(FINANCIAL TIMES) - In the summer of 2015, America caught a glimpse of how its future could unfold. The US military conducted a routine exercise in the south that triggered a cascade of conspiracy theories, particularly in Texas. Some believed the manoeuvre was the precursor to a Chinese invasion; others thought it would coincide with a massive asteroid strike. The exercise, called Jade Helm 15, stood for "homeland eradication of local militants", according to one of the right's dark fantasy sites.
Texas' Republican governor Greg Abbot took these ravings seriously. He ensured that the 1,200 federal troops were closely monitored by the armed Texas National Guard. In that bizarre episode, which took place a year before Mr Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president, we see the germs of an American break-up.