July 20, 2006
To whom it may concern;
I am applying for the Christian Peacemaking Teams delegation to Israel for several reasons, and I hope to be able to contribute in many different ways. My experience in cross cultural work is limited to the 14 months I spent in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 from January 2004 to February 2005. During that time, my mission as a Forward Observer for the Army was to call for and direct indirect fire assets (artillery, mortars, combat aircraft, etc.). However, during my time in the Middle East, I spent most days gathering information and training the Iraqi forces. This included overcoming language barriers and assimilating to a foreign culture. Additionally, I found myself on several occasions actively restraining other members of my unit from excessive use of force while in heated engagements. Those same engagements also taught me to react decisively under extreme circumstances and how to remain calm in threatening situations. As for nonviolent direct action, my experience is still low. In June, while at Sojourner’s ‘Call to Renewal’ conference in Washington DC, I attempted to protest outside the Pentagon against the ongoing violence in the Middle East. Unfortunately, our coordination with the Catholic Worker house we were to meet there was poorly planned. I also spent time during my stay in Washington to lobby both the California and Hawaii senators to make poverty and violence top priorities on their political agendas.
To be perfectly clear, I am aware that many who read this may question how I reconcile both my desire to be a peacemaker and my professional obligation to the Army. On June 5, 2006, I submitted to my company commander my application to gain status as a Conscientious Objector. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only soldier in nearly 40 years to request Noncombatant Status as opposed to a discharge. My hope was to return to Iraq without a weapon, in order to propose a clear alternative to violence in the efforts for peace. Sadly, I was too idealistic in my proposal, as I have been diagnosed with ‘Adjustment Disorder;’ because I refuse to carry a weapon and defend myself, I pose an imminent threat to myself or others. Currently I am non-deployable, watching the rest of my unit deploy to Iraq while I sit in garrison for an unspecified amount of time. I actually hope to go to Iraq at some point in the future, if CPT decides to return there again. If I am able to go to Israel, I hope to use the experience to open my eyes to a world that knows fear and anxiety everyday. I hope to share sadness and joy with people who truly know what it means to be in emotional and economic poverty. As an ongoing project, I also hope to learn from cultures in the Holy Land if they believe there is a doctrine of “Just-War” in their faith. After my experience over the last several months, I am well acquainted with the much-debated Christian doctrine, but the exposure to groups much more directly affected by America’s version of just/unjust war will no doubt open my eyes to the validity of the Western doctrine of Just War. When I return from my trip, I hope to spread awareness amongst the local military community. Many people blindly obey orders from above without deciphering the orders’ justification or implication; I hope that through my experience and witness, I may open their eyes and my own to how our actions can hurt our brothers in Iraq and elsewhere. I believe we are all a part of Abraham’s dysfunctional family, and there is no passage that I can find in my Bible that allows me to sit idly by as my brothers and sisters are killed in the name of Christ; the Prince of Peace and the author of Love. If I do finally get the opportunity to be a peacemaker in Israel, it will be the first of many mission trips to the area, I hope. Please feel free to contact me however is most convenient, and thank you for your consideration.
Gratefully and humbly,
Logan “Lucky” Laituri