The Cold Civil War in the United States: A Key Challenge Facing the Future of the Nation

By Robbin Laird

Donald Trump is a consequence of the new cold Civil War in the United States; he is not the cause of it.

Not liking the President, his style and his personality is not really hard; but if we are to be realistic about the current state of American politics.

The dynamics of change sent in motion by the past two Administrations have created a significant crisis in American politics which we now face.

The George W. Bush Administration leveraged significant American patriotism to conduct the endless war in Afghanistan.

The so-called strategic elite came up with a policy which led to an invasion of Iraq and the continuing entanglement in Afghanistan with no end in sight.

The neo-cons have much to answer for, notably the failure to define and execute victory in the nation’s wars.

We then were served with eight years of the Obama Administration and the moving red lines in the Middle East, the hollowing out of the military through the readiness crisis and the continuing support for the “good” war, defined as an open-ended wandering through the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan.

The failure to define and execute victory in the nation’s wars became a lifetime task for the inside the beltway think tanks and cubical commandos.

Apparently an “endless war” is a good thing because then you do not have to actually confront peer competitors and stare down larger than life global competitors.

You can simply watch American solders drop in on folks like Osama Bin Laden from time to time.

Support for the globalization agenda set in motion from the Clinton years was deepened by the George W. Bush and Barrack Obama Administrations.

Adding members to the WTO, support for NATO and EU whether they belonged or not; whether they would play by the rules or not, really did not matter.

For they would be changed by simply beholding the workings of these fabulous institutions, so dedicated to the democratic way of life.

Apparently going from the G-8 to the G-200 was a work in global progress simply by setting in motion a global high school musical type meetings.

On the domestic front,  progressive “democratic” values in the United States associated with identity politics became a mainstream development and more and more “excluded” groups even illegal immigrants became participants in the expanded notion of the nation.

One’s identity, racial, religious or whatever became the definer of one’s political values; not compromise, and not arguing about what might be in the common or the national interest.

There is really no need in identity politics to debate with people with whom you don’t identify.

The other is not simply part of a common history; they are objects to be pushed aside to achieve the goals which one’s own identity group aspire too, of course, as defined by yourself.

Asserting one’s identity’ one’s values was the political task; not compromising with anyone else.

I am sure Senator Elizabeth Warren will soon run for President and do so in her mind as the 21st Century Harriet Beecher Stowe.

And with globalization, tough global choices go away because the high school musical framework would accommodate the diversity of identify political by some sort of automatic mechanism which 18th century enlightenment thinkers would support.

The result has been the growth in deep identity conflicts in the United States which threaten the very notion of being a nation.

Indeed, for some, the U.S. has no national identity; hence we do not need an immigration policy because we have not nation into which immigrations need to be assimilated.

I heard this line from a young Californian sitting next to me on my long flight back from Sydney to Los Angeles. I was born in LA but before California had seceded from the Union.

At the heart of the fundamental fracture of the American system is the very notion of where the United States is a unique system which deserves support rather than simply becoming a contest among the 50 states for how best to distribute the tax money for one’s pet projects from the federal budget.

A recent book by James S. Robbins entitled Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying our Past highlights the depths of conflict within which the United States has been plunged, largely the so-called progressives.

In his book, he outlines what Civil War 2.0 might look like, not simply a Cold Civil War.  This may be a bit too far, but certainly we are engaged in a cold civil war as highlighted by the recent Kavanaugh “hearings” which were less “hearings” than a clear coming out party by “progressives” trotting out their “values” in trying to defeat a judge nominated by the President and being given an opportunity to come before the Senate in its advice and consent role.

The fracturing of American democracy is a key challenge to the future of the republic and the future of American leadership of a liberal democratic world. 

And it is much less about Trump than it is about the broadside attack of identity politics which by definition is not interested in majority politics or compromise but seizing power to coerce the non-believers into a progressively directed and led society.

The attack on historical monuments, the rewriting of history to serve the agendas of progressives, is simply a tool to tear down the democratic edifice which recognizes the achievements and failures of past generations as we go about working our current lives and future histories.

It is about recognition of the limits of human power and achievement as well as the hopes and aspirations of the futures.

But for the practitioners of identity politics, the world can and should be remade in their image; they can rally their narrowly like-minded mates on facebook or whatever and seize power and shove their narrow believes down the throats of the rest of us.

As Robbins underscores: “It is no coincidence that those most driven to disparage their country’s history are also those most hostile to liberty.

“Progressive thinking is reflexively autocratic, seeking to broaden and deepen government and bureaucratic control over daily life.  That is why it is hostile to history, which undermines its.

“Every authoritarian system has to rewrite the past.”

Robbins book is well worth reading, certainly by foreigners and Americans alike who can gain an appreciation that Trump is not the cause of the new cold civil war; he is simply the result of it.

We first published this article in 2018.