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Tomgram: Andrea Mazzarino, (Un)Civil War?

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This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Here's your "Who said that?" quiz of the day:

1. He called on the president, should he lose to Joe Biden, to declare martial law by invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807, arrest Bill and Hillary Clinton (of course), Mark Zuckerberg, and other prominent figures and simply take control of the country.

2. Of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Trump fan who shot three people at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two of them, she said, "I want him as my president," while he insisted that the teenager had merely sought to "maintain order when no one else would."

3. And this official claimed that "when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin... The drills that you've seen are nothing. If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it's going to be hard to get."

And here are the answers for you: (1) Roger Stone, the former Trump associate and dirty trickster who was sentenced to 40 months in prison for lying to Congress and then had that sentence commuted by the president; (2) right-wing political commentator Ann Coulter and Fox News host Tucker Carlson; (3) Michael Caputo, the top communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services, a major Trump supporter, and the man who, as the New York Times put it, "accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a 'resistance unit' determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll."

Talk about an increasingly sectarian and riven America -- and that's just to start down an endless list in the Trump era as we all-too-ominously approach election 2020. No wonder TomDispatch regular, co-founder of Brown University's the Costs of War Project, and military spouse Andrea Mazzarino is worried. I am, too. Tom

War Zone America?
Perspectives on a Riven Nation from a Worried Military Spouse
By Andrea Mazzarino

When it rains, pieces of glass, pottery, and metal rise through the mud in the hills surrounding my Maryland home. The other day, I walked outside barefoot to fetch one of my kid's shoes and a pottery shard stabbed me in the heel. Nursing a minor infection, I wondered how long that fragment dated back.

A neighbor of mine found what he said looked like a cartridge case from an old percussion-cap rifle in his pumpkin patch. He told us that the battle of Monocacy had been fought on these grounds in July 1864, with 1,300 Union and 900 Confederate troops killed or wounded here. The stuff that surfaces in my fields when it storms may or may not be battle artifacts, but it does remind me that the past lingers and that modern America was formed in a civil war.

Increasingly, I can't help thinking about possible new civil wars in this country and the violence we could inflict on each another. Recently, a family member reposted a YouTube video on her Facebook page that supposedly showed an Antifa activist accidentally setting himself on fire (with the 1980s hit "Footloose" playing mockingly in the background). "I'm just going to leave this here," read her caption. Shortly thereafter she claimed that the "YouTube speech police" had taken it down.

I thought of saying something to her about how, in countries where I've worked, ones without a democracy, people celebrate the misery of their opponents. Was that really, I wanted to ask, the kind of country she'd like our children to see us creating? But I decided not to, rather than further divide our family, which has grown ever more apart since Donald Trump took office. In addition, I knew that confronting her would do neither of us any good. Inspired by a president who offers a sterling example of how never to self-police what you do, she would simply have dismissed my comments as the frivolous words of the "politically correct."

War and Peace

These days, when I watch the news and see clashes among the police, Black Lives Matter protesters, far-right "militias," and Antifa supporters, I'm often reminded that just because no one's declared a civil war begun, doesn't mean we aren't staring at the makings of an armed conflict.

Our military service members and their families have toiled for endless years now in Afghanistan, Iraq, and so many other countries across the Greater Middle East and Africa under the mantle of establishing democracy and conducting a "war on terror." They've done so to the tune of more than 7,000 of their own lives, a million of their own injuries and illnesses, hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in those distant lands, and significantly more than $6 trillion in funding provided by the American taxpayer. Not surprisingly under such circumstances, they now live in a country that's under-resourced and fractured in ways that are just beginning to resemble, in a modest fashion at least, the very war zones in which they've been fighting.

This is both a personal and professional matter to me. As the spouse of a Navy officer who served three tours of duty on nuclear and ballistic missile submarines and one on an aircraft carrier, and the mother of two young children, I bear witness in small but significant ways to the physical, emotional, and financial toll that endless war has had on those who fight. I'm thinking of those long separations from my husband, his (and my) unlimited hours of work, the chronic health issues that go remarkably unaddressed in the Navy, the hazing by war-traumatized commanders, one near-fatal boat crash, the rising frequency of violence and suicides among military families, a recent lack of regard for obvious safety precautions during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the service's under-resourced healthcare and childcare systems -- and that's just to begin a far longer list.

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Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch (more...)

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