God's Politics

God's Politics


Logan Laituri: A Veteran’s Letter to the Candidates

posted by God's Politics

To my fellow Americans running for the office of the presidency:
I was an attendant of the recent Sojourners conference in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, before the forum could take place, I was called to Rome on behalf of Iraq Veterans Against the War, an organization made up exclusively of service members of every branch who aim to end the very conflict they have served or are currently serving in. It was my sincere desire to be a part of the Vote Out Poverty campaign that met with much success on Capitol Hill. I was unable to remain in D.C., however, because I was invited by the Italian peace movement to speak on behalf of the growing number of Americans (in particular, the 450 service members represented by IVAW) who disapprove of the current administration’s policies and practices. Please permit me to submit my own question for your reflection, as well as the reflection of innumerable Americans charged with deciding the fate our beloved country.
Over four years, 4 billion dollars, and 3,000 lives ago, our nation was drawn into a conflict that few of our number now believe was initiated with our collective interests or values in mind. As a proud and decorated veteran of this conflict, I have suffered for and served my country with distinction and honor. However, my dreams and quiet moments have been mercilessly violated by the voices of the victims of our national terrorism. In Iraq, their liberation has cost as many as 655,000 Iraqis their lives. Their cries, and those of their families, have been uttered amidst a flood of sweat, tears, and all too much of their own blood.
I recognize and am troubled by the deep significance of the crossroads that lay before us. We should not underestimate the ramifications should we continue our course in the Middle East. Our armed forces face a critical point, in which our humble servants within the military are tasked with repeated deployments, extended tours, and likely conscription even after discharge. In the last year alone, the national GI Rights Hotline and the Center for Conscience and War fielded a record-breaking number of inquiries. Desertions and AWOL/UA reports have reached an alarming number, and many of my honorably discharged comrades face attacks on their free speech by the very institutions they served in defense of such freedoms. America is at a critical juncture that we must not ignore.
We cannot face issues of poverty without acknowledging the greatest architect of economic injustice nationally and globally: our own war upon the poor of the world. At home, the poorest neighborhoods face the highest concentration of military recruitment efforts. Abroad, our U.S. foreign policy has historically empowered the greatest enemies of liberty we have known, such as Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. We steal from our own school systems, homeless shelters, and medical institutions as we feed the military industrial complex year after year, with 41 percent of each dollar going into war, preparations, and reparations for war. We currently are at a point of deep moral and ethical crisis, one which demands our attention.
Not long ago, within the living memory of many of our citizens, America had great leaders who were not afraid or ashamed to live by principles, and not merely politics. Public figures such as John and Robert Kennedy and Marin Luther King approached the massive injustices of war and poverty despite intense pressure and threats on their very lives. In this time of immense tumult within the American consciousness, we need a real leader. How will history remember you if elected to the presidency? For your acquiescence to the status quo, to “politics as usual,” or for your profound moral courage and commitment to true freedom at home and overseas? Our country eagerly awaits your considered response.
Logan M. Laituri is a U.S. Army veteran of the war in Iraq who declared himself a conscientious objector and is now a social justice activist.



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Moderatelad

posted July 2, 2007 at 3:54 pm


How will history remember you if elected to the presidency? For your acquiescence to the status quo, to “politics as usual,” or for your profound moral courage and commitment to true freedom at home and overseas? Our country eagerly awaits your considered response.
You style of writing is very confussing. But after a few times through – I think I was able to catch the just of it. I find it interesting that you had to go back to the 60’s for your example of “…America had great leaders who were not afraid or ashamed to live by principles…”. Who would you list today as examples – I think I could figure that one out but just interested in your accessment.
You make statements like ‘many – few – etc’ but I believe that you should be more specific when you are going to make a statement and not ‘broad-brush’ it so much.
Have a great day –
.



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Eric

posted July 2, 2007 at 4:43 pm


I don’t have a problem with the position this veteran has taken or that he is trying to end the war. I do have a problem with him going to Italy and speaking out about it though. I don’t have much patience for people who find sympathetic foreign audiences in front of which to criticize the actions of their own country. Let’s keep that criticism within the family here.
Also, wasn’t John Kennedy the first President to send soldiers to Vietnam?



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sue

posted July 2, 2007 at 5:12 pm


Eric, i believe the President Eisenhower sent the first US military to Vietnam.
Also, I have no problem with taking his concern abroad as he would get an audience there. Here, it you openly object to the conflict in Iraq, you are considered un-American, unpatriotic.
I continue to have a concern that we are not yet in the rebuilding of Iraq stage – but rather still in the destructioin phase.
Think of all the good we could have done durikng the past 22 months in rebuilding New Orleans and other communities destroyed by hurricane Katrina.



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carl copas

posted July 2, 2007 at 5:21 pm


“Let’s keep that criticism within the family here.”
Nationalism as idolatry, pure and simple.



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Madeleine Mysko

posted July 2, 2007 at 5:30 pm


Thank you, Sojourners, for publishing the comments of this veteran. I find his comments wise and to the point. I also believe that you can tell the moral fiber of a leader by the concern he or she shows for the poor.
Of course Logan Laituri must speak anywhere and everywhere he can about this: Italy, Appalachia, New Orleans, New York . . . Washington, D.C. The Family in question, when we speak of suffering and war, is the Human Family.



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Hali

posted July 2, 2007 at 8:07 pm


“I don’t have much patience for people who find sympathetic foreign audiences in front of which to criticize the actions of their own country.”
Actually, Mr. Laituri is doing his country a great service by demonstrating that we (the majority of Americans now), like the rest of the world, are opposed to this awful war.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 2, 2007 at 8:08 pm


carl copas,
Some people confuse nationalism with patriotism. They are not synonymous.
I also don’t have a problem with Americans speaking out overseas agaist our government. People need to know that there are many of us who oppose this country’s policies.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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conservativechic

posted July 2, 2007 at 8:20 pm


Sojourners thank you for publishing this article. It was nice to read about a soldier wanting peace and for social justice causes.
As to him going over to Italy to speak to the Italian Peace Movement. That’s great.
Quoted from article:
“because I was invited by the Italian peace movement to speak on behalf of the growing number of Americans (in particular, the 450 service members represented by IVAW) who disapprove of the current administration’s policies and practices.”
Eric wrote:
“Let’s keep it here in the family”
Me: Give me a break! Not like the world loves the current administrations policies and practices. If I were Laituri I would have found it refreshing not be be considered “unpatriotic” (as was mentioned above in a response) and actually talk about peace and the current administration. Let’s take responsibility for our actions as a county bit…………OUR COUNTRY DESERVES TO BE CRITICIZED A BIT—- DON’T YAH THINK?! Our country is not a vacuum which does not touch the rest of the world.
And personally, the current administration can lick my big toe! I’m glad that we’re about done with the “Bush” reign. And I wouldn’t mind going to Italy and saying that! I’d take with me as well posters that said “Somewhere in Texas a tribe has lost its idiot!”
Prayerfully yours,
Conserv. Chic



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Anonymous

posted July 2, 2007 at 10:59 pm


“I’d take with me as well posters that said “Somewhere in Texas a tribe has lost its idiot!”
And who has lost you?



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conservativechic

posted July 3, 2007 at 12:08 am


to : no-name 10:59
You are entitled to your question and I’m entitled to my opinion about GWB.
I’m soooo hurt…. I’m sure you could have come up with something better than that….
Yadda, Yadda…..I’m booking my trip to Italy soon.
Conserv. Chic



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Peace

posted July 3, 2007 at 5:44 am


Thank you Sojourners for publishing the voice of a Veteran who has a critical mind and speaks from the heart and the mind.
I think that to come out and use one’s right to express one’ ideas at a time when basic rights are being pushed down in many places, gives me hope that freedom has not been extinguished as so many in power would wish for: “a peaceful herd of sheep who accept everything and keep quiet”.
Those who cannot see the great damage done with the invasion of Iraq are turning their sight away.The deats of many people in the interest of oil is outrageous. To change a political regime it is necessary to FIRST INVOLVE THE LOCAL PEOPLE IN DOING SO. WHEN NAPOLEON INVADED MANY COUNTRIES IN EUROPE TO IMPOSE FREEDOM (FREEDOM CANNOT BE IMPOSED) the royal families in charge went away. It was left to the common people to fight off the invaders, at the cost of many lives.
Presently, the escalation of conflicts though far away touch everyone on a planet becoming small.



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Beth

posted July 3, 2007 at 7:53 am


I find it quite interesting that again, we all start attacking each other (grammar, etc) and miss the focus of this whole thing. The war is wrong, the methods for recruiting are wrong, and there is a veteran of this war speaking out against it. Supporting the troops is not about supporting the war. This young man has taken a risk and is acting more patriotic than most Americans. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism”. Of course, I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.



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Nickerson

posted July 3, 2007 at 8:40 am


The mission of Sojourners is “to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church and the world.”
There is not a stated basis in Christian faith mentioned either in the basic article or in the comments to the article. It is basically a secular, political event. I cannot see how this blog contributes to the mission of Sojourners.
As a side remark. If the veteran is doing a Christian thing then speaking in a foreign country is good. Hasn’t this been the basis of all of our churches missionary effort through the years.
Nic



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Ms. Cynthia

posted July 3, 2007 at 9:26 am


I just heard that the Military is so desparate to find recruits that they are now enlisting people over 40. The last time they needed to do something like that was WWII.
We need to start cornering these presidencial canidates about whether they would concider bringing back the draft. My greatest fear is that once in office they would become trapped in Iraq for fear of appearing weak.
Meanwhile this administration is doing every thing they can think of to entrap the next administration in the region before they leave office.
I can’t believe we are passing out weapons to tribal rivals when we should be there to collect them. Lets just really confuse the Iraqis even more by handing out guns so they can shoot at each other. This is craziness when our guys are still there on the ground.
What other tricks does Cheney have up his sleeve?
In the mean time we are loosing valuable time that could be spent bringing the region into dialogue. How do we get such a process started inspite of the Bush admin?
I’m ready to send a delegation of Iraq Vets Against the War to jump start the process.
Never mind Bush just leave him in the dust.



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Sarasotakid

posted July 3, 2007 at 9:27 am


Good job in speaking out in Italy. Your free speech doesn’t end at the water’s edge. Don’t believe the conservative canard that you cannot express your opinion abroad. They are just embarrassed about where their policies led us.



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moderatelad

posted July 3, 2007 at 10:02 am


innumerable Americans
growing number
that few of our number
live by principles, and not merely politics
A lot of retoric – but short on substance. I would put my best guess that this fine young man represents less than one half of one percent of our millitary personal today. NO – he has the right to say what he believes. Personally I think it is a little disingenous to wear the uniform and then blast the millitary. Civies would have been a better outfit to be seen in for this article, no boubt that all the Islamic Radical Networks will be reprinting this article compleat with picture. (it’s like Pat Ireland doning a blue dress with a barret and talking about sexual harressment in the work place – do not fit)
Look people – Radical Islam is all around us and it is only time before we are attacked again here in the US. Iraq has representation of all the radical Islamic groups there and more are coming there each and everyday. Fight them there or here – your choice. Maybe I should say that it is Peloci and Reeds choice since Nancy seems that the title of Spkr of the House includes acting on foreign policy for the US. (can you imagine what Bill and Hil would have done it Newt had done the same during their admin. – I think public canning would have been considered)
Have a great day –
.



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Doug7504

posted July 3, 2007 at 11:32 am


It is time to stop the “fight them there or fight them here” debate…what right have we to turn a sovereign nation into a killing ground?
The real enemy here lives HERE…and they aren’t radical Islam. The real enemy lies in government who willing subborn Constitutional liberty in the name of fighting terrorists. A President who pardons a rich fellow criminal, a Vice-President who will go down in American history as one of the worst war mongers ever, a military which preys upon the poor, the “outsiders” among us to feed it’s machine. Meanwhile, Christians continue to debate the “justice” of this war?
There are voices of reason out there who should be acknowledged, and Mr. Laitori represents a rising tide of protest within the military who must be heard.
To be Christian is to step away from violence, hatred and selfishness…we have the responsibility to stand up to anyone who espouses killing our fellow human beings, whether they be radical Islamists, radical Christians, or politicians feeding their egos with power. We have the responsibility to stand against ALL war. Jesus challenged us to change our hearts with HIS love, then to go forth and change the hearts of others. Will this be easy, or safe? No. But if we truly believe in the power of HIS love, we have no other path to follow.
Peace!



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Sarasotakid

posted July 3, 2007 at 11:55 am


Iraq has representation of all the radical Islamic groups there and more are coming there each and everyday. Moderatelad
It didn’t before we invaded it and overthrew Hussein! But hey, what good are “facts” when they don’t support your position?



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Ted Voth Jr

posted July 3, 2007 at 11:58 am


I do wonder how ‘Conserv Chic’ feels about the US Constitution. Any conservative voter out there who believes this is a conservatiev administrration is deluded at best.



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Don

posted July 3, 2007 at 1:21 pm


“Look people – Radical Islam is all around us and it is only time before we are attacked again here in the US. Iraq has representation of all the radical Islamic groups there and more are coming there each and everyday. Fight them there or here – your choice. Maybe I should say that it is Peloci and Reeds choice since Nancy seems that the title of Spkr of the House includes acting on foreign policy for the US. (can you imagine what Bill and Hil would have done it Newt had done the same during their admin. – I think public canning would have been considered)”
Hey, Moderatelad, I’m glad you still are UNABLE to spell Nancy PELOSI’s and Harry REID’s names correctly. But I guess people with whom you disagree don’t deserve even that much respect.
Nevertheless, the war against radical Islam is mostly ideological, not military. Too bad our admin. doesn’t understand that. Radical Islam is a bankrupt ideology that isn’t going anywhere in the long run. Remember Communism? It had an interesting run, but it collapsed under its own weight. Radical Islam is doomed to the same fate. Our job is to help hasten that, perhaps by encouraging non-radical Muslims to reject it. So far, especially with our action in Iraq, we’ve given them a very good reason to join with the radicals, not reject them. Not very smart, in my way of thinking.
And fight them over there so we won’t have to fight them here? I’m so nauseated over that nonsense. I wonder how Iraqi citizens feel about that. So we send our troops to Iraq so they can kill Americans over there and don’t have to come here to do it. Not a very wise use of our military resources. Better to make them try to come here; it’s more work on their part.
I’m not naive; Radical Islamists are very dangerous. But what we’ve done has encouraged and aided the radicals. We need to cool our heels and learn how to fight this ideology smarter. Brute force isn’t the answer.
Peace,



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kevin s.

posted July 3, 2007 at 1:38 pm


“Hey, Moderatelad, I’m glad you still are UNABLE to spell Nancy PELOSI’s and Harry REID’s names correctly.”
Who cares? Why do we need the spellcheck police?
“Radical Islam is a bankrupt ideology that isn’t going anywhere in the long run.”
Depends on how long of a run. Eternally, God will be victorious over all of Islam. But I don’t see any signs of radical Islam slowing down.
“Our job is to help hasten that, perhaps by encouraging non-radical Muslims to reject it. So far, especially with our action in Iraq, we’ve given them a very good reason to join with the radicals, not reject them. Not very smart, in my way of thinking.”
Well, no. Iran is fomenting sectarian wars in Iraq, which is polarizing and radicalizing the people. I don’t think there is a solution to this problem that does not involve the military in some way, so we have to run the risk that some will choose to join the movement in opposing U.S. troops.
“Better to make them try to come here; it’s more work on their part.”
And far more disastrous for us. If we disengage the war on terror, you’ll get your wish. We will have more frequent attacks, and they will cost thousands of American lives (and trillions of dollars).
“Brute force isn’t the answer.”
Brute force is not an accurate represenation of our current efforts in Iraq.



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conservativechic

posted July 3, 2007 at 2:01 pm


Ted Voth Jr. 11:58
I do wonder how ‘Conserv Chic’ feels about the US Constitution. Any conservative voter out there who believes this is a conservatiev administrration is deluded at best.
I will try to answer this in the best way I can, without setting work-up — which the Bush Admin. policies and procedures seem to do at times. And I’ll try to type without any spelling mistakes. I know that seems to be important on this blog.
First, Yes, I do believe in the US Constitution. I have studied it tremendously in Admin. Law classes. I know the amendments. So that’s an answer to the first question.
Second, You assume I am a conservative voter because of the name I post….. ummmm that’s not always a good indicator of where I stand politically. I’ll just leave it at that. Let’s just say that if I had the opportunity to shake GWB hand, I would turn the other cheek. He lives richly,comfortably and in his own world while he is sending soldiers to an unjustified war to die. Hey, what happen to Osama Bin Laden? Wasn’t that the man we were after ? Oh, no it was all of those weapons of mass destruction(now I remember…taht were never found)
…now let’s talk about the US constitution and the basic tenants of going to war with another country?!
I just want to stress again that I applaud this soldier for standing for what he believes in and that is peace. I have never been to war and have had to battle on the ground and see the horrific things that happen. This man has. So I know in his heart that he may even feel more strongly about peace than I do. Possibly have a better understanding because he has seen both sides. He is making a bold stand as someone in uniform standing for peace. But you know I have always loved the revolutionary type. Jesus loves peacemakers. He also says to love your enemy. Now the latter is even hard for me to swallow. But it’s in His word. I know in this day and age that is hard to wrestle with, but it’s there and we can’t ignore it. As stated above in a post “HIS love changes hearts.” And don’t get me wrong I am not making light of the Radical Islamists by any means.
Thanks again Sojo for this article. Thank- you to this soldier for speaking what he believes. Here or abroad.
Laituri reminds me of a quote:
Be the change you want to see in the world (MG)
Kudos to you Laituri – You have inspired me.
Inspired!
Conserv. Chic (has a good ring to it, ehh?)



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Eric

posted July 3, 2007 at 2:43 pm


My criticisms of Laituri going to Italy and speaking out against the war stem from my beliefs that politics should stop at the border. Obviously, some of you disagree. That’s fine. My thoughts on this have nothing to do with Laituri’s patriotism (Sue). It isn’t unpatriotic to oppose the war despite what some people here say.
I just feel it’s tasteless to go to another country where you know you’ll find plenty of applause and no criticism and criticise your own country. People in other countries know there are lots of Americans that oppose Bush and his policies without Americans travelling over there and making speeches about how bad Bush is. That doesn’t take much courage.



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Don

posted July 3, 2007 at 3:18 pm


“‘Better to make them try to come here; it’s more work on their part.’
And far more disastrous for us. If we disengage the war on terror, you’ll get your wish. We will have more frequent attacks, and they will cost thousands of American lives (and trillions of dollars).”
http://www.dispatch.com/dispatch/content/editorials/stories/2007/07/03/dyer03.ART_ART_07-03-07_A9_V076F7E.html



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Don

posted July 3, 2007 at 3:35 pm


“‘Hey, Moderatelad, I’m glad you still are UNABLE to spell Nancy PELOSI’s and Harry REID’s names correctly.’
Who cares? Why do we need the spellcheck police?”
Okay, it’s a personal thing. My own last name is commonly misspelled. I hate it. I even tell students that if they misspell my name when sending email to me, I’ll never see it. And some still misspell my name. I’ve always figured that someone who isn’t interested in taking the time to learn how to spell someone’s name correctly is showing disrespect to that person.
The first thing I try to do when I start a new quarter is learn how to spell my students’ names correctly. To me it’s a sign of respect, and I want to do that even if it isn’t reciprocated.
It ain’t that hard to learn how to spell Speaker Pelosi’s and Senate Leader Reid’s last names correctly. All it takes is paying a little bit of attention. One doesn’t have to agree with their policies to take the little bit of time necessary to show them that much respect.
That’s all.
Peace,



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Anonymous

posted July 3, 2007 at 4:13 pm


Ms Cynthia:
“I just heard that the Military is so desparate to find recruits that they are now enlisting people over 40.”
Well, Scooter Libby is now available to be recruited…



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Don

posted July 3, 2007 at 4:40 pm


Well, Scooter Libby is now available to be recruited…
Not yet–he’s still on probation. For now.
;-)



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Sarsotakid

posted July 3, 2007 at 5:10 pm


“‘Hey, Moderatelad, I’m glad you still are UNABLE to spell Nancy PELOSI’s and Harry REID’s names correctly.’ Don
Who cares? Why do we need the spellcheck police?” Kevin S.
Kevin, you’re the consummate defender of the downtrodden!
To take some lyrics from Pink Floyd… “We don’t need no educashin’, we don’t need thought control…”
Don, why are you being so harsh? I have seen nothing in those spelling errors that would keep Mod from rising to the top. He could even become President one day!



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Chaplain Tom Warner

posted July 3, 2007 at 6:34 pm


Thank you, Logan Laituri, for telling the truth about the war as you see it — and I imagine you’ve had a more realistic view of it than the vast majority of Americans.
I’d like to add one more question for the next president: Will you take the following pledge?
NO MORE UNNECESSARY WAR!



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Payshun

posted July 3, 2007 at 7:28 pm


I have never bought the argument that if we don’t fight them there we will fight them here. There is no standing navy that can bring millions of well trained angry muslim men to our shores. That argument is just silly.
p



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truckfarmer

posted July 3, 2007 at 7:37 pm


I would like to add my 2 cents to those who are offended by this guy’s using his veteran status for political gain and going overseas to criticize his country.
I am a proud veteran of the Vietnam era. I am one of those who is still saddened by the way our political leaders allowed the loudest among us to dictate foreign policy. When Pres. Nixon acquiesced and removed all our forces from South Vietnam, he in effect unleashed the Communist North and their Russian allies on the hapless common people of southeast Asia. I don’t see many liberals expressing remorse over the millions of people the Pol Pot regime slaughtered, or the millions who still live under Communist oppression in that part of the world. We had the opportunity to free a people and hold back the Communist flood, and we allowed liberal bed-wetters to shame us into turning tail and running.
I think it is disgraceful that this guy would go to a foreign country and lambast his country, just like I think Jimmy Carter is disgraceful for doing the same thing. Free speech was not only bought and paid for by guys like this, but by guys like me, as well. If you like the atmosphere in Italy better than here, then by all means don’t let the door hit your backside on your way out!
To the posters who insist that Christianity is all about pacifism: Jesus himself reacted with violence when He cleared the Temple of the merchants and moneychangers. He even said that there would come a time when those who had no arms would need to arm themselves. Don’t take my word for it; read the New Testament.
Don’t confuse Christian love with rolling over and playing dead. The Bible says that Jesus and God the Father are one and the same, and that God never changes. In the Old Testament God often used the nation of Israel as instruments of His judgment. In several instances He ordered His people to utterly destroy societies because they were so thoroughly evil. Why is it inconceivable that God still so detests evil that He would enable a country like the U.S. to destroy the cancer that is Islamofascism?
I welcome responses to my post, but I ask you to respond thoughtfully, and to please respond to my ideas. Kindly refrain from attacking my character; I did not attack any of yours.
Truckfarmer



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conservativechic

posted July 3, 2007 at 8:30 pm


Truckfarmer,
I appreciate your response to this article. My Dad, step-father and Uncle- are all veterans as well. My Mom’s brother, my Uncle Jerry actually died there. I think that it is important to support our soldiers. I have seen my Dad / step-father suffer greatly from memories.
Thank you for your service to our country and I do agree that the men coming home were treated terrible in Vietnam.
Thank you for fighting for the freedom of speech for all of us Americans.
I appreciated this post because it was someone who was willing to stand up for his convictions. As you have done in your post as well.
I talked of Italy earlier in a post and I don’t think it is a better place to live.. I was trying to make the point that it is okay to disagree with the current policies of this administration. Here or abroad. Free speech should not just be limited within our walls. I think that leads to dangerous situations.
It would be interesting to find out what he actually said to the Peace Movement in Italy that he was invited to.
Thanks for your service. And as 4th of July is upon us I always give the veterans in my fam a call :0) Even though they know I am a big Peace girl. “bed-wetting liberal”….but don’t worry I don’t take that as an attack on my character. It’s kinda funny.
And I want to apologize for the current admin. as far as not giving proper care for veterans. I know veterans in my family are concerned with that. It’s weird that the admin. is all for sending troops, but then don’t give them proper vet benefits when they return home? Weird! What is your opinion on that?(I know that is kind of off the subject)
thanks for your post.
Have a good 4th :0)
Conserv. Chic



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Tess

posted July 3, 2007 at 10:48 pm


Nationalism is nothing more than a broken cup in which a weak nation seeks to hold its dreams. Look across the graves at Arlington, and as you recite their names, think on this Dulce et decorum est, pro patria more – then applaud the soldiers and veterans who having faced the enemy now say Enough. These are the voices to whom we should listen, these are the voices of patriots. 9/11 took more than 3000 lives that day and the 3000+ live hence; it took away our belief that we have the right of dissent, that we have the right of free speech. We bartered our liberties for what? More graves; more severely injured veterans; more shattered and ended lives. What Al Quaeda started, our government has finished. We are one nation under terror. Celebrate the independence so dearly bought and now so dearly sold.



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kevin s.

posted July 4, 2007 at 12:34 am


Tess,
Your comment reads like a collections of bumper stickers. I could counter likewise, but maybe you want to dig deeper?



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bren

posted July 4, 2007 at 3:53 am


I’m with Don on the matter of correct spelling’s being one important way of showing respect. And in some ways it does seem to me that the Laituri open letter and the responses it has received here, are also about respect. I respect Laituri for his courage in saying aloud “I and many other vets believe that this war is wrong and this leads me to ask questions of presidential candidates that I would have posed at the recent Sojourners Conference I attended if I had been able to stay there long enough.” He didn’t use these words exactly but this is what I understand him to be saying.
I also respect him for accepting the Italian invitation to speak in Italy because Americans, together with Italians and other Europeans and the many others around the world who want to end this slaughter called the War in Iraq, can speak with a louder voice if we speak TOGETHER. Tasteless? There’s nothing tasteful about the killings so I see no need to worry about the tastefulness or tastelessness about speaking together with others of a similar mind to say: STOP THE KILLING!



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Sarasotakid

posted July 4, 2007 at 6:56 am


Tess, take Kevin’s comment about digging deeper for what it is worth. It is not that you have not thought these things through. You obviously have. Kevin just simply cannot stomach the conclusions you have reached. Your comments were good.
And by the way, if you do decide to print some of them on bumper stickers, please do provide Kevin with a free sampling. I’m sure he would proudly display at least some of them on the nifty car (probably a rusty old Gremlin) that this free market system so generously bestowed on him.



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Jersesykid

posted July 4, 2007 at 7:38 am


To the posters who insist that Christianity is all about pacifism: Jesus himself reacted with violence when He cleared the Temple of the merchants and moneychangers. He even said that there would come a time when those who had no arms would need to arm themselves. Don’t take my word for it; read the New Testament. Truckfarmer
When Jesus engaged in turning over the tables in the temple, he did not physically harm anybody and his attack was directed against a part of the religious establishment. Hardly a justification for attacking another country.
Don’t confuse Christian love with rolling over and playing dead. The Bible says that Jesus and God the Father are one and the same, and that God never changes. In the Old Testament God often used the nation of Israel as instruments of His judgment. In several instances He ordered His people to utterly destroy societies because they were so thoroughly evil. Truckfarmer
I believe that Jesus came to show us how to love and forgive our enemies, not kill them. If I believed that the Bible is inerrant in every aspect, I would be hard pressed to explain those passages that you allude to in the OT. I believe that the command to kill entire villages, including innocent children did not come from God but from men. I worship a God of love and self-sarrifice- not of extermination and genocide.



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Bill Samuel

posted July 4, 2007 at 10:17 am


The commenter who noted the incongruity of citing Kennedy in the article was correct. Kennedy was a militarist of the first order. He campaigned for President charging the Republicans were weak on national security, accusing them of a “missile gap.” Nixon, whom Kennedy ran against, was certainly not a pacifist although he was a Quaker, but he looked like a pacifist relative to Kennedy.
It was Kennedy who started the Green Berets, the shock troops of American imperialism. He got the war in Vietnam really going, as the other commenter noted. His nuclear brinkmanship almost brought the end of humanity, but the cooler head of Khrushchev, who gave in to unreasonable demands rather than risk the American hothead destroying the world, saved us.
And there is another irony in citing King and Kennedy in the same sentence. Kennedy refused to act on civil rights. In his campaign, he promised to end housing discrimination “with the stroke of a pen.” After over a year in office with no such action, we in the civil rights movement began sending him pens and bottles of ink. But it didn’t do any good. It wasn’t until LBJ succeeded him that we had White House support for serious civil rights action.
Kennedy is one of those cases of a politician with charisma who sounds good but whose actual policies aren’t very good. Perhaps Barack Obama is a contemporary equivalent. Like Kennedy before him, Obama calls for increasing the size of the armed forces and the military budget. But all sorts of people who should know better are starstruck by him.
Sojourners occasionally provides a platform for people who promote peace (although it doesn’t hype that like it does when it provides a platform for militarists like Obama, Clinton and Edwards), but in its actual campaigns it refuses to make the connection between poverty and militarism. It ran a major budget campaign without once even mentioning where most of the money went! Wallis is no King.



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aaron

posted July 4, 2007 at 10:49 am


Fight them there or here – your choice.
IIRC, weren’t some Muslim extremists recently arrested in a plot to attack Ft Dix Soldiers? Geographically, that is here right? Furthermore, weren’t they busted the good old fashion (conservative) way by a good citizen noticing something out-of-place and notifying the authorities? Strange how there was no need for warrantless wiretaps, extraordinary rendition, torture tactics, or over 3,500 American service-members dead, untold numbers of contractors and mercs, and countless Iraqi citizens.



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moderatelad

posted July 5, 2007 at 1:01 am


Just so you know –
588 military personnel just re-uped this day to say active and in Iraq, the majority of the college grads.
have a great day –
.



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aaron

posted July 5, 2007 at 8:44 am


That’s good, because the Army is lacking the re-signing of officers grade O-3 (Captain) and above.



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Jerseykid

posted July 5, 2007 at 10:52 am


Glad I resigned my commission (0-3/Captain) so that they cannot call me back. I support the draft so that the children of all these pro-war people can go to Iraq and make us proud.



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Shawn

posted July 5, 2007 at 11:45 am


“”Sojourners occasionally provides a platform for people who promote peace (although it doesn’t hype that like it does when it provides a platform for militarists like Obama, Clinton and Edwards), but in its actual campaigns it refuses to make the connection between poverty and militarism. It ran a major budget campaign without once even mentioning where most of the money went! Wallis is no King.””
Amidst comments on a Sojo (edited?!?) blog I read about Marin Luther King, Jr., “the deep significance of the crossroads that lay before us,” and “my own question for your reflection” (sic)(which is?)… the most preposterous, irrelevant and far-fetched statement comes from the blogger above. “Where the money went”… and Obama, Clinton and Edwards are militarists?!!! Oh brother!
Just for the record, nearly all Democrats (including the ones recently elected based on their middlin to hawkish views) are undermining the war effort every fiscal chance they get, and we’ve all heard unsubstantiated “where the money went” conspiracy ad nauseum about everyone from Mother Teresa to George Bush to Ralph Nader. Please!
A really HUGE problem with this forum and this format is that strong feelings seem to entirely abrogate reasonable articulate discussion. I too am troubled by the fact that a military man would dissent against the war in Iraq, but frankly, the fellow struggles to make any points at all.
Yes, we get the typical Sojo bilge, the US empowers the greatest enemies of all time, the US steals from the poor, the whole shebang in every article. There is nothing new here. That a fellow serviceman says something exactly identical to what Wallis says or similar to what anyone else wrote more articulately last week embodies precisely the monolithic mind-set for which the left is so often and so rightly criticized.
The problem is there can be no reasonable discussion this way, in an all-or-nothing article going (without evidence) from supposedly angry servicemen, to former buddies Osama and Hussein to robbing public schools and intentionally starving the poor. Such stream-of-consciousness feelings are practically meaningless, in that they only allow one party to talk past the other. I would apply that sentiment even more fully to Tess’ “statement” above. It’s as if such absurd utterances only serve to silence discussion, rather than encourage it: “But……Oh, nevermind about where the money went….”
Mr. Laituri is a “social justice activist” is he? What are his qualifications except that he is a veteran? Does that fact make anyone of us a moral authority? From reading this article, I’m left wondering if he could even articulate what he does and exactly whom he has helped–sounds like an unemployed trouble-maker to me.
My friends, a democracy such as ours is not a perfect form of government–the only possible one being the Kingdom of God (not, thankfully, the Kingdom of Wallis). But a democracy desperately needs reasonable discussion and understanding. I’m disappointed to see so little of it going on at Sojo. You can’t have a society of people arguing and then agreeing to disagree if you’re making nonsense. We elect the leaders, and if we are to have reasonable leaders, we need to be reasonable ourselves.
This article by Logan Laituri and its resultant discussion is a perfect example of what could have been a reasonable discussion flying apart over the adolescent passion and corresponding absurdity of its participants, beginning with the author.
Whether or not Mr. Laituri is a fellow serviceman, some adult supervision is required here.



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moderatelad

posted July 5, 2007 at 12:17 pm


Posted by: Jerseykid | July 5, 2007 10:52 AM
First – thank you for your service.
Now – I do not know anyone that is ‘pro-war’. Pro-American, Pro-Life, Pro-Family, yes, not pro-war.
War is the final act of a rational soceity to deal with an irrational entity. Most of the military personnel that I and others in our church/community have come from families with combined income of 70m to 180m aprox. Most of the children of families that have an income of 30m or less, or they are on assistance – personally, I can not tell you of one in our area. Try to let someone other than John Kerry do your thinking for you sometime.
Have a blessed day.
.



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Anonymous

posted July 5, 2007 at 12:52 pm


Mr. Laituri is a “social justice activist” is he? What are his qualifications except that he is a veteran? Does that fact make anyone of us a moral authority? From reading this article, I’m left wondering if he could even articulate what he does and exactly whom he has helped–sounds like an unemployed trouble-maker to me.
Were blacks who participated in boycotts and sit-ins social justice activists? What were their qualifications? *rolls-eyes*



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Moderatelad

posted July 5, 2007 at 2:52 pm


Posted by: | July 5, 2007 12:52 PM
*rolls-eyes*
Well stated.
But you have to remember that all you need to do as a liberal is say that you care and you are lauded for your commitment.
Have a great day –
.



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bren

posted July 5, 2007 at 7:31 pm


What gives Laituri the credentials to be a social justice activist? Clearly, his experience as a soldier. He discovered that the military activity he engaged in brought neither peace nor justice, neither for Iraqis nor for the U.S. Instead it brought more agony and poverty. What better credential does he need?
What I don’t understand is this: if Shawn so despises Jim Wallis’ work, why does he torment himself by continuing to read God’s Politics? Do you read the blog in order to pick nits (i.e., nit-picking) or because there might be something new to think about/consider?
It seems to me that the important thing that God’s Politics does is it provides a platform for a variety of writers and speakers to share with us the ways in which their faith affects their politics. This enables the reader to re-consider his/her own point of view and either confirm it, or re-think it.
I absolutely don’t believe everything that Jim Wallis writes. But I welcome the opportunity he provides for me to reassess my own beliefs.
BTW, anyone who thinks that a liberal is simply someone who says he cares is a) someone who doesn’t understand what it is to be a liberal and b) indicating that the sign of a true conservative is one who doesn’t care. If I were a conservative, I’d be insulted by that assumption.



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Jerseykid

posted July 5, 2007 at 9:49 pm


Try to let someone other than John Kerry do your thinking for you sometime.Have a blessed day.Posted by: moderatelad
The day I let John Kerry or anybody else do my thinking for me is the day you’ll learn to spell correctly.
Have a blessed day.



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Liz

posted July 6, 2007 at 3:12 am


Just to set the record straight, Richard Nixon was reared a member of the Society of Friends, who were called “Quakers” because they were forbidden to take up arms against their fellow human beings, and many of their contemporaries assumed that that meant that they were cowards quaking in their boots. His mother was a Friend, but her son was “read out of meeting” (excommunicated) for joining the Navy at age 18. You are confused because, in the words of Mark Twain, Nixon had “too much respect for the truth to use it just for every day”, so he continued to campaign for the rest of his life on his “Quaker principles”, which were certainly not borne out by his actions.
It was indeed during the Eisenhower administration that we first sent troops to Viet-Nam, and it was also under the Eisenhower administration that we first began planning the “Bay of Pigs” fiasco. And one of the reasons that Kennedy was assassinated was that in the speech he had made three days before he had said that our military efforts in Viet-Nam were not working and that he planned to have the troops home by Christmas.
The military-industrial complex against which Eisenhower had warned us could not allow that to happen, because they were counting on many more profitable years of war profiteering, so our President had to die.



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Robert Alu

posted July 6, 2007 at 4:04 am


Sojourners,
I am an East African, who, like the majority of humankind, was opposed to the so called Iraqi war even before the invasion.
I am also a Christian and believe that we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. It may be a privilege, sort of, being an American or Kenyan, or Sri Lankan, for that matter, but, really, nothing much more, in my considered Christian opinion. Galatians 3:26 – 29.
Part of the problem that we have in the world today is that so many of us imagine we are superior to other human beings made in the image of God simply because they are ‘different’. It also explains why bombing a country here and there to ‘submission’ now and then assumes a higher priority than feeding the world’s population, for example.
I read Sojourners online and find it among the few Christian magazines worth the name coming out of America – from my point of view. God bless you!
Obviously, for Sojourners the focus will always be mainly on American issues. That’s fine.
However, I feel badly about the insinuation that an American ought not to criticise his country’s governers outside of the USA. So parochial. There is internet, CNN, etcetera – for heaven’s sake!
The world, for better or worse, is a global village now. In any event, the war IS NOT being waged on American soil. I daresay that I would like to read, in Sojourners, of Americans interested in peace and justice going Iraq and to Syria and Iran (yes, lots of Iraqis have found refuge from this ‘war’ there – and talk about their opposition to the war).
That would be the day!
For now I would like to ask a few simple questions, if I may:
Is it true that 41 percent of each dollar goes into war, preparations, and reparations for war? as Logan Laituri has written in his article above?
If not then just how much does the military industrial complex cost Americans? Is this the same country that has “In God We Trust” on its currency? Might this be why every American President goes to war? Is this why there is the strange phrase “pro-war” in the idiom? What do you suppose we ought to do? And so on and so on, ad infinitum …
I look forward to reading the candidates responses to Logan. Will we see any?
I would like to end here with a quotation from the late great American citizen, now permanent resident of the kingdom of heaven, Martin Luther King Jr:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to peace, everywhere.”
To our shame, he, like Laituri now, wasn’t taken that seriously back then. Do we ever not learn!
Shalom!
R Alu
Dar es Salaam
Tanzania



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Sarasotakid

posted July 6, 2007 at 7:05 am


Thank you R. Alu. You are right. Unfortunately a large segment of American Christendom is beholden to the idol of power, money and empire. I fear that your form of Christianity would have precious little in common with that of some of the regular neo-conservative reactionaries who regularly post here.



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Moderatelad

posted July 6, 2007 at 9:38 am


Posted by: Liz | July 6, 2007 3:12 AM
Your accesssment of history is delightful reading – fiction is easy to deal with.
Dwight sent ‘advisors’ – Kennedy sent ‘ground’ troups.
Bay of Pigs might have been considered by Eisenhower but Kennedy followed through with it – well almost. His decision to not deploy US troups to back up the Cubans was the reason it failed. The decision was made based on what was ‘politically’ the best to do for his future as Pres. – not what was best for the situation.
Your accessment about the Kennedy assination could be correct – guess we will never know because the investigation was done in what – 90 days? All records that the report was based on have been sealed for what – another 50 years. What could have been so damaging that Clinton sealed them again when they were scheduled to be released. If might have been easier if there had been a ‘Burger’ in the Kennedy-Johnson White House.
Have a great weekend –
.



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Moderatelad

posted July 6, 2007 at 9:49 am


Posted by: Sarsotakid | July 3, 2007 5:10 PM
I have seen nothing in those spelling errors that would keep Mod from rising to the top. He could even become President one day!
What – are you %^*() NUTS!
He is the last person I would want to see in the White House. His logic at times is a little off. He is extreamly opinionated. I think that his idea of what is correct might be a tad too narrow. Let’s face it – the guy is not presidential material for either party. (do you think there might be an island in the south pacific that would like to have him?) But – the way he looks – no intern would ever be interested in him – never.
Have a great weekend –
.



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Rachel

posted July 6, 2007 at 10:27 am


I very much appreciate Mr. Laituri’s piece. However there is one glaring error. He states that the Iraq War has cost us FOUR billion dollars. The correct number is FOUR HUNDRED billion. I’m assuming this was a simple typing error but it urgently needs to be corrected.



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Shawn

posted July 6, 2007 at 4:41 pm


Being a soldier gives one no more credentials for being a “social activist” than working at Wal-Mart gives one credibility as an economist.
As servicemen, we have our job to do. If we are enlisted, the job description is usually pretty darned narrow. I’m sure Mr. Laituri did his job honorably and with distinction, but sweeping the floor doesn’t make you an expert on labor issues. As bluntly as I can say it: patrolling the streets doesn’t make you an expert on war and peace.
Simply put, Mr. Laituri is a symbol, period. He’s not contributing much in the way of rhetoric or polemics to this discussion. In fact, the points he makes are identical to many already stated, and are ad nauseum NOT unique. I’m glad for his service, and I thank him for it, but being an ex-serviceman in favor of the war effort seems to offer one no credibility. Why is that?
There are far more ex-military who favor our country’s effort than oppose it, and if you need any more appreciation of that fact, simply notice that each election cycle, it is the Democrats who attempt to oppress the military vote, by placing local restrictions on when the absentee ballots can arrive. Too early or too late: too bad….
If Mr. Laituri wants to be a conscious-objector, that is fine–it’s his right. We’re fighting also for the rights of Iraqis to be conscientious objectors too–something neither they nor many in the Middle East have ever had the right to do.
Take the enormous amount of articles in the UN’s overkill “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. Which country is upholding most of them? Which entity is protecting those rights for us and for most of the world? It’s American soldiers like Laituri. What shocks me is the number of Americans who seem to think that it’s we who are inadequate to judge wars and such things. If anyone has any right to judge things freely it is we Americans. If Mr. Laituri has the “qualifications” to be a social activist, then so do we, his fellow servicemen who disagree with him– So to do we fellow Americans, who are free to think and express ourselves without coercion, manipulation, blood feuds or age-old religious hatred.
If anyone has the “qualifications” it is we Americans.



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bren

posted July 6, 2007 at 8:37 pm


Sorry, Shawn, neither you nor I require “qualifications” to speak the truth as we understand it, except perhaps that we are each caring humans–and children of God. I’d need qualifications as an economist, perhaps, if I were to opine about the costs of the war, but I need no special qualifications to know that it is wrong to kill children, women and men in order to ensure that my country has a steady supply of oil. Merely reading a variety of newspapers online (national and international) has taught me that there was a time when VP Cheney and Saddam Hussein were pals. Since neither of them had personality changes (alas) between the time they were pals and the time Hussein became a demon in our eyes, it’s easy to understand that what changed was the politics. No special degrees required: just reading and thinking about what I read.



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Scott Kohlhaas

posted July 13, 2007 at 10:39 pm


Hello.
While I don’t like what’s happening to the IRR, it is incorrect to call the call-ups “conscription” or a “backdoor draft” because it was a clause in the contract that was signed when they joined.
Would you be willing to spread the word about http://www.draftresistance.org? It’s a site dedicated to shattering the myths surrounding the selective slavery system and building mass civil disobedience to stop the draft before it starts.
Our banner on a website, printing and posting the anti-draft flyer or just telling friends would help.
Thanks!
Scott Kohlhaas
PS. When it comes to conscription, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!



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