Dulcie et decorum est pro Allah mori

Michael Howard – no, not that one – has a point:

When I wrote in this column a few weeks ago about the conundrum of
suicide-bombers, the eminent military historian Michael Howard dropped
me a line to remind me that European soldiers had been sent into
battle in the first world war with the message that there was no
higher honour than to die for your country. Not to live, to fight, to
kill for your country – to die for it.

The same has been true in nearly all cultures forever – it\’s only the postwar West where we don\’t expect soldiers to die. As such, the fact that suicide bombers are willing to die for their goal ought to be one of the least surprising things ever.

3 thoughts on “Dulcie et decorum est pro Allah mori

  1. Jack Lacton says:

    Michael’s statement is off centre and he does not have a point.

    It being honourable to die for one’s country is completely different to it being a duty to die for it, or for
    Islam or whatever else the cause is. Those WWI soldiers did not believe they were being sent on a suicide mission. They believed they were going
    to fight a regime that was the antithesis of their values. And they were right. Thanks to them, and their WWII counterparts, we enjoy the freedoms
    that we do today. The continuing attempt by some commentators to prove a moral equivalence between Islamic suicide bombers and the West’s values
    is, to be mild, banal.

  2. Larry Teabag says:

    The continuing attempt by some commentators to prove that all their political opponents believe in a MORAL EQUIVALENCE!!! between the 9/11 bombers and WW2 British soldiers, to be mild, moronic.

  3. mick angel says:


    I think you’re argument can be summed up by saying “we won, so in retrospect it was right”. As much as I am greatful for the freedoms I now enjoy (slowly eroding though) that others died to protect, it doesn’t mean that you can make a woolly argument a sound one:

    “It being honourable to die for one’s country is completely different to it being a duty to die for it” – not *completely* different surely. It’s the same sentiment after all just expressed more strongly. I think you overstate the “duty to die” aspect. I do not think that Islam says it’s followers have a duty to die, merely that they will be martyrs if they die for the cause, in a similar way (note: not “the same way”) as dying on a WWII battlefield is “a heros death/an honourable death”.

    “They believed they were going to fight a regime that was the antithesis of their values”- yes, and I am guessing so do those radicals that fight for an extreme form of Islam who state they are fighting the antithesis of their religious values.

    I agree there is not a moral equivalence between the two, but not for the reasons you state. Until quite recently there was clear water between the actions (note: *not* the reasons but the actions) of terrorists and those of governments in the west:

    * active protection of innocent life
    * a duty to protect civilians and not to cause them harm
    * proportionality of response
    * an adherence to the rule of law
    * a tendency towards individual liberty (note: not the same as “freedom”)
    * an acceptance of plurailty of thought

    That clear water gap is shrinking and becoming murky. After all

    a) “we don’t do body counts” so civilian deaths are not as important/worth counting anymore
    b) we now hold people, routinely and with less fuss than before, without trial
    c) it is becoming felt ‘proportional’ and accepted that killing one terrorist target can involve the deaths of 20 civilians

    and so on.

    It may have no moral equivalence today – but carry on with the woolly thinking, accepting that the government is good and that the terrorists ‘only’ want to kill innocent people, and there will come a day when there *will* be moral equivalence, as we will have become just as wrong, twisted, and accepting of dogma as they are.

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