Mykel Hawke: How to tell when a nation state is about to fail/fall | Survival Gear Systems

SGS has had the opportunity to interview survival expert, Mykel Hawke, on various topics and we love the insight he provides not only from his experience actually witnessing disaster situations throughout the world, but living through them. Hawke is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Officer, a best selling author, and the creator of Discovery Channel's Man Woman Wild, was featured in the History Channel's Frontiersmen, and boasts many other TV and Film credits. Moreover, FEMA has asked Hawke to be on the Board of Advisors for Mass Disaster Preparation and is working with Healing Wounds, an outdoor project for children of Fallen Heroes.

In this extensive interview, Hawke opens our eyes as to what is already happening in the world and what could happen in any country at any time.

The Interview

  1. Are there general social, geopolitical, and financial climates that may lend themselves to a nation collapsing?

MYKEL: I have seen a nation fall right before my eyes. Sierra Leone, West Africa, 1998-1999. I was there when the rebels began a massive push to take the country with the aid of a former Soviet Country and they took the entire nation, including Freetown, the capitol.

There are almost always indicators, the CIA has done great studies on this and while at first blush, it might not make sense, but let's look at why they are good.

  1. Infant Mortality- Coup d'Etat: When it goes up, a nation is about to go down. The reason is that folks can tolerate almost all kinds of economic hardship, be it from lack of resources or from government deprivation. But when their children start dying because the system is so broken, the health care can't save their kids, they lose their marbles, rightfully so, and then upheaval is about to ensue.
  2. Birth Rate- War: If more boys than girls are born, especially, for example, like in China as a result of their government only allowing 1 child, while the culture insists on a boy first, then all the girls are aborted or killed. 20 years later, you have a glut of males, with no outlet for family and they enter military service and seek other aggressive outlets. The end result is that nations tend to lean more towards conflict than diplomacy when they have such a surplus.
  3. Laws- Revolution: When many laws are enacted that restrict freedom and hinder commerce, there tends to be slow disconnect between the populace and their loyalty to the leadership. This usual response is a more dictatorial, totalitarian or fascist response all leading to the same end state of revolution as the people feel so backed into a corner, with no legal recourse, they take to more physical actions which are met with heavy handed police and military actions. Once the people are vilified by the Authorities, loyalties in the troops are split and defections occur and the wheels of revolution begin- which is always a very bloody, and maybe, the only way to restore balance.
  4. What environments can a failing nation produce for its society and culture? (E.g. fear, social and governmental distrust, anxiety, poverty, etc.)

MYKEL: One of the biggest factors are when crimes go unpunished, or worse, get rewarded. People lose faith in the government and hope of justice. That leads to apathy in some, and aggression in others. Another big factor is when truth is suppressed and lies are touted. When folks see that the truths they know are being hidden, and lies they can see are being presented, they lose trust in the authorities and the press. When that happens, distrust prevails and rumors abound. This is a direct path to chaos for all sides.

  1. What kind of leadership can rise from a failing government? Can they be both good and bad?

MYKEL: Great Question! In my opinion, there are 2 main kinds of leaders who step up when things go wrong- good ones, and bad ones. The good ones tend to be helping, caring, and have creative ideas for remedy and reparation. Bad ones tend to focus on power grabs, forced control and use "stability" justify use of violence.

  1. What role can a nation’s military play when its infrastructure fails? Can they crumble and/or fracture too?

MYKEL: Another great question! History has proven every single time, that the military has been used as a force against the people and as a powerful leverage to keep them suppressed. America is unique in this singular way- We were born out of a war against this kind of power.

We have a Constitution that guarantees our rights to bear arms specifically for the purpose to keep our government in check. And our Military Officers, like still am until 2020, are sworn to uphold the Constitution, not any President or General. So, by design, we are there as a moral compass to know when to follow legal orders and when to disobey illegal ones. That is my hope for our nation- these great men and woman who are commissioned officers would know when to not go against their own people, even if ordered to do so from on high. For other countries- no such options exists, they do what they're told or they are jailed or killed.

So, in a worst case scenario here at home, yes, the military may be used against the populace, but many would refuse and defect, so the bottom line is, yes, the military can fracture just like any other human entity.

  1. What are some ramifications seen by a populace when their governmental infrastructure fails? (E.g. insurgencies, civil wars, abandonment). What are some specific examples?

MYKEL: That is a big question but the easiest answer is looting. That is the first thing that will happen if/when the government fails. Civil wars ensue only after politics fail. Insurgencies rarely succeed and only can if the government becomes so corrupt that they lose the support of the majority and the population actually supports the insurgents. Coups only happen when the key leaders feel the main leaders are corrupt to the point of major harm to the nation.

  1. Why do genocides usually happen when some nations fall? What can a population who might be at risk of genocide do? What are some of the warning signs an at-risk population look for if genocide or social-cleansing is rumored? Can you give specifics?

MYKEL: Genocides have always happened and are happening now. Cambodia is doing their best to kill their indigenous tribes. Bosnia was a classic example of purging as older conflicts and border lines became major issues once there was the power vacuum of the wall falling down. Rwanda was a horrible example of large scale genocide, all because one side was different than the other and didn't like them and the government supported their position and actions. Interesting to note that for the United Nations to class a "cleansing" as a genocide, they wait until 1 million humans are killed to take action- for many minorities, they don't have a million folks total.

  1. It’s been said that most Democracies seem to last between 200 and 250 years before they begin to fall apart. The U.S. is approaching the 250-year threshold. Is it possible for the United States Government and infrastructure to collapse? What could cause such an event? (E.g. financial, corruption, war, civil war, political, environmental disaster, etc.)

MYKEL: YES! Democracy is fragile. It requires people to work and apathy destroys it. Right now, with people so divided between democrat and republican, each vilifying the other and many folks judging and classing entire groups based on that simple political leaning, there is a great tendency towards very hostile attitudes and a propensity towards violent reactions.

When Leaders give People key government positions based on loyalty to an individual over loyalty to their country and constitution and when significant political posts are granted based off of campaign contributions over qualifications for the job and when the Constitution, Rule of Law and Will of the People are constantly over ridden to serve the purpose of the leader versus the leader serving the people, then yes, those kinds of things could lead to a major clash between those who honor the constitution and those who worship the cult of personality.

  1. What scenarios within society, and the government, could play out if the U.S. infrastructure collapsed?

MYKEL: Nothing good would come of it, on that, you can be sure. There are way too many variations on the them to enumerate here, but for sure, there would be looting, robbery, rape, murder, power grabs, chaos, disease, violence and death all around. Stability would only return if most everyone is dead or with a power grab and then for sure, a Dictator will follow.

  1. Are there warning signs that U.S. citizens should pay attention to in our Government today? What role can U.S. citizens play to prevent and prepare for a governmental collapse?

MYKEL: I, for one, personally see warning signs right now. In my opinion, a good leader unites the people, not divides them. They serve the people, they don't see them as slaves to serve their position. They seek to help grow their country like a parent helps a child to grow. They seek balance in business, government and politics the same as Parents teach their kids balance in school work, athletic activities and social settings. Right now, we are highly polarized instead of galvanized and that is a sad state of affairs to my way of thinking.

  1. Final thoughts?

MYKEL: I have been teaching for over 20 years and my main staple of instruction is for folks to learn how to read, study, review, learn and decide for themselves. I hope people can seek balance and compromise as we move forward. Alot of folks are upset and social media lets them vent, but many use it for hate mongering instead of peace brokering. We seem to be going backwards with flat earthers and isolationists and all other manner of less than stellar thoughts and deeds. I keep faith in people, tho' as there are always good humans and good leaders. I pray, for both. Peace.

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