Monday, 27 March 2017

Preparation For War

When I was an undergraduate, I was a "pacifist." Some of us labelled ourselves. Now my views are more considered but do not conform to those of my then elders. For example, I now say that:

in some circumstances, an armed population can resist a military coup whereas an unarmed population is defenceless;

when a minority is being persecuted, mere maintenance of order means continuation of the persecution... therefore, a collective right to self-defence comes on the agenda.

Some writers of "military sf" present scenarios where it is right to prepare for war:

against Merseia in Poul Anderson's Technic History;
against the Draka in SM Stirling's Draka series;
against the Protectorate in Stirling's Change series.

In real life, the distinction between defence and offence does not always seem that clearcut. I now think that:

every individual at least has a moral right to physical self-defence;

however, whether an empire or great power has a right to defend what its decision-makers regard as its economic or strategic interests in another continent is a different issue, to say the least;

a police marksman is right to put a bullet in the head of a terrorist holding hostages;

"defence" can never mean the use of nuclear devices against a population.

Anderson shows us a character, Gunnar Heim, waging war as a privateer in one situation but criticizing a later war as imperialistic. See here and here. Thus, Anderson presents more than one side of every question.

Robert Heinlein acknowledged that he glorified the military and he opposed conscription. Free men fight. When I opened a comic book adaptation of Starship Troopers and saw a panel in which a general demanded more conscription, I immediately closed it again.


David Birr said...

That comic book would, I think, have been an adaptation of the MOVIE *Starship Troopers*, which by all accounts I've seen was a ghastly travesty. One article commented:
"The Paul Verhoeven film is generally considered to be the biggest middle finger the novel will ever receive, and that is no accident.... The film was intentionally designed as the polar opposite of the book in terms of message, characterization, and theme...."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Commenting on your second paragraph: most coups have not been opposed by the population of the country the coup occurred. Nor do I think it is realistic to expect an armed opposition unless a large section of the population, with leaders backed by some of the armed forces, strikes back. Which is what we see in Anderson's "No Truce With Kings."

Commenting on your third paragraph: except, unfortunately, the majority of Germans did not effective to stop the Nazi persecution of the Jews (where they did not join in the persecution themselves).

It wasn't just because of Merseia that Anderson's Terran Empire large and powerful space and ground forces, they were also needed for cowing, deterring, or fighting off barbarian invasions.

It should be a TRUISM that every individual has the right to self defense. That's a big reason for the passionate defense so many Americans make for the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. They don't want to depend solely on the agents and polices forces of the state for their safety. And I agree with them.

I agree that whether an empire or great power has a right to defend economic or strategic interests is an open question. I would only say that sometimes it is right to do so.

Re the police marksman, I agree.

I agree that to use nuclear weapons on civilian populations is wrong. But not against legitimate MILITARY targets (as we see in "Outpost Of Empire").

And David has more than adequately commented on the slanderous abuse of Heinlein's STARSHIP TROOPERS.


Paul Shackley said...

Thank you for your tireless replies.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Ha! Thanks! That's partly because I'm such a night owl! But I need to watch out for and correct more of my typos. Drat!