War is awful. But sometimes, it is necessary. So, as a Christian, I believe in some form of just war theory. I’m not sure of which one. But then, I’m no expert on this subject.
However, I’m totally convinced that the Bible does not provide for Pacificism–the ethical opposition to violence or war. Yes, I view myself as a man of peace. But still, there is much evil in the world, and sometimes it has to be confronted with armed force. It’s because there is just no other way to stop, or at least retard, it.
So was the situation that the United States of America found itself in 1941. Japan had just bombed Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941. And in the other direction, Nazi Germany’s Hitler was taking over Europe and exterminating six million Jews in the process. The British had been begging the USA to get involved there, to help Europe oppose Hitler. But the U.S. Congress wanted peace, thus to remain nonpartisan. But December 7th changed all of that. President Roosevelt then declared war because it was absolutely necessary.
Evil was rampant in the world, on both sides of the globe. Caught in the middle was the USA with an industrial complex that could produce a war machine that would tip the balance in favor of the Allied forces. I believe they were on the side of good, and Japan and Germany were on the side of evil.
And I further believe that such conflicts originate elsewhere, that is, beyond the cosmos, even outside of our universe. Yes, I am a dualist in that I believe there is a constant battle going on between good and evil on not only earth but also in heaven. And to prevent evil from taking over everything and everybody, it must be opposed by the good. Of course, those who think they are on the side of righteousness should soberly and intimately examine themselves.
I lived over 25 years in Friendswood, Texas. It was so named by Quakers, who settled there and so named it. They never called themselves that pejorative name in the beginning. Instead, they called themselves “Friends.” It reflected their Pacificism. Quakers are some of the kindest, most loving Christians I’ve ever known. Yet I think they are naive in being Pacificists.
The Old Testament in the Bible has so much narrative about how God aided, and even sometimes sent, his chosen nation Israel in fighting against its foes. A a lot of it is gruesome history of how Israel survived thousands of year ago and still does today.
And what about God? Isaiah wrote, “The LORD goes forth like a soldier, like a warrior he stirs up his fury; he cries out, he shouts aloud; he shows himself might against his foes” (Isaiah 42.13 NRSV). But this text should not be divorced from it context, as it usually is. Isaiah begins this chapter 42 by saying on behalf of God, “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations” (42.1). Jews and Christians alike believe that is a messianic text. So, God’s ultimate time when he will go forth as a warrior will be when he sends his Anointed One, the Messiah, to bring justice among the nations. Orthodox Jews believe, and I think rightly so, that God will send his Messiah to deliver Israel from its Gentile enemies and make it the greatest nation on earth. I believe that will happen at the so-called “second coming of Christ” (Messiah=Christ). I tell all about this in my book, Warrior from Heaven.
Wise King Solomon wrote in the Good Book, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, a time to born and time to die; a time to plant , and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and time to heal” (Ecclesiastes 3.1-3). So, there is a time when there must be war.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has the attention of many of us Americans. For one thing, it is a test for democracy, since Russia’s immediate neighbor Ukraine is democratic and Russian autocratic President Vladimir Putin would like to knock democracy off the face of the earth. It also reminds me of our U.S. military service in years gone by.
In my youth, the U.S. had a mandatory draft into its armed forces. All young men ages 18 and up were assigned a number with the Selective Service. When your number was “called,” you were “drafted” into the U.S. Army to serve full time for two years. After that, you were “honorably discharged” unless you “re-upped” to serve four more years.
Our Selective Service System also provided an “exemption” mostly for young men who were attending college and for those who were married and had at least one child. College students with a draft exemption had to stay in contact with their local draft board, regularly proving they were still attending college.
There was also a medical exemption from the draft for those with physical disabilities. I have blogged (it’s now in my Trump book) multiple times about how Donald Trump avoided our military draft during the Vietnam War by claiming to have a bone spur on the heel of his foot that enabled him to have a medical exemption. Some guys got a doctor to provide the U.S. military with a report falsely claiming a physical disability. There is testimonial evidence that Trump’s wealthy father got that done for him.
But our Selective Service also provided a military “reserve program.” Young men who were 18 years old or older could avoid the draft by signing up for the reserve program. It entailed serving six months “active duty” in one of the four branches of our military service: Army, Air Force, Navy, or Marines. This active duty began with an eight-week training program in book camp. Then these “reservists” served the rest of their active duty, usually on some full service military base. After being discharged from active duty, these reservists then were placed in a “reserve unit” near their home where they had to attend a “unit meeting” one weekend per month for the next 5.5 years until their service was completed.
The very controversial Vietnam War was going on during the time in which I was subject to our military draft. U.S. troops were involved in it from 1965 to 1975. Some guys at that time would join the reserve program just to avoid being drafted for possible involvement in the Vietnam War.
I had a military “deferment” (=exemption) from active service from 1959 to 1963 while attending the University of Houston full time. After I graduated in 1963, I was subject to the draft beginning that summer. So, I enrolled in the reserve program, chose to be a medic, did boot camp at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and completed my remaining four+ months active duty at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. I then was put in an Army medical reserve unit in Houston to attend a weekend meeting there every month.
That also is when I began my career as a professional golfer on the PGA Tour–in the spring of 1964. For the next 6.5 years (I had to serve an extra year for switching branches from Army to Air Force), I was in our military reserve program. So, my choice had been either two years active duty, in which I might have served in the war in Vietnam, or six years in the reserve program. But even in the reserves, units were always subject to being “called up” and therefore being sent to the Vietnam War.
The U.S. military provided a short-lived program for reservists not in active duty who were exempt from making monthly weekend meetings since their occupation involved constant travel and being away from home. This program affected salesmen and pro athletes like me. So, I didn’t have to attend those monthly meetings for two or three years, and then the military disbanded that exemption. But for those of us who were exempted for this, we still had to participate in a two-week “summer camp” every year.
In my first summer camp, in 1965, I was put into an Army reserve medical unit at the Yakima Firing Range near Yakima, Washington. That’s because, when I entered the Army reserve program, I was from both Houston, Texas, and Yakima, Washington. The Yakima Firing Range was well known for firing its 130mm Howitzers. Those were long-range artillery guns that shot big, heavy cartridges to a maximum distance of about twelve miles. And they were LOUD.
I’m saying all of this because the U.S. is now sending ninety 155mm Howitzers to Ukraine and nearly 200,000 rounds of ammunition for them. This “heavy artillery” is mostly what Russia is using to kill Ukrainians and demolish so many buildings in their cities, firing it from many miles away. The Ukraine army will now have like equipment to fire back. The advantage of Howitzers is that they are portable, meaning they can be moved constantly to new locations. This is necessary since when the enemy discovers the location of heavy artillery that is responsible for such damage, that enemy can try to take out that artillery by various means, such as artillery, missiles from aircraft, and now drones. So, once artillery fires several rounds of ammunition, the soldiers have to quickly move the equipment or get fired upon.
Military experts are now saying that Russia’s war in Ukraine will now devolve into a big shooting match between these big guns with their huge barrels that can shoot rounds of ammunition from far away. These 155mm Howitzers can shoot targets up to 25 miles away. And they are self-propelled at moving, so that they don’t have to be towed by a truck, which takes time. I don’t think the heavy artillery Russia is using in Ukraine has that ability. So, Ukraine may now have an advantage over its Russian invaders with a superior heavy artillery that could tip the balance of the war in Ukraine’s favor.
This Ukraine war has not been fought much in the skies. That is partly why the U.S. and NATO have not met Ukraine’s request in providing a no-fly zone over Ukraine. That would require U.S. and NATO aircraft to shoot against Russian aircraft. Russian President Putin has made it clear that if that happened, the war would now be enlarged to become what could be defined as a world war, and it could involve nuclear weapons.
Ukraine’s prime objective, of course, after defeating Russian forces from taking Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, will be to push Russian soldiers now gathered in Eastern Ukraine completely out of the country and thus back into Russia. Whoever prevails, such a ground war could last for quite some time. But the U.S. and NATO are now pretty unified in their goal to assist Ukraine armed forces by supplying them with sufficient equipment to prevent Russia from taking over Ukraine, or at least most of it. And this heavy artillery will likely play a key role in doing accomplishing that objective.
[The U.S. Armed Forces discontinued its reserve program in 1973, two years after I finished my duty in the program.]