By Mike RuffinWar’¦ What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!Some of you will recognize those words, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong,from Edwin Starr’s 1970 hit single ‘War.’ Released while the war in Vietnam was still raging, it was a bold anti-war statement.Maybe we need to listen to it again.I was twelve years old in 1970 when the song was blasting from radios and jukeboxes, so the possibility of my being drafted was six years away, which at that age seemed so far in the future that I could scarcely imagine it. As things turned out, by the time I turned eighteen, the draft had been abolished. In fact, I didn’t even have to register for the draft, as no men born between March 29, 1957 and December 31, 1959 were required to do so.I wish no one had to register for the draft. I wish we didn’t need military forces or weapons. I wish no American man or woman’”or man or woman of any nation’”would die in armed conflict ever again. I wish we had peace all over the world. I wish that wars never happened. I wish that nations would get along.But I’m neither naÃ¯ve nor stupid. I know I won’t get my wishes.Nevertheless, I believe war should always be the last resort and never the first option. I believe that leaders of nations should do everything they can possibly do to work problems out without going to war.Like the song says, war isn’t good for anything.Well, it seems to be good for business.This brings me to another line in the song ‘War’:It ain’t nothing but a heart breaker(War) it’s got one friend that’s the undertaker.War actually has lots of other friends. Way back in 1963, Mr. Dylan pointed out some of them in his song ‘Masters of War’:Come you masters of warYou that build all the gunsYou that build the death planesYou that build the big bombsYou that hide behind wallsYou that hide behind desksI just want you to knowI can see through your masks.You that never done nothin’But build to destroyYou play with my worldLike it’s your little toyYou put a gun in my handAnd you hide from my eyesAnd you turn and run fartherWhen the fast bullets fly.War is big business. So is the preparation for war that takes place during peacetime. In 2019, the United States spent $649 billion on defense, which is more than the next seven highest-spending countries (China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany) combined. Large military contractors make a lot of money. In 2017, military arms manufacturers in the United States and other countries had almost $400 billion in weapons sales.So I guess military contractors are friends of war too.Now, as I said earlier, I’m not naÃ¯ve. I realize that a strong defense is necessary to preserve peace and to discourage aggression by enemies. I’m grateful for our military personnel who keep us safe. I’m also grateful for our intelligence services and diplomats who work behind the scenes to preserve peace and prevent war. I’m furthermore grateful for government, non-government, American, and international organizations that work to address issues to improve the human conditions that, if not addressed, can lead to conflict.Some evangelicals are also friends of war, particularly war in the Middle East. As far as I can tell, it’s a small subset of the evangelical world. But these folks think they’ll profit from war in an eternal way. They think that a war in the Middle East will help usher in the apocalypse, after which they’ll be riding high and sitting pretty.Such thinking is wrong, foolish, dangerous, unbiblical, and sub-Christian. Christians serve the Prince of Peace who said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ We should do all we can to encourage and promote peace.The drumbeats of war can get very loud. Let’s not let them drown out the melody of peace.
Wars and rumors of war
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