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The Ethical Challenges of the Soldier

The French Experience

By General Benoit Royal

When a soldier engages in warfare, he enters a world that borders on absolute evil and has nothing to do with everyday life. He is confronted by real issues of conscience, the solutions to which are not to be found in military regulations. How does he find answers to such questions without departing from his mission? How to react without losing his soul or suffering irreparable psychological damage? How to fight while respecting other people’s dignity?

Drawing on more than a hundred specific real-life cases and situations, both recent and from the past, Brigadier General Benoit Royal provides a firm ethical foundation along with reference points to help commanders in the field find solutions to these dilemmas. In conflict situations that are humanly unacceptable and often close to unbearable, only sound ethical principles, imprinted in the mind very early in training, will enable military leaders to give meaning to their actions and remain at peace with their consciences.

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