A political science professor has delivered a stark warning on the future of American democracy and said the United States could soon descend into conflict and civil war.
Barbara Walter, of the University of California San Diego, told CNN’s Michael Holmes on Sunday that she believed the US was rapidly approaching a point of no return for political instability.
She added that by international comparisons, the US was no longer a fully functioning democracy. Ms Walter referred to work on a CIA advisory panel that watches for signs of civil war beyond the US – but it’s banned from doing so at home.
“We would put that country at ‘risk’ of civil war,” she said of the US and the task force. “The United States is pretty close to being at ‘high risk’ of civil war, and once a country is at ‘high risk’ the task force puts it on what we call a ‘watch list’”.
Referring to her work on the CIA’s Political Instability Task Force, the professor said that when a country is placed on the “watch list” for political instability, there is a belief that at “sometime in the next few years, that country is at high risk of descending into instability or political violence”.
Ms Walter said the collapse of American democracy and political stability had occurred at a “surprisingly fast rate” and that two factors contributed to her analysis: the presence of a “partial democracy” and the emergence of entrepreneurs seeking political power through “racial, religious or ethnic division”.
Without referring to the presidency of Donald Trump, a former businessman and TV personality who became US president on the back of fears about migration, Ms Walter said it was unrealistic to assume that American democracy was faultless.
“We all wish that the United States was a strong democracy, we all see it that way, but the reality is that’s simply not true. The United States has been declining as a democracy for the last five years by every measure,” Ms Walter said.
She added: “There are multiple tests that measure democracy in various different ways and all of them have showed America in decline”, particularly when compared to democracies such as Switzerland, Denmark, Japan and Canada.
The professor, who has studied political conflict for more than 30 years, recently told The Washington Post that America is “closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe”, as alleged in her upcoming book, How Civil Wars Start.
Her warning comes as three former US Army generals warned that there was a chance of a “coup succeeding” should the 2024 presidential election be called into question, as members of the armed forces show signs of political division.
That warning was delivered in the same newspaper.
The Independent, UK.