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[Source: imdb.com]

Sebastian Junger and Charlie Sadoff’s gripping new documentary poses a bone-chilling prospect: Is America poised to descend into a second civil war? And, if so, will U.S. military veterans form a sort of Praetorian Guard for legions of assorted right-wing and gun-rights zealots, MAGA denizens, white nationalists, paramilitaries, neo-Nazis, insurrectionists, et al.?

The phrase that Junger and Sadoff’s award-winning film’s title is derived from—Against All Enemies—is repeated several times in their production. These three words are found in the enlistment oath administered to new members of the U.S. armed forces which begins: “I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”

Although a similar oath of office is taken by U.S. Senators, the title’s significance is that a substantial percentage of members of far-right organizations are veterans (as well as some active-duty military personnel), who are recruited by extremists to join militias and other anti-government groups.

The clear implication is that members of the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, QAnon, Patriot Front, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, KKK, etc., believe that they are acting to “defend the Constitution” against home-grown “enemies” of America’s sacrosanct framed rules. Their use of armed violence against those termed “enemies of the people” is therefore justified because they are protecting their country’s founding documents and principles out of a sense of patriotism.

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Proud Boys. [Source: nytimes.com]

This same enlistment oath also includes the phrase “I will obey the orders of the President of the United States,” which helps explain why, when President Trump summoned MAGA protesters to Washington, D.C., on the day that the results of the Electoral College vote would be ratified in Congress—promising readers of his social media it “will be wild!”—and then incited them to march to the Capitol (which had been cordoned off), the MAGA mob included a disproportionate number of veterans.

According to a January 21, 2021, NPR report: “nearly 1 in 5 people charged over their alleged involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol appear to have a military history.”

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Larry Rendall Brock, Jr., an Air Force veteran, is seen inside the Senate Chamber wearing a military-style helmet and tactical vest during the rioting at the U.S. Capitol. Federal prosecutors have alleged that, before the attack, Brock posted on Facebook about an impending “Second Civil War.” [Source: npr.org]

In addition to exploring this troubling phenomenon, Against All Enemies also explains why veterans are a coveted demographic sought after and recruited by fascistic fringe advocates of violent methods and ideology. Military veterans presumably have training in how to use weapons, from explosives to automatic firearms, as well as combat experience wherein they will have used those valuable, lethal skills taught to them by Uncle Sam and tested under fire. In addition, having been educated (and indoctrinated) by the armed forces, the Marines, Army, SEALs, etc., will have taught them tactics to deploy on the battlefield in an organized manner.

Stacking the Deck

The documentary, which is narrated by Peter Coyote, indicates that military tactics deployed by Oath Keepers during the January 6, 2021, riot enabled this paramilitary group to spearhead the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building amidst inchoate mass pandemonium.

According to a Justice Department press release, during the breach of the Capitol, Oath Keepers “joined hands on the shoulder with… members of their group and moved, in a coordinated and calculated fashion, up the steps of the Capitol in a military ‘stack’ formation.” (Participants in this military-style stack were subsequently convicted by a federal jury.) This is seen in Against All Enemies, which is skillfully edited by Nick Clark, combining archival footage with lots of original interviews, bringing viewers into the extremist camp.

Several high-profile, retired military personnel implicated in right-wing zealotry appear via news clips in the documentary. They include: Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh, who put his training and military expertise to efficient use on April 19, 1995, when he set off a bomb that helped destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the deadliest deed of domestic terrorism ever carried out in U.S. history. The ex-Infantry sergeant was executed June 11, 2001, for his role in the mass murder of 168 people, including 19 children. [See CAM exposé on this topic]

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn had the shortest tenure ever of any national security adviser. His 22-day stint as President Trump’s National Security Adviser ended in February 2017, after it came to light that Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his discussions with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Flynn was eventually charged with lying to the FBI about his Kislyak communications, to which Flynn eventually pled guilty. However, Trump pardoned Flynn on November 25, 2020, and the reactionary firebrand joined Trump’s “Stop the Steal” cause. The hardliner raised the specter of declaring martial law and a military seizure of voting machines as part of the crusade to keep Trump in the White House.

In addition, Flynn had failed to register as a foreign agent when he lobbied on behalf of Turkey. The morally compromised retired lieutenant general is a natural candidate for QAnon and, in Against All Enemies, Flynn is seen swearing an oath of allegiance to the extremist religious cult.

General Michael Flynn [Source: theguardian.com]

Another Army veteran repeatedly shown in Junger and Sadoff’s documentary is Elmer Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers. Against All Enemies makes the point that, while recruits to the Oath Keepers were impressed by Rhodes’ eyepatch, which some felt bestowed a swashbuckling, buccaneer panache upon him, Elmer actually lost his eye by accidentally shooting himself, not in a duel with a pirate.

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Elmer Stewart Rhodes [Source: axios.com]

On May 25, 2023, according to the DOJ, “Rhodes… and Kelly Meggs [who led the Oath Keepers’ aforementioned stack formation]…the leader of the Florida chapter of the organization, were sentenced today for seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Their actions disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election… Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in prison…

“The defendants also, collectively, employed a variety of manners and means, including: organizing into teams that were prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.; recruiting members and affiliates; organizing trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics; bringing and contributing paramilitary gear, weapons, and supplies – including knives, batons, camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection, and radio equipment – to the Capitol grounds; breaching and attempting to take control of the Capitol grounds and building on Jan. 6, 2021, in an effort to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the electoral college vote; using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021…”

Less prominent right-wing veterans are also interviewed by the filmmakers, such as Texan Eric “General E” Braden, a Second Amendment aficionado and founder of the Southern Patriot Council, whose perpetual smile may slyly conceal something sinister.

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General E [Source: atlanta.antifa.org]

All Hands on Deck

However, not all of the veterans who appear in Against All Enemies are adherents of far-right politics and/or belong to paramilitary units. Several vets who have served in Congress speak in what appear to be interviews original to the filmmakers. They include feisty Virginian Denver Riggleman, a one-term Republican congressman who fell into disfavor with the MAGA wing of the GOP when he officiated at a same-sex wedding. Riggleman also denounced QAnon on the floor of the House and, after losing his re-election bid, the former Air Force intelligence officer went on to be appointed as a staffer for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol.

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Denver Riggleman [Source: richmond.com]

Democratic congressmembers who oppose right-wing extremists and had served in the armed forces also speak on camera in the documentary. They include: former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot Rebecca Michelle “Mikie” Sherrill, who represents a New Jersey congressional district. Colorado Congressman Jason Crow deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and the elite 75th Ranger Regiment and is a Bronze Star recipient. Crow, also an attorney, served as an impeachment manager during the first impeachment trial of Trump. After graduating from Harvard, Seth Moulton served four tours of duty in Iraq, was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and attained the rank of captain in the Marine Corps. Moulton has represented Massachusetts’ 6th District since 2015.

While Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn is on the MAGA side of the aisle, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who led the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and was the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, also appears on screen in original material. In 2014 McChrystal endorsed Moulton in his congressional race and, in 2020, backed Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. The retired general is the highest-ranking retired officer interviewed in Against All Enemies who opposes the extremists. (McChrystal is no stranger to speaking with the media; his bad-mouthing of the Obama administration in a 2010 Rolling Stone story by Michael Hastings led to his resignation as Afghan commander.)

Iraq War vet and former sergeant Kristofer Goldsmith, a grass-roots activist who has been dubbed “The Neo-Nazi Hunter,” discusses Task Force Butler, the group he founded which, according to its website, “trains veterans in research and operations to counter extremism,” with the motto “veterans fighting fascism” (see: https://www.taskforcebutler.org/). This non-profit condemns the “radicalized Veterans carrying American flags and symbols of military service on January 6, 2021,” as they stormed the Capitol and offers “Veterans the opportunity to fight back,…to reclaim the meaning of patriotism, and to reshape the role Veterans play in America’s political landscape.” The organization is named after USMC Major Smedley Butler who, during the Depression, resisted and exposed a right-wing bid to recruit him to stage a coup against the Roosevelt administration.

Another combat veteran, Michael Breen, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now President and CEO of Human Rights First, offers penetrating commentary. Long-time conservative pundit Bill Kristol is also featured in an original interview.

Against All Enemies’ anti-fascist organizers and experts includes Dr. Kathleen Belew, an academic and author who has been blowing the whistle on white supremacists for years. The writer of 2019’s Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America provides invaluable historical context and insights in an original interview intercut throughout the documentary.

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[Source: bibliovault.org]

As fears of another civil war advance, the knowledgeable Belew traces the roots of today’s domestic terrorists to the Ku Klux Klan, founded by Confederate veterans of the Civil War, who after their defeat on the battlefield in 1865 formed an underground network to violently subvert equality for newly freed African Americans seeking to exercise voting and other human rights during and after the Reconstruction era. Like Trump’s chumps in the “Stop the Steal” movement, the KKK was motivated by “the Lost Cause.”


Offering a troubling insider view, Against All Enemies is the latest installment of productions that cover America’s looming fascist menace, including director Christoffer Guldbrandsen’s documentary A Storm ForetoldRoger Stone and Die and Stephen Sachs’s play about a January 6 insurrectionist, Fatherland.

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[Source: imdb.com]
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[Source: intimateexcellent.com]

The 106-minute Against All Enemies has won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at both the 2023 American Film Festival and at the 2023 Fair Hope Film Festival, as well as the Thaddeus Stevens Award for Social Engagement at the 2023 Middlebury Film Festival. (Thaddeus Stevens, of course, was the Radical Republican pushing for African American equal rights during Reconstruction.)

The documentary’s co-writer/co-producer Sebastian Junger is the famed war correspondent who directed the Afghan war docs 2010’s Academy Award-nominated Restrepo and 2014’s Korengal, and is the author of A Perfect Storm (which was adapted into the 2000 movie starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg).

According to Against All Enemies’ director/producer Charlie Sadoff, who comes from a military family. “By painting a fuller picture of these individuals and placing them in the context of history, my hope is that we not only have a better understanding of why they’ve chosen to turn their sights on the so-called enemy within but the threat that poses to the country they once swore an oath to defend.”

According to The Daily Beast, “In May 2021, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas informed the Senate Appropriations Committee that the greatest threat currently facing America was domestic in nature—specifically, ‘racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists’ who ‘advocate for the superiority of the white race.’”

However, as Against All Enemies points out, current laws are inadequate—there is no domestic terrorism statute per se. So what is to be done about rioters who fetishize the Constitution as some sort of totemic talisman but don’t seem to have actually read it? One solution was provided by editor-in-Chief Win McCormack’s Res Publica column in the April 2024 issue of The New Republic. The article has the subhead “Should the left arm itself?” and reaches this conclusion: “shouldn’t we be prepared for self-defense?”

Against All Enemies debuted March 29, 2024, in select theaters and on VOD. For more info see: https://againstallenemiesfilm.com/.

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About the Author


  1. I find this article very insulting and to speculate to roll-into-one category to lump gun owning Americans whether that served honorably or Americans that supports the US Constitution and freedom with nationalists and anti-government zealots and other radicalized groups for example BLM and Antifa [Antifa actions and behavior is that of fascism and the manifesto of Social Justice from the 1960s] … I had served in the US Army of 8 years from 87′ to 95′; I was 23 years old and yes there are some bad apples within the military from criminals that were given a choice to serve or serve in prison, gang members, both white and black nationalists as they represent race, and they believe to prepare for war and violence against one another… all of them together represents over 20% while the majority are decent moral Americans that would defend against and would also defend against a tyrannical government. What is difficult to ascertain is the present military that is Woke and pushing LGBTQ++ while to suffer a huge number of losses for recruitment and that can also extend within NATO forces doing the same indoctrination… There is a difference between patriots and nationalists as for Ukraine’s Banderites are saying don’t confuse patriotism and nationalism as they are the same is untrue as the US backed coup of 2014 and to place into power the Maidan Party and the rise of neo-Nazi Banderites that greatly influenced others in other countries where Anglo-Sazon nationalists reside believing it is possible to take power and to copy what Ukraine has done against those they believe to be sub-human with no rights just as Zionism is the very same ideology in Israel, Ukraine, and created communities in the US and elsewhere… Nazi Germany that embraced as the Master Race and Israel Zionists embraced to be Chosen People overall.
    The 1994 US Combat Arms Survey of 300 Marines gives example between patriots and those that would follow a government to enact tyranny and violence against any that opposed of a specific question to seize all guns and to use lethal force of Americans that resisted; as over 60% would resist and to protect as 2 other categories that would follow orders without question being 20 – 24% and the 10 -12% undecided that can spill either way… During the 1990s there was a secretive assessment conducted regarding resistance of certain Americans who own guns, who are veterans or currently serving, law enforcement, hunters, and general population having skill sets that would support the resistance this also included other groups who are the undesirable threats like gangs and violent criminals that everyone should be paying attention to and be aware of the threat they represent to engage in chaos will have free reign as it is noted that law enforcement and the National Guard/ Reserves will be ordered to protect high priority institutions, resources, and government and will not protect the general public from harm. I would be also worried of persons that want to act on revenge for any reason that could be your neighbor, your co-worker, or encounters of random strangers that can be violent.
    The government under Democrat majority have proven to engage and kill Americans in Ruby Ridge and Waco and to have used the Joint Task Force… allowed riots and chaos since Covid/ enforced mandates, defund the police, turning felony criminal laws to misdemeanors/ removed laws that were working, allowing crime and murder to rise, pushing Wokeness/ Social Justice-Climate Change Warriors instead of education and grooming children and young adolescents by bad parents, educators/ school counselors, politicians, and social media influencers they’re either gay, trans, or non-binary nonsense that is destroying vulnerable young people… the open borders that is not secured as these illegal immigrants are being funded including government services as Democrats goal is to change the electoral votes by US Census to count them as citizens and openly commit voter fraud to stay in power… America is falling apart, and it is just going to get worse.
    Better be prepared and have a plan.

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