I read an interesting thread over at Pure Mormonism. The author, Rock Waterman mentioned a book about the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. Being the literal Deane of warfare in the Book of Mormon I thought it worth point out I have a book and several publications on the subject. Unfortunately, instead of reading my book, Irven Hill, has decided to write a post in response. Irven Hill’s poor arguments and frequent use of ad hominem undermine his attempts to be taken seriously.
(All quotes from the article unless otherwise noted.)
“Apparently Deane fails to understand the first part of his sentence, “once the Nephite lands were invaded.”
“Apparently” is the only correct word in that sentence. As I described in Moroni’s preemptive war Moroni also expelled the Lamanites from their lands during a time of peace see (Alma 50:7 for example.) This is on top of preemptive action against Amalickiah when there wasn’t a time of war. You have an example of preemmptive action both within and outside Mormon lands without a peep from the narrator, who, if we are to believe my opponents, was so against preemptive war that he refused to lead his people and would rather they were slaughtered than commit an act of preemptive war. This is a strange place in the narrative to suddenly go silent.
“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?”
Yes. The wonder of modern pills notwithstanding, a person still has to commit adultery by being in the same room (and probably within nine inches or so) of the person with whom they are committing adultery. Though Jesus did say you can commit adultery in your heart just by looking at a women. In that sense modern technology does make it easier to commit adultery. A person can watch smut on television, or porn on their computer and commit adultery with far greater ease. That means modern technology has changed the many ways we must prepare and defense ourselves.
Part of this defense includes preemptively, (rut roh), deciding to take a course of action. This means using the vchip, filters on the computer, or adopting a very proactive policy of combating (ahem) the problem. I normally don’t include explanations this long. But Hill tried to use the adultery example to show how ridiculous it is to believe that modern technology can change the speed and destructiveness of adultery or enemy technology. (Keep in mind that nuclear weapons delivered by terrorists and facilitated by rogue regimes getting weapons of mass destruction were the major reasons Bush gave for preemptive war.) The easy facilitation of porn, that is, modern technology, has changed adultery for men, to the point that those who are in combat with pornography have to adopt preemptive measures to avoid it. In short, he proved my point.
“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?”
The offensive defensive is a specific strategy described by Russell Weigley to describe, among other things, the Confederate strategy during the civil war. Of course Hill would know if he bothered to read the several published chapters I have on this matter, and not argue with a preliminary blog post more than a half decade old. On the Pure Mormonism thread I practically begged him and others to read the refined and published material, but these people, who always claim to be very serious about liberty and warfare, can’t be bothered to read some important texts on the matter, such as the one endorsed by Rock Waterman himself: War and Peace in Our Times: MormonPerspectives.
“Now 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 promoters” and “devastating weapon” seekers have had the American military intervening in their affairs for at least 50 years or more?”
I assume he is referencing the blowback argument, though asking questions is a poor form of arguing. Instead of asking questions, a stronger argument would simply answer the questions and make the point. (In contrast to the war mongering that libertarians think I promote with my students, I really teach them how to write expository essays, which includes not advancing the argument with questions.) That aside, this is referring to the blowback theory that blames America for terrorist actions. Their central point is that the CIA intervened in Afghanistan and we ended up supplying and supporting the people who ended up attacking us on 9/11. There isn’t a straight line between the two events, nor do blowback theorists properly account for the cost of inaction. Outside of vaguely implying it, the author didn’t make a case for blowback. So I’m not going to make his argument for him, and then provide my counter argument. If he wants to get serious and provide one, I reserve the right to respond.
“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?:”
This is more weak argumentation in the form of questions. Yes it occurred to me and I reject the notion they are different. I have significant archival experience studying early Cold War politics for which I won the George C. Marshall Award. I have seen the same arguments, and sometimes almost the same words, in support of isolationism from today with those made in 1950. These arguments include America lacking a moral right to intervene, American actions causing foreign hostility in the first place (see above), the material cost of war being too much, and American imperialism taking away from nation building at home. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, no matter how much you want to be called something slightly different after the ducks have been discredited. Since one is newer than other, modern proponents making the same arguments earn the term “neo,” which is another word for “new.”
“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.”
This is the most frustrating part in dealing with libertarians. A person that disagrees with them is not just wrong, but they are a war mongering propagandist, a brainwashing teacher, or a biased apologist for the military. Others have labelled their opponents as Gadianton Robbers, and compared the church PR department to Nazis propagandists. I understand there are strong differences of opinion. Since war is the way to life or death, as Sunzi said, it demands a thorough examination. But arguments such as these from Mr. Hill, are incredibly light on argument, but heavy on attacks and poor questions. That isn't close to the kind of study that subject demands.
His frequent attacks are somewhat ironic as well. Hill accused me of providing a fallacious straw men argument. And at Pure Mormonism, a pedantic poster named Gary Hunt kept posing as a fallacy cop. After demanding I take a pop quiz before he talked with me, he pointed out all of the supposed fallacies I was making, and he even suggested I study them! But sprinkled in with all of this fallacy policing was a liberal dose of the ad hominem fallacy. As I said before, I wish radical libertarians would spend a little more time in the library, with serious books about warfare in the Book of Mormon, and a little less time hurling insults in their online echo chambers.
The biggest irony of all, is that people like Hill have hyperventilated so much over this subject, they failed to realize that I have additional research that points out the negative consequences of Moroni’s actions. In case that isn't clear enough, that means I'm somewhat walking back my previous arguments! But I'm doing so based on a careful and detailed study of Helaman and 3 Nephi, not because my opponents call me a propagandist and fail to read anything that disagrees with them! (See the last paragraph of his post where he explains why he won’t buy any of the books I recommended). I often joke that I sit alone because the conversation is better. Well, I also have to argue alone because few even summarize my arguments correctly, let alone engage them in a substantive and scholarly manner. Thanks for reading.
 Russell Weigley, The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Policy and Strategy (Bloomington: University of Indiana, 1977), 97.