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?