July 21, 2017

Source: Bigstock

The disapproval is, of course, justified, but surely “€œcoward”€ is the wrong word to apply to them. Perhaps one may fairly describe the man or woman who plants a bomb and is well away when it explodes as a coward, though it’s difficult to see any true distinction between such a bomber and the person who, sitting hundreds of miles away from any action, programs a drone attack that may, and often does, kill the innocent as well as a presumably guilty chief target. But other terrorists must require courage to perform their acts. And even if you believe that you are heading straight for your religion’s idea of paradise, it surely takes courage to strap on a suicide belt and pull the cord or whatever to explode it.

Lodwick again would have recognized this. Like many in the Special Services he committed what we should now stigmatize as acts of terrorism and war crimes, and doing so was dangerous and frightening. If he believed that he had come very close to exhausting his store of courage and was kept going only by “€œfragments of pride,”€ the same, one should accept, is probably true of those deluded men and women, often very young ones, who commit what we rightly judge to be hideous atrocities. What they do may be wicked, but I don”€™t think we should express our repugnance by calling them cowards; vile criminals, if you like, but often brave ones, braver anyway than the drone operators are required to be.


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