The fact that a government claims a war is just is irrelevant, for American history is replete with examples of American presidents who have exaggerated, misinformed, misrepresented, and lied to deceive the American people into supporting wars that they would not have supported if they had known the facts.
In 1846 President James Polk, after Texas’ accession to the union, deliberately put US troops into an area still complicated by the existence of a boundary dispute with Mexico so as to be able to go to Congress with an incident and get a declaration of war.
In 1861 President Abraham Lincoln waged war on his own people after declaring in his first inaugural address: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
In 1898 President William McKinley began a “splendid little war” with Spain over Cuba. Its sequel to secure U.S. colonial power in the Philippines left dead 4,000 US troops, more than 20,000 Filipino fighters, and more than 220,000 Filipino civilians, all based on the news-media slogan “Remember the Maine!”
In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson sought reelection on the slogan “he kept us out of war,” but then proceeded, soon after his second inauguration, to ask Congress for a declaration of war: “the war to end all wars” to “make the world safe for democracy.”
In 1940 President Franklin Roosevelt campaigned for his third term, saying, “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” It was not long, however, before our “boys” were back once again on European soil.
In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson announced to a crowd at Akron University: “We are not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” This was followed by the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that saw over 500,000 “American boys” fight an “Asian boys” war. Over 50,000 of them came home in body bags.
In 1991 President George Bush I used faked satellite photos to gain Saudi participation in the first Gulf War, and to convince the American people that Hussein must be stopped from conquering the whole region.
In 2003 President George Bush II insisted on the need to “end a brutal regime, whose aggression and weapons of mass destruction make it a unique threat to the world.” The holes in this statement have been unfolding before our eyes.
Yet, the gullible Christian theologian Loraine Boettner (1901–1990), in his book The Christian Attitude Toward War, claims that the United States has “never had a militarist president.” He even advocates that the government “should be given the benefit of the doubt” when it comes to waging war.
But contrary to Boettner, and as mentioned previously, our Christian forefathers, being much better read and having a much better grasp of history than the modern Christian who spends all his time in front of the Internet and the television, had no enthusiasm for war at all.