Does America's increasingly uncivil behavior mean we are heading toward civil war? The historical record seems to indicate that the country has a high tolerance for violence without breaking apart. But the threat of civil wars cannot be dismissed.
Western policy- and decisionmakers continue to grapple with how to define acts of terrorism and when it is appropriate to bring terrorism charges. Establishing a consensus on the definition of terrorism and bringing to center stage the importance of adequately charging acts of terrorism could be more important than ever.
The Pentagon is working to rid itself of violent extremist members. In addition to strengthening the chain of command to detect and remove extremist members from its ranks, the military could also empower military family members to intervene.
Although China's capabilities and communication channels have changed, its fundamental approach to military deterrence signaling as a form of political coercion has not. As Australia-China relations enter a new, more confrontational era, Canberra is likely to be an increasingly frequent target of Chinese deterrence signaling.
U.S. Department of Defense policy prohibits service members from actively participating in extremist activities. Broadening the policy to include passive forms of participation could introduce two challenges.
The U.S. military relies heavily on commercial energy assets, making the implications of events like the Colonial Pipeline outage more serious than just higher prices at the gas pump. The origins and severity of an attack dictate what the United States might do in response.
The righteous wrath of those who view January 6 as an insurrection and believe we need uncompromising prosecution is understandable. But is it strategic thinking? History has shown that prosecutions based on less severe and politically-fraught charges have a greater chance of resulting in the convictions needed to stop this behavior.
The many pandemic-related shortages that occurred in the United States and elsewhere provide a clear warning. Serious supply-chain vulnerabilities exist. We need to learn much more about this potential threat to national security.
The U.S. military is fighting extremism—including white supremacists and violent anti-government radicals—in its own ranks. De-radicalized former extremists can provide crucial first-hand intelligence on extremist groups' recruiting tactics.
Some people who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 had or have a national security clearance and thus trusted access to classified information. And some might apply for a security clearance in the future. If they are not identified and prosecuted, then they won't have a criminal record that could be detected in a background check.
The military has a growing extremism problem because America does. Service members who embrace violent extremism are thankfully few; Americans citizens who do so are sadly far too many. As a nation we need to deal with both.
The beliefs driving today's domestic extremists are deeply rooted in American history and society. For this and several other reasons, shutting them down will prove far more difficult than combating homegrown jihadists.