Early Warning for 16 January 2018: Why Domestic Conflict is Growing More Likely – Forward Observer Shop

Early Warning for 16 January 2018: Why Domestic Conflict is Growing More Likely

Early Warning is a daily intelligence report published each morning at 8am CST that alerts readers to the largest events that happened overnight and the developments expected to shape the day. Published via the web and also made available through email, Early Warning is available for both Strategic Intelligence and National Intelligence subscribers.

Good morning, everyone. As we announced last year, the daily Early Warning email will now be back and available only for subscribers after today. This is our opportunity to discuss the latest news and provide context and analysis in a more timely fashion than in the weekly summaries alone. This Early Warning will cover National and Strategic intelligence for subscribers of both services. The world can change overnight, so I hope these daily briefs can be informative and useful for you. – MS

Here’s your Early Warning for Tuesday, 16 January 2018.

Over the weekend, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wrote an opinion piece published by The Guardian (UK), entitled “Let’s wrench power back from the billionaires”. He specifically targets Jeff Bezos (Amazon) who, despite having a net of worth $100 billion, allows his warehouse employees to “[work] long, grueling hours and earn wages so low they rely on Medicaid, food stamps and public housing paid for by US taxpayers”. He briefly diagnoses the problem: mainly that corrupt governments aid in global wealth disparity. The result: “[P]eople all over the world are losing their faith in democracy… [and] they are angry.” And then he ties wealth inequality to “rightwing extremism”:

“In the midst of all of this economic disparity, the world is witnessing an alarming rise in authoritarianism and rightwing extremism – which feeds off, exploits and amplifies the resentments of those left behind, and fans the flames of ethnic and racial hatred.”

Research by the United Nations development programme has shown that citizens’ perceptions of inequality, corruption and exclusion are among the most consistent predictors of whether communities will support rightwing extremism and violent groups. When people feel that the cards are stacked against them and see no way forward for legitimate recourse, they are more likely to turn to damaging solutions that only exacerbate the problem.”

Well… not exactly. The U.N. research referenced by Sanders focuses on violent extremism in Africa, and in the first sentences the paper cites violent Islamic groups like Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram. That’s hardly the equivalent of “rightwing extremism” in the United States. It appears that Sanders is taking a new approach to socialism: tying wealth and income disparity to the rise of the Alt-Right (although not by name) in the United States, and then claiming that more socialist policies are key to combating “rightwing extremism”. Eventually, I do believe that the United States will adopt a greater degree of socialism, which will undoubtedly be accompanied by domestic instability. Here’s why:

During a recent conversation with my future in-laws, I pointed out how the previous U.S. policy of limitless immigration could lead to domestic upheaval and potentially a civil war, especially considering that some experts are predicting the loss of tens of millions of jobs due to robotics and automation over the coming decades. Around 670,000 American jobs have been lost since 1993 due to automation, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. And when we look at the incoming foreign-born immigrant population — now 43.2 million people of foreign origin living in the United States — some 29 percent of them have less than a high school education and only 22 percent have attained the equivalent of a high school diploma.

That’s 51 percent of immigrants who come to the United States ill-prepared to make a successful life here. So the question is — if the predictions of job loss due to automation become true — how are these people going to be successful here? Even if half the number of predicted jobs lost is true, that’s still tens of millions of American jobs gone and it’s going to disproportionately hurt low skill, low wage workers. Yet prior to 2017, U.S. policy has been to continue importing millions of these people who are likely to not have jobs in the coming decades.

This is partially the basis for my belief that the United States is forced to adopt more socialist policies within a generation. There’s already significant support for taxing the companies who turn more to automation in order to pay for a Universal Basic Income (UBI), which would guarantee nearly every citizen a monthly salary. Still, a UBI won’t solve the problem of creating successful citizens who provide a positive impact to society, it just ensures that they won’t be starving to death. Poor people with lots of time on their hands and growing socioeconomic resentment has historically led to social upheaval. That’s what I believe is in store over the next 10 to 20 years.


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Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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