Monday, 4 December 2017

Rivers Of Blood

"...her father's death had brought a wave of unified fury. Sacred blood had been shed, and her folk wanted blood in turn; preferably whole rivers of it.
"That happened when you desecrated a people's symbols, unless there was something badly wrong with the people concerned."
-SM Stirling, Prince Of Outcasts (New York, 2017), Chapter Two, p. 40.

I disagree. If a king has been killed, then deal with those responsible and prevent a repetition. Ideally, that would involve just a retaliatory assassination followed by a regime change. In practice, it would probably mean a war. But that is still a different matter from wanting to kill thousands of subjects of a despot. Similarly, a terrorist attack requires apprehension of the attack's surviving planners and perpetrators but not bombardment of another country.

In Poul Anderson's Technic History, when Flandry had bombarded Chereion, should the Terran Empire have followed this up with attacks further into the Roidhunate? In that case, yes - to destroy military targets, not cities or populations. Terran Intelligence knew that, after the loss of Aycharaych, the Merseians would merely reorganize and continue their "war by other means" so a preemptive strike would have saved a lot of trouble in the long run.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree, a LIMITED counter attack is best, in most cases, when reacting to things like either the assassination of King Artos or, in real history, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Albeit the fury and sense of outrage felt by many Americans after Dec. 7. 1941 reminds me of how Artos people reacted to his death.

The reasons were similar: the Korean sorcerers, in violation of all international norms, had invaded Montival and killed Artos with no provocation, no attempt at first sending embassies, not even a formal declaration of war. The Japanese of 1941 had behaved similarly: a treacherous, unprovoked attack on the US killing thousands of Americans with no declaration of war when both were at least still technically at peace with each other.

Yes, the need to handle the threat posed by Korea would probably have needed a war rather than a simple "wet work" team to handle. But I don't think the reasonably decent leaders of Montival would have consented to genocide of the entire Korean people. As you said, a defeat of the Korean threat and ousting of the Kim dynasty of sorcerer kings would be sufficient. Similarly, whatever their anger and passions at first inclined them to, when Japan was finally defeated and occupied by the US, there was no genocide of the Japanese people and complete destruction of their nation. Tempers had cooled and more cautious policies were followed.

Yes, for a long time after the disappearance of Aycharaych and the bombardment of Chereion, the Merseian Roidhunate was left naked, half blind or worse before the Empire until a new Intelligence service not so dependent on a single being could be built up. It would have been right of the Empire to have carried out limited, preemptive attacks on military targets within the Roidhunate sufficient to force it to cease trying to undermine and subvert the Empire.

I don't say the Empire should have tried to DESTROY the Roidhunate. That would have needed all its strength and a full scale war against a now desperate enemy fighting back with all its own strength. Even if the Empire won, it very likely would have been so badly weakened that it could not have resisted barbarian invasions.

No, all out war with Merseia would not have been worth the costs in lives, treasure, and the likely fall of civilization across a sphere of space stretching for about 900 light years.