*Delivered Thursday, Oct. 5, 2006 in Thomas Square Park in Honolulu, HI.
My name is Logan Laituri, and I have been an American soldier for the last six years. I fought in Iraq without understanding the reasons that I was there. I knew that the reasons I was given to fight were false: Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were never a threat to the US or any other country. Only our own American WMD’s, many of which are stored here in Italy, pose a threat to countries worldwide.
After returning from Iraq, I began to learn more about the consistent fabrications the Bush administration used to justify and fuel the war. American soldiers and families have been lied to repeatedly by our president. The truth is always the first casualty in war. Deception and betrayal should never be the policies of any government.
The American people are waking up to the truth. According to a recent poll, over 63% of my countrymen disapprove of the Bush government. Also, more veterans, military families, and active soldiers are opposing his policy of indefinite war in Iraq. The voices in America are growing, saying No to Bush and No to War.
In the last year, numerous allies in the US coalition have initiated withdrawal from Iraq. Italy, Japan, Portugal, and the Ukraine all withdrew their forces before the end of 2006. The UK will be reducing their forces by over 2,100 soldiers in the next several months. Furthermore, Denmark and Poland have plans to withdraw completely by August 2007. Bush’s policy in America has been to increase troop strength with no clear strategy for the future.
Recently, Bush increased the length of combat deployments from 12 to 15 months. Now soldiers have 3 more months they must survive in order to return home to their families. With increasing deployments, many of my friends still in the military face multiple deployments and possible conscription even after they have been discharged.
I am a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, an organization made up exclusively of members who aim to end the very conflict they have served in. At IVAW, we believe that the war is wrong and that a military solution is unable to create true stability in Iraq. In 2006 alone, our numbers doubled, and this year we have already grown to 450 men and women who have served or who are serving in Bush’s “war on terror.”
Here in Italy as well, many anti-war groups are struggling with the question of whether to speak out in opposition to their own government. It is my own firm belief that a government should consider itself a servant to its people. If it’s people do not speak, how will a government know what is demanded of it? Especially in such dire times as these, a people should speak.
It is our silence that tells our respective governments that what they are doing may go on without question, without conscience. We, the people, are to act as the moral compasses for our leaders. If they act on our behalf, we are to inform them what they must not do in our name. Without using our voice, we suffer the consequences for their actions.
I will close with a final appeal to the shared faith of the president and the Pope, as I consider myself a follower of Jesus Christ as they do. I would ask that my president consider if love has motivated him to act as he has, as that is the fulfillment of God’s law. The Apostle Paul writes to the Roman Church of the first century that love causes no harm to its neighbor.
2,000 years later, I must wonder whether the God that the Apostle John calls “love” would approve of my country’s actions toward its neighbors. Perhaps it is in fact out of selfish ambition and vain conceit that my government has considered itself better than others. It has always been the prophetic tone of the dissenters who have been the voice of reason to the great powers in the world. Do not remain silent, but continue to speak truth prophetically to power.