“They are preparing for war”

An expert on civil wars discusses where political extremists want to take this country

So we actually know a lot about civil wars — how they start, how long they last, why they’re so hard to resolve, how you end them. And we know a lot because since 1946, there have been over 200 major armed conflicts. And for the last 30 years, people have been collecting a lot of data, analyzing the data, looking at patterns. I’ve been one of those people.

We went from thinking, even as late as the 1980s, that every one of these was unique…Then methods and computers got better, and people like me came and could collect data and analyze it. And what we saw is that there are lots of patterns at the macro level…

In 1994, the U.S. government put together this Political Instability Task Force. They were interested in trying to predict what countries around the world were going to become unstable, potentially fall apart, experience political violence and civil war…

Originally the model included over 30 different factors, like poverty, income inequality, how diverse religiously or ethnically a country was. But only two factors came out again and again as highly predictive. And it wasn’t what people were expecting, even on the task force. We were surprised. The first was this variable called anocracy. There’s this nonprofit based in Virginia called the Center for Systemic Peace. And every year it measures all sorts of things related to the quality of the governments around the world. How autocratic or how democratic a country is. And it has this scale that goes from negative 10 to positive 10. Negative 10 is the most authoritarian, so think about North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain. Positive 10 are the most democratic. This, of course, is where you want to be. This would be Denmark, Switzerland, Canada. The U.S. was a positive 10 for many, many years. It’s no longer a positive 10. And then it has this middle zone between positive 5 and negative 5, which was you had features of both. If you’re a positive 5, you have more democratic features, but definitely have a few authoritarian elements. And, of course, if you’re negative 5, you have more authoritarian features and a few democratic elements. The U.S. was briefly downgraded to a 5 and is now an 8.

And what scholars found was that this anocracy variable was really predictive of a risk for civil war. That full democracies almost never have civil wars. Full autocracies rarely have civil wars. All of the instability and violence is happening in this middle zone…

And then the second factor was whether populations in these partial democracies began to organize politically, not around ideology — so, not based on whether you’re a communist or not a communist, or you’re a liberal or a conservative — but where the parties themselves were based almost exclusively around identity: ethnic, religious or racial identity.

Sounds like home to me. The country I grew up in has changed in so many ways. I reflect on that, sometimes. Not actually better excepting a piece of civil rights.

No fears strong enough enough to label “concrete”. Not many ideas on how to “fix things”. This article seems to be a sound starting point.

Several Geomagnetic Storms Are Hitting Earth This Week


Our Sun viewed in multiple wavelengths

The Sun is continuing its rowdy behavior, with flares and coronal mass ejections almost every day since mid-January. That means the inevitable has happened: some of those eruptions have blasted in the general direction of Earth, which means we’re in for some solar storms

That doesn’t mean we have anything to worry about; in fact, we’ve already been hit by mild and moderate geomagnetic storms over the last couple of days, clocking in at G1 and G2 on the five-level solar storm scale.

This level indicates there may be some degradation of high-frequency radio signals at high latitudes, and corrective actions may need to be taken for satellites due to changes in drag. There may be power grid fluctuations, and some disruption to migratory animals’ activity. And, if the conditions are right, satellites can be knocked out of the sky.

We may also see an uptick of both aurora borealis and aurora australis.

Northern latitudes should catch the best nighttime light show. Not so, the desert Southwest.