It just makes my blood boil (yes, even pacifists get angry) when people claim that soldiery is justified by the Christian ideal of love--laying down one's life for one's friends. Whether you're a pacifist or not, you must recognize that "no poor bastard ever won a war by dying for his country; he won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his." (Gen. Patton's words, not mine) The point of fighting in war is not to lay down your life (notice that I'm not saying that the point of fighting in war is to live), and the side that suffers the highest ratio of casualties to population is generally accounted the loser, because they, having lost more manpower, are usually more likely to surrender (unless, of course, the political goals for the war are pretty much unattainable, such as in Vietnam and Iraq). The cross, on the other hand, is an intentional decision: you stand against the injustices and oppressions in your society, provoke the ire of the power brokers, and accept the punishment that your society inflicts upon you for threatening "law and order."
"Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends." Lest we think that that can actually mean fighting in war, let us acknowledge that the model of love to which those words refer is Jesus.
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth....They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7,9)
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:37-39; cf. Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 8:34-37, Luke 9:23-25)
"....if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the One who judges justly." (I Peter 2:20b-23)
Laying down one's life is intentionally giving it up; taking up one's cross cannot be seen as taking up arms for whatever cause; Christ the incarnate Word, the man of perfect love, is an example for us specifically in his suffering death, wherein he lifted neither finger nor sword nor .357 Magnum pistol nor M16 nor grenade launcher in his own defense. In "reconciling the world to God," Jesus went to a cross. We who are "the body of Christ" in our day have been given this "ministry of reconciliation"; we should expect that such a ministry will take the shape of a cross.
I know that there are those who disagree with me about pacifism, and I know that they outnumber the pacifists. But like I've said, whether you believe that violence/war is "sometimes necessary" or not, this is something that you ought to be able to recognize. "Laying down one's life for one's friends" cannot be seen as the equivalent of being willing to fight and kill. Being an American soldier cannot be seen as the equivalent of carrying the cross.