An open Letter about Endless War and opposing its advance to North Korea

Mennonite Church USA logoIn 2015, Mennonite Church USA adopted the “Faithful Witness Amid Endless War” resolution. It described the United States’ engagement in “boundless and endless war.” Ever since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, our nation has waged perpetual war in pursuit of security from perceived threats of terrorism. Over the past 16 years, the targets of war have changed, the methods have grown more sophisticated, different politicians have controlled the levers of power — but we feel as insecure as ever.

In recent days, the nation of North Korea has become an urgent threat. Not connected to the terrorism that originally animated our campaign of endless war, North Korea is deemed an enemy due to its development of nuclear weapons. Some believe that the U.S. could “take out” North Korea’s nuclear capability in relatively quick and easy fashion, but surveying the wreckage from our military interventions over the past decade and a half shows that one can’t take such predictions seriously. Employing our military force in yet another part of the globe — where national allegiances and alliances are dense and complex, and where nuclear weapons could be deployed — would be disastrous for the people of North and South Korea, our country and the world.

As the “Faithful Witness” resolution points out, our nation has become acclimated to this “new normal” of endless war. Our country operates within a paradigm that violence can produce peace. As one military campaign slides into the next, debate and discussion about the morality of war doesn’t take place as broadly and vigorously as it should.

We believe that our calling to be “faithful witnesses” to Jesus leads to a different way of living and being, especially in this era of endless war. We must not accept as inevitable the immorality of war and insanity of violence. Rather, we proclaim the whole gospel of Jesus — His reconciling presence in our lives, relationships and communities and His passion for peace and justice using the means of non-violence.

We invite you to engage in this witness with your local church and as part of our larger denominational body. In the spirit of the “Faithful Witness” resolution, here are ways that witness might take shape:

  • Contact your congressional representative and voice your concerns about the state of Endless War. Especially voice your concern over the specter of military engagement with North Korea. Use these helpful tips from Mennonite Central Committee to shape your interactions with your representative.
  • Pray for peacemakers. Preventing war and violence by governments is an important aspect of peacemaking, but durable, sustained peace grows where there is reconciliation between people. While news headlines inform us about the tension between North and South Korea, there are peacemakers from both nations working to break down the dividing wall of hostility that exists. Pray these efforts take hold and the nations and people of North and South Korea can experience God’s shalom.
  • Renew emphasis in your church on the non-violent way of Jesus. In small groups, in worship, in educational settings, examine the ways war and violence have become embedded in our society and explore non-violent alternatives. Seek the “renewal of our minds in Christ” (Romans 12:2).

Finally, even in the ugly conditions of the current climate, we proclaim our hope that even endless war will eventually cease. We know that the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, is found in Jesus. We weep for those touched by war, we oppose war’s existence, and we give gratitude that it shall not, cannot, persist indefinitely in the presence of the Prince of Peace.

 

Ervin Stutzman

Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA

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4 thoughts on “An open Letter about Endless War and opposing its advance to North Korea

  1. The current U.S. bluster against North Korea discloses once again the heartless cruelty of the U.S. attitude toward the world (apologies to those who are offended by my terse understatement.) The “Why do North Koreans hate us?’ article linked in Friesen’s letter above goes a long ways toward explaining my rhetoric, for those who want to go a mile toward understanding my rhetoric. We live in hard times, and the events of history are banging at our door, ready soon to outdistance the rhetoric of both those who gloss and those who rant.

  2. The word and intent is right on; I would b e glad to send it to my Senator. How can the message be sent more succinctly so that our Senators will take time to read it?

  3. Since writing the above I’ve been worrying that maybe my opening line was too blunt. (Perhaps at least a few readers will believe that I am actually concerned about that.) So , people say to me that I am not adequately considerate of the feelings of my readers. But somebody has to be considerate of the feelings, not to mention the very lives, of the victims of our country’s endless wars. So that is why I speak bluntly. And sending this second comment was prompted by what I just read about our endless bombing of the world–I share just an excerpt from the article, which follows.
    “US Arms Makers Rake in Billions Replacing Bombs for US Air Wars”
    Precision Munitions Are Costly, and Used in Growing Numbers
    by Jason Ditz, January 06, 2017
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    “Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has bragged that the US is “hitting more targets than we’ve ever hit in a long time in Iraq, Syria, and in Afghanistan,” with tens of thousands of bombs dropped in 2016 alone. Those numbers show no sign of getting smaller any time soon.

    That’s bad news for the people in those countries the bombs are falling on, and bad news for the taxpayers, but it’s great news for a handful of key US arms makers, who are seeing their sales soar on the orders that the military has placed to replace the dropped bombs and fired missiles.

    These bombs aren’t cheap, with even the smaller “dumb bombs” amounting to $30,000 or more, and more advanced technology like Lockheed Martin’s Hellfire missiles costing in excess of $100,000 each. With thousands of Hellfire missiles being fired, that’s a costly proposition.

    From the Pentagon’s perspective, the big issue in all of this is that the companies are having trouble escalating production fast enough to meet demand, and they are fretting that bombs are being dropped faster than they’re being replaced.”

  4. I appreciate the tone of this message from Ervin. During the 50 years after World War 1, Mennonite Church leaders felt a responsibility to speak to people in the pew about international events. Their purpose was to counter the relentless government propaganda supporting violence and to remind the church of its calling to be a witness to another way of addressing conflict. This message from Ervin reprises the tone and purpose of that earlier time.

    Much more needs to be said, of course, about the war industry and its chokehold on American life. I hope this message from Ervin is only a start, and not a one-off initiative.

    As for the people of Korea (north and south), we need to educate ourselves about the horror the US inflicted there in the early ’50s. I encourage reading “Why Do North Koreans Hate Us?” by Mehdi Hasan. Here is the URL:
    https://theintercept.com/2017/05/03/why-do-north-koreans-hate-us-one-reason-they-remember-the-korean-war/

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