Passing a moral buck

July 7, 2000

What drives Joanna Bourke to classify as "cowardice" the healthy instinct for self-preservation, the taking of responsible decisions about the welfare of families and one's own future, and moral and religious convictions regarding war ("Any excuse to miss the horror", THES, June 30)?

Governments declare war, and they cannot pass the moral buck to individuals they conscript to serve their purposes. My grandfather was a conscientious objector in the first world war, which took courage, not cowardice, as anyone who had the nerve to oppose the Falklands war will remember. I am reminded of Thatcher's typical ad hominem opener in TV interviews: "As all right-thinking people will agree ..."

Gill Rowley

University of the West of England

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