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Patriot batteries were deployed the day after the missile barrages began. They aren't useful, however, against the smaller rockets. For that, counter-battery radars and artillery are appropriate. If the larger missiles are launched, the Patriots will get a shot.

But that's all just detail. Yes, I agree that things are qualitatively different. And I think you've hit some valid negative points. But how about some of the more positive indications?

For me the real indicator that there is a real qualitative difference in the "Mid-East Conflict" has been the willingness of the other Arab nations (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc.) to sit this one out-- even in terms of condemning Israel and inciting their populations. I think the Arabs themselves actually fear the Persians now more than they hate Israel because they know who the second target of any nuclear strike would be. If the Arabs are genuinely concerned about Iran as a threat then I think I should be as well. How do I react as a Mormon? I don't think this is the beginning of Armageddon (I might change my mind if it's discovered that Iran already has nukes and can lob them 15,000+ miles) so my current approach is to advocate electing leaders willing to do whatever it takes to nip the Iran-nuke problem in the bud.

But how about some of the more positive indications?
Jesus will come back?

I have many wandering thoughts about the whole region, but this is one of the reasons that I think the impact of religion in the history of the world has a net negative effect. Granted, some people will find other things to fight about, but my somewhat superficial understanding of the conflict has given me the idea that both sides believe God granted their people the land and that God wants them to be there. Unfortunately, both are willing to put themselves and their children in harms way due to this belief. Until either side can get beyond the belief that God is on their side, then there is little hope for the region.

The nation-state is an anachronism. It is a fearful, clumsy, and limited paradigm that is utterly unsuited for the current global reality.

The entire history of the 20th century (and the 21st so far) can be seen as an assault on nationalism and the nation.

Nations hurt trade. Nations limit world crime enforcement. Nations are powerless to stop the flow of information, and therefore powerless to forge their own national character. Nations cannot combat epidemics. Nations cannot successfully conduct unilateral wars (even the US has been unable to do this for the past 50 years). Nations cannot sign trade agreements without the possibility of the agreement being ruined or altered by the actions or status of other peoples elsewhere. Nations run counter to the idea of a unified humanity. Nations cannot independently build roads, airports, and railways.

Nations simply cannot. And eventually, the model will fail. Either the nations will fail, or human progress will fail. They cannot coexist indefinitely and they are hostile toward each other.

I'll leave it to you to decide which failure would be prefereable.

Seth, I think much of what you have said about nations is wrong. The only conceivable alternative is not the elimination of nations, but rather the gradual rise of the one true nation, the kingdom and nation of heaven.

Everything that nations do now is strictly necessary, in one sense or another. Sometimes they just do it less effectively than appropriate, due to the limitations of mortality and mortal morality.

Even the kingdom of heaven has gates, borders, sentries, laws, citizens, standards of behavior, rules of procedure, judges, councils, government, and even a military. The key principle of the kingdom of heaven is to unify all the forces of good in a common civilization, so you do not have the ultimate waste of the good fighting against the good.

However, as long as there is evil in the world, good will have to stand up and fight it, repelling force with force where necessary. cf. Sodom and Gommorrah, the death of the 185,000 Assyrians, fire from heaven, and so on.

If there were not nations inclined to wipe other nations out entirely, or subjugate other by force of arms without provocation, we would not need much of a military.

However, even the Kingdom of Heaven has mortal enemies, and it seems unlikely that the defensive function of righteous government will ever entirely be dispensed with.

Mark, I'm not saying the impulse toward nationalism in a mistrustful world environment is not strong and compelling. It certainly is.

In a world not crippled by mistrust and fear (products of the "natural man"), there might indeed be no conflict between "the nation" and "progress."

But with the overarching world paradigm of mistrust, no.

"The nation" and "world progress" are diametrically opposed. And the gains of one will be had at the expense of the other.

Seth, In part I am just quibbling about your implicit definition of what a nation is. I agree that much that goes by the name of nationalism is enormously counterproductive, in the same sense that pride is counterproductive.

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