When is War Justified?

And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them,

And if any nation tongue, or people should proclaim war against them, they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people, nation, or tongue;

And if that people did not accept the offering of peace, neither the second not the third time, they should bring these testimonies before the Lord.

Then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue or people.(Doctrine and Covenants 98: 34-36)

War has been on the minds of many people lately. We are reaching our 10th year of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and have entered a new war in Libya. The people of this nation, for the most part, are weary of war and want this era to come to a close.

It can be argued that we were justified in going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the actions of terrorists on September 11, 2001. We entered these wars as retribution toward that terrorist organization.

This past month, we have seen what can be called a victory in that we have taken out the al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. Yet we remain in both Iraq and Afghanistan. If World War 2 is any indicator of what we are to expect, we will have troops stationed there for many decades to come.

As a Latter-day Saint, the Lord has commanded us to avoid warfare. As quoted above, we are not to go to battle against anyone unless we have been attacked first and even then we are to raise a standard of peace a minimum of three times before getting consent from the Lord to go to war.

As a Libertarian, our position on war and foreign policy is quite clear and very much in line with the views of the Latter-day Saints:

American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should
emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding
foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention,
including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and
defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of
terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by
political or revolutionary groups. (Libertarian Platform: 3.3 International Affairs)

Now many people have expressed concern about the Latter-day Saints’ position on war. I have heard many people express the fear that a Latter-day Saint President would go to war under the banner of being told to do so by God. However these concerns have no basis as it is quite clear in our own scriptures and doctrines that war is a last resort when all attempts at peace with a hostile people have failed.

We need to end the need to police the world. We need to bring home our troops from all over the world and defend our own borders. We need not wait until some other nation becomes hostile against us before we raise that first banner of peace. We should be actively engaged in building peaceful relations with all nations of the world.

So with all this in mind, was the United States justified in going to war in Libya? I would say “No” for the primary reason being that were not threatened nor attacked by Libya. We have no Constitutional justification for sending troops there. The President even overstepped his Constitutional authority by bypassing Congress and entering us into this war. Congress is the only body in our government that can declare a war. The President cannot.

We need to end this war in Libya and the wars in Irq and Afghanistan.

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