Here in Texas – with August temperatures breaking records set by the Comanches - we seldom worry about much else. Once you get beyond the conversational basics - how hot, how humid and is any rain forecast - my neighbors have begun to wonder if the country is headed for another civil war. Some even short-title it as “CW 2.0.”
This week we enjoyed a momentary respite from the prevailing smugness, worn like a recognition signal on the faces of the TV elites: the breather arrived when Hunter Biden’s Sweetheart Deal suddenly collapsed. Thereafter the anchor-hunnies on CNN and MSNBC were unable to explain (1) why Hunter’s lawyers and our alleged Justice Department were on exactly the same page; and (2) why the presiding judge mysteriously declined to endorse their subtle machinations. Hadn’t she gotten the memo? Didn’t she understand that President Biden was secretly calling the shots, that her job was merely to acquiesce sweetly?
With whistle-blowers testifying and Hunter’s business buddy appearing in camera before congressional committees, it looked as though confusion might lead to candor. But then, as if orchestrated by divine intervention, Special Counsel Jack Smith appeared with his latest indictments of Donald Trump, 45 pages apparently lifted intact from the Final Report of The Nancy Pelosi Special Committee to Outlaw Insurrection and Inconvenient Thinking. Although he began with the ritual incantation, “No one is above The Law,” Smith quickly gave the TV audience what it had been longing for: a litany of prosecutorial over-statements so far beyond the pale that he seemed transformed into an especially unkempt Inspector Javert.
The Media Swamp promptly declared itself back in session, CNN even empaneling a group-grope of six or seven “experts” to discuss, analyze and dispense the glorious tidings. With nearly orgasmic delight, a similarly full-house was gaggled together over at MSNBC. A distinguished historian old enough to know better joined former solicitors general to assure the breathless audience that these latest indictments of Trump were so significant that they could only be compared to the greatest moments in American history. It was only when those TV munchkins reveled in the prospect of Trump being judged by a black Obama appointee – who may or may not know what a woman really is – that my mind turned back to CW 2.0.
None of the mirth-makers seem to have considered that possibility, intent as they were on punishing Trump by any means available. In their parallel universe of fanatically defending the Bidens, they seem oblivious to the fact that each new indictment simply increases the Trump delegate count. Even worse, they ignore the ominous signs that President Biden, his own ship daily approaching the shoals of misconduct, has placed the American justice system squarely at risk. What happens when both Trump and Biden are snake-bitten and quite possibly in jeopardy of being disqualified from holding elective office? Should we count on either one to opt for the statesmanlike alternative and gracefully withdraw? Do we assume that the Supreme Court will somehow ride to the rescue of one or the other – and would their verdict be enforced in the courts or the streets?
While slavery and states’ rights had been underlying tensions since the beginning, the proximate cause of the Civil War was the election of 1860 and Abraham Lincoln’s elevation to the presidency. As a student of that war, I have walked its battlefields and reviewed most of Ralph Peters’ books; possibly our foremost historical novelist, Ralph applies his genius by deciphering the riddles of the maps, embracing the protagonists and helping modern readers recall that terrible era. Key question: How could the most destructive war in our history have resulted from such well-known and foreseeable consequences?
Later on, I pondered those questions in Bosnia, observing the particular madness wrought by modern civil wars. I maneuvered on battlefields that violated every known principle of war, witnessed the stomach-churning realities of ethnic cleansing; had my heart broken after seeing too many ill-nourished children and bombed-out villages. For a country that had enjoyed a relatively peaceful 800-year history, how had Serbs, Croats and Moslems generated such bloody-minded bitterness? Most of all: Amidst Europe’s most beautiful playgrounds, how had crops of land-mines been planted in every field?
Over twenty years later, I still cannot answer those questions, much less predict the outcome of the foundational dilemmas awaiting us in 2024. But these days I worry less about national sovereignty and more about God’s sovereignty – and His lessons about how we should treat neighbors, brothers, sisters and countrymen.
Colonel (Ret.) Kenneth Allard is a former West Point professor, dean of the National War College and on-air military analyst for NBC News.