I was delighted to see that BLM and Antifa have taken over a small area of Seattle declaring it “autonomous”, forbidding the police from entering and putting up perimeter fencing. I was even happier to note the emergence of a seriously alpha black guy named Raz as the self-appointed warlord of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.
There are all sorts of hard heads, up to and including President Trump himself, who want this nonsense ended right now. “Send in the police, the National Guard, the 82 Airborne, Seal Team 6!” Crush the Antifa louts like the roaches they are.
Tactically and strategically sending in law enforcement, much less the military, would be a monumental error.
Antifa (and to a lesser degree, BLM) contains some very smart, very well read, people and those people have made it their business to look at asymmetrical warfare in detail. They are well aware that they cannot defend the CHAZ against even a token show of force on the part of the authorities. However, not for nothing is armed end of Antifa called the John Brown Gun Club.
John Brown was an abolitionist. He was convinced that slavery was against God and, very much in second place, against the principles up which the United States had been founded. He wanted to start a serious insurection and to that end, with a small force, attacked an arsenal at Harper’s Ferry Virginia in October 1859. He succeeded but word reached the Federal government and troops were sent to quell the insurrection. Under the direction of then Colonel Robert E. Lee, Brown was wounded and then captured. He was then tried for treason and hung. Just before his hanging on December 2, 1859, Brown uttered a prophetic forewarning of the coming Civil War: “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”
Brown was right and the Civil War began a bit later in 1861.
The strategists at Antifa will have also studied the various interations of the Irish Rebellion, the defeat of the British in India, the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa and the various actions of the Palestinians against the Israelis. Of course they have, in many ways it is impossible to study history or political science or “studies” without being exposed to these David and Goliath contests.
The brighter lights of Antifa will have understood the essential lesson of these struggles: you win by losing. Ideally in the bloodiest way possible.
Insurrectionists, at least the smart ones, know that they are not fighting the police or national guard or 82 Airborne with any hope of winning. Instead they are trying to lose to an enemy whose excesses will revolt the general run of the population.
Now, to beat an insurrection, you have to take away its oxygen and let it choke out on its own. For CHAZ the oxygen is attention. The romance of the barricades and audacity of insurrection attracts media attention which allows the Antifa people to seize the mic and make assorted demands. (Including, charmingly, a return of racial segregation.)
Any escalation on the part of the authorities will simply feed the flames. Sending in the riot police under a cloud of tear gas and a hail of rubber bullets (cliches but that’s how this stuff is written) is ideal fuel for the Antifa fire. All the better if a big, strong, articulate black man like Raz is gunned down.
At this moment the very best thing the authorities can do is a very vigorous “nothing”. No response whatsoever. Ignore the demands, ignore the spray paint, ignore the barricades and the stolen fences.
Let Antifa and BLM dig themselves in good and deep. Let the inherent tension between Brother Raz and his people and the revolutionary intellectuals of Antifa have a chance to work their magic. Let the logistical nightmare of 500 extra people in a small neighbourhood work itself out. Keep the water and power on. Perhaps jam cell and wifi signals. Surveil the Hell out of the place and don’t be shy. Keep a large and obvious drone presence so that the insurrectionists know they are being watched.
The ignominious collapse of the CHAZ is only a matter of time and patience. It might take a week, it might take a month, but without martyrs to sustain it, CHAZ will join Occupy in the scrapheap of history.
Excellent commentary Jay.
Thank you, Mike… It is fun to write and, once in a while, I may just be right.
I think you’re quite right, although I’m not sure President Trump’s personal branding strategy, or the volatility of the American political climate, will allow him to take your counsel.
During the recent round of Wet’suwet’en protests, which included various short-term “occupations” and stakeouts, provincial and federal politicians and police forces came under huge political and popular pressure to DO SOMETHING, exacerbated by media looking for oxygen to keep the story alive and inflamed by Rebel Media style vigilantism on the right and the usual general purpose protesters on the left. The correct response was to keep both sides from beating the crap out of each other, find a series of small, satisfactory face-saving compromises in the middle, and let the storm subside. And here we are. The slow, incremental, long term processes relating to title and treaty will continue to crawl forward, irritating everyone and occasionally erupting.
Smothering the fire with a blanket is the Canadian way: tossing a few grenades in seems to be more Trump’s style.