The U.S. Doctrine of Pre-Emption vs. The Book of Mormon Doctrine of Self-Defense
The United States has employed the doctrine of pre-emption to some degree for decades now, but it has been most used blatantly by the George W. Bush administration. It is now, therefore, more commonly known as the Bush Doctrine. As fine-tuned by Bush's National Security Council, the Doctrine of Pre-Emption is this:
It wasn't always that way. The United States started out as a country that wisely avoided entangling alliances. But then we started involving ourselves in military alliances and police actions on the other side of the globe. We have now comfortably mired ourselves in the geography and the affairs of the Middle East. As time marches on, the claim that virtually anything in the world is considered "an American interest" has become the further ironic result of American pre-emptive action.
The security environment confronting the United States today is radically different from what we have faced before. Yet the first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD.
To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense.
The Doctrine of Self-Defense runs contrary to the doctrine of attacking them before they attack us. Moroni, ancient American Captain of the Nephite armies, understood that proper self-defense can never be pre-emptive. There must be an offense first. In The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Moroni did teach that war is sometimes necessary:
47 And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.Additionaly, though, he taught that we should join war only when an offense has been committed against us, not simply when we can imagine a potential one. Therefore, it wasn't until after
the armies of the Lamanites had gathered together in the land of Antionum [that] the armies of the Nephites...prepared to meet them in the land of Jershon.Integral to the Doctrine of Self Defense is a reliance on God--not so that we can feel justified in launching a crusade against our enemies, but rather so that God will protect us when our enemies ultimately attack us. Lachoneus, the governor of the Nephite nation, taught this critical concept to his people.
12 Now behold, this Lachoneus, the governor, was a just man, and could not be frightened by the demands and the threatenings of a robber; therefore he did not hearken to the epistle of Giddianhi, the governor of the robbers, but he did cause that his people should cry unto the Lord for strength against the time that the robbers should come down against them.Contrarily, the Bush Administration (as well as some previous administrations) has determined that since we are somehow God's chosen country, we can imagine or provoke any offense at all, in order that we can attack anyone we want to. We're not the first land with such foolish dreams of empire.
The Nephite populace of Lachoneus's time had much less patience for the Doctrine of Self-Defense than did he and his military chiefs. The people petitioned their leaders to allow them to pre-emptively take care of the problem. Fortunately, however, the people had elected as their leaders individuals who were wiser and more patient than themselves.
20 Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands.The Doctrine of Pre-emption is conducive to lying, whereas the Doctrine of Self-Defense is not. The War in Iraq was purely pre-emptive, and it was based on a demonstrably false pre-emptive justification. Six years later, some of the same people that advocated a pre-emptive strike against Iraq are calling for a similar attack on Iran. Pre-emption seems to have given the United States the idea that it can play the part of the sandlot bully. If we'd heeded counsel from modern-day statesmen and stateswomen--similar to that of ancient American prophets--we would have never gotten involved in Iraq in the first place.
21 But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.
I believe that America has been and can be a great nation, but only if we serve God as he should be served. God has only ever sanctioned the Doctrine of Self-Defense. If we fight much longer according to the Doctrine of Pre-Emption, we as a nation are doomed.