From the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball in 1976:
The Lord gave us a choice world and expects righteousness and obedience to his commandments in return. But when I review the performance of this people in comparison with what is expected, I am appalled and frightened. Iniquity seems to abound. The Destroyer seems to be taking full advantage of the time remaining to him in this, the great day of his power. Evil seems about to engulf us like a great wave, and we feel that truly we are living in conditions similar to those in the days of Noah before the Flood…
In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had — in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people — a condition repugnant to the Lord.
We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel — ships, planes, missiles, fortifications — and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).
So, who is profiting from the war in Ukraine and promoting idolatry in fabricating gods of stone and steel?
Read this story.
The war in Ukraine will indeed be a bonanza for the likes of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. First of all, there will be the contracts to resupply weapons like Raytheon’s Stinger anti-aircraft missile and the Raytheon/Lockheed Martin-produced Javelin anti-tank missile that Washington has already provided to Ukraine by the thousands. The bigger stream of profits, however, will come from assured post-conflict increases in national-security spending here and in Europe justified, at least in part, by the Russian invasion and the disaster that’s followed.
Indeed, direct arms transfers to Ukraine already reflect only part of the extra money going to U.S. military contractors. This fiscal year alone, they are guaranteed to also reap significant benefits from the Pentagon’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) and the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, both of which finance the acquisition of American weaponry and other equipment, as well as military training. These have, in fact, been the two primary channels for military aid to Ukraine from the moment the Russians invaded and seized Crimea in 2014. Since then, the United States has committed around $5 billion in security assistance to that country.
According to the State Department, the United States has provided such military aid to help Ukraine “preserve its territorial integrity, secure its borders, and improve interoperability with NATO.” So, when Russian troops began to mass on the Ukrainian border last year, Washington quickly upped the ante. On March 31, 2021, the U.S. European Command declared a “potential imminent crisis,” given the estimated 100,000 Russian troops already along that border and within Crimea. As last year ended, the Biden administration had committed $650 million in weaponry to Ukraine, including anti-aircraft and anti-armor equipment like the Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin anti-tank missile.
Despite such elevated levels of American military assistance, Russian troops did indeed invade Ukraine in February. Since then, according to Pentagon reports, the U.S. has committed to giving approximately $2.6 billion in military aid to that country, bringing the Biden administration total to more than $3.2 billion and still rising.
For U.S. arms makers, however, the greatest benefits of the war in Ukraine won’t be immediate weapons sales, large as they are, but the changing nature of the ongoing debate over Pentagon spending itself. Of course, the representatives of such companies were already plugging the long-term challenge posed by China, a greatly exaggerated threat, but the Russian invasion is nothing short of manna from heaven for them, the ultimate rallying cry for advocates of greater military outlays. Even before the war, the Pentagon was slated to receive at least $7.3 trillion over the next decade, more than four times the cost of President Biden’s $1.7 trillion domestic Build Back Better plan, already stymied by members of Congress who labeled it “too expensive” by far. And keep in mind that, given the current surge in Pentagon spending, that $7.3 trillion could prove a minimal figure.
Indeed, Pentagon officials like Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks promptly cited Ukraine as one of the rationales for the Biden administration’s proposed record national-security budget proposal of $813 billion, calling Russia’s invasion “an acute threat to the world order.” In another era that budget request for Fiscal Year 2023 would have been mind-boggling, since it’s higher than spending at the peaks of the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam and over $100 billion more than the Pentagon received annually at the height of the Cold War.
Despite its size, however, congressional Republicans — joined by a significant number of their Democratic colleagues — are already pushing for more. Forty Republican members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have, in fact, signed a letter to President Biden calling for 5% growth in military spending beyond inflation, which would potentially add up to $100 billion to that budget request. Typically enough, Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA), who represents the area near the Huntington Ingalls company’s Newport News military shipyard in Virginia, accused the administration of “gutting the Navy” because it contemplates decommissioning some older ships to make way for new ones. That complaint was lodged despite that service’s plan to spend a whopping $28 billion on new ships in FY 2023.
That planned increase in shipbuilding funds is part of a proposed pool of $276 billion for weapons procurement, as well as further research and development, contained in the new budget, which is where the top five weapons-producing contractors — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman — make most of their money. Those firms already split more than $150 billion in Pentagon contracts annually, a figure that will skyrocket if the administration and Congress have their way. To put all of this in context, just one of those top five firms, Lockheed Martin, was awarded $75 billion in Pentagon contracts in fiscal year 2020 alone. That’s considerably more than the entire budget for the State Department, dramatic evidence of how skewed Washington’s priorities are, despite the Biden administration’s pledge to “put diplomacy first.”
Are any readers naive enough to believe that all of this money floating around does not have an impact on policy? Do readers realize there are thousands of lobbyists in Washington and elsewhere pushing for more war so that defense contractors can make more money?
I warned about this in a post more than a year ago.
I want to be clear about this. I am not a pacifist. I believe in defensive wars. I am a citizen of the United States, and if the United States is ever attacked directly, I will take my hunting rifle and volunteer to go fight, even at my relatively advanced age.
I believe there is a role for private companies to make weapons to defend the United States. I am not against the building of guns and other weapons that can be used for defensive purposes, and I believe private companies should do this. As any reader of this blog knows, I am a proud capitalist who believes in a free market system.
My primary concern here is US government policy that promotes war as a way of resolving differences because it is profitable for a small group of companies. How can we not see this as one of the many secret combinations we have been warned about in the Book of Mormon?
This war is taking place in Ukraine, thousands of miles away, and my tax dollars are helping to pay for more death and destruction. The United States is, in effect, using my tax dollars to encourage Ukrainians to fight Russians. I find this a glaring violation of the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, my Savior. How much more evidence do we need that Satan is ruling with blood and horror on this Earth?
Just a few weeks ago President Nelson reminded us:
“Any war is a horrifying violation of everything the Lord Jesus Christ stands for and teaches. The Savior commanded us to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use us. It can be painfully difficult to let go of anger that feels so justified. It can seem impossible to forgive those whose destructive actions have hurt the innocent. And yet, the Savior admonished us to ‘forgive all men.’”
“My call today, my dear brothers and sisters, is to end the conflicts that are raging in your heart, your home, and your life. Bury any and all inclinations to hurt others — whether those inclinations be a temper, a sharp tongue, or resentment for someone who has hurt you. … We are followers of the Prince of Peace. Now more than ever, we need the peace only He can bring. How can we expect peace to exist in the world when we are not individually seeking peace and harmony?”
In my private life, I have tried to follow the prophet’s advice to avoid contention and conflict with those around me. And this post is one of many where I have done my own small part to promote the words of modern-day prophets who oppose war.
War is the ultimate example where the cause is so often justified by those who benefit politically and financially but who do not endure the horrible cost. It is this destruction of human dignity in war that makes minimizing war so desirable. In peacetime, individuals of different nations can be cordial and respect each other with human dignity. In wartime, individuals are reduced to “good guys” and “bad guys”.
We must never reduce others to a label. We must never allow the ambitions of kings and presidents to dictate for us who is and who is not our neighbor.
Thank you Geoff for publishing such a well expressed message in the cause of peace.
Readers may be interested in this story on where Ukraine’s military aid comes from. Hint: almost all of it is from the U.S.
I want to address a claim that I occasionally see that the United States must stop Putin because “Putin is another Hitler.”
I don’t think anybody really believes this. People just throw around wild claims like this to justify war.
Don’t you remember when Saddam Hussein was “another Hitler?” Most of Saddam’s military firepower was spent against Iran, which most people in the U.S. government consider an enemy. When Saddam invaded Kuwait there was absolutely no indication he would go beyond Kuwait into, for example, Saudi Arabia, which would never have been accepted by the Muslim world. Need I remind readers that most Middle Eastern borders are completely subjective and were imposed by France and the UK 100 years ago and do not reflect Middle Eastern realities? And Middle Eastern strongmen have been invading each other for at least 6000 years, and none of them are or were Hitler.
Hitler was a unique evil at a unique time. Putin would not send 6 million Jews to concentration camps. I keep on seeing people write that Putin “wants to re-create the Soviet Union,” and there is actually no evidence of this. What Putin wants is to re-create a strong Russia. Eastern European countries, with the exception of Ukraine and Belarus, are not part of Russia. Putin has no interest in taking over Poland, for example, which has a completely separate culture, history and identity than Ukraine and Belarus. The Ukraine is considered the heart of the Eastern slavic world, and Kiev was the first city founded in the history of Eastern Slavs. There are millions of ethnic Russians in Ukraine, and of course Crimea is pro-Russian and is essential to Russian identity and the Russian military. So, Ukraine is unique.
I do not believe in military invasions of sovereign nations, and Russia is clearly in the wrong in its invasion of Ukraine, but to claim that Putin is “another Hitler” is an insult to the many people who suffered from the real Hitler. Putin is an evil dictator in a world filled with evil dictators, unfortunately. But he is not another Hitler, and he should not be treated as Hitler. Each foreign policy situation is unique and involves a different response based on the realities.