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The necessity of war?

Adam J. West
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The Russia Today news agency reports a boom underway in the iron market! Business is prospering for the defense contracting industry as a whole. Iraq, Afghanistan and the more than 1,000 United States military bases worldwide provide a ready stream of business for these contractors. During a career-day expo held in Charlottesville, Virginia, one interviewee stated, “I am a pacifist, but sometimes war is necessary.” Is war really necessary?

There is a staggering 100,000 defense contractors serving the U.S. war machine. Michael O’Brien, author of America’s Failure in Iraq, stated, “When Dwight Eisenhower talked about the military-industrial complex in 1961, we’re there now.” In Eisenhower’s address, given just three days before the end of his Presidential term, he stated:

“A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction…

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions….

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience… We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence…by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist…”

The power wielded by the military-industrial complex can be seen in a U.S. national debt that has spiraled out of control, fueled by the desire to protect national borders (with varying degrees of success or seriousness) and to wage protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Russia Today report also stated that, without the military-industrial complex, the unemployment rate in the U.S. would soar to 11.5 percent, leading them to conclude that—facing those odds—the military-industrial complex seems to be our best defense.

The Eternal God, however, has a different take on the matter. Scripture warns us: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25). Considering the grand success of the burgeoning military establishment, can anyone reasonably dispute the Bible’s words on this matter?

The prophet Isaiah revealed: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God… for your hands are defiled with blood…  no one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth... their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood… wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace” (Isaiah 59:1–8).

Jesus Christ showed plainly the attitude a Christian should have regarding military service and war. “But I say to you who hear: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:27–29).

There is a way of life that leads to peace—and it can be found right here, right now—but it does require a change of mind.

We can know peace by disciplining ourselves to seek God diligently, daily and directly. To learn about the wonderful peace the world will soon come to know under the reign of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, read our inspiring booklet, The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?