…Howard Schultz tweeted that “the failed political class of Washington, D.C., has broken America’s political system. And out of that are rising political extremes on both sides.” Yet to some, extremes are not a bug but a feature. Bernie Sanders declared without a hint of irony that “Donald Trump wants to divide us up based on the color of our skin, based on where we were born, based on our gender, our religion and our sexual orientation,” even though that is the perfect definition of intersectional identity politics.
While one explanation for the fractiousness is a reversion to our primitive natural tendency to mistrust outsiders, the other possibility is that it is now the way modern warfare is waged. The Russians have ascribed events unfolding in Venezuela to an American Trojan Horse strategy. It “would rely on ‘protest potential of the fifth column’ to destabilize the situation in the countries with unwanted governments … using the technologies of color revolutions.”
The Russians, whose Soviet empire was overthrown by the color revolutions, have been experimenting with similar strategies known as hybrid warfare. As the NYT reported
General Gerasimov laid out in an article published in 2013 … which many now see as a foreshadowing of the country’s embrace of “hybrid war”… analysts see a progression from the blend of subversion and propaganda used in Ukraine to the tactics later directed against Western nations, including the United States, where Russia’s military intelligence agency hacked into Democratic Party computers during the 2016 election.
With conventional war rendered suicidal by the advent of nuclear weapons, a cocktail of lawfare, info war, deliberate population movement, and targeted physical intimidation is now the toolset of choice and the Russians, Chinese, jihadis, EU, and USA each have their versions.
“The idea that the Russians have discovered some new art of war is wrong,” Mark Galeotti, a Russia expert at the Royal United Services Institute and the author of “Russian Political War,” said of the general’s latest speech. “This is basically the Russians trying to grapple with the modern world.” Hybrid war has long been a Western military term of art, analysts say, especially in the context of counterterrorism.
But since the resulting battlefields are waged inside the country, there is little reason why domestic political conflict should not resemble the international ones. Because victory is now attained by jailing opponents, silencing or financially sanctioning them, punitive prosecution, deplatforming, and universal surveillance are used alike in both cases and it is increasingly hard to tell them apart. The thesis that America is already in a “civil war” or on the brink occurred to Greg Jaffe, national security reporter, and Jenna Johnson, national political correspondent for The Washington Post...