Monday, 27 March 2017
Preparation For War
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.