John, et al, - as you can see I have tried to be more complete, in my
answers than perhaps you acknowledge. In fact I have made some
modifications to your list of understanding. Read the following from a
previous post and then my comments at the end of this post. I would be
interested in where we all agree and where we do not with my list and
comments. Once we have a better idea of the standards it will be fun to see
how the current situation fits with the agreed upon standards.
George said in an earlier post:
From the first I have used Alma 48, et al, to start the definition of a
moral war. I think that John has, in this instance, done an admirable, but
basic and incomplete, job of defining what is needed for moral action in the
event of war. Therefore, I would like to add a few comments based on my
own feelings, as well as some contributions from others in this discussion.
I am using Johns comments as a beginning point of discussion, therefore what
follows is not a critique, rather an expansion.
1) We defend ourselves even if it means shedding blood.
I must add the consideration of doing all we can to avoid killing and
destruction insofar as possible. We can not, when given the justification
to go to war, use it as a pretense, or cause, to wield unfettered
destruction and death upon the enemy. This is against the basic nature of
the combatants, who have the tendency and instructions to go out and do all
the damage possible to defeat the enemy. The control, however difficult, of
such warriors is one aspect of Morality in war
2) We never give offense.
We must also act proactively to correct the causes that might give
offense, not to the extreme of doing anything at any cost, but we must act
to prevent and correct negative conditions throughout the world.
3) We never fight except to preserve our lives.
There is an additional consideration as we also have a obligation to
preserve principles, not just our lives. There are principles that are
worthy to give our lives for. We can preserve our lives by giving in to
tyrants. This is not acceptable and is in fact immoral to do so. The
reason we fight is as important as the way we fight. The acquisition of
land and influence is not a principle that is acceptable as a reason to go
to war. But the preservation of Liberty and freedom is a cause for action.
The question was asked by one, is it not possible for both sides to
fight a moral war? No, it is not!!! We must only fight after we have done
all we can to prevent a war. If both sides are trying to do this, war will
not occur. Moral action by both parties will always result in peace. For
war to occur one or both must be acting immorally.
We have every moral right to act in our best interests, in complying
with this 3rd consideration, and therefore to act when the other side is
preparing or taking the first steps to act against us. Such hostile
preparations can be a cause for pre-emptive action, but only after all other
means of resolution are exhausted.
4) We only fight when God commands us to fight.
This is good, but not possible in today's world. The best we can do is make
sure that our definition of Moral war is consistent with Gods commandments
and then do our best to comply.
5) We must treat the losers with honor and dignity, irrespective of their
prior actions. We must do all we can to mitigate the effects of our actions
against them. The moral victor must always look at the loser as a victim of
a terrible tragedy, even if brought upon themselves, and must do all they
can to correct the negative situation.
Other questions such as "crossing boundaries" or "international law" or
"Geneva Convention" only are applications of the basic considerations of
Moral action in the event of war.
We are a people of Peace, both as Church members and as citizens of Nations.
I believe this is especially true of the United States, but also of other
nations most of the time. You can point out all sorts of actions that might
seem to go against the argument, but I think that MOST actions by the US fit
into the above criteria.
Would anyone disagree with this definition of Moral War? Or would anyone
add to this list of requirements?
Now if you want the flames to fly - apply this to a real situation and we
will see how difficult it is to fight a moral war and apply each of these
rules to the conflict.
George now adds to the discussion with two additional comments:
1. I have never said that George Bush is like unto Moroni. That is
something you have added to the discussion. I have said that the two
situations, Alma 48 and today, have a great deal in common, from the point
of view of the situation causing the response and what the appropriate
response might be today.
2. If you require that the United States, or any other nation, be perfectly
righteous before any moral action can be taken, then our discussion is over.
Over - because you set an unnecessarily impossible condition for moral
action. Nice to strive for, but impossible both individually and
I certainly do not claim that the United States citizenry is perfect.
But I do not share your pessimism regarding their current state of
wickedness. (or is it optimism regarding the closeness of the Second
Coming) At any rate I firmly believe that the majority of Americans are
good, honest, morally upright people. I also, with you, believe that, as a
group, we are more wicked than we have ever been and are headed in the wrong
direction. Of course, with this assessment comes the acknowledgment of the
opposite group of people that are more righteous than ever and are headed in
the right direction, but they are fewer than the other wicked group.
There is no doubt that we are headed to a fulfillment of prophecy, and
that includes war, chaos, and all sorts of unpleasant situations (esp. for
the wicked) The problem is that there is not a person on this earth that
can give an absolutely clear projection of the future, can certainly not
give an accurate time table. Therefore, until we get that direction, we
must seek for the best that we can do in today's world with our current
understanding. As I understand the process Zion will be separated from the
rest of the world because the rest of the world will be unable to tolerate
the "light", etc that will emanate from the various places of Zion. We are
a long way from that situation right now.
If you like I will, in my next post, give a precise list of elements that I
consider part of the definition, but they will simply be a listing and
clarification of the points I have made above.
George Cobabe, CLU, ChFC
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