Barely 1-in-4 of Britons would be willing to fight for their country, says an end-of-year survey conducted by WIN/Gallup.
The question was posed to mark the centenary of first world war last year. Globally, 60% of respondents said they would be willing to fight, while 27% would not.
The British response of those willing to fight – 27%, as opposed to 51% who would not – was consistent with the results for Western Europe: 25% of West Europeans said they would take up arms, while 53% stated they would not. Italians were the most unwilling, with 68% saying they would refuse to fight.
In contrast, 44% of US respondents were willing to fight, while 77% of residents of the Middle East and North Africa were most likely to fight for their flags.
In an interview with The Times, Gary Sheffield, professor of war studies at the University of Wolverhampton said: "There's been a complete change in society's attitudes. It's related to a decline in deference – not least a tendency to no longer to trust what we are told by governments."
However, the extent of such social changes is unclear. Even during the Great War, the supply of volunteer combatants dried up. Conscription had to be introduced and lasted from 1916 to 1919. Meanwhile, conscription provided the vast majority of troops in
Conscription had to be introduced, and lasted between 1916 to 1919. Meanwhile, conscription provided the vast majority of troops in the second world war. While most were compliant, a large number deserted.
In his book The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II, Charles Glass, former Middle East correspondent for ABC News, estimates 100,000 fleed from military service.
More than 64,000 people from 65 countries were polled for WIN/Gallup's 38th annual global survey.
Among other notable findings, were that just 12% of Western Europeans believe that 2015 will be a year of economic success, while 42% of respondents worldwide believe this will be a prosperous year for their country.
However, 70% of them say they are happy with their life, up from 60% last year.