January 28

A writer proving the Book of Mormon defense of Preemptive war, or just another war mongering propagandist?

There’s an interesting fellow, by the name of Morgan Deane, whom I ran across over at puremormonism.blogspot.com. Mr. Deane is a highly credentialed–as far as the state is concerned–teacher at BYU-I, and former Marine.

He has books, several papers and a blog where he summarizes his books and papers. He defends the “Bush doctrine”. He has an article here http://mormonwar.blogspot.com/2010/04/book-of-mormon-is-not-relevant-for-our.html, where he defends “offensive” warfare. He brings up the term “offensive defensive” and claims that is what the “Nephites of old” practiced.

He claims Moroni practiced “offensive” warfare, saying:

…..once Nephite lands were invaded, they felt it was “no sin” to resort to offensive maneuvers and stratagems to defeat their enemies (Alma 43:30). Thus the Nephite strategy could be better described as the “offensive-defensive”, where they don’t seek offensive maneuvers until a clear and present danger presents itself. Moroni’s action against the King Men, where he presumptively “cut off” Amalickiah before he could join the Lamanites (Alma 46:30) is one example.

Apparently Deane fails to understand the first part of his sentence, “once Nephite lands were invaded”. When you have been invaded, doesn’t that put you in a defensive position? Of course an offensive maneuver against an invader, on your own property, violating your rights, is justified by God. For the non-believer, the non aggression principle also justifies this behavior.

The Kingmen argument isn’t any better. The Kingmen were in the Nephite lands, attempting to take control of the government–you know, that rogue organization that always claims a monopoly on violent force. How is it offensive to cut off someone in “your land” from subverting your rights, freedoms and religion?

Now Moroni’s preemption operated on a much smaller scale. Premodern battle consisted of face to face encounters. The armies that travelled to these battles were limited by the primitive logistics of the age. (They didn’t get a Burger King in Kabul back then.) Their logistical limits are compound by the apparent lack of wheeled transport in pre Colombian Mesoamerica. But even with an army’s damage limited to what they can personally smash or kill, and a nation’s limitations in supplying them, the Lamanites could quickly desolate some cities before the Nephites “could raise a sufficient army”(Alma 16:2-3). In Helaman 1:19 the Lamanites marched “with such great speed” that they captured the capital city. And ultimately they completed their genocide with their primitive means.

Today battlefields stretch over many miles. The personal weapon of an infantrymen, the M-16, has an effective range of roughly a third of a mile. Jet fighters, stealth bombers, and cruise missiles can launch from one location and strike 6,000 miles away. And Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles can truly live up to their name and strike from continents away.

World wide airline and naval travel easily transport dangerous people and material. The Nephites must have been surprised at how narrow their strip of wilderness could be at times, our protection is just as thin if we do not set proper guards (Hel 1:18) or be “up and doing” in defense of our liberty(Alma 60:24).

Okay, Mr. Deane. Do the weapons and travel arrangements of “dangerous People” change the nature of what constitutes offense and/or aggression? If so, maybe the travel arrangements of attractive women could change what constitutes adultery. After all, worldwide airline travel easily transports beautiful women. “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, may not apply in the modern world. Of course, that is ridiculous, right on the face of it, but what’s the difference?

Of course, being “up and doing” in defense of our liberty is no sin. The key word being defense. Or are you speaking “offensive defensive” here? Does that term mean the same as only defense, in your mind?

During the Cold War we could nominally count on the international order to restrain the actions of our enemy. But even this existence led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and Krushchev threatening to “swat America’s ass” with the weapons he inserted there. Now we face regimes that explicitly reject that world order, support terrorism as an arm of foreign policy, and seek the most devastating weapons known to man.

Out of curiosity, how many nations, if any that have not had American military/CIA interventions into their lands are supporting terrorism and seek the “most devastating weapons known to man”? Did it ever cross your mind, that maybe….just maybe, “terrorist promotors” and “devastating weapon” seekers have had the American military intervening in their affairs for at least 50 years or more?

The threat is just as real and apparent as the Lamanites marching on Zarahemla. Yet if we wait for the launch of nuclear missiles, or a terrorist attack using the same, we will be lamenting the desolation of Ammonihah instead. Arguing for a neo isolationist foreign policy based on The Book of Mormon ignores the strategic realities that both nations faced as a result of geography and technology. The nature of modern technology, the connection of rogue regimes with terrorist organizations, the precedent re enforced by 9/11, and the shrinking world of globalization demand that pursue an “offensive defensive” like the Nephites of old.

Could you please describe what a “neo-isolationist” foreign policy is? Did it ever occur to you that non aggression and non interventionism are different than isolationism? Many of the founders were non-interventionists. A good summary of of non-interventionism would be Jeffersons “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations…entangling alliances with none”. I have yet to ever meet an isolationist, let alone a neo isolationist. I’m sure they’re out there, just as there are avowed communists out there, but it seems that you conflate two different things to be the same.

You aren’t afraid to use straw men, as evidenced here: http://mormonwar.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-butchers-apostle-context-for-anti.html

It is tempting and easy to say you are anti war.  With the horrors of death and a humanistic concern for the individual welfare, not to mention the often naked use of power we see around the world, it is understandable.  But many anti war advocates don’t consider the logical outcomes of their actions. Thus somebody who was anti war during WWII, inevitably became pro Nazi.

This is a perfect definition of straw man. It is akin to, anyone who opposes public education, inevitably becomes pro ignorance. Anyone who opposes the Nazism inevitably becomes pro communist. Anyone who opposes speed limits, inevitable becomes pro death, blood and carnage on the highways.

It is disheartening, Mr. Deane, that you have influence on so many youth at BYU-I. You go to great lengths to attempt to construe the Book of Mormon in a way that fits your world view and your former craft as a government troop. I would have rooted you and your propaganda on back when I was younger in the early 2000’s. Thank God, that I was able to find influence other than people like you, to persuade me to look at things from another perspective, outside of the statist box of glorified warfare, killing and carnage. People who persuaded me to ask questions and challenge my preconceptions and worldview. People who taught me Cui Bono. One can only hope that your history students run into the same opportunities.

In fairness, Mr. Deane you have requested that people read your book before making an argument with you. To that, I have to respond that none of your non-book writings make a compelling case to read your book(s). My first introduction to libertarianism and anarchism came from a Walter Block youtube video on privatization of roads. From there, I listened to a Tom DiLorenzo youtube on Alexander Hamilton, that was very provocative. I couldn’t believe that someone could bash one of the “founders” like that. After listening, I had to have his books on Hamilton and Lincoln. It was these men’s sound summaries and commentary that got me to read their books, further solidifying their ideas and factual evidence as sound. Your summaries and commentary do nothing of the sort. They lead me to believe that your book isn’t worth the read. Surely your book is more thorough, but all indications are that it is more thorough in Straw men, loosely and/or undefined terms, and conjecture.

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Posted January 28, 2015 by Irven Hill in category "Uncategorized


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