Monday, September 21, 2009

Follow the prophet

Press reports have for some months indicated that a determined effort is in the making to establish in this country a compulsory universal military training designed to draw into military training and service the entire youth of the nation. [Although we dislike opposing any policy sponsored by the presidential administration], we are so persuaded of the rightfulness of our position, and we regard the policy so threatening to the true purposes for which this Government was set up...that we are constrained respectfully to invite your attention to the following considerations:

1. By taking our sons at the most impressionable age of their adolescence and putting them into army camps under rigorous military discipline, we shall seriously endanger their initiative....
4. We shall give opportunity to teach our sons not only the way to kill but also, in too many cases, the desire to kill....God said at Sinai, 'Thou shalt not kill.'
5. We them under a drastic discipline in an environment that is hostile to most of the finer and nobler things of home and of life.
6. We shall make our sons the victims of systematized allurements be selfish, idle, irresponsible save under restrain of force, to be common, coarse, and vulgar....
8. We shall put them where they may be indoctrinated with a wholly un-American view of the aims and purposes of their individual lives, and of the life of the whole people and nation, which are founded on the ways of peace, whereas they will be taught to believe in the ways of war.
10. We shall make possible their building into a military caste which from all human experience bodes ill for that equality and unity which must always characterize the citizenry of a republic.
13. By creating an immense standing army, we shall create to our liberties and free institutions a threat foreseen and condemned by the founders of the Republic...Great standing armies have always been the tools of ambitious dictators to the destruction of freedom.
14. By the creation of a great war machine, we shall invite and tempt the waging of war against foreign countries, upon little or no provocation; for the possession of great military power always breeds thirst for domination, for empire, and for a rule by might, not right.
15. By building a huge armed establishment, we shall belie our protestations of peace...and force other nations to a like course of militarism, so placing upon the peoples of the earth crushing burdens of taxation that...will hardly be bearable....
16. We shall make of the whole earth one great military camp whose separate armies, headed by war-minded officers, will never rest till they are at one another's throats in what will be the most terrible contest the world has ever seen.

[O]bedient to the divine message that heralded the birth of Jesus the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world,'...on earth peace, good will toward men,' and knowing that our Constitution and the government set up under it were inspired of God and should be preserved to the blessing not only of our own citizenry but, as an example, to the blessing of all the world, we...urge that you do your utmost to defeat any plan design to bring about the compulsory military service of our citizenry. Should it be urged that our complete armament is necessary for our safety, it may be confidently replied that a proper foreign policy, implemented by an effective diplomacy, can avert the dangers that are feared. What this country needs and what the world needs, is a will for peace, not war. God will help our efforts to bring this about.

[signed] Geo. Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, First Presidency.
Dated:December 14, 1945, and subsequently reissued on June 28, 1946.

Fast forward to present:

It’s hard to overstate how aberrational — one might say “rogue” – the U.S. is when it comes to war. No other country sits around debating, as a routine and permanent feature of its political discussions, whether this country or that one should bombed next, or for how many more years conquered targets should be occupied. And none use war as a casual and continuous tool for advancing foreign policy interests, at least nowhere close to the way we do … . For the U.S., war is the opposite of a “last resort”: it’s the more or less permanent state of affairs, and few people who matter want it to be any different
--Glenn Greenwald at Salon

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