Forward Observer: Where Do We Go from Here? Riot Edition

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper at Forward Observer discusses riots and low intensity conflict in Where to we go from here?

Are these protests and riots the beginning of something larger in our country’s low intensity conflict?  I’m going to try to answer that question here in a few points…

First, let’s start with a simple fact: These riots are what we consider “low intensity conflict,” which exists below the threshold of conventional war (tanks and bombers) but above routine, peaceful competition. This is a gray zone between the black and white of war where we see both violent and nonviolent activity that fails to meet the definition of declared war.

The United States is in a low intensity conflict and has been since at least 2016, if not 2008.

Second, these riots are a continuation of a broader conflict. While many were rather pure in their desire to protest the death of George Floyd, there were other elements using the opportunity to take other action.

Those who committed violence over the past several days can be separated into four categories.

1. Opportunistic actors who sought personal gain.

2. Social conflict actors who expressed their anger over the death of George Floyd and used violence as a means to coerce the political class into making desired changes.

3. Class conflict actors who committed acts of violence in their class struggle against the capitalist system. As one professor recently put it, “[L]ooting is an expression of power.”

4. And, yes, I’ve seen plenty of criticism over some of law enforcement’s heavy handed tactics. This violence should not go unnoticed, because police forces are a part of this conflict, too.

(I’ve also seen some claims that “white supremacists” were in some way responsible for the violent rioting, which comes as no surprise when one considers the outlets pushing that narrative. Pressed on that claim, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said over the weekend that “nobody really knows” the political motivations behind the violence. It didn’t stop him from making that claim prior to the interview. I’ll wager a guess: those responsible for the violence weren’t doing it on behalf of white supremacy.)

Third, it’s important to note the development of soft power. Some on the Right minimize the capability of the Far Left because the Far Left is largely unarmed. This is a mistake.

Aside from hard power — the ability to project force — there’s soft power, which exists on the moral and information plane of conflict.

Over the weekend, we saw much of mainstream media excuse the behavior of the rioters and deflect responsibility for what’s happening.

CNN’s Don Lemon complained on his show that America’s power class weren’t coming to the defense of the protestors and rioters.

“Why aren’t they helping these young people? These young people are out there standing on a platform at the edge of an abyss by themselves… Get on television or do something and help these young people instead of sitting in your mansions and doing nothing. And have some moral courage and stop worrying about your reputation and your brand,” Lemon begged.

That’s soft power. Money and funding, influence, moral support and framing the moral authority — these are the elements that enable hard power. And Don Lemon pleaded with celebrities and the donor class to help develop this soft power.

Finally — let’s look at where we could go from here because the worst might still be ahead for at least two reasons.

First, over the past few days, I’ve seen numerous examples of protestors and rioters saying they want to go to the suburbs next.

With the exception of the one video that was linked to the Drudge Report, the evidence has been on social media, with organizers and influencers putting out these suggestions to those who want to continue the protest outside of urban areas.

I read most of these comments with some skepticism, but I’m completely open to the possibility that protests and violence do migrate in some instances. That would be a mistake, in my opinion.

Today (Sunday), Attorney General Bill Barr published a press release in which he warned that the Department of Justice and the states will “reestablish law and order” through a large scale presence of police and the National Guard.

Barr also threatened that federal law enforcement is out for “violent radical agitators,” and labeled the antifascists as engaging in acts of domestic terrorism. The Department of Justice is working with all 56 regional Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) to facilitate this action.

The risk in either of these cases is that violence is escalated.

For one, some suburbs might make easy targets in the beginning, but just as we saw militias forming to protect businesses, the suburbs are likely to become harder targets for would-be rioters and looters. If it develops, this scenario obviously brings a likelihood of violence.

And two, law enforcement actions, to include arrests or raids on the homes of “violent radical agitators,” are going to aid the argument that the United States has descended into fascism. That could spark more protests and more unrest.

Forward Observer: Breaking Down the “Conflict” of Low Intensity Conflict

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer Breaks Down the “Conflict” of Low Intensity Conflict. Mr. Culper has been saying for some time that there is a low intensity conflict going on in the United States. In these article he goes into some more detail on what conflict means aside from armed groups shooting at each other. It starts with a short video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXMtWZOy_hI

Last Thursday, I gave the latest Strategic Warning presentation where I broke down how our low intensity conflict is shaping up.

For the uninitiated, “low intensity conflict” is war that exists below the threshold of conventional war (tanks, bombers, troops) but above peaceful, routine competition. This is essentially tribal war, as opposed to a war between standing armies, and the U.S. is still in the beginning stages.

There’s no doubt that we’re already in a low grade domestic conflict. We meet every doctrinal requirement to call this a low intensity conflict. From here, two crucial questions are 1) How bad will it get? and 2) When will it accelerate? Answering these two questions has become the focus of my work here at Forward Observer.

I want to share with you a slide from last week’s presentation, which I gave to Forward Observer subscribers, who allow me to have this incredible job.

 

Because the United States is so complex and diverse, this conflict is also complex and diverse. It’s not as simple as the Left versus the Right. The simplest way to view this low intensity conflict is through three primary layers: political, social, and economic.

We see conflict emerging where these layers overlap: the culture war (established), class conflict (developing), and intra-elite conflict (also developing).

The “Culture War”: Most are already familiar with the culture war, which has been waging since at least the 1960s. It hit another high point in the 1980s and is hitting another point now. This used to be as simple as conservatives versus progressives. But the expansion of identity politics, along the revolutionary aims from a growing number of left wing and right wing groups, make this conflict much more complex. Last year, in a piece for Foreign Affairs, Stacey Abrams (GA) wrote: “Americans must thoughtfully pursue an expanded, identity-conscious politics. New, vibrant, noisy voices represent the strongest tool to manage the growing pains of multicultural coexistence.” Stacey Abrams is the future of the Democratic Party. Regardless if you agree or disagree, this kind of attitude is driving our low intensity conflict.

Class Conflict: Wedged between the Social and Economic planes, we have class conflict. This is most easily described as “capitalists versus socialists,” which is a conflict that elites have been warning about for some time. Revolutionary politics is the main accelerator of this conflict. While the U.S. has had socialist movements in the past, the most recent iteration was brought about by the 2008 financial crisis and bail out of the corporate and investor class. And we’re seeing another iteration during this economic and financial crisis, which is leading to anger, resentment, and a desire to change the system. Socialists call this “late stage capitalism” and their movement is growing, along with the belief that the capitalist system has run its course.

Intra-Elite Conflict: Lastly, this conflict exists between the Political and Economic layers. It’s a term I first heard from Professor Peter Turchin, who also believes that the United States is headed for a period of domestic conflict. I don’t know who first coined this term, however, I use it to describe the elite political and billionaire classes fighting for control over the levers of government. As long as their guy is in the White House, their interests are preserved. More recently, this has taken the form of technocrats versus populists, which in one way breaks down into the ivory-tower-elitists-who-know-what’s-best-for-the-world versus the country-bumpkin-commoners-who-cling-to-their-guns-and-religion. It’s here where we can answer the question, “When will this conflict accelerate?” If the country’s elites capitulate to reality and choose sides in this conflict, either by desire or necessity, then we will have a legitimate and bloody domestic conflict.

One of the primary trends driving our low intensity conflict is New America versus Old America.

New America is diverse, socially liberal, economically progressive or socialist, and they lack ties, or they hold no loyalty, to the historical events, places, and people who founded the country. It’s for this reason that they want a new founding of an America that best fits their ideals and desires.

Old America, on the other hand, is primarily white, socially conservative, economically conservative, and they believe that America is an exceptional country and that Americans are an exceptional people. They often hold deep ties to the lands, events, and people who founded the country, and they believe that, while not perfect, their future is best guided by the Founding principles.

So what we have taking shape here is a bit of a Thucydides Trap. Harvard professor Graham Allison has used the term to describe what happens when a status quo power is challenged by a revisionist power, which in a majority of cases as resulted in war. The term comes from historian Thucydides, in his writings about the rise of Athens, which threatened Sparta, and ultimately led to war between the two states. More recently, the Thucydides Trap is used to describe what’s happening now between the United States and China…(continues)

Guardian: Why Leftist Groups Are Taking Up Arms

From The Guardian, ‘If others have rifles, we’ll have rifles’: why US leftist groups are taking up arms:

A John Brown Gun Club member wears a patch featuring the Trans Pride flag and an AR-15 while community defending Trans Pride in Seattle.
A John Brown Gun Club member wears a patch featuring the Trans Pride flag and an AR-15 while community defending Trans Pride in Seattle. Photograph: Grant Hindsley/The Guardian

The van lumbered down one of Seattle’s many steep hills. A half dozen people packed inside but despite the heat, most wore long pants and boots, and several sported black hoodies. The atmosphere was subdued, except for the occasional joke. It wasn’t so much tension as seriousness – there was work to be done.

The people in the van are members of the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club (PSJBGC). Their stated aim is to fight white supremacy and build community defense in America’s Pacific north-west, and their presence has become a fixture of protests in the Seattle and Tacoma areas, where the group is often invited to provide security against rightwing aggression.

The night before, several of them had been called to a library in nearby Renton, Washington, where a Drag Story Time Hour, an event series in which a local drag queen or drag king reads to children in a library or bookstore, was being disrupted by rightwing protesters. The protesters, who opposed the event as “immoral”, held up signs equating drag with pedophilia, and screamed “Shame! Shame!” at parents and their kids. Among them were members of the Proud Boys, a violent rightwing street gang, and Three Percenters militia, who were open-carrying firearms.

The north-west has been at the center of tense political clashes over the last two years. The area is an adopted home base for far-right groups like Patriot Prayer, Identity Evropa/American Identity Movement and the Proud Boys, who have organized numerous marches that have ended in violence. In response, a range of leftist groups have organized self defence groups and, in doing so, present gun ownership as a way to protect themselves and others.

Now, the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club was en route to Seattle’s Trans Pride March.

In the weeks prior, word spread that a number of white supremacist groups had planned to disrupt the celebration. Hearing this, the club reached out to the organizers of the event, the Gender Justice League, and offered to assist with security or to provide escorts.

Brooke Wylie, the head of security for the Gender Justice League in charge of overseeing the 101-person security detail for the event, did some research on the club. She told them the event had a policy of having no open carry (that is, no visible weapon), which they were fine with. She accepted their offer. Police were also present, but many marginalized groups do not trust them to provide protection at public events, especially when far-right groups are involved.

Each member showed up with a concealed handgun. “We do our actions proportional to the threat, so when other people are out with rifles, we’ll be out with rifles,” Nick, the group’s de facto spokesperson, explained. “In this case, we don’t want to appear threatening for the people that we’re trying to protect and support; we want this to be a happy atmosphere, especially for a population that may have faced gun violence on the street just for being who they are.”

This scenario – in which armed community groups are working together to patrol a Pride event and protect it from other malicious and potentially armed groups – is becoming more and more common. There are more guns than people in America – approximately 393 million in a country of 328 million people…

Click here to read the entire story at The Guardian.

 

Related:

Defense Maven: Man killed in attack on ICE facility identified as Antifa militia member/John Brown Gun Club member.

…Van Spronsen was declared dead at the scene. The Pierce County medical examiner said he died of multiple gunshot wounds.

He was quickly identified as an active member of the John Brown Gun Club, a left-wing militia, who had been arrested in June of 2018 while protesting at the same facility he was trying to blow up when he was fatally shot, the Seattle Times reported…

RT: America Stumbling Towards Civil War One Terrible Tweet at a Time

Forward Observer: Breaking Down “Civil War 2” – Part V

In this video, Sam Culper of Forward Observer shares part five of his critique of the Civil War 2 video.  See Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

In this video, intelligence analyst and Iraq/Afghanistan war veteran Samuel Culper breaks down his thoughts and the implications of military and law enforcement involvement during a Low Intensity Conflict.

Forward Observer: May Update on the “Second American Civil War”

Sam Culper at Forward Observer has another article update on our Second American Civil War. Forward Observer provides daily, weekly, and monthly intelligence updates to its members on matters of national concern.

For a couple years now, I’ve described “low intensity conflict” as the doctrine which best represents post-Obama America.

I believe very few things said about the current “civil war” but here’s what I know to be true of our current domestic conflict:

1. It’s “low intensity.” Low intensity conflict (LIC) is the doctrine of war below the threshold of conventional war (tanks, troops, planes) but above routine, peaceful competition. Anything over 1,000 deaths a year from political violence would be classified as a civil war. That’s certainly a much higher intensity than what we’re seeing now. LIC is characterized by political, economic, diplomatic, and information warfare, along with low-level politically- or ideologically-driven violence. See here for additional examples.

Another characteristic of low intensity conflict, as we’ve seen throughout history, is a relatively small percentage of the population engaged in violence. It may only be one percent of an entire country ‘at war’ while another 5-15 percent support the violence, and 75+ percent of citizens are just trying to live their lives.

Those who disagree sometimes reply, “Go to your grocery store. Go to the bank. No one is at war with each other. Everything is fine. You’re making too much of this.”

This is not 1861 where up to 10 percent of the country is fighting each other on battlefields, and the effects of conventional war are widespread and devastating.

In LIC, historically, it’s only a small fraction of a country doing the fighting, and most people live among the disruption to go on about their business…

2. We’re in a “hot peace.” I certainly would not characterize America in 2016-2019 as being at “peace,” other than the absolute absence of outright war. The cultural cold war has turned hot; albeit at a very low level. If you ignore this, then you ignore reality…

3. It’s very likely to worsen. The tectonic shifts in American culture have caused periods of political violence before. The Civil Rights movement, the race riots and unrest between 1968 and the 1970s, and abortion clinic bombings are a few key examples, but even those ‘conflicts’ eventually died down. Oftentimes, conflict is generational. One generation goes away, and future generations develop their own problems.

For current generations, I believe conditions are more likely to worsen before they get better because the culture war now includes more fronts that foment the anger and resentment that cause political violence…

4. We could have just two to three years before we see routine, sustained political violence. For as long as I’ve been writing about LIC, I’ve warned of the effects of the next recession and financial crisis on the political and cultural climate. (I now believe that the next recession and financial crisis have an above average chance of happening simultaneously.) Class and race warfare, I believe, will worsen as we move through this period of economic and financial uncertainty.

High youth unemployment is a universal indicator of civil unrest and violence. What I’m seeing in America’s future are social bases charged by race, class, and/or politics, who also lack economic opportunity and the hope of a better life that comes with it…

Click here to read the entire article at Forward Observer.

Forward Observer: 2019 Is Shaping Up to Be an Ugly, Brutal Year

From the intel guys at Forward Observer:

civil unrest

…The central hallmark of low intensity conflict is action below conventional war but above peaceful competition. We’ve had some pretty low lows in politics, but this period does seem to have escalated above peaceful competition between Republicans and Democrats. Fundamentally, there’s nothing inherently wrong with winning elections to stop an opposing party’s agenda. But when politics becomes subject to rule bending and breaking — the erosion of political norms often referred to as “guardrails” in civil society — we’re no longer seeing peaceful political competition. We can go as far back as gerrymandering, IRS targeting of conservative groups, and the show stopping of Merrick Garland as three prominent examples. And if that’s truly the case — that we’ve devolved into sustained open political warfare — then the country may well be stuck in a low intensity conflict at continual risk of organized political violence.

Looking forward to the next 12 months, I fear the convergence of two major trends: incivility in politics that breeds political violence and a recession that puts 10-25% of Americans out of work. It’s entirely possible that we arrive at this juncture of American history in 2020. Since the Democrats plan to make 2019 disruptive, there’s no reason to believe that 2020 would be any calmer. As ugly as the past two years have been, there are reasons to believe that 2019 and 2020 will be worse.

Click here to read the entire article at Forward Observer.