Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Just and Preemptive War, Who Said it Better?


    I’m working on my next project which is a systematic assessment and the relationship of all the Mormon scriptures on warfare. On occasion I found something that expresses an idea that I have previously expressed. This has happened in the past with both preemptive war and strategy. I like to share them because it’s a good way to highlight what I’m reading and thinking as I’m reading. Also because it’s a good boost to know that my analysis and instincts are so keen that I find them repeated in previously unread texts!! Those texts are often seminal works in the field and yet you get them in plain language and for free from your humble blogger.

    Here are the newest comparisons. I wrote this back in 2011 (based on a draft written in 2009!! I had the danger of nuclear weapons and the need for preemptive war when I wrote point #5):

“It is difficult to justify offensive action based on possible future events or latent evil,”[1]

    Micheal Walzer wrote:

We can make only short-term predictions, and we have no way that even mimics mathematics of comparing the costs of fighting to the costs of not fighting, since [the first] set of costs is necessarily speculative,[2]

    Both examples explain how the argument for war is tough because it’s based on possible events or just speculative. 

    In my seven-part series on preemptive war one of the major lessons regarded the benefits of choosing the time and place of the battle instead of having the enemy seize the initiative and bring the battle to you. This is one of several times I make the point:

Just as the people of Zeniff likely learned, it was better and less bloody to fight a battle at a time and place of their choosing, then having to hastily form their own army (Alma 16:3), and then later fight at a disadvantage.  

    Again, Michael Walzer wrote in the anticipation spectrum about the difference between preventive and preemptive war. He wrote a nation must show:

A manifest intent to injure, a degree of active preparation that makes that intent a positive danger, and a general situation in which waiting, or doing anything other than fighting, greatly magnifies that risk.[3]

The key point of similarity is that waiting to fight is too great of a danger and thus a nation must attack.

I hope you enjoy the same insights each said in two different ways. Who do you think said it better? I appreciate the chance to read these great texts and that my ideas often match them so well. I’ve got more research coming and I hope to share it with you soon.

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[1] Morgan Deane, “Offensive Warfare and a Defense of the Bush Doctrine’ in War and Peace: Mormon Perspectives on War, (Greg Kofford Books, 2012) 38.

[2] Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, (Basic Books, 1977) xvi.

[3] Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, 81.