Tuesday, September 15, 2015

An Understanding of War—Then and Now

In the last century B.C., at the time the Lamanite king sent a proclamation (Alma 22:27) to all his people throughout all his land, the Lamanites and Nephites were separated by a narrow strip of wilderness that stretched from sea to sea (Alma 22:27)
    In 360 A.D. the king of the Lamanites sent a letter to Mormon stating that they were preparing to do battle against the Nephites and suggested that they meet in the land of Desolation (Mormon 3:4).
About 420 years after the above image, and around 350 A.D., after numerous wars, Mormon agreed to a truce with the Lamanites and Gadianton Robbers to divide the land into two parts: 1) The Lamanite lands to the south of the narrow pass (yellow arrow) and 2) the Nephite lands to the north of the narrow pass (what before the destruction in 3 Nephi and the changing of the land was the location of the narrow neck of land). This gave the Lamanites control of all the Land Southward and the Nephites all the Land Northward—a truce that lasted only ten years before the Lamanites attacked again
    It might be of interest that at least two important points can be drawn from this epistle:
    1) Mormon, who had signed a treaty ten years earlier with the Lamanites and Robbers where this narrow pass or passage was used as the dividing line (Mormon 2:28) between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, or between the Lamanite lands and the Nephite lands.
This dividing line (yellow arrow left) was that same area of the narrow neck of land just north of Hagoth’s shipyards (Alma 63:5) on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land of Desolation; the same small or narrow neck of land Mormon described in his explanation of the lay of the land (Alma 22:32) that could be crossed by a Nephite in a day and a half; that same narrow neck of land that separated the Land Northward from the land Southward; which was the same land which they called Bountiful that bordered upon the land which they called Desolation (Alma 22:29-30), thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful (Alma 22:31); and was the place where the narrow pass or passage ran through this narrow neck, connecting the two lands and providing egress from one land to the other (Alma 22:33 Mormon 2:29; 3:5); and was the same narrow pass where Moroni’s army kept that of Morianton from fleeing into the Land Northward (Alma 50:34); and the same narrow pass that is described as having a sea on the east and a sea on the west of it (Alma 50:34). In addition, we might say it is the same narrow neck of land that was never mentioned after the destruction in 3 Nephi, when the lands changed, mountains formed and otehrs toppled, nor is the East Sea ever mentioned after 3 Nephi, since the Andes mountains rose to "heights that were great." This was still a narrow area, now it lay between the West Sea, or the "Sea that divideth the land," (the Bay of Guayaquil), and the cliff sides of these huge mountains. 

During this 10-year peace between the Nephites and Lamanites, Mormon spent that time preparing the Nephites for a probable battle. Ten years later, it came: “And it came to pass that after this tenth year had passed away, making, in the whole, three hundred and sixty years from the coming of Christ, the king of the Lamanites sent an epistle unto me, which gave unto me to know that they were preparing to come again to battle against us” (Mormon 3:4).
    2) Consequently, after ten years in this narrow area of land, on the borders of the land of Desolation, preparing for war with the Lamanites, Mormon would have known not only of this original narrow neck’s importance, but also all of its physical layout in every way, direction, and elevation. In short, Momron had every reason as Commander-in-chief of the Nephite armies, after preparing for ten years for war, to understand the layout of this land.
    Now, with all this, isn’t it interesting that in Mormon’s description of this layout that meant life and death to the Nephite Nation, there are theorists today who think they know more about this narrow neck and passage than Mormon did.
With that thought covered, let us return to the Lamanite king’s epistle to Mormon. We have been asked several times why the king would have sent the warning message and not just attacked out of hand. In fact, one notable theorists went so far as to write: “Why the king sent this letter rather than just attacking without warning can only be surmised.” Since “surmised” means “guessed at” we might wonder why he would choose that remark, since the answer not only is quite plain, it was plain through much of world history.
    According to the International Law Studies, Volume 87, Chapter 14, the warning of civilians prior to attack under international law, theory and practice, has always been a matter of honor and law. On page 359, this legal matter states: “A primary goal of the modern law of armed conflict (also known as international humanitarian law) is to protect civilians as much as possible from the violent consequences of hostilities. Accordingly, the law of armed conflict requires that the parties to a conflict apply certain precautionary measures in order to minimize incidental injury to civilians resulting from military attacks. One of these precautionary measures is the provision of warnings to civilians prior to an attack. This article will deal with this measure, and examine both theoretical and practical aspects of providing advance warnings of attacks.” Dating back to 1863 in the Lieber Code, to 1874 in the Brussels Declaration; and 1880 of the Oxford Manual, such provisions have been in place for quite some time. This concept was also found in 1899, the idea of the Hague Regulations provided such warnings for the protection and safety of civilians. These were repeated in 1907 at the Hague and the Hague Convention IX. Argentina’s Law of War Manual of 1989, stated: “Those who plan or decide upon an attack shall, as far as possible…give an effective advance warning of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit.”
    32 countries have similar wording in their legal regulations pertaining to war, attacks, and conduct of such. Numerous other countries, including China and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Israel have such detailed policies. The United States issued numerous warnings to the Japanese government and dropped leaflets over numerous cities that could expect to be bombed—a practice that was also followed in Europe during the Second World War.
Irrespective of Japan’s intentions prior to their attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, no declaration of war was delivered to the U.S. government until after the surprise attack that so stirred a nation and a people that such an act did not bode well for the Japanese as a result, as declared by President Roosevelt following the attack when he called it a “date which will live in infamy.”
    Prior to then, sneak or surprise attacks were relatively unknown and unacceptable to most nations—it showed a lack of character and often referred to both the “Art of War,” and the “Gentlemanly Conduct of War,” that existed in numerous countries prior to the 20th century.
Leaflets were dropped on 35 Japanese cities including Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 1, 1945. The reverse side, written in Japanese, warned of the coming attack and the devastation of the type bomb to be used
    It was also the habit among the Nephite Nation to warn of attacks—what used to be called even in Europe in much later times—an Invitation to Battle. In fact, it was Mormon who returned the battle request to the Lamanite king. “And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle” (Mormon 6:2).
    While Coriantumr achieved a surprise attack by marching directly on Zarahemla (Helaman 1:17) without any notice, “the governor of the Gadianton Robbers sent on epistle to Lachoneus, the Nephite governor of the land, notifying him that  if they did not lay down their weapons and join the robbers, “I swear unto you with an oath, that on the morrow month I will command that my armies shall come down against you, and they shall not stay their hand and shall spare not, but shall slay you, and shall let fall the sword upon you even until ye shall become extinct” (3 Nephii 3:8).
    It was also the practice of the Nephites to try and avoid war, for their military leaders (who were also spiritual leaders) to work on the repentance of the nation and the guidance of the spirit in what they did. As an example, during those few years of peace following the signing of the truce, Momron had two objectives: 1) Keep his people busy fortifying their cities and preparing their lands and themselves against the time when the Lamanites might some day attack them again; and 2) He cried repentance unto his people continually as part of that preparation, admonishing them that if they would build up the Church of Christ they would be spared.
It was the age-old story among the Lord’s righteous prophets, that the nation’s safety and security depended upon the Lord, their repentance, and returning to serve and obey him. In that was their defense. Once the Lord was on their side, the nation could defend itself against aggressive attacks by other armies.
    While, no doubt, it was always the intent of those armies and peoples who fought against the Nephites and Israel before that, to defeat the arrogant hosts of the Lord who were taught to defend themselves but never to attack, it was always the Lord’s people who sought peace in the land. When they did this, they were blessed—when they failed to do this, they were left upon their own; and in the final years of the Nephnites, when they decided to go up and take the fight to the enemy—the Lamanites—it was their unending punishment to lose their lives, their blessings, and their entire nation.


  1. And here we are today.. in the same situation. A nation that was created by God with the intention of this nation worshiping him. And see the wickedness upon this land? This once great nation will have invaders upon its soil. America will be cleansed before the 2nd coming. I will guess it will begin within the next 3 years or sooner.

  2. I was rather hoping this would be after I was gone....