Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Troubling Report

Elder Bruce R. McConkie was a fearless defender of truth as an apostle of the Church. His ultimate testimony, given in General Conference shortly before his death of cancer, is unparalleled as to his witness of the Savior. Elder McConkie was also a gospel scholar of impressive lineage and learning. In General Conference of April, 1979, Elder McConkie gave a talk that impacted me deeply. The talk was titled "Stand Independent above All Other Creatures" and it gave Elder McConkie's views of the apocalyptic world immediately preceding the Second Coming. Among other things, Elder McConkie warned of "atomic holocausts that surely shall be."

To a young man who was on the cusp of adulthood and beginning his own family, while still attempting to control his childhood fears, this statement pierced my soul. It reminded me that our mortal existence is always tenuous. We likely knew exactly what dangers and challenges we would face here in this life while still safely ensconced with our heavenly parents in the pre-existence. Yet still we chose to come here, deal with the challenges, and ultimately return to live in glory with our Heavenly Father. That perspective, more than anything else, helps me deal with the horrors that this life presents on a continual basis. Natural disasters, murder (and worse), wars and rumors of wars, all tucked away in deep parts of my psyche so that I can concentrate on living the gospel. I crave world peace as much or more than any vacuous beauty pageant contestant, but I realize that "world peace" is a goal that will probably elude us until the Savior comes to reign in power and majesty.

That may sound somewhat defeatist, but I never use this worldy condition as an excuse to glory in war or war-mongering. I believe that conflict will exist so long as fanatics live on this earth. I further believe that we delude ourselves that the mantra of "can't we all just get along?" will ever resolve these increasingly global conflicts. I still hope for peace, and try my best not to further the conflict, but I also recognize the need to defend ourselves and our liberties to the best of our collective abilities.

Hence, you may understand my feelings at seeing this report as linked by Drudge today. Five former NATO senior officers, one each from the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom, have generated a proposed manifesto to help NATO redefine itself in the new century. Chief among its statements is the insistence that
a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world"
In other words, nuclear proliferation is not only real, but still a military and political hot-button. These men, one our former U. S. Chief of Staff, believe that our free-world military needs to keep this option open; actually use it on a hostile nation that threatens the same toward any of us.

To say that my old Cold War-era feelings have resurfaced suddenly would be an understatement. We still live under a threat that I once had allowed myself to believe had died with the Soviet Union. Yes, I knew that North Korea was still a loose cannon in the world. I quite agree that we can never take our eyes off of Pakistan. We should never get too cozy with the idea that Israel may develop its own arsenal. But the harshest of realities in today's world is that Iran — complete with its demogogue president — is now a player.

If my anecdotal memories are at all accurate, someone had once taught that if a nuclear holocaust comes, it would most likely be centered in the Middle East. You don't get much more "Middle" in that region than in Iran.

Heaven help us.

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