Monday, 1 December 2014

The Marines

"Everybody knows the Empire was won and is maintained by naked power, the central government is corrupt and the frontier is brutal and the last organization with high morale, the Navy, lives for war and oppression and anti-intellectualism."
-Poul Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), p. 6.

I wouldn't have said it was that bad. The Terran Imperial Navy includes Max Abrams, Ilya Kheraskov, Dominic Flandry and presumably some others like them.

But let's see some marines in action. It is their invariable rule to obliterate when one of their own is shot dead in an ambush. This happens while they are brutally annexing Brae. Buildings have been smashed, anti-Imperialists are being exiled and a collaborationist government is being installed. When a single marine is fatally wounded by a shot from a house:

another squad member instantly flips a tracer dart from his belt;
the dart follows a trace of ions to the front of the house;
a rover bomb is launched from a shoulder-borne rack;
the front wall of the house is destroyed;
the squad attacks with debris striking their helmets;
Flandry's marine escort, joining him around the dying man, look wistfully towards the sound of blasters and bombs.

So, yes, they do sound like guys who live for war, oppression and maybe also anti-intellectualism.

When someone in a crowd throws a missile at the police, it is the police's job to identify their assailant and to make their way through the crowd to arrest him, not to attack the crowd. We might say the same to these marines: attack your attacker; do not destroy an entire building with anyone else in or near it.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I can't agree with you here. Putting aside the rights and wrongs of the Brae affair for now, I would point out that what we see here was MILITARY action, not simply police trying to keep the peace. A sniper attacked a marine squad, fatally wounding one. What did the other marines do? They did precisely what any well trained, professional military would have done--do whatever was necessary for eliminating the sniper. In war time it is simply not possible to always use only a minimum of force.

Which does NOT mean, of course, that any military force should be utterly brutal and engage in wholesale massacre. But I truly did not see that in this incident. It reminds me of the counter insurgency combat we saw in Irag before all the gains won by the US military and its allies were THROWN away by President Obama after 2009.

Moroever, I would be wary about anything said by Lord Hauksberg! While he was not a bad man, he was definitely biased against both the Imperial military forces and the view held by the realists that Merseia was no friend of the Empire.

Now for the morality of the annexation of Brae. Yes, what the governor of the Spican sector was wrong and unjustiable. Merseia agents were not trying to engineer its annexation by the Roidhunate, so there was no need for the Empire to forcibly annex it. The Brae affair was one of those too frquent abuses of power seen during the reign of Josip III, an Emperor both bad and weak, an unworthy descendant of Manuel the Great. And Josip's reignt was used by Anderson to show how the Empire was nearing the end of its Principate phase--and entering a period of civil wars and rulers lacking in legitimacy.