17 - An American military ethicist's perspective  pp. 295-303

An American military ethicist's perspective

By Shannon E. French

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Lance Corporal Gregory MacDonald of the US Marine Corps never believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Armed with a master's degree in philosophy and well-versed in the just war tradition, he rejected the claim that Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched as a last resort to check Saddam's aggression. Before deploying to Kuwait with his light armoured vehicle (LAV) unit, Greg participated (out of uniform) in an anti-war rally in Washington, DC, and gave an anonymous radio interview expressing his mistrust of the motives of the Bush administration.

Greg was killed on 25 June 2003, near the town of al Hillah, Iraq, as his LAV raced to assist another Marine unit that had been ambushed by Saddam loyalists. I learned of his death three days later, shortly after my wedding reception. The night before, at the rehearsal dinner, my maid of honour had read a toast Greg wrote in the desert for my husband and me. Its theme was a Muslim greeting he had heard in Iraq: ‘a Salam a lakum’, which may be translated, ‘Peace be with you’, or ‘God grant you peace.’ Greg explained that the greeting is ‘not just a blessing for the absence of conflict, but also for compassion, repose, calm; it implies a desire for an understanding of the self and for the humanity of the other; it signifies a willingness both to trust and to accept the trust of another; it is an offering for what is just, what is fair.


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