Has America’s Third “Civil War” Begun?

Has America’s Third “Civil War” Begun? by Robert E. Wright for American Institute for Economic Research

The question of whether a third American “civil war” has begun occurred to me after reading a recent New York Times piece (deliberately unlinked as it fails fact checking) that claimed that the president can mandate a vaccine today because George Washington did so during America’s first “civil war,” more commonly called the American Revolution (1775-83).

That much is true, but the article misses a few key differences: it was a wartime measure that applied only to soldiers; it was for smallpox, which was orders of magnitude more deadly than Covid; it was variolation — introduction of small amounts of the live virus into the bloodstream — not experimental gene therapy. (I again call for a Covid variolation option on a voluntary basis.)

Did the New York Times admit too much by analogizing from a wartime scenario, or is it simply grasping at straws as usual? Maybe inadvertently some of both?

The Revolution and the Civil War (1861-65) were both “civil” in the sense of being internecine struggles but both were extremely uncivil in the sense that they were violent shooting wars that rent asunder families, towns, counties, and even entire states. Some people call the latter conflict the War Between the States or the War of Yankee Aggression, partly for political reasons but also following the logic of Guns N’ Roses: “What’s so civil about war anyway?”

Some claim that America is already in a civil, in the sense of non-shooting, “war” with China, which purportedly has deployed its “Three Warfares” strategy of legal, psychological, and public opinion distortion. That would not be surprising. The USA of course waged a long non-shooting conflict, typically referred to as the Cold War, against the Soviet Union. During the decades-long conflict, the two superpowers shot at each other only indirectly, in places like Korea and Afghanistan, while also trying to destabilize each other with espionage, propaganda, and such.

A non-shooting, internecine “war,” a civil civil war if you will, is also not unprecedented but it is also not just “politics as usual.” There used to be rules and proportionality. It increasingly appears now that one side wants to annihilate the other at any cost, and that the sides are not drawn along strict party lines.

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