Walter Russell Mead:

The scariest thing in the world has nothing to do with Greek debt plans, Italian bond yields or even American pension funds.  It is not the prospect of war in the Persian Gulf over the Iranian nuclear program.

The scariest thing in the world is the prospect that the identity wars are spreading from Europe and the Middle East into the rest of Asia and Africa.


These days, nationalism is trying to reassert itself within the European Union.  It is on the boil across the Middle East.  Despite many attempts to tamp it down (including the fundamentally racist technique of labeling groups of people who would qualify in Europe as “nations” as “tribes” when they live in Africa), it is on the rise south of the Sahara and beyond the Urals.  It lurks in South Asia where communal tensions challenge both India and Pakistan in complex ways.  It animates armies of Chinese bloggers and others to push for aggressive policies in the South China Sea — and eggs Vietnam and others to respond.

More than 200 years after the French Revolution unleashed the modern wave of identity wars, the world has developed vastly more powerful weapons and techniques of war. Advancements in warfare technology will only continue.

Read the whole thing. 

Serious question: do you think that identity wars could come to the US? Is it possible that a sufficiently severe economic catastrophe could call up these demons from within the American body politic? If so, how do you foresee it playing out? In what ways do contemporary Americans identify themselves, such that they would band together with people like themselves to wage, or to protect the group from, armed conflict? Would it be race? Region? Economic class? Religion? Discuss.