take away our right to keep and bear arms. One of my online friends has kept a running list of influential people who have stated their intentions to disarm the citizens of the USA. It's a rather lengthy list that is being added to with the recent proclamations of some seeking elected office.

I also mentioned the types of resistance that such people are currently facing (active, passive, ignoring) but there are a lot of loud voices promising a second American civil war (CW2) if any serious attempts at disarming lawful gun owners is made. This has prompted a lot of thought and research for me, so I decided to share some of it.

Desire for Conflict
There are those who yearn for conflict. While there are a few who are adrenaline junkies who miss the action of their time in service, most of what I read is written by arm-chair warriors who have never had to make a life or death decision. I've laid out my military record in the past: I was a REMF during the Cold War that maintained nuclear weapons during my active duty and served in a Military Intelligence unit in the Reserves. Neither one put me on the front lines of a war (it was a cold war, after all), but there were several times where I was issued live ammo and given rules of engagement. We took security very seriously, and the “deadly force is authorized” signs weren't there for show; I know what it takes to be mentally prepared to kill another human being. Working on weapons capable of wiping out small cities caused some soul-searching and reflection as well.

Another form of desire for conflict is reflected in what I have heard referred to as “war porn”, the fictional tales of how the “true patriots” will overthrow the “ruling elites”. Quality varies with the skill of the author, but most of it is fairly predictable once you've read the first few. The formula usually has several of these plot-lines mixed into the story telling:
  • Hero is former military with specialized training
  • Some sort of love interest
  • Personified evil character as a villain
  • A unified enemy force, often some global group
  • Lack of or sudden reduction in close family
  • A major set-back or loss
  • An ingenious plan or tactic that turns the tables
  • Final victory
Nobody writes classical tragedies any more, and every story has to have a happy ending for the hero and the villains all have to pay for their misdeeds. Oh, how I wish life worked that way! From what I've witnessed over the years, the hero is often the one who dies and the villains too often get away. We don't live in a Disney world.

On the subject of Civil War 2.0 (CW2), I've seen entirely too much “war porn” written, generally with a weak grasp of history and military history in particular. Recently I've found a few articles written by survivors of contemporary (the last 30 years or so) civil wars and revolutions and they have provoked even more thought and research.

The concept of “going to war” against a government is outdated. With current technology, any organized armed force larger than a fire team (up to 4 people) will be targeted and watched. Back in the 1990s when the Militia Movement was going strong, there were plenty of FBI agents seeking to “infiltrate” such organizations and collect or create evidence against them. They had some success and some failures, with a lot of rhetoric thrown around to create a climate of fear. The Militia Movement broke down and became even more decentralized, eschewing regional command for a diffuse, cellular form of organization.

Fast forward a few decades and we now have facial recognition software being deployed at airports and sports stadiums and internet-connected cameras installed in millions of houses. Police are finding that home security cameras are a good way to monitor activity in a neighborhood with very little capital investment on their part. Hard data on the full capabilities of the national intelligence agencies is understandably difficult to find, but reports of their ability to remotely activate cameras and microphones on cell phones are popping up. You can put away the tin foil hats, because hackers have been able to remotely activate laptop computer cameras for several years.

We're not going to see a set-piece war like the Civil War of the 1860s. Technology has moved us beyond that point. A modern American CW2 will more likely be digital, with small battles fought in areas useful for propaganda purposes, and polarized media on all sides will see to it that propaganda outweighs actual news.

Modern civil wars are worse on civilian populations than previous ones.
  • With no set battle lines, and ill-defined forces acting against each other, those caught in the middle suffer the worst. 
  • Urban dwellers are at the mercy of the suppliers of food, fuel, electricity, and water. 
  • Denial of those resources becomes a weapon in time of war, and can be more effective than firearms. Without going into details, I've found that it wouldn't take much to disrupt the flow of any of these to the metropolitan areas. 
  • Rail lines, bridges, pipelines, etc. are too exposed and there is very little to no redundancy built into the systems. Redundancy costs money to install and maintain, so it it rarely included in preliminary designs.
  • No major city is self-sufficient, and even the small ones are at risk of disruption of services. Look at the aftermath of any major natural disaster, and the amount of aid that has to be shipped in and the people who have to be shipped out before any rebuilding can begin. 
  • Talk to any of the folks who served in Iraq about the “Main Supply Routes” and what it took to keep them open. Now imagine any group trying to replicate that over an area roughly 2600 mile long and 1600 miles wide.
Modern civil wars don't have easy-to-pick starting or end dates, and they last longer than earlier ones. The American Civil war ran from 1861 to 1865, roughly 4 years; the Spanish Civil war was from 1936 to 1939, 3 years; and the Russian Civil War (after the 1917 Revolution) was from 1918-1921, roughly 4 years. Compare those to the civil wars in Somalia (1991-present, 28 years and counting), Angola (1975-2002, 27 years), Nicaragua (1962-1990, 28 years), and the dozen or so that have never really ended but just keep grinding away at the population and economy.

The size and sophistication of a country have very little impact on the duration of a modern civil war, since the wars have a tendency to drag huge chunks of the population down to a pre-industrial level of living. Case in point: Yugoslavia went from hosting the Olympics in 1984 to a series of bloody wars that lasted from 1991-2001. For insight into how one man survived that, check some of the articles by Selco.

Next week I'll give my opinions on how to prepare for a potential CW2. It won't be anything earth-shaking, since most of it is common sense once you think about it for a while.

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