So let’s consider here the encomium of Moroni in Alma here. In Alma 48:16–18 is where he praises the qualities of [Moroni]:
. . . this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity. Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men [notice it’s the hearts he’s after, not the bodies]. Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon [the great pacifist], the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God.
Well, there are some things to be said now about these qualities. This shows the two qualities of Abraham in the vast Abraham literature. It’s very large. Abraham is mentioned perhaps more than any other person in world literature, because he is the father. He’s in the center, he’s the pivotal character of world history, and he’s our father. We all have the blood of Abraham in us, whether we know it or not. Do you know why that is, what the chances are? We mentioned that you could put it on the computer. Nobody knows the time of Abraham, but we know it was one of those particular times of extermination. He lived in a time of extermination. Everything was desolate. It was always dry. He dug wells, and he planted trees that he would never be able to use. The famine waxed sore in the land. He had to move from Haran to Canaan, from Canaan to Egypt and back again, driven wherever he went. Then [he went] to the five cities where it was lush. But suddenly they had fallen in a terrible collapse. Everything collapsed, and then he moved to Gerar and tried to make a living in Gerar. It was even worse—terrible plague everywhere he went, drought everywhere, crops failed, world collapse. It was a terrible thing. Well, we get to take that up in the book of Abraham. But there’s a great literature about that.
There’s a very good work we have here, a massive thing, by Claude Schaeffer, a Frenchman. He got together all the archaeological evidence that covered everything we have [such as] the signs of ruin and decay. They’re periodical: 1700 B.C. was a good example, 3000 B.C., 1200 B.C., and 600 B.C.—those pivotal times we talk about [that are] so important. Well, at that time the world’s population was really reduced. It was cut down to the nub. People just disappeared. It was one of those times of extermination. The Great Plague in the 1340s wiped out at least half the population of Europe, and in some parts completely desolated the world. But do you notice the promise to Abraham and his children? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They always lay such heavy emphasis on numbers. Your offspring, your seed, will be as numerous as the sands of the sea. If you can count the stars of the heaven . . . They’re as numerous as the dust of the earth. That’s making it infinite. But why are they so obsessed with getting a lot of descendants, millions and millions? They’re bound to get a lot anyway. Why is this an obsession with them? That’s the trouble with us; we have too many people running around. The earth is overpopulated like a cancer and eating everything up now.
Well, the reason is to repopulate the earth. Abraham had three wives. He took Sarah, but Sarah was barren, so he took Hagar who was of the blood of Ham. Many accounts say she was the daughter of Pharaoh; she was an Egyptian. The Egyptians play a big role here. His wife, Sarah, was the great mother in Israel, mother of all the Semites. She was Semitic. And Hagar was of Ham. Then after Sarah died he took Keturah, and she was of [Japheth]. She had six sons, and Abraham taught them the arts which later became the arts of the West—the mathematics, the science, the architecture, and those things in which Abraham himself was a genius. They spread in all directions, so we have the blood of Shem, Ham, and Japheth being refreshed in all directions. His seed became very numerous, we are told, in all these directions, which means they intermarried with everybody. As you know if you’re a genealogist, we mix with everybody else, and before you know it, we all have the same genes all mixed up together. I don’t think there’s a chance that anybody in the world is without some of the blood of Abraham because he was told repeatedly, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18), especially his priesthood.
So here we have Abraham going out, and he had two great qualities. I’m going to put them on the board. First of all, they always talk about Abraham’s charity. Charity was dead in the world, and Abraham revived it. There are many examples of that, of course, and charity is translated in the New Testament, in the new revised version as love. “The greatest of these is love,” it says. The Latin word for charity, charis, is grace. It’s cognate with our English word cheer. It’s universal. Charity, love, and grace marked Abraham. His second [outstanding quality] was his immense intelligence, his curiosity about everything. He was a scientist, as we know. Joseph Smith gave us the great astronomer, the cosmologist, so busy and zealous in his study of the stars and structure of things. He gave us a hologram of the universe, etc. We are told that intelligence, or the glory of God, is like light and truth. Of course light and truth always go together. So what we have here is . . . What is the Only Begotten full of? “Mine Only Begotten who is full of grace and truth.” These are the qualities of the Only Begotten Son. If you have these, this is everything. In fact we’re told that in the two great commandments, the first two commandments. The Lord says on two commandments hang all the others. If you keep them, you’re bound to keep the others. The first is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.” In Deuteronomy it says “. . . with all thy heart and with all thy soul [nephesh], and with all thy meʾod.”
That’s a very interesting word that it uses. It uses meʾod, which means oath, which is the same word as the Old English moot, which is mind. The n very often drops out before the t. But in almost any language you can name, it means mind, so you have to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul [nephesh], with all thy mind. This is the intellect. This is in Deuteronomy 6:5. There are two great commandments. First, you love him, but you love your neighbor as yourself. Now that’s another kind of love. That’s charity or grace. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Of course if you keep these, you don’t need to worry about the others. If you love the Lord that much and if you love your neighbor that much—thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not commit adultery. You won’t do any of those things if you keep the first two commandments, if they are in your heart. The Lord says on these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets. If you keep them, [the others] are taken care of. They are grace and truth. And this is grace, with all thy heart, might, mind and strength. “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. . . . light cleaveth unto light,” etc.
So the same things are in the first two commandments. They are charity for your fellowman, love. That isn’t an intellectual sort of thing; that you just feel. Abraham often did. Satan often came and reasoned with Abraham and said you’re not being rational about this thing, supporting the people of Sodom, for example. They’re bad people, he says, but I feel sorry for them. Let’s save anyone. And after the battle Abraham was worried sick. He said, there might have been a righteous man killed on the other side, and in that case, his blood would be on my head. It bothered him terribly. What was he to do about that? That’s charity. It’s not particularly rational, but it’s a feeling. Love or charity is spontaneous. As Paul says, you don’t bicker, you don’t calculate, you don’t work it out, you don’t make intellectual plans, you don’t argue about it, you don’t make jesuitical sophistry about it, to reason just how much love is there as the sixteenth-century casuists used to do. They figured all these things out to the fifth decimal place. No sir, that’s spontaneous, it’s free, it’s universal. No self-interest. Love requires nothing in return. You’re not asking for that. It’s not a deal, it’s not an exchange, it’s not business or anything like that. Love is spontaneous. The other is intelligence, which doesn’t make deals [either]. As Brigham Young said “Light cleaveth to light. We love knowledge because it is good in itself, and we make no excuses for it.”
As Irenaeus tells us, there are only two things in which men can excel. They are, of course, in forgiving—that’s grace, isn’t it? You forgive others. But I shouldn’t forgive him—he did this or he did that, or it wouldn’t do me this good. No, you don’t ask that at all. The Arabs have a saying: “The brave man never asks the odds; the generous man never asks the price; the good man never asks questions.” You just forgive. If you forgive, that is grace. And you repent. To repent is honest thinking. It’s close, critical analysis of your own behavior. Intelligence, you see, is problem-solving ability. That’s the way it’s defined by William James and others. That has been the standard definition of intelligence by the psychologists—problem-solving ability.
But what do you need to solve problems? That’s a moral quality. You can’t cheat; you must be honest. You don’t anticipate the answer unfairly. You don’t get it out of the answer book. Problem-solving ability is a moral quality. It’s the capacity to be strictly honest, which is very rare. Intelligence is examining your own inadequacy. The first thing you ask when you’re confronted with a problem is where am I failing? What don’t I know here? Where have I broken down? Where am I inadequate for this? That’s what you deal with, not how much have I got or what’s my degree. That has nothing to do with it. The thing you’re interested in to solve the problem is where you’re weak. It’s a humiliating process, the progressive exposure of your own ignorance as you go on and on. [Joseph] Scaliger was perhaps the greatest scholar of modern times (he died in 1608). When he went into the ghetto in Rome to chat with the children so he’d learn Hebrew offhand, the scholars laughed at him. They held him in contempt. We just don’t do that sort of thing. They are mere children. What can they tell you? [they said]. Well, they knew more Hebrew than he did. He learned it, and the others never did. That’s our haughtiness. Ian Linforth, an old teacher of mine at Berkeley, was at the head of the American School in Athens. He said in the British school there, all the time he was there, he never heard any English students speak a word of Greek. They had to construe it. They had to translate it. You never read it. You didn’t treat it like that; just children talked languages and things like that. We treat it as sort of an abstract exercise, and so they never get very far.
Problem-solving ability is necessary for repentance. Intelligence is a process of progressive repentance. You repent of your mistakes you make. You repent of your stupidity, and you have to keep doing that all the time, because we don’t get to first base. Otherwise, you’ll never break through to anything. Remember, the great scientist when he finally sees the light almost invariably says, “What a fool I’ve been. It has been staring me in the face all this time and I didn’t see it.” The stars have been sending us the same hints for thousands of years, and we fail to respond to them. They are there all the time. It just depends on your being able or willing to see them.
Moroni, it tells us here, is both smart and magnanimous. Notice those are the two qualities. He’s smart; he always bamboozles the enemy. He runs circles around them, and he is also generous with them. They’re never the enemy to him. They’re always his brethren. He always stops the war the minute he sees the tide turning, the minute they start weakening. As compared with our “me” generation—they’re smart but selfish. If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich? This is an article from a recent psychological journal, Psychology Today. It’s about rich people and has titles like this: “What Good Are the Rich?” It asks here, “Are we drowning in wealth?” And this heading says, “One of the sad ironies is that the people who get hooked on money tend to consider themselves very smart, cool-headed, and rational.” But which is the smart thing in the long run? It gives the example of Boysky here, etc. The me generation: Boysky, Milcken, the Helmsleys, etc. [This reminds me of] the smart dealer and the widow’s cow that Brigham Young talks about.
Abraham saw where real happiness lies. This is it. Notice that Abraham doesn’t subdue his ego at all. He doesn’t wipe himself out in the nyeti nyeti or anything like that. The second verse of the first chapter of Abraham is one of the most marvelous condensations you will find anywhere. This is Abraham’s life already summed up in that second verse, and the world he lived in. It’s a long one. You have to stop for breath. It’s one sentence, that long verse.
Abraham 1:2: “And finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me . . .” He’s not ashamed of wanting happiness and peace for himself. That’s what you do. Don’t fool yourself. Don’t say oh, I don’t want anything for me at all. I just want to suffer. No, that’s not it. ” . . . I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same.” So he only wants these blessings so he can administer them to others. To administer means to hand on, to spread around, to be in charge of distribution. So that’s what he wants. He wants these blessings because he’s told, remember, “in thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the world be blessed.” He’s the greatest pronouncer of blessings who ever was. Wherever he went he would pronounce blessings. The Lord tells him, as I commanded Adam to give my blessing to the animals—and Adam passed it on to Noah—so I now command thee. You do the same thing, and he did. He took great care of the animals and birds. He was always much concerned for them. ” . . . having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge [notice, he wants righteousness and knowledge, but more and more; it’s progressive; he doesn’t stop there] and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge.” He wasn’t satisfied with where he was.
The stories of the childhood of Abraham are the most interesting things. He was always asking questions, always researching, always doing remarkable things, and getting himself and his family into trouble. They had to move out, much the same life as Joseph Smith. He was very precocious. And incidentally, this is not a mythical hero. What do typical, mythical heroes do? They’re strong and brave and they have big muscles and they fight bad people. Never is any physical prowess or characteristic of Abraham mentioned—never his strength or his endurance or his formidable appearance or anything. Always just his intelligence and his kindness. Those are the two things that go together wherever we see him.
“. . . one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations . . .” That’s what he wanted to be, you see. You say, how ambitious, what an ego! Not to be worshipped by them but to help them and give them something. He wanted the priesthood so he could pass it on. “. . . and desiring to receive instructions [he was humble; he had to know how he’d go about it] and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers [so he could hand it down]. It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me. I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.”
He sought for the appointment so he could administer “the appointment of God concerning the seed.” His fathers had turned from their righteousness—they wouldn’t listen to him or anything like that. He was in a bad world. They utterly refused to listen to his voice.
So we have Abraham here. That’s where his real happiness lay. There’s the famous example, the story we all know, about the man who was very smart and congratulated himself on making such a smart deal in Luke. That’s a good one. All these things would be marginal notes and footnotes in a well-edited Book of Mormon. For example, in every verse of this text I have here. This is just the Nestle edition, which is not the completest by any means. They just run down the margins with references to other scriptures that say the same thing, where they overlap, because it’s all relevant. It’s all just one book—Old Testament, New Testament—it all hangs together.
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying . . . ” There was a certain man who possessed a very fertile piece of land, a very profitable estate or farm. He went around and inspected it and he was very smart. He thought it all out. He was a very shrewd businessman, and he figured it all out in his mind, saying to himself, “What will I do now? It seems I don’t have any more room to stow my present harvest, so what can I do? I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll tear down the whole establishment and I’ll rebuild the whole thing on a much grander scale—much bigger. Then I’ll have room to stow everything I have along with all my other property too. That’s just the thing. Then I can save myself,” he says. “Now, my friend, you’re as rich as Midas here. You have vast goods laid aside for many years to come,” he says. “Retire, take it easy from now on. Make a rest. Eat and drink and enjoy yourself.” And God said to him, “You’re an absolute idiot [aphrōn, meaning no brains at all]. This very night I will demand your soul of you.” So he dies.
There’s a palace outside of Jordan. It belonged to the Dajani family, and they took us out there to see it. It was a palace built in the ninth century. A king spent twenty-seven years building it to be the perfect palace, and it had every luxury you can imagine. It had hot and cold [water]. It had tepidariums because it was built on the Roman fashion, and even the guards had special rooms for themselves and their lady friends. There was a theatre. It was the works. Twenty-seven years he spent building it. And the night he was to dedicate it, he was going to have the party of parties. Everybody was going to be invited. But there was an earthquake, and the palace was completely destroyed and lies in ruins today. Nobody goes back there anymore. There it is, a huge place. And he had a heart attack and died the same night. So that was a moral for the Arabs. This is the sort of thing the chief built for himself. Shebam was a big place south of there. I always think of them after. Last time the minute I left the class I thought of the one who said that Lincoln and Lee never referred to the other side as “the enemy.” That was Henry Steele Commager who noted that.
So we have the me generation. We’re smart but selfish. Wilford Woodruff said there’s a common misconception of the Latter-day Saints, that since God rewards the righteous with prosperity, the rich must be righteous. He said they have that in their system. Will they ever get it out?
Now, I’m going to talk about war here. I was outraged to find out they were going ahead with this manuscript. This is on Clausewitz and the Book of Mormon.1 This is Book of Mormon warfare, and it is relevant. I’m going to put Karl von Clausewitz on the board. I mentioned him before. [He wrote] the standard work on war. You can’t do anything without Clausewitz. He’s the one that everybody quotes, because this is on the general principles of warfare—not strategy and tactics. It deals with them, but this has to do with how wars go on and the very nature of warfare. It’s called On War. It was the classic work, and the Book of Mormon reads as if it were taken right out of Clausewitz, But there was one thing wrong with it. The marvelous thing is the timing of these things. I think they’re great. You’d say Joseph Smith lifted the whole story of Moroni, the whole warfare in the Book of Mormon, out of Clausewitz. But Clausewitz was published in 1833, too late for the Book of Mormon. They’ll argue about that, of course, but no—he didn’t use Clausewitz. It had limited circulation until it became very popular. Clausewitz was very active in the Napoleonic wars, and he gives us the principles, the principal maxims on war. He breaks it down to the great maxims of war. The most famous saying of his that everybody knows by heart is, “War is therefore a continuation of policy by other means.” It is carrying on political disagreements between nations, ideological, etc. Policy by other means. He is strictly a soldier dealing with the technical side, only with how war is conducted, yet he’s not only going to talk about the causes in the background, here he spills the beans. This points directly to the causes, a continuation of politics.
The Book of Mormon begins with war in Jerusalem, and ends with war at Cumorah. In between there are a lot of wars. They all deal with political ambition. You don’t have to go to Egypt, Babylonia, or Jerusalem to illustrate this, because we see territorial ambitions in such Book of Mormon characters as Zerahemnah. They want to make themselves leaders of men and nations. Remember, Amalickiah wanted to lead everything. Once you start out, you don’t know where to stop, like the Hitlers of the world. Zerahemnah, Amulon, Amalickiah, Ammoron, Laman, Nehor, Zeezrom, Korihor, and so forth—all those are men that started great wars in the Book of Mormon out of personal political ambitions. They wanted to get ahead. They started out with political parties and ended up uniting bodies in war such as the great coalitions of Amalickiah we’ve just been seeing about. We don’t need to comment as far as the present world is concerned what is the Cold War, but present politics being carried on. It is a political movement on both sides, political systems in conflict.
Another saying of Clausewitz is “War belongs not to the province of the arts and sciences but of social existence.” It would be better to liken it to business competition; that’s what it is. Remember the warlords—what is their purpose? Why do they keep being warlords? Well, it’s for loot, of course. That’s the grandeur, that’s the king. The opening lines of Beowulf are a typical example. The warlords of the steppes live on booty and loot. They plunder the rich cities of the plain. They come down from the hills and plunder the cities of the plain. They’re always in motion, so naturally their wealth has to be transportable wealth, whereas the sedentary cities have to have sedentary wealth, like architecture and art, literature, libraries, and things like that. They are stable. But people on the march have to have wealth which is portable. So what is it? It’s gold, silver, and jewels—everything that counts with them. They collect it.
We see this in the National Geographic. You see the tribes of the steppes where the women all carry the family wealth in gold and silver coins around their necks. That’s why the Chinese put holes in the middle of their coins, so they can string them. That’s the Manchu tradition, not the Chinese. The Manchus came from the other side of the wall, just like all the rest of the people, from the center, the heartland. They go out and plunder the rich, luxurious, decadent cities on the outside and bring them fresh blood and ruin at the same time. So this is portable wealth. They place value on it, and also things they can carry with them. That means they excel in mathematics, which they do in their heads, and the heroic literature which is always recited from memory. It is [from the] the heroic age. So they have heroic literature and gold and silver—the splendors of a royal court with the king bestowing gifts upon the lords who supported him. He goes out and plunders, and he gains followers by giving them gifts. They get more gifts by going out and plundering more. It works, and it has worked for ages and ages. It’s still the same way, in fact. A large work was published in Frankfurt a few years ago that said the ancient state was a closed corporation for the purpose of plundering neighboring communities or societies. That’s where the wealth was, and it still is. Hitler kept saying, “If I only had the Ukraine, all that grain. If I only had the Ploetsi oil fields, because that’s where the Russians got their oil. That’s what he was after. It was plunder they were after.
What do you think the English are after when they go out with their land pirates and sea pirates? Buckminster Fuller wrote some very good things about the land pirates and the sea pirates. The sea pirates are those who occupy the periphery and have all the harbors and coasts. Who wins? The great world wars have always been between the land powers and the sea powers. The Trojan War was that sort of a thing. The Mycenaeans came in their thousand ships, and Troy is well inland. It dominates the plains. It was the same way, the land pirates and sea pirates. So far the sea pirates win most of the time. They can block them up.
Well, Clausewitz says, “War belongs not to the province of arts and sciences, but that of social existence. It would be better to liken it to business competition.” He was in the Napoleonic wars. This was first published in 1833, so it was when he was teaching in the Kriegsakademie. It was in the 1830s. Quoting him, “It’s like business competition, more like politics. It may be regarded as a kind of business competition on a great scale.” Well, Clausewitz was writing back in the eighteenth century during the Napoleonic wars. His main study was wars of the eighteenth century, wars of princes and kings following the grandeur . . . The idea was you have to be grand and rule the world, the prince’s business. It’s a contradiction of terms to say there’s such a thing as a kinglet. To be a king you have to acknowledge no limit to your rule; otherwise, you’re just a dependent if you don’t rule everything. So every king has to rule everything. Any enemy on his borders is a threat to him, a challenge to his supremacy, and so he has to make war on his enemies. This went on, and it went on terribly. . . . the wars of princes following the grandeur of Louis the Great. It was all-important to be grand. You had to annex as much land as you could. Why? Like the partition of Poland between Catherine and Frederick, between Austria, Prussia, and Russia under Catherine the Great. As Frederick the Great said, she wept but she took. They had to annex as much land as they could because you grab not only the resources but in that time it was important to grab all the people because they made up the army for grabbing more land. They were the peasants, and they automatically fell to you. That’s the Asiatic system. It’s a chess game—the winner take all, and without any hesitation. This is best represented in the book of Ether. We’ll get to that anyway. They [the peasants] strengthened your army, aggrandized you, and made you greater. You could expand more. They strengthened you and enabled you to make further sweeps. This occurred throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Well, most of all in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries—it was really wild. And everybody grabbed as much land as they could, the princes doing it in the interests of the state. It was ratio status, which justified anything. We would say “national security.” It was really ratio status and would justify anything.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the great industrial barons were after the same thing, land, because along with that came raw materials and cheap labor and markets. That’s why they wanted colonies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. England grabbed a third of the world because it provided raw materials, cheap labor, and markets. And so it went on—territorial wars. Clausewitz continues: “Moreover, politics is the womb in which war is developed. It is business on a great scale.” Nothing describes it better these days than that. And so we don’t need to explain that. And then he says, “Disarming the enemy—this is the object of war and the abstract, the final means of attaining a political object, forcing the enemy to disarm,” We’ve always disarmed the enemy after every war and then immediately armed them again. Disarming the enemy is the object of war. Not to destroy them, because you can profit greatly. After all, the Germans and the Japanese were the most enterprising people in the world, after America at that time. Now, they’ve left us behind. But disarming the enemy was the object of war and the final means—that’s what you’re really after.
In the Book of Mormon Moroni often requires the enemies to lay down their arms. This happens again and again, and he lets them go home. There are no reprisals. The war always takes place on Nephite soil. If they just go home and promise they won’t come back, that’s all he ever asks of them. No reprisals or anything similar. In the 44th chapter of Alma and the 15th, 20th, 52nd, 37th, etc. The test comes when they lay down their arms. Then you know your will has dominated over theirs, and they know it too. So Clausewitz says “The disarming of the enemy is the object of war.” Moroni was satisfied when the enemy laid down their arms. Likewise the French and Indian wars, the Mexican War, and the last war. When the Germans and Japanese laid down their arms, the war was over. That’s all it took. That’s what ended the war.
Clausewitz’s next maxim is an interesting one too: “The aggressor always pretends to be peace-loving [see, we’re always on the defensive] because he would like to achieve his conquest without bloodshed.” Hitler would have been glad to take all of Europe without any bloodshed at all, if they had let him have what he wanted. Anybody would do that. “Therefore aggression must be presented as a defensive reaction against the aggressor nation.” Your aggression is always represented, according to Clausewitz here, as being a defense action. You’re just defending yourself. They are the aggressors, according to that thing of Hitler’s. Nobody ever attacks. You’re always just on the defensive. After World War I the German office Kriegsamt changed its name to Wermacht (“defense power”), and we changed our name, War Department, to Department of Defense. We’re just defensive now, that’s all. Both sides must take a defensive position, whether they’re aggressors or not.
We see good examples in the Book of Mormon in the case of Giddianhi and Lachoneus. We’ll get to them. [Giddianhi and others] were the heads of the robber armies. The fact that they could have robber armies that could overthrow governments [is disturbing]. Now we’re getting something of that in the Medell’n, the same sort of thing. Here’s a gang of robbers that can actually defy governments, including our own, and get away with it. It’s happening more frequently. That’s from the Book of Mormon. And that always happens in Book of Mormon lands; that’s the tradition down there. The Book of Mormon trains you up to all this sort of thing. Giddianhi writes to Lachoneus in 3 Nephi 3:9–10: We wouldn’t bother you except you’re infringing on our rights of government, our ancient society which is old and venerable. You have been the aggressors against us [paraphrased]. And the Lamanites always had that legitimate charge. They always would explain how Laman and Lemuel were robbed by Nephi and his trickery. They really believed it.
Since the loser must always submit to the winner, each side is always fighting for its freedom, because if you lose, you’ll lose your freedom. So we’re always fighting for freedom, no matter which side you’re on. I don’t want to submit to you, you don’t want to submit to me, so I’m defending my freedom and you’re defending your freedom. We have a Defense Department operating at present all throughout the world, where we feel we need to be defended in bases everywhere. Quoting Clausewitz again: “Those who belong to the profession will always look upon themselves as a kind of guild,” So it’s a profession, a corporate guild. “A closed corporation must exist more or less in every army.” That’s true. “Military virtue is a quality of standing armies only.” And yet it’s the citizen soldier who does all the fighting most of the time. That’s why you have this cult. What other business requires you to wear a special outfit all the time and decorate yourself with visible symbols of every remarkable or praiseworthy thing you ever did. You can’t do anything praiseworthy without putting a ribbon or a medal on. That’s a strange thing. Of course, in Europe they just cover themselves. It’s marvelous how they can do it. Every time you turn around you pin another medal on. This is true, though.
This is interesting: It is professionalism which guarantees ongoing tradition, but it’s also a very dangerous thing. Now Clausewitz says, “It is impermissible, even harmful, to leave a great military event to purely military judgment [don’t leave it to the army, for various reasons]. The influence in the Cabinet of any military man except the commander in chief is extremely dangerous,” because they have their own interest, their own purpose, etc. And as they disagree with the government, they have the power to take over, which happens in Central America again and again. If you have the strongest army, you take over the government. Then you are the government. That’s what Noriega did. He lost the election, but he had the army and he had enough force, so he took it over. So here it is, he says, that’s why “it’s impermissible, even harmful, to leave a great military event to purely military judgment.” The influence in the Cabinet of any military man other than the commander in chief, who has to be represented, is very dangerous, because then it’s very easy for them to take everything over.
“It is not the business of military men to meddle in higher politics of state. The chief military commander is the only one who should be in the Cabinet. It is harmful, impermissible, for the military even to participate there, because they have their own interests and they do things differently and impulsively. When you have the power and want to go ahead [you say] let’s go ahead. Well, we’ve just seen this last week an interesting example of that. We still have the fog of war there to deal with. But Noriega was finally taken and held. We could have gone in and taken him but we didn’t—the military didn’t. They got their wires crossed. It always happens. He’s going to talk about that. Wars are always messed up. Nothing is going to go straight in them. This is absolutely basic with Clausewitz and important too.
A good example of the last, though, is Moroni getting on his high horse when he writes to Pahoran, remember? He speaks as a general in the midst of war. He blows his top and writes some very indiscreet letters. And he’s absolutely wrong, the great Moroni. He doesn’t understand what’s going on back home. He’s writing to Pahoran about conditions he isn’t aware of at all. He’s going to take over, he says. We’ll come and seize the state—we’ll expel you. I’ll march with my men and we’ll unseat you, he says in Alma 60. I’ll just take over the government myself. Pahoran writes and says, you just don’t understand what’s going on. Pahoran is very wise about it and doesn’t take any offense. He says I admire your great heartedness; that’s the way you should be. Then he explains, and then Moroni apologizes and they work very closely together from then on and are able to mop up the war. They finish it up. They just work hand in glove after that.
The first maxim is that [war is] “politics by other means.” The second maxim is “war is thus an act of force to compel our adversary to do our will.” That’s what you want, not to eliminate him. “War is nothing but a duel on a larger scale.” That’s Clausewitz again. And, of course, that’s what it is in the Book of Mormon. Remember in this chapter here, it was entirely a personal thing between Moroni and Amalickiah, and it climaxed with Amalickiah threatening to drink Moroni’s blood. They’re that worked up. It’s a personal feud between the two, and it is so between the generals.
In Normandy General Taylor wanted me to go over to the German colonel and invite him to tea in the manner of the seventeenth and eighteenth century wars. He actually did, so I got my uniform on, got all dolled up and went over to invite the colonel. He was holding Carentan, and he held it. He didn’t lose it. The Germans called General Taylor “the last gentleman,” so he had to do the glamorous, romantic thing and go over under a white flag and invite the colonel to tea. Well, it was called off at the last minute when all hell broke loose over there.
We talked about Colonel Cole the last time who went off to take S’Hertogenbus. He led the only bayonet charge in World War II. That was the same week when they took the bridge at Carentan by a bayonet charge. They didn’t need to take it by a bayonet charge. We left a lot of casualties. Machine guns work very efficiently, better than bayonets, but the 502nd actually took the bridge at Carentan in a bayonet charge. He thought we were going to go right through the way they did in World War [I]. It didn’t work that way.
It is an act of war to compel our adversaries to do our will—a duel on a larger scale. It’s personal. Alma fights Amlici face to face. That’s a duel, but they represent the forces. Amalickiah swears, as I said, to drink Moroni’s blood. Of course the classic is Shiz versus Coriantumr when they both exterminate each other. We still do the same today. We try to destabilize governments which we do not favor. We personify them in their leaders. The leader or whoever is in charge becomes the villain, and it becomes a personal duel between this president and that president whichever they might be, and they take it very personally. Reagan took things very personally.
Clausewitz goes on to say, “If the enemy should choose the method of great decision by arms, our own method must on that account be changed against our will to a similar one.” If they’re going to fight, we’ve got to fight. What the enemy does, we must do. We must on that account against our own will adopt a similar method. Moroni repeatedly found that the enemy had copied his equipment and his tactics. In war, armies always look alike. They always do, of course. We must copy their methods. If you have a helmet that’s superior or a gun that’s superior, it’s only a matter of weeks until the other side has the same thing, because they can’t allow you to enjoy that advantage for any length of time. So the two sides look just alike. The Germans had very good tanks, the Mark IV, far better than a Pershing, so we quickly had to change ours from a Pershing. The Russians introduced the Shepatovka, and it worked very well. Then the Germans had it, and then we got the bazooka. The German gray uniform was superior to ours in World War II because it was less visible. All uniforms look alike now. Everybody goes around in camouflage. The first time those camouflage things were used was when parachutes were made with that leaf effect on them, and we wore that kind when we landed, not in Normandy but in Holland. The second time we had learned our lesson. So it always ends up [that way]. If they have something good, you can’t let them enjoy that advantage very long. You have to have a gun just as good. Their 88s were far superior to what we had, so we immediately had to counter with 150s and things like that. So what the enemies do, we have to do—change to a similar one. “If the enemy should choose the method of the great decision by arms,” we can’t do anything but reply the same.
Moroni repeatedly found that the enemy had copied his equipment and tactics. That’s what made the war draw out for fourteen years, because every time he got something good, the Lamanites would do the same thing. He couldn’t fool them anymore with that trick with lines or the fortifications, or the falling back, or the leading into a pocket. They caught on very quickly and did the same thing, so the war dragged on.
In another place Clausewitz says “In modern times the armies of European states have arrived very much on a par in discipline and training.” Again, that’s the same thing. They have to mount up. This is what we’ve been doing for the last forty years. We can’t allow the Russians to get an edge on us. If they have a certain kind of missile, we’ve got to get that kind of missile. If they have more tanks, we’ve got to get more tanks, and this goes on all the time. And their submarines. Always this balancing—we’re playing this game all the time. And it’s enormously costly, because each side knows the other wouldn’t dare use those missiles because it would all be over for both sides if they started doing that. That’s rather silly, isn’t it, but this is the way Satan does. Peace will be taken away from the world and the devil will have control in his own dominion. [Satan says] I will take the treasures of the earth, convert them into cash—gold and silver—and I’ll buy up kings and presidents, popes and priests, armies and navies and rule with blood and horror. This is what’s going on. It hasn’t relaxed in the least after all these years. It’s pretty sad that the Book of Mormon should be so cruelly relevant in our own time, isn’t it. It’s hard on us.
So, he says, you can see why we can’t allow the enemy to get a new gun. If it’s a Shepatovka, we immediately copy it with a bazooka. The Mark VI panzer was awfully good. We countered with a Pershing. We can’t allow them to hold an edge, so armies very quickly come to look very much alike. Hence the duel in which the parties are necessarily equal. There will be very little difference between them when they meet, and that’s very destructive. When the Lamanites tried to encircle the Nephites with the same wine tricks the Nephites had tried, the Nephites then tried other tricks. But the tricks didn’t work anymore, because the enemy knew them all by heart, and both had adopted each other’s method.
Continuing on the idea of the duel of equal parts, Clausewitz writes “The ruthless user of force who shrinks from no amount of bloodshed must gain an advantage if his opponent doesn’t do the same.” War is war, he says, and don’t try to talk about civilized war or the rules or the laws of war—that’s ridiculous. It’s a contradiction of terms. If there were rules or laws, you wouldn’t fight. You’d talk about it. When you start scratching and biting, it’s because the rules don’t hold any more. You’re not paying any attention to them. So you must be ruthless. Now Teancum and Amalickiah typify this. Well, Lehi, Moroni’s second in command, is a good example. He was a holy terror, but Teancum was the worst. Teancum was Lehi’s chief of staff, and Amalickiah typified the principal on the other side. It’s always the wicked against the wicked in the Book of Mormon, never the righteous against the wicked. It’s a duel between Amlici and Alma. We mentioned that before. Wasn’t that a good guy against a bad guy? When the war was over, they mourned terribly because they were convinced the war had been because of their wickedness. They had brought it on themselves. They weren’t fighting bad guys as good guys after all. As Mormon counsels, Don’t worry about the wicked. Behold the justice of God will overtake the wicked, and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished [paraphrased].
Clausewitz describes the old-fashioned wars as punishment wars. We can’t afford that luxury now. We must copy the enemy if he’s bloody-minded, but the Lord gives a rule right at the beginning of the Book of Mormon. The second chapter [1 Nephi 2:23] says, the wicked Lamanites will “have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also.” When they fight it’s because they’re both rebellious against God. Otherwise, there’s going to be no fight. “They shall have no power over thy seed except they rebel against me also.” I’ll keep things going. That was the agreement, and it’s repeated throughout the Book of Mormon.
Clausewitz says, “Because we’re so equal, the wastage of our own forces is always the greater, the more our aim is directed toward destruction of the enemy forces.” The more we are determined on destroying them, the more we will be destroyed, he says. That’s a rule to follow. I used to have an old teacher at UCLA in a boxing class. He used to say, “The first rule is, if you want to hit, you gotta take a chance on getting hit.” He was a little Irishman. It’s the same thing. If you’re going to destroy the enemy, you’ve got to take a chance on getting destroyed yourself. There’s no way you can do it from a position of safety. In other words, the harder we try [the worse it gets], which is represented by the Book of Mormon’s total extermination story, Shiz versus Coriantumr—they exterminate each other. Although such a thing can never happen, according to Clausewitz, we know that such a thing can. It isn’t kill or be killed, which is used all the time in the infantry. Teancum is an example. Teancum was a general just like General Johnson who stood up in the canal and refused to duck—he was too proud. He was bloody minded. As I say, if you get to be a general by the age of twenty-five, you must be pretty gung-ho. And he was but didn’t last long, any more than Teancum. He got himself killed because he was always going out on those sprees.
And the Nephites and the Lamanites too. The Lamanites’ society became completely disrupted at Cumorah as well as the Nephites’. What a wastage. The Lamanites lost at the battle of Cumorah just as much as the Nephites. Remember, they were scattered, and there was nothing but one revolution throughout the whole land. Moroni said, I don’t know when it will end; it’s just endless, and it didn’t. So, you must risk your own forces at whatever cost. If you’re going to destroy you must [risk being] destroyed. You must accept that, says Clausewitz—that’s the rule.
1. Hugh Nibley, “Warfare in the Book of Mormon,” in Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin, eds., Warfare in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990), 127–45.