Saturday, September 26, 2009

26 SEP 09: Peace Doesn't Pay?

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find the following item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

The chaplains with Fort Benning's Third Brigade are asking for community prayer Sunday, before soldiers begin another mission in Iraq. The war protesters who show up outside St. Luke United Methodist Church on weekends might actually go inside, and do something productive.

The Army was on display to the public in Columbus this past week. The annual "National Warfighting Conference" was held at the Trade Center - but I didn't hear about any protesters there. The Columbus State University fine arts students down the street may have been too busy copying the moves on "Glee."

The Warfighting Conference had booths inside the Trade Center, but you didn't have to go in to view some of the displays. Several military vehicles were parked outside - including a big one "hiding" behind the Trade Center sign on Front Avenue. Dozens of Columbus Police officers on speeding patrol probably jotted down that one....

(In fact, I was surprised by how many Columbus and Fort Benning police cars were parked in the middle of Front Avenue. Apparently they were there for traffic control - but it still looked strange. Shouldn't the big military vehicles protect the small cruisers, instead of the other way around?)

The vehicle playing "peek-a-boo" was a Stryker, which has been modified to provide medical help. I should have asked it that means it shoots out flu spray, instead of ammunition.

Parked next to it in the entryway was a large Cougar four-by-four. I don't know if will be displayed at today's Columbus State women's soccer game - but if it is, it probably will have to be painted pink.

Thomas Jambriska of General Dynamics was at a table, showing off the Cougar. He told me one of them costs $400,000 to $600,000. But he admitted the model on display was "overkill," as it had special protection underneath against IED's. Hopefully it also has something to prevent Iraqi sand from causing rust damage.

Raytheon was at the Warfighting Conference, showing off a state-of-the-art military tent. It was hooked up to show high-definition television - so there HAD to be a microwave oven somewhere for cooking MRE's.

Plenty of Fort Benning soldiers strolled around the Trade Center, looking over all the items. Perhaps some of them attended the conferences inside, with top officers such as General David Petraeus. It was Petraeus's second trip to Columbus in three weeks - so which realtor is showing him retirement housing?

Then there was this item along Front Avenue - a portable guard tower for watching over military action. A salesman told me I could have one for about $4,500. And I probably could take delivery in time for hunting season.

OK, I'll admit it - I went to the Warfighting Conference with an agenda. For one thing, I wanted to know how these articles of war could be used for peaceful purposes. In some cases, the answer is obvious. That fancy tent could be the next step up for a party, when my older brother turns 65.

Thomas Jambriska seemed to guess at a peacetime use for his giant Cougar. He thinks it would work well in "homeland security." But if we still need such a big thing for a secure homeland, are we really at peace? Some people don't feel secure, even with a much smaller burglar alarm.

I also asked the display workers what it might take to bring an end to war. Would the carpet-bombing of Afghanistan suggested by a local pastor [15 Sep] be the answer? Thomas Moody of Raytheon didn't think so. He noted the country has plenty of mountains - and for all we know, Usama bin-Laden really may be hiding in Iran.

Thomas Jambriska openly doubted we'll ever see an end to war. He told me as long as humans are the way they are, it's unlikely to happen. And he has a good point - people don't go to mixed martial arts matches to see handshakes and hugs.

I left the Warfighting Conference with one main, perhaps cruel conclusion -- war pays. It may cost military personnel their lives, but plenty of companies and contractors make lots of money from it. After all, some people say World War II pulled the U.S. out of a depression more than President Roosevelt's work projects did -- although the cabins at FDR State Park somehow are still standing.

But I also left with the feeling that these companies don't realize something - a "prince of peace" is coming soon to change their thinking. You KNEW we were heading in this direction, right? After all, I don't even have a water gun in the house - much less a modified tank.

My Bible shows Jesus Christ is coming back to bring peace to the earth. But the Old Testament book of Zechariah indicates it will come "the hard way," with Jesus striking opposing countries with a deadly plague -- and even bringing a plague on all sorts of animals. If I belonged to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, I'd cancel the protests and get out of the way.

If the presence of a Warfighting Conference in Columbus disturbs you, remember this - SOA Watch will bring the opposite perspective to town in a couple of months. You won't find Strykers and Humvees parked around the Trade Center. And if anyone tries to pitch a tent, police probably will arrest that person for being a vagrant.

So pray for the Third Brigade this weekend if you wish - but don't forget to pray for something much bigger. Pray as Jesus suggested, for God's Kingdom to come. If you really think it's here now, maybe you need to go to Afghanistan and let the Taliban know.

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