Thursday, June 12, 2014

War Weary America, "Not Again!"

News is coming in this week from Iraq about ISIS, the al Qaeda inspired jihadists who are overrunning the country en route to Baghdad. When one calculates the blood and treasure America has left behind there, it is sad to contemplate how futile our efforts have been in helping to put Iraq back on its feet since the regime of Saddam Hussein was toppled.

Incredibly, today President Barack Obama made a stunning statement. "The world," he asserted, "has never been less violent than it is today." I guess any logical person would have to say that to be true one would have to look at where one was living. As throngs flee the violence and the Iraq army lays down its arms and runs to avoid the confrontation with evil, how could one assert in their situation that the world is less violent?

War will always be with us. I am grieved routinely when I think about the costs in lives it will mean. Yet another round of violence and lawlessness appears ready to explode across the Middle East. All of our interventions of the past to alleviate the suffering have proven futile and ineffective. Freedom, it seems, is never permanent as long as tyrants exert their unchecked influence.

I am reminded that in 2009, the Obama Administration officially declared the end of the use of the term "War on Terrorism". With sober, but flawed, feigned sagacity, the Pentagon declared these "incidents" would be referred to as "Overseas Contingency Operations".

The political fall out since then in foreign policy is nearly incalculable. Consistently looking the other way and ignoring the onward march of evil allows the resulting vacuum to be filled with unsavory characters who are emboldened by America's lack of attention.

I do not advocate, as the hawks in Washington, for "drastic measures". I've seen enough of that, and so have most of us.

One could call it naive, but I think most Americans are past that. As we think about all the work done there to give Iraqis their freedom, and now to see it all being swept away in yet another flood of aggression, who among us would vote for going back to Iraq and giving it another try? I suspect very few.

We are weary of wars and rumors of wars. I always reflect in these sobering moments on the remarkable prophecy on war by Joseph Smith in 1832:

SECTION 87 of The Doctrine and Covenants

Revelation and prophecy on war, given through Joseph Smith, December 25, 1832. History of the Church 1:301-2.

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;
2 And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.
3 For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.
4 And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.
5 And it shall come to pass also that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves, and shall become exceedingly angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.
6 And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations;
7 That the cry of the saints, and of the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.
8 Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen.

* * *

The concluding verse is perhaps our key to understanding. While we yearn for peace on earth, there will be no peace until He comes again. The Middle East combatants will not suddenly sit down one day soon and devise a "two-state" solution for the border conflicts extant in Israel. Afghanistan and Iran will not one day suddenly devise a truce with terrorist factions determined to overthrow freedom in every country on earth.

Mark Twain
What we can do, we must to promote peace everywhere we have the chance. I have thought so many times how simple the whole plan of salvation might have been absent that pesky principle of agency. Much as we would like to sometimes, we cannot force our will upon others, only through patience, long-suffering and love unfeigned.

Choices, agency and consequences make up the fabric of our lives. Sometimes the poor choices of others affect us dramatically, particularly when those choices lead to war in all its hues and shapes. It all begins with one individual deciding to make a beginning toward a better tomorrow.

I have no illusions about world peace, but I do know that I can be at peace with myself. Mark Twain once sagely observed, "Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."

May everyone have an abundance of all three!

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