Rachel Kleinfeld: there won’t be a second American civil war

20 July 2022

Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, doesn’t see an oft spoken of civil war erupting in the United States, but the prospect makes for sombre reading.

Civil wars happen largely in countries with large, poor populations facing a bulge of young men, the demographic most likely to use violence. They generally require governments with low capacity levels, and high rates of corruption and brutality. When the U.S. Civil War erupted in 1861, the Union army had just ten infantry regiments controlled by a miniscule federal government riddled with corruption. Civil wars don’t happen in wealthy countries with strong institutions and strong militaries, like the modern United States, because it would be quixotic to try to overthrow such states.

On the other hand, Tom Klingenstein of conservative think tank the Claremont Institute, believes America is already in a state of cold civil war, with the battle lines drawn between those who want to preserve the American way of life, and those who he thinks seek to destroy it.