Self-styled militias are seeking to play a role in U.S. politics in a way that hasn’t been seen in decades. Of diverse origins, such groups have capitalized on the social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matters and police reform protests. Right-wing extremist groups have intensified their recruitment, opposed lockdowns, and promised to protect businesses from looting or help them not comply with COVID-19 regulations. What impact have these groups had on the U.S. election and post-election period so far, and on rule of law and democracy in the United States more broadly? What are their origins? How do they compare to and interact with extremist groups elsewhere in the world? What policies should the next U.S. administration adopt to respond to the challenges they pose?
On November 10, Foreign Policy at Brookings held a panel discussion to examine these questions and more. Brookings President John R. Allen introduced the event and moderated the panel discussion, which featured Mary McCord, legal director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and visiting professor of law at Georgetown University; Rashawn Ray, David M. Rubenstein fellow in the Governance Studies program at Brookings; Daniel Byman, senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings; and Vanda Felbab-Brown, director of the Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors and senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. Upon the conclusion of their remarks, panelists took questions from the audience.
Visiting Professor of Law - Georgetown University Law Center
Legal Director - Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection
President, The Brookings Institution
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[The people claiming that there is some sort of unified theory of Blob-dom are not thinking clearly. For one thing, even within Brookings there is a wide range of opinion on Afghanistan. Wright supported the withdrawal, for instance — which would seem to make him a traitor to the Blob, even though he is, by any definition, in the Blob himself.] My impression is that people who talk about the Blob have not read or inquired into what the people in the think tanks have actually said about the topic. They don’t know what they’re talking about. [But...] if they want to say that Biden is doing something that Richard Haass disagrees with, then that’s true, he is.