(First appeared on January 23, 2021)
Joseph Biden is now the 46th president of the United States. As he said in his inaugural address, democracy has prevailed. The assault on democracy failed and the Trump era has ended. But the next time you may not be as lucky. The underlying disease that caused the threat to US integrity only grows every single day. They have found a vaccine for Covid, but there is no vaccine for this one — intolerance.
Hypothetically speaking this is how this could have gone down even this time. During the attack on the Capitol building, when all lawmakers were assembled there, a few moles among the Capitol police and secret service could have handed over then vice-president Pence, then vice-president-elect Harris, Congressional leaders and many lawmakers to the mob. I do not want to disturb you with vivid imagery. Suffice it to say those nooses, weapons and pipe bombs were not just there for optics. Among the assailants there were men and women who had vowed to kill somebody important in the session. A shock of this magnitude would have plunged the US into a constitutional crisis, bringing a premature end to the transition process. This would have given the then incumbent an opportunity to declare emergency, impose martial law and postpone the transition or further elections indefinitely. Or then would have taken him out too in an apparent counter action.
What would have followed is not easy to guess. Bringing Trump back to power is an excuse. Whosoever was plotting this had another purpose in mind. To ignite a race war in the US. If you have not been paying attention you need to recall the right-wing media narrative about a probable civil war in case Trump lost the election. Well, civil war is shorthand for a race war. Not convinced? Let us go back to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in 2017. What slogans do you hear? Jews will not replace us. And blood and soil. Or as Nazis used to put it — Blut und Boden — the idea that race and settlement area ought to define nationhood. What Nazi Germany did to its minorities is known to all. Already widely prevalent among the Western far-right is this conspiracy theory called the great replacement which claims that the white population of the West is being systematically replaced by people of other colours and races. All this talk of illegal immigrants, birthright citizenship, American carnage, disempowerment of the working class is a cleverly constructed pyramid which invariably culminates into the demand for racial purity and ethnic purges.
In the likely scenario, judging by the mood at the time, one could say at least one state (most likely Texas) would have announced secession. This would have led to mass defections in the armed forces based either openly on race or then thinly disguised as on the basis of state(s) of origin (Texas or the entire South). A civil war would have ensued coupled with the mass expulsion of minorities from the new territories. Nuclear weapons would have been seized and used on old territories plunging America into dark ages. And that is not all. This civil war would have spilled over into Europe and other countries like Russia, Australia, China, Israel and Japan dragged into the mix by random attacks. The entire world’s power structure would have crumbled giving birth to a new Aryan world order. The source of extrapolation: the neo-Nazi Bible.
Fortunately, this did not happen. The secret service and the Capitol police (basically your average parliamentary guards) did their job. The attempts of the mob to slay the executive and the Congressional leaders were frustrated. The armed forces leadership then came up with that unusual letter calling all servicemen to obey the Constitution. And the former vice-president and Congressional leadership stood its ground. So many moving parts. Anything could have gone wrong. It did not. But even then, it took a Washington DC lockdown and some 25,000 National Guardsmen for the inauguration to be made possible. The threat of domestic terrorism has not subsided and the FBI is still struggling to identify the January 6 pipe bomber who was covered from head to toe and appears to be a professional saboteur.
Here’s the question of logistics. If you look at the underlying QAnon conspiracy theory and groups like Proud Boys and Boogaloo Bois, you already see the trappings of a massive psy-op organised on the pattern of a live action role playing game. But when you look at the financial part of the equation, this whole thing appears to be a logistical nightmare. Fortunately, thanks to some ace investigative reporting by Yahoo News and equally laudable research by a cryptocurrency expert software house Chainalysis, we know that only a month before the Capitol attack a substantial (though not dramatically large) sum was paid to several far-right elements by one now-deceased French blogger through Bitcoins, the alt-right’s preferred form of currency. But the story takes many strange twists. The said blogger was rich enough, and heartbroken enough by the decline of the West or the white people to not only part with a sizeable sum but to take his life and purely coincidentally just a month before the attack on the US Capitol. What are the odds? If you ask me this looks like an intelligence cover up. One man, probably someone hired to reroute foreign funds, killed to cover tracks and then presented as a suicide.
But who could be the financier then? Two very obvious suspects could be malcontents within America’s own intelligence community and Russia. America’s own because they would have the wherewithal. Russia because, as has been repeatedly pointed out, it has the motive. If it were elements within the US security establishment either they would have been exposed or become successful by now. Given that Russia has been flagged so often, if it were involved the story would have been much different today. It also knows any such civil war would spill into its territories as well and its own history of fighting fascism cannot be ignored. The same set of arguments can be used for China. Wherever fascism and racism have not lost their appeal and such elements are in power could be the source. This is only one money trail. There must be many others.
The Biden administration has tapped Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall (an expert on nuclear issues and Russia) as the White House Homeland Security Adviser and Russ Travers (a terror expert) as her deputy. Travers was fired by the Trump administration as the head of the National Counterterrorism Center when he tried to reposition it to focus on domestic terrorism. Retaining Christopher Wray as the FBI director may also come handy.
But here is the problem. A lot of brain power seems to go into co-opting and weaponising the outrage against the alleged micro-transgressions. The new administration will need as much if not more brainpower to combat the threat and disarm it with an effective counter narrative. Without it, one way or the other we are living in a world that is a re-imagined reboot of The Turner Diaries. Also the US will have to have a zero-tolerance policy for fascism around the world.