Background Briefing: January 9, 2022


The Homeland Security Election Year Landscape in Which Violence is Expected

We begin with a warning from the former head of homeland security for Washington DC who is concerned “we’re so busy looking in the rearview mirror of what happened last year that we’re not looking at the threat in front of us…and the analysis suggests that the battle’s going to be back at the states.” Joining us is Michael Greenberger, a former Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General at the U. S. Justice Department where he supervised work on security matters and is now the founder and director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland where he also teaches Constitutional Law at the University of Maryland School of Law. We get an appraisal of the homeland security landscape as we enter a turbulent election year in which many predict and expect violence, with frontline responders and law enforcement resources already stretched thin from the ravages of the Covid pandemic, state and local authorities are hardly prepared for a series of January 6 types of insurrections from pro-Trump militias or angry Democrats whose votes were stolen in a rigged election.


Is a New American Civil War Led By Trump the “Ethnic Entrepreneur” Possible or Inevitable?

Then following a warning from former President Jimmy Carter that the United States is at “genuine risk of civil conflict” as “our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss.” Joining us is Barbara Walter, an expert on civil wars who has spent her career studying civil conflict in places like Sri Lanka and Iraq. She is a professor of political science and Rohr Chair in Pacific International Relations at the University of California San Diego and her current research focuses on the behavior of rebel groups in civil wars, including inter-rebel group fighting, alliances and the strategic use of propaganda and extremism. A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she served on the CIA advisory panel Political Instability Task Force and helps run the award-winning blog Political Violence at a Glance and is the author of the new book, out this week, How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them.  A common theme she has discovered from those living in countries that descended into civil war is that no one saw it coming and the same applies here where we take our democracy for granted as it backslides into an anocracy. We discuss the clear and present danger that Trump’s GOP is leading us into an authoritarian one-party state led by a mentally ill, dictator-worshiping kleptocrat she describes as an “ethnic entrepreneur” who is exploiting and widening the gap in the Divided States of America.