This post is from a retired Free Methodist Military Chaplain:
Chaplain (CDR) David Thompson, CHC, USNR (Ret.)
Retired Elder/North Central Conference/FMC (USA)
On Sunday our pastor made the statement that our nation has been at war for 93% of our nation’s history since 1776, computing as of 2015 (222 years out of 239 years… so that in our history we had only 21 years of peace).
I was astounded with that above-mentioned statement and so I looked it up after church with my friend “Google
” (see: https://www.globalresearch.ca/america-has-been-at-war-93-of-the-time-222-out-of-239-years-since-1776/5565946
). And there it was
: The numbers were correct… and most of these wars were wars of choice or conquest rather than wars of deep moral conviction, like the Civil War or WW II…and for the most part, we as people faith went along with all this national warlike activity down through our history…just keeping “praising the Lord and passing the ammunition.”
I then came across in The Naval Institute’s Proceedings
magazine (the Journal of the Navy & Marine Corps) an article written by Navy Captain John Byron, USN (Ret.) in the August 2017 issue entitled “We Have Been at War a Long Time”
that speaks to this issue (see: https://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2017-08/we-have-been-war-long-time
). The author leaves hanging the question of “what do you make of all of that? We really are a warlike people just looking at the hard numbers, with military budgets swallowing trillions of dollars that could well have been spent better on the welfare of our people.
Chris Hedges wrote an article in the New York Times
that revealed many things about wars that few people know, entitled “What Every Person Should Know About War”
). Hedges tells us, of the past 3,400 years of human history we have been entirely at peace for 268 years or 8% of human history. Just in the recent 20th Century alone, 108 million have been killed in wars….with 1 billion estimated killed in recorded history.
What is very clear here is that we are not a peace loving nation. War has been our business for a long time…and business is good…at least for those who profit from it.
My dad was a WW I Army veteran who served one-hundred years ago this year in 1918 in “The War to End All Wars,”which took over 9 million lives (some 116,000 American soldiers), leaving many disillusioned after the war, in what was called the lost generation, as this was just another war in an ongoing litany of wars fought by our nation…some for “just causes” and others for more dubious reasons.
Looking at the whole enterprise of war and war-fighting that has been part of my life and the life of my family, it has caused me in recent years to look hard at this issue. I first served as a Marine during the Vietnam era, where nearly half of the names of my Marine OCS platoon leaders class are found on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. Later as a Navy Chaplain I ministered in Christian vocation to sailors and marines who fought in America’s wars. More recently, before retirement, I served as as a licensed mental health counselor working with returning veterans and their families coming home from our more recent war, many broken in body, mind and spirit from this latest and longest war of American history.
In my military ministry I’ve heard stories of valor and courage as well as dark things people can do to others that just is not mentioned in polite company. I have listened to the struggles and confessions of morally injured troops who were wounded spiritually by war, as well as those whose PTSD afflicted minds don’t work well anymore, who live paranoid sleep deprived lives with bad dreams from battles long ago that interfere years later with work and family life…or those who live addicted lives to shut off the pain of wounds of war of body and mind.
As a Navy Chaplain I have been around nuclear weapons on ships and submarines that were to be used defensively… and my son, another veteran, loaded nuclear weapons on USAF planes in a combat zone on a war deterrence mission. Now to hear the President talking about crossing the line from defense to offense to use such nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive manner, saying, “why have nuclear weapons if you never use them?…raises in my mind serious ethical issues about mass murder of civilians that causes serious people of faith pause in supporting such a stance by our present political leaders. It becomes a serious moral and ethical problem for many and fertile ground for moral injuries among our service personnel.
Evangelicals and mainline Christians have largely gone along with present nuclear weapons usage policies, while Christians of the Roman Catholic tradition have become increasingly wary of the ethics of pre-emptive nuclear war (see: https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2017-12/news/pope-condemns-having-nuclear-weapons ).
The recent proliferation of nuclear weapons in North Korea and the potential for North Korea attacking our allies in the region as well as west coast cities coming under attack with nuclear weapons, has put many on edge. The false warning of a nuclear attack on Hawaii in recent days, has underlined the need for all of us to take another look at this issue. Where do we stand as a church on the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons?…or the use of any nuclear weapons? It might be an interesting topic to share among each other and with leaders of our church.
Since the Cold War ended, the danger of nuclear war is back again, big time…as we hear a lot of saber rattling, causing serious observers to believe we are contemplating quietly starting a pre-emptive war in Korea…a very bloody and devastating II Korean War, with a good chance for the intentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons that will kill millions (see; https://www.vox.com/world/2017/12/18/16733560/north-korea-war ).
Reading a 1/17/2018 New York Times article entitled “Would the Air Force Let Airman Trump Near a Nuclear Weapon?”(see: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/17/opinion/trump-nuclear-weapons-mental-health.html ) has also been an even more unsettling read. The fact that we have an impulsive and erratic Commander in Chief with his finger on “the nuclear button” who could not pass the standards of conduct of the Personal Reliability Program (PRP) protocols, which are mandated by anyone to handle nuclear weapons in the military chain of command, is quite disturbing.
My son was a U.S. Army Field Artillery Officer at Camp Casey, South Korea, stationed right up on the DMZ, eyeball to eyeball with the North Korean Army seven years ago. He shared with me, that it is predicted in the first hour of battle in the II Korean War most of the US soldiers on the DMZ (including his former unit on the DMZ) would be killed or wounded in the opening hours of this conflict, likening it to the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 in WW I, when the British suffered 57,000 casualties (19,000 were killed in one day
and 1.2 million soldiers in a 44 day conflict)…largely by artillery fire.
My son’s former unit, which still is on the DMZ today in a war deterrence mission, is a tripwire designated to warn of invasion and slow down the North Korean Army until help arrives. U.S. Army planners predict most of Seoul, Korea, with its 23 million people, would be leveled by artillery and rockets … with massive casualties in the millions from artillery fire from 14,000 NKA artillery tubes (see: https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-adk-adk_sbnt&hsimp=yhs-adk_sbnt&hspart=adk&p=Army+Chief+of+Staff+on+war+in+Korea#id=4&vid=7d2755f77a39d9a3a2a777ce0a9be700&action=click ).
The military plan, according to open sources in the press, is for the few survivors, like in the Korean War in 1950, to fall back to positions south of what is left of Seoul, on the south side of the Han River… and dig in…and then hold on and wait for reinforcements to arrive from the US, Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii and the west coast of the US, before driving north to take the battle to the enemy. They anticipate the Army will face a massive refugee crisis of stunning proportions as millions of North Koreans will flee south away from the war. It will be a re-play of the first Korean War, only with more deadlier weapons, more casualties, and many more refugees.
If nuclear weapons are used by both sides…a large proportion of the people Korea (north and south ), as well as our troops, will be killed or badly injured by radiation….not to mention millions also impacted in Japan, Okinawa and Guam….as well as many living in our U.S. west coast cities.
The impact of a II Korean War on the world economy, with the destruction of Korea and key industrial areas of Japan and the U.S. would be massive. Everyone in the know says… this will be a catastrophe of epic proportions!
Anyhow, a lot of thoughts on this broad ranging topic of War & Peace…and the issue of nuclear war and the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons, as this threat grows in Korea.
Presently one hears little discussion in the evangelical church about this issue of war and peace and the use of nuclear weapons…especially preemptive use of such destructive and indiscriminate weapons. It might be a worthy topic to discuss onFree Methodist Conversations and make an issue for discussion by the SCOD.
This is what happens when you get “snowed in” living in Minnesota…you find time to think and contemplate what is going on in the world, while many Americans are distracted by a lot of stuff going on in Washington and in their own lives.
Increasingly there are signs of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding again soon. We seem to be sleepwalking into another war of catastrophic proportions if these trends continue; a war in which “those in the know” forecast, if cooler heads don’t prevail, may happen in the near future in Korea.
Pray for…and work for, Peace.