Three retired U.S. army generals warned of an insurrection or even civil war if the results of the 2024 presidential election were not accepted by some in the military.
Former Major Gen. Paul Eaton, former Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, and former Brig. Gen. Steven Anderson made the warnings in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday.
They wrote that they were “increasingly concerned” about the 2024 election and the “potential for lethal chaos inside our military.”
The generals highlighted the “disturbing number” of veterans and active-duty members of the military that took part in the January 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters – more than 1 in 10 of those charged had a service record.
They outlined a possible situation in which, after the 2024 election, some service members might pledge loyalty to a “Trumpian loser” who refuses to concede defeat and tries to lead a shadow government.
“Under such a scenario, it is not outlandish to say a military breakdown could lead to civil war,” they wrote.
Since the last election, the generals warned that even more turmoil and division had emerged in the armed forces.
They pointed to recent resistance within the military towards federal vaccine mandates, such as a refusal to comply led by the commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino.
Mancino claimed that while the Oklahoma Guard is not federally mobilized, their commander in chief is the Republican governor of the state and not the president.
The generals wrote that they fear if 2024 is a contested election that splits loyalties, there is the “potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines.”
“The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the ‘rightful’ commander in chief cannot be dismissed,” they said.
The generals urged that everything must be done to prevent another insurrection, including holding leaders who inspired the last one to be held to account.
They said there was also work to be done by the military, such as reviewing how to deal with illegal orders and undertaking intelligence work to identify and remove potential mutineers.
The military should also work to identify how misinformation spreads in the ranks.
The generals also suggested that the Defense Department “war-game” possible post-election scenarios to identify weak spots and put in place “safeguards.”
Last month, the U.S. was estimated by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance as being among the “backsliding democracies”, with the think tank noting that Washington has fallen “victim to authoritarian tendencies itself.”
The U.S. is on the verge of a civil war, having already passed the so-called phases of “pre-insurgency” and “incipient conflict”, argues Barbara F Walter, a member of a CIA task force advisory panel designed to assess political instability in the world, according to several excerpts from her book cited by The Washington Post.
“We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe”, the bottom line of the book says, per The Washington Post. “No one wants to believe that their beloved democracy is in decline, or headed toward war. […] If you were an analyst in a foreign country looking at events in America — the same way you’d look at events in Ukraine or the Ivory Coast or Venezuela — you would go down a checklist, assessing each of the conditions that make civil war likely”.
According to Walter, the U.S. has entered “very dangerous territory”, especially following the deadly Capitol riots that took place in January 2021. The analyst voiced fears that this event could have triggered a path for the U.S. to slip into the third phase – “open insurgency”.
Walter goes on to suggest that Trump’s tenure in the White House has resulted in the US no longer technically qualifying as a democracy. She asserts that the country is now an “anocracy” – something in between an autocratic state and a democracy, citing the Centre for Systemic Peace’s “Polity” data set.
According to the “Polity” index, Trump’s tenure cost the US five points, taking the nation down from the top score of 10 – something that, Walter writes, has made the country a partial democracy for the first time since 1800.
“We are no longer the world’s oldest continuous democracy”, Walter’s book reads. “That honour is now held by Switzerland, followed by New Zealand, and then Canada. We are no longer a peer to nations like Canada, Costa Rica, and Japan, which are all rated a +10 on the Polity index”.
Six points in three years would qualify as “high risk” of civil war. The one and only civil war in the US took place from 1861 to 1865, with the sides – widely known as “the North” and “the South” – mainly clashing over the status of slavery in the country.
Such a depressing “Polity” index could mean the United States easily being “pushed toward conflict through a combination of bad governance and increasingly undemocratic measures that further weaken its institutions”.
According to Walter, the blame should be put on Donald Trump and his Republicans, who, she says, led the country into the “abyss”. The analyst found that this “abyss” is one of the main factors contributing to the Democratic Party now apparently stepping away from President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan – a sweeping spending agenda envisaging trillions of dollars poured into social benefits, climate change, and infrastructure.