Steve Mollmann wrote:
Surely the point of that line, that episode, and that scene, is that the Doctor was that person once, but will not be again. It's not that the Doctor is a coward per se, but that if someone claims not being willing to go into battle and kill innocents is "cowardice", then yes, the Doctor is a coward.
Agreed. It's the Dalek Emperor who chooses the word "coward" to mean "one who will not exterminate an entire race." The Doctor is affirming that he's not willing to sink to their level by committing genocide, and since "coward or killer" was the choice of labels he was given, well, there you go. Also, maybe at that particular moment, he's willing to accept the "coward" description because he feels bitter at himself that his moral code won't let him wipe out the Daleks. But that's a function of his conflicted emotions at that moment. I'm sure RTD didn't intend it as an objective statement of fact.