Modern-day revelations make it abundantly clear that only defensive wars are justified.
Again and again, righteous people are protected when they sue for peace, pray sincerely to God, build up their defenses and do not pursue offensive wars. The Nephites learned this the hard way near the end of the Book of Mormon:
And it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites that they began to be smitten; for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them.
And we read in the Doctrine and Covenants 98 that we as a people should “renounce war and proclaim peace” and continually petition for resolving our differences with our enemies.
Russia has not invaded the United States. We as a nation are exactly like the last Nephites, pursuing a doomed course of “going up” to fight battles when we should remain at home, build up our defenses and sue for peace.
Just yesterday, President Biden said Putin is “not joking” about using nuclear weapons and warned that a nuclear “Armageddon” is possible. Meanwhile, our supposed ally, Ukrainian President Zelensky, called for “preventive strikes” against Russia by the West.
So, the United States is considering a posture of striking first against Russia when we are financing a proxy war in a country on Russia’s border that is filled with millions of ethnic Russians. How do you think Russia will respond?
We got a very unfortunate hint from President Medvedev who said it is impossible to negotiate with the West because the West only wants Russia’s “complete and unconditional surrender.” Let’s look at some history from the perspective of Russia:
- Early 1990s: the Soviet Union ends. Multiple U.S. officials, including former President HW Bush, promise Russia that in the interests of peace, no East European countries will join NATO.
- 1997: the United States broke its promise, and welcomed Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland to join NATO. Famed American diplomat George F. Kennan, who helped form NATO, warned: the decision “may be expected to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”
- 2000s up to 2014: more Eastern European countries join NATO, and relations between Russia and the West sour.
- The US and the West support a coup against legally elected (and pro-Russian) President Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych on the 22 of February 2014.
- In the aftermath of that coup, the newly installed Ukrainian government embarked on a war against Russian speaking Ukrainians. Ukraine wantonly killed civilians and the West remained silent.
- Despite repeated warnings from Russia (remember Russia shares a long border with Ukraine) that it would not tolerate western efforts to bring Ukraine into NATO, the United States and Europe conducted annual military exercises with Ukraine and provided military training and assistance.
- Russia’s attempt to negotiate in December 2021 with the United States over the status of Ukraine was rebuffed.
- In response to Russia’s Special Military Operation, the United States and Europe imposed “draconian” sanctions and embarked on a full scale attempt to punish not just the political leaders of Russia, but all Russians.
- Russia’s effort to negotiate a peace with Ukraine was shut down by the U.K.’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
- The United Kingdom, Poland and Ukraine announced a trilateral pact to promote Ukraine’s defense and independence in February 2022.
- The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and leading U.S. officials are calling for “decolonizing Russia”–i.e., breaking up Russia into geographic regions.
- The U.S. sends Ukraine tens of billions of dollars of economic and military aid at a time of skyrocketing inflation and a deepening recession.
- Russia’s Nordstream gas pipelines were sabotaged. Swedish investigators confirmed this week that explosions took place near the pipelines. Who has the military know-how and capability and incentive to carry out this terrorist act? Only the United States and NATO.
- The Russian president says there is no negotiating with the West.
I am against all offensive wars, and I list these historical facts not to justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine but instead to help readers put themselves in the shoes of our adversaries. Russia shares a lot of the blame for the conflict, which is an obvious statement but nevertheless one that bears repeating. But the attempt by pro-war propagandists to put all blame on the Russians is ignorant and dangerous. In addition, as followers of the Prince of Peace, we should do our best to see the Russians as fellow sons and daughters of God and try to understand their perspective. I would remind readers that there is a temple in Russia and thousands of Church members.
The solution is simple: we should promote peace negotiations and as members push our politicians to sue for peace immediately. Here is a good outline of the type of peace plan we should support. (This plan needs to be updated for October 2022, but it still is a useful framework for discussions). We should petition our politicians in the West to stop sending military aid to Ukraine. We in the United States should stop pursuing offensive actions and instead pursue a purely defensive foreign policy. This is the only moral solution during these increasingly tense times.
As World War II began, the First Presidency of the Church issued this statement, which includes the following:
“Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace . . . ” (D&C 98:16) Thus the Church is and must be against war. The Church itself cannot wage war, unless and until the Lord shall issue new commands. It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled—the nations agreeing—by peaceful negotiation and adjustment.
Remember, this was a time when the United States WAS attacked at Pearl Harbor. Yet, even during those emotional times, the Church called for peaceful negotiations. This should always be our position as Latter-day Saints.