Theology of the Sneak Attack?

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_Gadianton
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Theology of the Sneak Attack?

Post by _Gadianton »

In his "Interpreter" article, Morgan Deane, a war historian, reviews the work of a pro-war Mormon philosopher, Duayne Boyce, who wrote a book called "Even Unto Bloodshed."

http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/a-vita ... es-on-war/

You learn something new every day. I, for one, had no idea Mormons held pacifist attitudes toward warfare that needed to be corrected. It's always seemed to me fighting for freedom is a top priority of Latter-Day Saints in a general enough sense that it should never be a problem to back the United States in any war efforts, but apparently, there are some dangerous anti-war undercurrents in Mormon culture. A new article from the Interpreter praises a recent book intended to root out pacifist attitudes that have infected society in general and Latter-Day Saints in particular.

Deane wrote:Boyce argues that the framework for secular and spiritual pacifism fails and seeks to replace it with an LDS framework for just war theory... he succeeds beautifully in contesting the rationale for pacifism, though the work remains too brief to do full justice to a full LDS just war theology.


I'll admit I'm blown away right at the outset. I'd never even heard of "just war theory" let alone "LDS just war theory" until today. And notice that theory interchanges with theology. LDS just war theology is what, the study of God-directed warfare? Divine mandated war? LOL! I'm sorry, but I'm just imagining myself at a party, and a young scholar walks up to me and introduces himself as so-and-so, an "LDS just war theologian".

Now, if you've never heard of just war theory, I don't think it takes much of an introduction, you might invent the field on your own by contemplating the obvious. Imagine you're on a playground, and the school bully walks up and kicks you in the nuts, what are you going to do? Is it really a hard sell to a gathering crowd that you're alright by punching him in the face and laying him out cold on the ground? How many LDS bystanders out there, even the most peace loving of them, would seriously condemn your actions, even if they felt a non-violent response were a better way? Seriously, is there really a culture of LDS pacifism out there willing to let the bully kick your ass all day long with impunity, such that an entire field of study called "LDS just war theology" needs to be invented to preserve our freedom?

Apparently there is. And as you might have guessed, Hugh Nibley is part of the problem. Boy, does Nibley take the beatings from the right-wing heirs to his apologetic legacy.

Deane wrote:Particularly commendable is his [Page 161]criticism of Hugh Nibley’s arguments against warfare. Nibley was an excellent, groundbreaking scholar in many different fields, but too many Latter-day Saints have relied upon his light instead of developing their own insights, to the point that his words are sometimes quoted like scripture.


Unbelievable. There's more than just a little insinuation here. Have any of you ever heard a fellow Latter-Day Saint quote Nibley on his anti-war sentiments? How many Latter-Day Saints can really tell you what Nibley believed about anything, let alone what he specifically believed about war? I certainly couldn't say much about Nibley's pacifism, I don't even recall if he had a real position here. I can easily outline his basic views on society, economics, and politics though. Excepting a few liberal academics, Boyce and Deane seem to me to be preaching to the choir.

Anyhow, there's got to be something more fulfilling for the LDS just war theologian than merely debunking pacifism, and you might be able to guess what it is, just as I, in fact, guessed it. This anti-pacifist foundation paves the way for one thing in particular, although apparently, Boyce leaves that one thing a little understated, to the disappointment of Deane:

Deane wrote:For example, he defended preemptive war conceptually (247–249) but didn’t comment upon the Iraq War.


And there it is. It's not going to be all that hard to convince a crowd, even a crowd with a few self-styled pacifists, that striking back against the aggressor is morally reprehensible. Exhibit A: all the liberals who love Quentin Tarantino. But it's another matter entirely to size up that bully as he prances around the playground full of confidence, and to lay him flat on the ground before he's actually done anything wrong. Now, the crowd isn't so sure.

It Appears Boyce's work lays the foundation for the theology of the sneak attack, but I would counter Deane's criticism and say that it's more effective for Boyce to lay the foundation and let the reader fill that part in, rather than risk controversy and lose part of his audience with him to that point. Deane might consider that sometimes it's more effective to let certain things remain unsaid. Apparently, Deane's own work takes the project of preemptive war on fully. He writes on Sic et Non regarding his own books (while discussing his review):

Deane wrote:I also make my arguments that defend preemptive war. Not to sound like a broken record but you'd have to get my published work to fully engage them. In case you missed the subtext, that means I think the various rants that have and will inevitably appear against preemptive war are fairly silly.


At any rate, it seems to me these folks practice what they preach. It wouldn't quite be fair to say they've claimed Mormon culture has become anti-war. But just like that bully on the playground whose shifting eyes may imply just about anything: Nibley and J. Reuben Clark are pretty well known, have made harsh statements about war, and it's reasonable to believe many Saints could be taken by their views uncritically, so what better move than a preemptive strike, to ensure pacifism doesn't take root in LDS culture in any kind of serious way?
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.
_hagoth7
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Re: Theology of the Sneak Attack?

Post by _hagoth7 »

Hi again Gadianton,
Gadianton wrote:...I'll admit I'm blown away right at the outset. I'd never even heard of "just war theory" let alone "LDS just war theory" until today.

Just war theory has been a thing for quite some time, albeit under different names. My favorite undergraduate class about a decade ago, The Dilemmas of War and Peace, explored "just war theory" in considerable detail, going back millennia to explore how various cultures have attempted to address that issue. The course essentially promoted peace.

Gadianton wrote:...But just like that bully on the playground whose shifting eyes may imply just about anything: Nibley and J. Reuben Clark are pretty well known, have made harsh statements about war, and it's reasonable to believe many Saints could be taken by their views uncritically, so what better move than a preemptive strike, to ensure pacifism doesn't take root in LDS culture in any kind of serious way?

Just imagine the horror of Ammonites burying their swords https://www.lds.org/scriptures/Book of Mormon/alm ... ang=eng#16
Or even worse, imagine people eventually beating their swords into plowshares https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/isa/2.4?lang=eng#3
Added: :eek:

Added: I have a considerable amount of respect for the peaceful branches of the Anabaptist movement.
Last edited by Guest on Sun Nov 01, 2015 4:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
Joseph Smith: "I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself."
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/Book of Mormon/alm ... ang=eng#20
Red pill: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/acts/ ... ang=eng#10
Blue pill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NNOrp_83RU
_hagoth7
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Re: Theology of the Sneak Attack?

Post by _hagoth7 »

Deane wrote:For example, he defended preemptive war conceptually (247–249) but didn’t comment upon the Iraq War.... I also make my arguments that defend preemptive war. Not to sound like a broken record but you'd have to get my published work to fully engage them. In case you missed the subtext, that means I think the various rants that have and will inevitably appear against preemptive war are fairly silly.

Deane and Boyce can write and agitate for whatever cause they wish, but unless I'm missing something, Nephite terms of engagement seem to rule out preemptive war. A similar caveat is spelled out in the D&C.
Joseph Smith: "I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself."
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/Book of Mormon/alm ... ang=eng#20
Red pill: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/acts/ ... ang=eng#10
Blue pill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NNOrp_83RU
_Symmachus
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Re: Theology of the Sneak Attack?

Post by _Symmachus »

As enviably perceptive and lucid as ever, Gadianton. Of course every war-actor believes their war is just; how fortunate Mormon war-actors-to-be are to have found in Boyce and Deane eloquent advocates of just why it is that their wars will be just.
"As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them."

—B. Redd McConkie
_EAllusion
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Re: Theology of the Sneak Attack?

Post by _EAllusion »

Just war theory is a thing. I've read several works on the subject that have used that jargon. I haven't read what your opening post is referring to Gad, but just war theory both deals with when it is Ok to go to war and what it is Ok to do to people in that war. What you are referring to seems focused mostly on the former. From the hints here, it seems eager to defend the Bush administration's argument for preemptive war absent anything resembling an imminent threat.

Like many things, it is something that was entwined with religion in Western thought for a long time until secularists took it over.
_hagoth7
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Re: Theology of the Sneak Attack?

Post by _hagoth7 »

EAllusion wrote:Just war theory is a thing. I've read several works on the subject that have used that jargon. I haven't read what your opening post is referring to Gad, but just war theory both deals with when it is Ok to go to war and what it is Ok to do to people in that war....Like many things, it is something that was entwined with religion in Western thought for a long time until secularists took it over.

It also goes back long before the Christian era.
Joseph Smith: "I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself."
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/Book of Mormon/alm ... ang=eng#20
Red pill: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/acts/ ... ang=eng#10
Blue pill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NNOrp_83RU
_Doctor Scratch
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Re: Theology of the Sneak Attack?

Post by _Doctor Scratch »

True: Just War Theory is a thing, but I think what's more important here is what the Dean has already said: this is a rather staggering admission from the apologists. Of course, *we* always knew that they are/were motivated by hatred and an unquenchable thirst for revenge and rhetorical bloodshed, but usually they downplay this and refuse to admit to it. There really does seem to be something of a new openness among them--whether it be Hamblin's admissions about how BYU admin views Mopologetics with disdain, or DCP's two-faced courting of Evangelicals in the hopes of gaining new allies. Very, very interesting.
"[I]f, while hoping that everybody else will be honest and so forth, I can personally prosper through unethical and immoral acts without being detected and without risk, why should I not?." --Daniel Peterson, 6/4/14
_Gadianton
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Re: Theology of the Sneak Attack?

Post by _Gadianton »

thanks for the responses all, and Symmachus, you are far too kind to an aging administrator with nowhere near your talents.

I think, Hagoth, you will be very (not?) surprised to learn that these verses you speak of have been taken out of context, and in fact, the Standard Works support a theology of preemptive strike. That's what I gather from these writers. And EA, I don't mean to disrespect an important subject you yourself have put time into, but please understand what I'm saying in terms of the way reality has unfolded itself to me in this instance. Why is it that as soon as I read the words "LDS just war theology", four words I had never seen placed together in that order, my eye pulled ahead, scanning for the part where God commands us to nip it in the bud?

Doc Scratch, it's purely coincidental, but I've had this in the back of my mind this weekend as I've been binge watching Hell on Wheels. Cullen Bohannon, the protagonist, appears bound by a just war theology that requires his enemy to draw first blood. In fact, in one of the later episodes in season 4 I watched today, he laments not killing Sydney Snow, a low-life outlaw made US Marshall, after Sydney pulled his gun on Bohannon's wife during a shootout in a store. But it was a throw-away remark, because with all the killing he's done, he'd have corrected this deficiency in his killing MO years ago if he was ever going to. On the other hand, "The Swede", the clean-living disciplinarian, murderer, and sworn enemy to Bohannon who now finds himself a "ward clerk" for Brigham Young, appears to hold the preemptive strike as sacred. Well, I need to think about this, but it's quite interesting.
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.
_hagoth7
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Re: Theology of the Sneak Attack?

Post by _hagoth7 »

Hi Gadianton,
Gadianton wrote:...I think, Hagoth, you will be very (not?) surprised to learn that these verses you speak of have been taken out of context, and in fact, the Standard Works support a theology of preemptive strike. That's what I gather from these writers.

While Boyce and Dean are free to publicly support such a stance, I've seen nothing in latter-day scripture that supports preemptive strikes. On the contrary.

I haven't read Boyce's book - I've merely read Deane's review of the book. I also noticed that Deane's masters degree had an emphasis in military history, and that his publications include a Defense of the Bush Doctrine...part of which suggests a favorable attitude towards preemptive strikes. So I try to take Deane's preconceptions into consideration when I weigh his input on Boyce's book.

I find it interesting that both Boyce and Deane apparently go so far as to take note of Nibley's observation that “all Book of Mormon wars take place on Nephite property, not on Lamanite.” The implications of such a statement strongly suggest that preemptive strikes into enemy territory would have violated Nephite terms of engagement, something which Deane doesn't comment on in his review. Again, the D&C seems to agree. So I don't know where Deane and Boyce are quarrying their justification for preemptive strikes.

Once, a Nephite leader threatened an invading Lamanite army that if they didn't withdraw, the conflict would be taken to Lamanite lands. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/Book of Mormon/alm ... lang=eng#9 . However, such an action wouldn't have been preemptive, but rather reactive. What should be noted is that the Lamanites continued their aggression against the Nephites for another eight chapters, and the Nephites never once made good on their threat.

While I respect the fact that Deane has apparently spent a considerable amount of time studying and writing about a topic that interests him, I look forward to the day when...nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Joseph Smith: "I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself."
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/Book of Mormon/alm ... ang=eng#20
Red pill: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/acts/ ... ang=eng#10
Blue pill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NNOrp_83RU
_Dr Exiled
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Re: Theology of the Sneak Attack?

Post by _Dr Exiled »

The problem with the just war crowd today is that they believe in and try to justify preemptive war. This doctrine has been used to justify the phony war on terror which really is a war to promote control of natural resources in the Middle East. It was also used by Judge Bybee to justify what our Mormon psychologist brothers were doing in Guantanamo and other black sites with their "enhanced interrogation" torture techniques.
"Religion is about providing human community in the guise of solving problems that don’t exist or failing to solve problems that do and seeking to reconcile these contradictions and conceal the failures in bogus explanations otherwise known as theology." - Kishkumen 
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