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Canada’s Big Worry: A US Civil War

  

Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  hallux  •  one month ago  •  23 comments

By:   ALEXANDER BURNS - Politico

Canada’s Big Worry: A US Civil War
Justin Trudeau probably won’t ask Joe Biden if the U.S. is headed for a war between the states. But a report from within his government says it’s time for Canada to get ready.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


When Justin Trudeau meets Joe Biden at the G7 summit in Italy this week, Trudeau will probably not ask whether the United States is at risk of erupting in civil war in the next few years.

A think tank housed within Trudeau’s government is already pondering that question.

In a spring report titled “Disruptions on the Horizon,” a quiet office known as Policy Horizons Canada  proposed American civil war  as a scenario that Ottawa should consider preparing for.

This hypothetical was tucked into the middle of   the 37-page document , which sketched the possibility in 15 spare words: “U.S. ideological divisions, democratic erosion, and domestic unrest escalate, plunging the country into civil war.”

It’s an unsettling thing to find out your immediate neighbor is getting nervous about the possibility of gruesome violence in your home.

There has been no shortage of apocalyptic forecasting about Trump-era American politics. Since the 2016 election, left-leaning nonprofits, political consultants and academics have indulged in endless speculation and role-playing exercises, ostensibly to help them defend democracy. In practice, much of this has amounted to self-indulgence.   One hysterical episode in 2020   involved a war-game simulation that ended with Biden and his allies encouraging the entire West Coast to secede from the union.

The Policy Horizons report struck me as different: not dark fan fiction (or anti-fan fiction) from American partisans, but a sober branch of a friendly foreign government contemplating our national crackup.

So, how seriously should people take this on either side of the 49th parallel?

The Policy Horizons report surveyed hundreds of experts and government officials about disruptive events that Canada might do well to prepare for. Then, the authors classed those scenarios based on the likelihood they will occur, how soon they might happen and how much chaos they might create.

American civil war ranked as an improbable but ultra-high-impact event.

Other scenarios in that general category included the proliferation of homemade biological weapons; the rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, leading to mass death and food shortages; and the outbreak of World War 3.

John McArthur, a Brookings Institution scholar who sits on the Policy Horizons steering committee, told me the report’s description of American civil war might reflect the depth of Canadian anxiety about U.S. politics, more than a literal concern about an 1861-style war between the states.

Stressing that he was speaking for himself and not Policy Horizons, McArthur noted that the rise of American protectionism and isolationism during the Trump administration had rattled the Canadian psyche and upended decades-old economic relationships. Donald Trump’s policies and personal behavior toward Canada —   including trashing Trudeau   after a previous G7 meeting in Quebec — have left a painful mark.

“Any sense of disruption to your closest sovereign relationship in the world, any disruption within that country, is a deep worry, I think, to any Canadian outlook,” said McArthur, adding: “Canada’s place in the world has become more complex terrain to navigate.”

The plausibility of the civil war scenario, he said, depends on “how one defines civil war.”

Catherine Beaudry, a professor at Polytechnique Montréal who analyzed the report on a Policy Horizons panel in May, sounded more skeptical.

The value of the “Disruptions” report, in Beaudry’s view, was in laying out a web of hypothetical events worth preparing for, so that experts and officials could see how they are interconnected — and how dealing with one scenario early might help address others later on.

Many of the scenarios in the report, she said, pointed to the urgency of mastering new technology: the threat of cyberattacks disabling critical infrastructure, for instance, or emergency services being overwhelmed to the point of collapse. A government could calibrate its priorities in view of those ideas.

The practical application of a U.S. civil war scenario is not as obvious.

“How do you act on this?” Beaudry wondered. “You know, ‘World war breaks out’ — there are things where you have very little control and there are things where you have full control.”

A future report, she said, might do well to consider “the degree to which the government has tools to act” on various contingencies.

I didn’t get to ask Policy Horizons officials to engage this criticism. Several officials declined to speak with me or didn’t respond to emails. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Employment and Social Development, which houses Policy Horizons, sent me a statement explaining the methodology of the report and underlining that the content “does not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of Canada, or participating departments and agencies.”

Had they realized, perhaps, that speculating about an ally’s incipient civil war could come off as impolite?

Without a more developed sense of Policy Horizons thinking, I asked myself: What would an American civil war look like? Not, I suspect, a huge section of the country breaking away en masse and announcing its departure by shelling a military base. The Confederate approach seems obsolete against today’s vast, professionalized, high-tech federal military.


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Hallux
PhD Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    one month ago

Alas Canada is a tad too big for an Iron Dome.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Hallux @1    one month ago

no worries, I'd guess the vast majority of clownfederates don't know which way to point their trucks to even get there...

 
 
 
Freefaller
Professor Quiet
1.2  Freefaller  replied to  Hallux @1    one month ago
Alas Canada is a tad too big for an Iron Dome.

Lol, we could just build a big wall and make the US pay for it

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2.1  devangelical  replied to  Freefaller @1.2    one month ago

you don't need a wall, the only people trying to cross from your side to here are too stupid to grasp the obvious...

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
2  JBB    one month ago

MAGA Madness!

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
2.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  JBB @2    one month ago

Madness is their major virtue.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.1.1  Tessylo  replied to  Hallux @2.1    one month ago

Fucking nuts

 
 
 
evilone
Professor Guide
3  evilone    one month ago

They should be worried. I live less than 4 hours from Thunder Bay. I may have to sneak through the border in my canoe. 

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1  devangelical  replied to  evilone @3    one month ago

could be worse, like crossing 2K miles south of you...

 
 
 
evilone
Professor Guide
3.1.1  evilone  replied to  devangelical @3.1    one month ago

Even when I was living near El Paso, I wasn't fond of spending time in Tx. 

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1.2  devangelical  replied to  evilone @3.1.1    one month ago

the southern border is like a magnet for goober xenophobes ...

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.3  Texan1211  replied to  devangelical @3.1.2    one month ago

Gee, are goober xenophobes the ones invading the US?

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1.4  devangelical  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.3    one month ago
are goober xenophobes the ones invading

they seem to have overrun the south...

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.5  Tessylo  replied to  devangelical @3.1.4    one month ago

especially texass

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Senior Expert
3.1.6  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Tessylo @3.1.5    one month ago

Texas:

  • 40% White
  • 40%Hispanic
  • 12% Black
  • 5.5% Asian
 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.7  Texan1211  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @3.1.6    one month ago

I don't believe actual facts can hold a candle to some folks' vivid imaginations.

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
3.2  seeder  Hallux  replied to  evilone @3    one month ago

Another 2 hours and you could be in Tundra Bog.

 
 
 
evilone
Professor Guide
3.2.1  evilone  replied to  Hallux @3.2    one month ago
Another 2 hours and you could be in Tundra Bog.

I aways thought Churchill might be a nice place to visit. 

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Senior Guide
4  Right Down the Center    one month ago
Since the 2016 election, left-leaning nonprofits, political consultants and academics have indulged in endless speculation and role-playing exercises, ostensibly to help them defend democracy. In practice, much of this has amounted to self-indulgence.      One hysterical episode in 2020      involved a war-game simulation that ended with Biden and his allies encouraging the entire West Coast to secede from the union.

Sounds like a group that has lots of time on their hands.  I would miss the west coast though.  S/

American civil war ranked as an improbable but ultra-high-impact event.

This is something they could have said since the US became the US.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Participates
5  1stwarrior    one month ago

256

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
6  Kavika     one month ago

137362237_3913647615312309_3093493298493540154_n.jpg?_nc_cat=104&ccb=1-7&_nc_sid=5f2048&_nc_ohc=UnIOMkh48DgQ7kNvgGzNg7g&_nc_ht=scontent-mia3-1.xx&oh=00_AYD_Sa-CqEwSViruZCDcZf0NNVWeKTIAG3QG7SRoUEXiyw&oe=6694B630

 
 
 
Freefaller
Professor Quiet
6.1  Freefaller  replied to  Kavika @6    one month ago

That's my old house in the background, I used to love sitting on my porch watching the orcas swim by on the streets.  Though they were hell on your auto insurance rates 

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Freefaller @6.1    one month ago

you should've added the marine life damage policy...

 
 

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