Herland Report: Militia Groups in America: When one discusses the real reason for the Second Amendment – the right of citizens to defend themselves against a potentially tyrannical government – inevitably someone points out the stark difference in firepower between a guerilla uprising in the United States and the United States government itself.
This is not a trivial observation. The U.S. government spends more on the military than the governments of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, United Kingdom, and Japan combined, writes Sam Jacobs, a regular contributor to The Herland Report and chief historian and intellectual at Ammo.
Plus, the potential of a tyrannical government is arguably upon us – with the federal government spying on its own citizens, militarizing local police departments with equipment and tactics from the War on Terror, and repeatedly searching Americans, which desensitizes them to this invasive process.
There is much historical precedent, however, for guerilla uprisings defeating more powerful enemies. For instance, the Cold War saw both superpowers brought to their knees by rural farmers – for the Soviets, their adventure in Afghanistan against the Mujahideen, and for the United States, the Vietnam War against the Viet Cong.
Militia Groups in America: In both cases, nuclear weapons could have been used against the guerilla uprising, but were not. Even assuming the use of nuclear weapons from the position of total desperation, it’s hard to imagine they would have made much of a difference in the final outcome of either conflict. Unlike the invading armies, the local resistance enjoyed both broad-based support as well as knowledge of the local terrain.
Now imagine such a scenario in the United States. You wouldn’t be the first person to do so. From Red Dawn to James Wesley, Rawles’ Patriots series, there is a relatively long-standing tradition of American survival literature about the hoi polloi resisting the tyranny of big government, either before or after a collapse.
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For the purposes of this article, consider what a domestic American terrorist or freedom fighter (after all, the label is in the eye of the beholder) organization based on the militia movement would look like in open revolt against the United States government. In the spirit of levity, we’ll call them the “Hillbilly Viet Cong.” They would most likely find their largest numbers in Appalachia, but don’t discount their power in the American Redoubt, or the more sparsely populated areas of the American Southwest, including rural Texas.
Here we have tens of thousands of Americans armed to the teeth with combat experience, deep family ties to both the police and the military, extensive knowledge of the local geography, and, in many cases, survivalist training. Even where they are not trained, militant and active, they enjoy broad support among those who own a lot of guns and grow a lot of food.
On the other side, you have the unwieldy Baby Huey of the rump U.S. government’s military, with some snarky BuzzFeed editorials serving as propaganda.
Could the Hillbilly Viet Cong take down the USG? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s difficult to imagine that the USG could take them down.
Indeed, even with a number of nasty little toys on the side of the federal government, we live in an age of a technologically levelled playing field. This is true even when it comes to instruments of warfare. While the USG has nuclear weapons, it’s worth remembering that a pound of C4 strapped to a cheap and readily available commercial-grade drone is going to break a lot of dishes.
This sort of guerilla insurgency has a name: It’s called fourth-generational warfare (4GW), and you might be surprised to learn that you already live in this world.
Militia Groups in America: The first generation (1GW) are armies from two different state actors leveraging line-and-column tactics and wearing uniforms to distinguish between themselves.
The first generation (1GW) is basically what you would have seen in the movie 300. The hallmarks of this generation of warfare are armies from two different state actors leveraging line-and-column tactics and wearing uniforms to distinguish between themselves. The third generation warfare (3GW) is the late modern version of warfare, where speed and stealth play a much bigger role. Weapons and tactics alone are less important. Instead, military units seek to find ways to outmaneuver one another before – or even instead of – meeting on the battlefield.
The most direct way of discussing Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW) is to say that it describes any war between a state actor and a non-state actor.
This is also known as asymmetrical warfare, but it’s not the only difference between 4GW and other, earlier forms of conflict. Asymmetrical warfare does, to be sure, blur the lines between combatants and civilians. This is in part what made the Bush-era “war on terror” so difficult and complicated: The war was against a set of ideas rather than a nation or even an extra-national army.
There are a number of characteristics that flow from the state actor vs. non-state actor aspect of 4GW. The first is the use of terrorism as a regular tactic, almost always on the part of the non-state actor. Particularly for the state actor, non-combatants become tactical problems – you simply can’t just carpet bomb and hope everything works out.
The non-state actors tend to be highly decentralized. One faction can stop fighting as another 10 crop up in its place. Funding and source of manpower and material comes from a wide array of sources spread out over nearly the entire globe. This necessarily makes 4GW long and drawn out over years or perhaps even decades. The psychological warfare, propaganda and lawfare aspects are an integral part of the conflict.
The genesis of 4GW lies in the Cold War and the post-colonial era. Insurgent groups and counter-insurgency groups vied for power, often times with state actors operating behind the scenes and in the background. Sometimes the goal was to establish a new state or reestablish a defunct one. However, many times the only goal was to delegitimize the existing state and create a power vacuum.
Places such as Laos, Myanmar, Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, the Congo, Cuba, East Timor, Korea, Poland, and Afghanistan were all pieces in the global chessboard of the Cold War as various insurgency and counter-insurgency groups backed by the Soviets, the Americans, and/or the Chinese fought one another or fought against occupying forces.
While many think 4GW is something in the far-off future, it’s actually happening right now. The most archetypal 4GW is perhaps the conflict with ISIS – a non-state actor with recruits all over the world in conflict with several states. Some of the conflict is classically military, but there is also the propaganda war taking place all over the Internet.
Is fourth-generational warfare coming to the developed world? Quite possibly, especially when you consider the spectre of failed states in the West.
Many Western states are not quite as stable as they are made out to be. Sweden and France in particular have extensive problems with No Go Zones. Other parts of Europe want to secede, such as Catalonia in Spain, and are being violently suppressed from doing so.
Elsewhere around the world, previously first-world countries like South Africa are deteriorating in the span of a generation due to government mismanagement. The United States, for its part, is in what some have described as a “Cold Civil War,” with many futurists agreeing that the potential for outward civil war is greater than you’d like to think.
Militia Groups in America: Also check out these topics at CNN or FOX News. Other sources may be New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post or from the British angle, BBC, The Guardian, The Telegraph or Financial Times.
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