California Congressman gives “nukes” as reason that any American civil war would be a short one



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34 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    We’ve been saying around these parts for a long time that idiocy knows no party and it really doesn’t ever take very long to come up with fresh proof of this proposition.Report

    • Nor international bounds. Spent part of the afternoon reading Brexit and related news. At least one way of looking at that news is the UK could end up with a deal where they are subject to EU rules, but lose their veto power on rules, and are only allowed to withdraw from the agreement if the EU approves. Also France and Germany making noises about a European Army, backed up with French nukes. Down the road a bit, the UK wants out, the EU says no and deploys their army, and Europe beats us to a small nuclear exchange.

      I may need more than the usual amount of Friday evening wine tonight….Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Well, I suppose it’s right up there with, “the government has aircraft and tanks”, as a legitimate counter.


  2. Avatar pillsy says:

    Christ what an asshole.Report

  3. Avatar Morat20 says:

    Is this the same Republican that talked about how Civil War was gonna happen if those darn libs didn’t abolish the interstate highway system?

    I’m getting confused as to who is who these days.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I see Republicans are taking the Mitch McConnell school of election interpretation.Report

  5. Avatar JoeSal says:

    More rifles support Biggs than the highest ranking US general. Swalwell has a blind spot about the size of 58 million graves, his included.Report

  6. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I am looking for a charitable interpretation of that comment, @joesal, particularly the last two words. Help me out please.Report

    • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Politicians think disarming the US will be the same process as in Australia. When they do start the civil war, what makes them think they will survive it, especially if they threaten to deploy (or do deploy) military equipment against a armed populace?Report

      • Avatar rexknobus in reply to JoeSal says:

        Just to be clear here…are you suggesting that any number of your “armed populace” would stand any kind of chance if truly pitted against a company of Marines?

        If this imaginary conflict comes down to firepower versus firepower, I’m afraid that the State already has complete superiority, and always will. You are not protected from that power by what you and your friends have in your gun safe. You have many protections, and they are working quite well. (No Marines on the front porch, right?) I would concentrate on those rather than firearms.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to rexknobus says:

          I wouldn’t bother. I’ve gone down the “Okay, so how does the Second Amendment really protect you from government” and it turns out even the most ardent supporter doesn’t think it does, deep down.

          Because of course they can’t stand against the Army or the Marines, not when they have tanks and CAS and mortars and training and the like. They’ll freely admit this — but then follow up with “But the Army would never obey those orders“. Or the police wouldn’t. Or the Feds wouldn’t.

          In short, they structure their armed resistance fantasies around the government being unable to muster more than, well, the equivilant of them. Armed tyrannical thugs, carrying civilian weaponry in equal or generally lesser numbers. It’s never tanks, heavily armed soldiers, or SWAT teams. (After all, your home armory would only really annoy that).

          Of course, pointing out that believing that your weapons can protect you from the Federal Government because the federal government’s soldiers would not obey orders to attack you means it’s not your guns that are protecting you, but the social compact between you and your fellow citizens. Your AR-15 does far less to keep you safe from tyranny than your fellow citizen’s unwillingness to be a part of it.

          But that’s not as fun as reenacting Red Dawn in your head against the “libs”, and dreaming of how totally kickass you’d be so…Report

          • Avatar rexknobus in reply to Morat20 says:


          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Morat20 says:

            From what I understand, the argument is that the guns make the price too high to try to take them. Like, sure the military would “win” in any conflict against civilians.

            From what I understand, using this metric, we “won” in Vietnam. We “won” in Iraq. We’re “winning” in Afghanistan.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

              Bringing the military into the discussion at all is kind of an unnecessary escalation into crazy hypotheticals IMO. No one knows what the outcome of a civil war would be and any reasonable prediction is entirely dependent on how you set up the variables in the thought experiment.

              Where it gets more interesting and possibly realistic is when we talk about our highly militarized police forces and how they use and chose not to use their armed power. An armed citizenry very obviously figures into their thinking (admittedly sometimes in ways that are negative). The fact that it figures is what matters, not that they always have the firepower to prevail in a fight.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                I think that more interesting examples would be Christopher Dorner or Micah Xavier Johnson.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                Agreed. The push and pull of all civil liberties is most pronounced in interactions between citizens and law enforcement, not citizens and soldiers. I’m as into the 3rd Amendment as one can be I suppose, but I find this entire line of discussion to be a red herring.

                It’s a fantasy on the gun rights side, but the fact that the gun control side can identify it as such doesn’t prove nearly as much as they seem to think about the broader issue.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                I recall that it was LeeEsq who pointed out to me, once when I was waxing enthusiastic about the Ferguson riots, that uncontrolled violence never works out well for minorities, those out of power.

                We all have this Les Miserable fantasy of stalwart citizens spontaneously rising up against a tyrant, but looking at the Balkans, Syria, Iraq, and the various Central American revolutions shows the truth of Lee’s statement, that the breakdown of civil order turns into a net loss of liberty and rights in almost every case.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                For that matter, it didn’t work out that great for Les Mis folks either.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

                To be fair, it never works out if your author is Victor Hugo.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                It can be very strange realizing that the most popular argument against your position isn’t remotely the strongest argument against your position.Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Morat20 says:

            This is a straw man versus a straw man, both fueled by a fundamental misunderstanding of rights and their value. Tactical Tommy and his buddies stand no chance in a conventional fight against the US military. It doesn’t therefore follow that the 2nd amendment/armed citizens have no deterrent value of any kind in all circumstances or that there aren’t times where they give some protection to the powerless. That’s no more the case than the idea that Obama’s war on whistle blowers or Trump’s propaganda render the 1st amendment/free speech principles without value, or that mass surveillance/the drug war render the 4th amendment/underlying principles without value, or that various shenanigans involving voting rights make the franchise without value. At the end of the day the state always has the advantage, just like the sky has always been blue.

            None of our rights guarantee a free society. At best they’re chinks in the armor of power, which when exercised effectively create a (often uneven) playing field, where there might not otherwise be one at all. It’s crazy how many people are willing to argue that the inherent limitations of our rights mean they count for nothing. That plays right into the hands of the most powerful and reactionary forces in our government and society at large.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

            Speaking of Social Compact, the fact that something like this is being investigated is a sign the compact is in force. The fact that the department got that bad is a sign the compact is not as healthy as I’d like.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to rexknobus says:

          Plus the Marines don’t have walkers and hypertension medsReport

      • Avatar pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

        Merits of the “who would win” argument aside [1], I’m touchy about this kind of thing as a general rule, but this is a US Congressman talking about using nukes in a civil war for Pete’s sake. I think a bit of an exception can be made.

        [1] It always relies on the assumption that the military will come down all on the same side of any conflict, and for that matter so will all the armed civilians. Neither is generally true of civil wars.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

          Especially given that everyone in the military knows what the Posse Comitatus Act is and that the military is highly constrained in what actions it can take against citizens within the borders of the US. So while talk of tanks and aircraft is all well and good, by the time such engines of war are on the table, a full blown civil war will be in effect, and you can expect the US military to start losing control over some of those assets as the military takes sides. Otherwise, it would be an insurgency* and the primary combatants would be guerillas and police (a much more equal match, once the insurgent citizens decide they no longer respect or fear the badge).

          Honestly, the few times in recent history an armed citizenry has made a difference against abusive government, it’s been a local issue where the state or federal government was unaware, or unable/unwilling to act to deal with the problem before it got to that point. As @morat20 correctly points out, the social compact is a much stronger check against such things, for as long as it holds**.

          *Tanks and aircraft are useful against other armor and aircraft, or against massed/organized troops. Against fighters hiding among non-combatants, they are next to useless unless collateral damage is acceptable. Nukes are even 10000x more so.

          **It’s when it doesn’t hold that being armed can come in handy. Perhaps to fight government thugs, or more likely, to protect yourself against criminals because the government has stopped trying to maintain order where you live. But again, at that point, things have seriously gone to shit.Report

        • Avatar JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

          Thanks pillsy, that was a balanced response, probably more than I deserved. I really wasn’t looking for a ‘who would win’ argument, civil wars are never really won. Really large death tolls typically come from equally numeric and technically matched forces, which i think this country will be somewhat equally divided.Report

  7. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Morat and Pillsy touch on the main problem with this sort of comic book hypothetical, which is its utter disregard for actual history.

    The hypothetical envisioned by the 2nd Amendment “TYRANNY” argument, where lightly armed civilians resist an encroaching tyrant, has never happened, even in 1776.
    George Washington didn’t command a bunch of weekend warriors, but a real army with state of the art hardware like cannon and warships.

    And whenever republics fall into oppression, in almost every instance, the gun-toting civilians are its first wave to crush their fellow citizens.

    And revolutions always turn, not on military maneuvers, but politics. Like when the military splits and officers lead breakaway divisions.

    So yeah, the whole nukes vs assault rifles is like some slapfight between straw men.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I think it’s slightly easier for the US to fall into a civil war than most people think (but still difficult), and it definitely would be more horrific than most people think (The Purge, but every day of the year)Report