A Worldwide Cold Civil War

Like many Americans, I tend to focus on domestic issues, both national and local. America produces more than enough fodder to keep bloggers like me busy. But the fear and hysteria propelling the ever-more-radical Right isn’t confined to our shores.

Trumpism was accompanied by Brexit in England, powered by the same mix of anti-immigrant bias, racism and misinformation (aka blatant lying) that (barely) put TFG in the White House.

The reporting in the run-up to recent elections in Spain was filled with warnings about the strength of that country’s emergent Rightwing–fortunately, as it turned out, not strong enough to win control outright, but the Right’s strongest showing since Franco.

In just the past few weeks, Putin’s Russia has continued emulating America’s far-Right states, passing laws that target LGBTQ people–especially but certainly not exclusively trans Russians.

I needn’t report what is going on in Afghanistan, or Iran, where women are special targets of their governments’ return to religious fundamentalism.

And then there’s Israel, where Netanyahu’s far-Right coalition has rammed through a frontal assault on that country’s Supreme Court, and plunged Israel into a crisis that has fractured civic society and threatened the country’s security.

As the Washington Post has editorialized: 

For months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was warned of the consequences. He was strongly urged to negotiate a deal over the proposal to emasculate the Israeli Supreme Court, a misguided power grab advanced by his far-right coalition. On Monday, the first part of the legislation was approved by the Knesset. It appears Mr. Netanyahu went over a cliff. What now?

 Mr. Netanyahu and his coalition have ignited a political crisis of immense proportions, perhaps the most consequential in Israel’s history. Massive protests against the judicial reform have filled Israel’s streets for months, and the vote brought open resistance from not only Israel’s progressive and secular Jews but also other bastions of the establishment.

Large businesses and unions are planning strikes and closures. A former head of Israel’s security service, the Shin Bet, was among those on the streets protesting after the vote. Nadav Argaman said he came to “mark the end” of Mr. Netanyahu’s rule. “Bibi has a coalition, but he doesn’t have the people. He’s lost the people,” he said. A letter signed by more than 1,100 air force reserve officers declared, “The legislation, which allows the government to act in an extremely unreasonable manner, will harm the security of the State of Israel, will break the trust and violate our consent to continue risking our lives — and will very sadly leave us with no choice but to refrain from volunteering for reserve duty.” Dozens of former top security officials — including former heads of the Israel Defense Forces, Mossad and Shin Bet — sent a letter declaring, “The legislation is shattering the common foundation of Israeli society, tearing the people apart, dismantling the IDF and causing grievous harm to Israel’s security.”

Messy–unlike in the US, where the Right has managed to take over state-level courts while staying under the radar…

Unless reversed, these moves by a government that is by far the most radical in Israel’s history will shatter what has always been a special bond between the US and Israel. That bond rests on what was seen as a common approach to democracy and the rule of law.  During Netanyahu’s “reign” (I use the word advisedly, as he has always been an autocrat), it has become more and more difficult for American Jews and pro-Israeli politicians to support Israeli tactics and ignore its mistreatment of the Palestinians.

As the Post–along with several Israeli newspapers–has warned, Netanyahu’s actions endanger Israel’s security, further splinter an already badly divided body politic and add to the strain on Israel’s  relationship with the United States.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the entire globe is enmeshed in a complicated cold civil war. This one lacks geographical boundaries; instead, it’s a war between the people in every country who welcome social change and understand–however dimly– that the tribalism of the past impoverishes everyone, and a frantic minority clinging to comforting verities and the privileges they fear losing.

Cunning power-seekers like Netanyahu and TFG manipulate the fears and feed the bigotries of that latter group.

Here in Indiana, we joke about our pathetic legislature. Facebook posts frequently show some version of “Entering Indiana and 1950” signs. But fear of modernity and civic equality isn’t limited to Indiana. In fact, if there is any lesson to be gleaned from these worldwide struggles, it is that every group–every tribe–has its fundamentalists and those George W. Bush dubbed “evil-doers,” as well as good people who just want to live in civic peace and obey the rule of law.

I sure hope the good guys win….


  1. Shiela, Is it true that their Supreme Court can rule an amendment to be unconstitutional? I also heard recently that judges can remove elected officials appointees because those appointees are deemed unreasonable?
    If this is true, does it matter what side of ghe political spectrum one is on? It would appear to be unstable from any viewpoint.


  2. The sign should read “Welcome to Indiana and 1923.” That was when D.C. Stephenson headed the Kluxers, with the help of white, Protestant Hoosiers. The Horse Thief Detective Association (not kidding) was an armed force that showed up at polling sites to scare off voters adverse to the Kluxers.

  3. @Mark Small. I recently read and highly recommend Tim Egan’s A Fever in the Heartland: the Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Taken Over America and the Woman Who Stopped Them. Sad that I completed K-12, undergrad and law school in Indiana without ever learning anything about D.C. Stevenson and this horrific chapter in Hoosier History.

  4. With the right around the globe appearing to be in a controlling position, even in the minority, the public no longer has a voice. No matter how loud their protests become or the numbers increase; all forms of democracy appear to be weakening everywhere. Thinking back to Mayor Bill Hudnut’s progressive 16 year reign (yes, I know he and it were not perfect); he appeared to be somewhat out of step with the Indiana right wing. The destruction under Goldsmith was quick and lethal; a microcosm of the Nixon administration and a precursor of the Trump MAGA reign.

    Call it a Cold Civil War for want of a name but evil has been loosed on this world under the leadership of Trump, Putin, Xi, Kim Jong Un and the Taliban where leadership has failed to lead. How many spent last week waiting for Trump to, at long last, actually be indicted for his seditious, treasonous leadership of the January 6th Insurrection; only at the last minute on Thursday be fed a 3rd indictment on another party involved in his illegal removal of government documents from the White House? There wasn’t even a notice that the January 6th grand jury had been sent home to stall out the sedition and treason indictment of Trump yet again. This national war against destruction of democracy, Rule of Law and denial of Constitutional rights is as raging hot as the temperatures in the Heat Dome areas.

    We are back to VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO!!!

  5. An explanation for the global rise in right wing thinking and political takeovers is, like so much else in the world today, complicated. However, one facet of this phenomena might well be the rising awareness of the peril we are all facing due to global warming.
    While Nero fiddled as Rome burned, the people see their leaders fiddling as the earth burns. Even the most ignorant knows something is wrong…something terribly wrong. Without leadership it is becoming “everyman for himself”. I’ve heard rumors that the rich are buying up water rights on a global scale, and that moving north is the in thing this year. For the majority, however, it is fear and anxiety and a desperation for a change… any kind of change…. even if the change means giving up democracy. Enter the dragon.

  6. It would be nice if the USA caught up with the Leftists overseas, but oligarch-led propaganda keeps us docile and whiny instead. I follow the strikes overseas compared to those in the USA — not even close.

    Also, fascism takes on a different meaning overseas because of the economic consequences — corporate-owned and controlled companies of resources vs people controlled (socialism). Huge difference.

    Change always instills fears, so we are either doomed to repeat the same mistakes (Trumpism) or make decisions and take action despite our fears. This is where leaders are born. Watching X (f/k/a Twitter), there are very few leaders…mainly because they aren’t independent nor have the freedom to lead where we need to go. This fact bares out across all sectors in the USA.

    Less oligarchic nations have more freedom to act, which inspires leaders. China has replaced the USA on the global stage due to Xi Jinping’s ability to act for the country as president of the politburo. Other countries are shifting away from the USA (and the dollar) and moving toward a freer China. China isn’t looking to enslave the populace for its oligarchs. The USA is still doing so in the 21st century.

    Keep an eye on BRICS+ as they bring in many diverse countries moving rapidly through the change cycle.

  7. When including information or opinion generated by a think tank, do take note of the organization’s biases and associates. The Gatestone Institute includes among its current and former luminaries its founder Nina Rosenwald, John Bolton, Rebekah Mercer, and Amir Tahari. Institute authors have included Nonie Darwish, Alan Dershowitz, Daniel Pipes, and Geert Wilders.

  8. With horror I watched the TV reporting of the widespread protests taking place in Israel yesterday, in particular Israeli protesters staging a sit-in and blocking a highway thoroughfare and being driven away by high-powered fire hoses and Israeli police. It evoked chilling images of the Civil Rights movement in America during the 1950s and 1960s and the harsh treatment being meted out against those fighting to end racial discrimination and gain equal rights under the law.
    I pray that the national conscience of the Israeli people will rise up and summon forceful leadership to restore democratic order.

  9. fleeing Newarks N.J. as a young kid, i remember well, the move for civil rights in the 60s.
    my mom remarried,i was moved to the Norfolk,Va. area. now a navy kid. my education wasnt a
    move to higher ed. my credo was street, and what it gave me. seems up here in NoDak the world evolves around a right wing ideals, old ideals, now folded,spindled and mutilated. ive watched how rightwing media, blarring away in every cafe, bar,public place where to sit,POX news. ( i spell it like it is) from settling here in the later 80s,ive watched it morphed into a rightwing ya cant say that because it doesnt fit in, ideals now.I having a rather outspoken voice for a liberal,civil,labor, and democratic life, im walking between fire and easy going rightwingers who do not accept my opinion.(well armed and right to use them) seems god is used to rock solid their mindset and ignorance.
    watching the Isreal protests and why, assured me America will find the same path to eliminating its courts and its democracy thanks to the right wing shit show from mainstream news like the above propaganda mills. ive watched a bunch seeing the diffrent contrasts,and words and phrases etc. compare to the average news media,middle ground,(er, mmmmm) and far left.
    seems the rigytwing news is more like a carney show to prove how fast ya can talk and get to more revenue.
    the group sphere of talking heads convincing someone they are right,(duh right wing AHs)
    make the talk talk simple.like groups of listeners, now convinced they are right. I like BBC news,
    and others that have one on ones. looking at first pukes, (Er first news, sorry), (being blue collar really got me here) im watching a zombie of don jr talk his spiel and make perfect sense how we should distroy America for his own pocket. (im wondering now if thats a AI of don jr) though his
    pocket $ isnt the message,his looking into your eye and to convince you that every aspect of your life has been distroyed by liberals,,and we should,( now ill leave ya with what the listeners is gonna do) im here in NoDak watching the changes. its been a steady road of what i learned from reading about (back in the 40s style of history)Joe Gobbels and his merry henchmen. the steady flow of sensationalism and anti everything while funneling mass amounts of eye candy headline news (alert ya all,and no context) and a warm and fuzzy extremism has made thinking like a dictator cool for NoDakians ,with no regard its the end of their democracy. rightwing issues abroad,and today,have the same track record as 1933.
    NoDak is a red state of misinformation and blatant disregard for democracy.
    p.s. doug borgum,our gov running for pres, is a billionaire, (made alotta money from bill gates and microsofts empire)who sees unfettered buisness as his
    credo. electing him would distroy labor and allow the billionaire class to run this contry as a stock market ticker $ymbol..dont buy his crap..

  10. Everyone should read Miles Taylor’s new book, “Blowback”. If it doesn’t scare you out of your wits, nothing will. That said, EVERYONE on this blog, must keep pushing their networks to vote out the nitwits on the right, or there will be no more free elections.

    It’s that simple. The fascist right simply cannot tolerate democracy. Here we are, only 10,000 years removed from cave-dwelling and we STILL haven’t figured out how to get over tribalism and govern ourselves and our primitive, driving instincts.

    I’m glad I’m old. My only regret at being this “experienced” is that not very many countries that I’d choose to live in will take us.

  11. The religious right in Israel has been growing in strength and numbers since the fall of the Berlin wall and the subsequent collapse of the Russian government. The new Israelis were religious fanatics who actually liked a lot of the Russian rule. They have come in, exempted themselves from the tradition of universal service. They don’t work, and they believe that the study of religion is their only requirement to get the housing and support they require. Can’t take it from the Jews, so they take it from the Palestinians. With Bibi, they have the full support of their government for their thievery and barbarism.

    If the Israelis want their country back, they should make peace with the Palestinians. just so you know, I’m not anti-Semitic, but I am anti-injustice.

  12. Peggy: disagreeing with Israeli policy is NOT being anti-Semitic. Plenty of American Jews oppose Israel’s government–and, as we are seeing, so do plenty of Israeli Jews.

  13. Extreme right wing propagandists have weaponized some advertising/entertainment/propaganda/“news” channels to broadcast the message that there’s so much free speech around the world touting Enlightenment, wokeness, that the only means those depending on ignorance for happiness have left is to grab political power. Liberals seem to have grabbed all of the words and ideas of the writers and supporters of the US Constitution.

    Is that true? Yes. Democracy has finally won which is so threatening to the right.

  14. Mark, Israel has NO constitution, only a penchant for “reasonableness,” thanks to
    the British and 1948. And Netanyahu, like TFG, wants to stay out of jail…damn the
    In this country, the right has been gaslighting those whose fears make them open to
    buying into the myth of replacement, and the crazy right who love them some Q, and other
    conspiracy theories, though RFK Jr. does seem to be losing cachet. He is, hopefully, causing
    his financial backers, a bunch of pardoned felons, a lot of money, and support.
    With luck, a lot of it, the burning of the planet will light a fire in the brains of the majority of the
    world’s people, and open their eyes to the danger of their hopes for a return to the “Good old
    days,” that never really were.

  15. Too bad those who oppose MAGA, especially the young people, are so different than Israelis, who march for democracy. Here they “TickTock for democracy”. Gets so much attention and change done. Amusing ourselves to death in front of our eyes…

  16. Some upheavals are ideological in nature, some more pragmatic. Without a defining ideological base countries exist in constant upheaval. Wars like our Revolution, Civil, and World, forged us into a world leading ideological force. Compared to that every other reason for debate is trivial.

  17. George Stephanopoulos gave Netanyahu the chance to play it down to the American people as “a minor adjustment”, in what can only be described as a softball interview. Absolutely shameful!

  18. You know, Nazism is considered right wing. The former Soviet Union, now the Russian federation, is right wing. What did Naziism and Russia have in common? They used religion to promote their wars and hatred. North Korea’s fearless leader, lol, is considered a venerable icon, a god, to himself and his people. Islam has the same problem. The imams become the drivers of religious fanaticism, and they steer the uneducated masses to fight or be subservient to those who fight. China has become a dictatorship, but it’s not communist, it really is a capitalist country with a large caste system. And Xi is making himself his own God. Donald Trump was using the Naziism pathway which of course isn’t original, and the others mentioned above use a variation of the same pathway. Netanyahu is using the exact same tack Hitler did. All of them are using the religious aspect as a permission slip to divide, subjugate, and conquer! Why? Because it works!

  19. Frank Luntz was on MSNBC this morning bemoaning polarization, as if the non-MAGA people (or both sides) are to blame.
    The MAGA people define their opponents as evil enemies, who should have no rights, and propose putting them in jail. Threats and violence against people and families is a MAGA thing.
    If anti-MAGA people react and state that democracy is at stake, it is a statement of fact, not “polarizing rhetoric”.

    A dear friend, a family physician and liberal became an orthodox Jew and moved to Israel. This week she posted to Facebook bemoaning the division in Israel. I didn’t have the heart to say that she voted for a self-centered autocrat who is happy to establish a theocracy and those Israelis in the streets want to keep Israel as a (however imperfect) democratic state.

    Sad – shared delusions – “both-sidesism” and projecting their faults onto their opponents.

    The vote in Spain is somewhat reassuring.

  20. Todd, please share more. Which specific country or countries in the world would you hold up as a success story for socialism? You reference BRIC+. Are you saying that we could learn from Brazil, Russia, India and China? Also, who are the Leftists overseas we could learn from?

    Thank you.

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