quadibloc on March 13, 2009, 09:16:18 am
The discussion about an "extinction-level event" being something that, in fact, the Cereans would never inflict on Earth is interesting.

And, indeed, there are almost always other alternatives. I presume a previous day's strip hints that Guy is going to use the codes in his PDA to massively disrupt the UW financial system in response to this attack.

But I am dismayed that controversy was needlessly courted in today's strip. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Travers Harris, 1st Baronet, Order of the British Empire, carried out the policies of the British Government to the best of his ability in the war against Nazi Germany.

The policy of area bombing of German cities was instituted in 1942, which was subsequent to the massive German bombardment of Coventry which caused considerable civilian casualties on November 14, 1940.

The British people could hardly be expected to stand for German civilians being exempted from the war when they were being directly targeted by German forces. Morale is as vital an element of winning a war as anything else, and World War II was a gigantic struggle for the survival of freedom which humanity could not afford to lose. A Nazi victory would have plunged the whole world irrevocably into a long age of darkness.

This fact is not changed by the fact that Hitler's erstwhile ally Stalin was just as bad.

Categorizing 'Bomber' Harris as a war criminal is gratuitous, unfortunate, and badly mistaken.

Scott on March 13, 2009, 01:12:01 pm
In the first place, if you want to play the game of "who shot first" concerning wars between nations, you can go back a long, long way and never resolve anything.

In the second place, libertarian philosophy decries the notion of "collective guilt." The women and children of Dresden had nothing to do with the bombing of Coventry, abominable as that was. The targeting of civilians is just as likely to steel the resolve of armies to fight, as it is to harm their morale -- look how the British themselves rallied after Coventry. A great deal more damage to the Reich's war-making ability was done by bombing factories, rail centers, and air bases.

And in the third place, my reading of history is that Harris was not just passively following orders (not that this would absolve him) but was an active advocate of civilian targeting. He did what he wanted to do.

John DeWitt on March 13, 2009, 01:54:09 pm
That being said (and I agree, Scott, FWIW) I'm glad we're getting some action here.

I know this'll all read differently on dead-tree - although I'm really enjoying this story, long periods of relative inaction do tend to drag when read one page per day.  So hurrah!  World-conquering space fleets - so powerful, so confident, so utterly hapless! 

Leviathan on March 13, 2009, 02:04:48 pm
Yep.  Arthur "Bomber" Harris actually tried to re-divert forces from the more strategic bombing back to annihilating civilian targets.  They accidentally kicked off a firestorm once, and Mr. Harris liked the result so much he ordered it intentionally tried again and again.  Tens of thousands of civilians' deaths were on his hands, and in the end result those mis-allocation of resources into the slaughtering of uninvolved parties didn't do shit for the war effort.  As Scott did thusly state, when they started concentrating resources back onto particularly the transportation networks (rail, primarily) is when they really started to hurt the axis war effort.  Who knows how many planes and lives were wasted futilely trying to ignite another firestorm in Berlin?  And there is a difference between bombing a city, and firebombing a city intentionally producing a fire so intense that its convection currents reach hurricane speeds in order to kill tens of thousands of people.  Firebombing in Europe and Japan rates up there on the genocide scale.  Maybe it's not Srebrenica, or a Holocaust, or Rwanda.  But the scale shouldn't matter so much as the fact of it.  What's the difference between slaughtering one uninvolved (innocent) party and slaughtering millions?  Scale, not kind.

As I believe was mentioned in another thread, <0.01% of the total number of humans were off Earth.  Even impoverished and with a totalitarian government over them (and possibly especially, the joke in agorism is that very little conscious effort is required to follow it, it's a natural consequence of regulation) they're a truly staggeringly massive economic market.  Imagine if someone was talking about taking an action that cut you off from even half your customers, if you were in business?  And that's just the practical, economic incentive.  There's also the fact that I'm sure many of them in the Belt and Beyond have family on Terra.  The moral implications of an extinction-level event are breathtaking, and there's a lower likelihood of "nobody I know would get hurt" because of that fact.

Song of the day?  Serj Tankiam's "Empty Walls".  The line that this discussion reminds me of?  "I loved you yesterday before you killed my family!"  I'll mention, here, that in a manner of speaking people think of the twin towers as just ordinary terrorism.  There were lots of government offices in those towers.  The crime of Al Qaida was that of the many killed that day, only a tiny fraction were at all involved in government.  But, hell, guess who played that tactic already of not particularly caring about civilian casualties when going after the "real" desired military ones?

deadasdisco on March 13, 2009, 02:56:33 pm
Not to distract from the moral mud-slinging (feel free to get back to it after this), but the thing I really liked from today's strip was how the Cereans have utilized the fastest communications system ever devised by man.

Rumor Central. 

Hey, I'm not making fun.  It works...

Rocketman on March 13, 2009, 03:04:45 pm
I imagine that the powerful lasers that the belters use to mine ores with are now being moved to where they can deal with Harris and his fleet.  It's interesting that the UW considers them "traitors" when it's already signed a non-agression agreement with them.  Kind of reminds me of what Hitler did with Stalin just before his people attacked them.

SandySandfort on March 13, 2009, 04:35:23 pm
And, indeed, there are almost always other alternatives. I presume a previous day's strip hints that Guy is going to use the codes in his PDA to massively disrupt the UW financial system in response to this attack.

Damn! I wish I'd thought of that.

But I am dismayed that controversy was needlessly courted in today's strip. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Travers Harris, 1st Baronet, Order of the British Empire, carried out the policies of the British Government to the best of his ability in the war against Nazi Germany.

Yeah, that's right, he was "only following orders."

The policy of area bombing of German cities was instituted in 1942, which was subsequent to the massive German bombardment of Coventry which caused considerable civilian casualties on November 14, 1940.

So is your moral stance, that if you kill my innocent victims, it's okay for me to kill your innocent victims?

Categorizing 'Bomber' Harris as a war criminal is gratuitous, unfortunate, and badly mistaken.

"Butcher" Harris (the contemptuous name given to him my members of the British military who still had some honor), Churchill and everyone who approved of targeting innocent men, women and children to be incinerated, were war criminals by any realistic definition of the term. I stand by my characterization.If there is a hell (highly doubtful) Harris and Churchill will be burning there right along side Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Truman, Tibbets and all the other monsters.

P.S. You are really going to hate how this arc ends.  ;D

Jackson on March 13, 2009, 06:14:20 pm
Well, if looks like the United World has called Guy's bluff on that "extinction level event." I'm surprised the UW would risk the near extermination of mankind. Secretary General Timah must be really brave or really desperate.

The UW wins no points for strategy, though. If they were smart, they would have realized that they simply could have brought in Special Forces in disguise into the colony by civilian transit; after all, no one checked Guy or Fiorellaís baggage for weapons, and there is no government, so itís not like Ceres could outlaw UW immigration. For that matter, they could have brought in small atomic weapons. Then, the Special Forces could launch attacks on the Ceresiansí (is that the term?) mining lasers, small nuclear bombs and other improvised weapons while Harrisí troops were still in transit. Ceresí low gravity might pose a problem for Terrans, but since there are various space colonies on Luna, Mars, Mercury and elsewhere, the United World Army probably has troops trained to fight in low gravity and zero gravity.

Admiral Harris still has a decent chance of winning the Ceresian-Terran war. After all, the Ceresians have mining lasers and small nukes, but presumably the Gamma Conqueror and the other six smaller ships in Harrisí flotilla have combat lasers and full sized nuclear bombs. His troops hold a similar advantage in ground combat; the Ceresians have weapons and are presumably good shots, the havenít been trained to act as units the way UW troops have, and they donít have support weapons, combat vehicles or body armor. Still, all the Ceresians are armed, so Ceres still might win the ground war. But a lot of people on both sides will die (that's what happens when both sides have nukes)


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It's interesting that the UW considers them "traitors" when it's already signed a non-agression agreement with them. 
Well, we can assume that the various inhabitants of Ceres were citizens of the United World before they moved to Ceres. Thus, by refusing to be ruled by UW, the inhabitants of Ceres have turned their back on and betrayed their mother country. Of course, that can be a moral choice (that is what the Founding Fathers of the USA did, after all.)
The curious thing is that after Reginald the First demanded 80 billion continentals under UW law, the UW didn't just give it to him and bring Ceres under their control. The money will be a problem at first, but then they will be able to get tax money from Ceres every year. In the long run, that will more than pay off.

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Truman, Tibbets

I assume you are referring to the atomic bombs. You are aware that Truman's actions saved tens of millions of Americans and Japanese who would have been killed in Operation Downfall? Truman had to choose between Operation Downfall and the atomic bomb; sometimes, there are no good choices.

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Not to distract from the moral mud-slinging (feel free to get back to it after this), but the thing I really liked from today's strip was how the Cereans have utilized the fastest communications system ever devised by man.

Rumor Central.
Well, it probably would have been faster if Ceres Space Traffic Control Center was just linked up to an emergency address system. But you can't really set up such a system without a government.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2009, 06:37:13 pm by Jackson »

quadibloc on March 13, 2009, 06:59:50 pm
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So is your moral stance, that if you kill my innocent victims, it's okay for me to kill your innocent victims?

No, not really. Because, indeed, the innocent don't belong to the guilty.

But I think it's oversimplifying to claim that no contribution was made to the war effort. Given the fact that British civilians were experiencing ongoing attacks, abstaining from replying in kind would have adversely affected morale. Killing innocent people in order to pander to the darker side of human nature is wrong in itself, but gambling with victory in World War II would have been far more wrong.

As for Tibbets - there the moral issues are more clear-cut. Not only would the invasion of Japan have been a far greater bloodbath - on the part of American soldiers for whom Truman was directly responsible - but warning leaflets were dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If the Japanese authorities kept Hiroshima a secret, preventing the people of Nagasaki from evacuating, why are the Americans to blame?

I'm not rooting for the bad guy in the comic, because clearly it is the Cereans who are the ones who want to live in peace and freedom. I think he is dishonoring the memory of his ancestor, not continuing a family tradition.

SandySandfort on March 13, 2009, 07:04:34 pm
I assume you are referring to the atomic bombs. You are aware that Truman's actions saved tens of millions of Americans and Japanese who would have been killed in Operation Downfall? Truman had to choose between Operation Downfall and the atomic bomb; sometimes, there are no good choices.


This is patent nonsense, though commonly repeated and too often believed. The technical term of this fallacy is a "false dichotomy." The only remaining issue was the US demand for an "unconditional" surrender. And the only condition the Japanese were still pressing was that the Emperor not be executed. So it was the "my dick is bigger than your dick" position of the US that precluded an otherwise unconditional surrender. Then there is the canard about loss of human life if Operation Downfall became necessary. It is always trotted out as an either/or choice. The truth is, by the end of the war, Japan could have been brought to its with a simple blockade. When they no longer have fuel and steel, they no longer are a military threat. In other words, there was absolutely no reason to invade Japan to kill and be killed in the hundreds of thousands. No need to kill hundreds of thousands of innocents with atom bombs. None.

Well, it probably would have been faster if Ceres Space Traffic Control Center was just linked up to an emergency address system. But you can't really set up such a system without a government.

Really? Try stretching your imagination a little. There is nothing governments can do (except kill and enslave) that cannot be done better by free people living in a free society.

SandySandfort on March 13, 2009, 07:09:02 pm
but warning leaflets were dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Authoritative citation, please. I have never seen a scintilla of evidence of any such leaflets.


Rocketman on March 13, 2009, 07:36:03 pm

Admiral Harris still has a decent chance of winning the Ceresian-Terran war. After all, the Ceresians have mining lasers and small nukes, but presumably the Gamma Conqueror and the other six smaller ships in Harrisí flotilla have combat lasers and full sized nuclear bombs. His troops hold a similar advantage in ground combat; the Ceresians have weapons and are presumably good shots, the havenít been trained to act as units the way UW troops have, and they donít have support weapons, combat vehicles or body armor. Still, all the Ceresians are armed, so Ceres still might win the ground war.


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It's interesting that the UW considers them "traitors" when it's already signed a non-agression agreement with them. 
Well, we can assume that the various inhabitants of Ceres were citizens of the United World before they moved to Ceres. Thus, by refusing to be ruled by UW, the inhabitants of Ceres have turned their back on and betrayed their mother country. Of course, that can be a moral choice (that is what the Founding Fathers of the USA did, after all.)
The curious thing is that after Reginald the First demanded 80 billion continentals under UW law, the UW didn't just give it to him and bring Ceres under their control. The money will be a problem at first, but then they will be able to get tax money from Ceres every year. In the long run, that will more than pay off.

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Truman, Tibbets

I assume you are referring to the atomic bombs. You are aware that Truman's actions saved tens of millions of Americans and Japanese who would have been killed in Operation Downfall? Truman had to choose between Operation Downfall and the atomic bomb; sometimes, there are no good choices.

     Jackson your operating under some false assumptions and fallacies.  First off go watch the movie "Midway".  The Japanese at that moment in history should have won that battle but they didn't.  The reason is LUCK.   The Japanese were caught reloading their torpedo and bomber planes and had fuel and bombs stacked all over the deck, something that normally would not have happened.  Their zero fighters were at low altitude having just prior intercepted a squadron of american torpedo bombers and wiped them out.  If they had been at they're proper altitude the coordinated american attack might have been broken up.  Why am I bringing this all up?  Because when the fighting starts all of the plans of generals and admirals goes out the window and the "roll of the dice" kicks in.   The belters have a better chance than you think they have.
     Next the reason that the Americans won the Revolutionary War was because of the help that the French gave them, which brings up an interesting point that the story hasn't covered yet.  Is there some kind of resistance like the French resistance of WW2 or the Marquis on the UW and will it activate if Ceres is attacked?
     What about other colonies like one or more of the Mars colonies?  Will they join the rebellion figuring that this is their best chance to be free?
     In regards of your last statement that "sometimes there are no good choices".  How about this one.  The belters send a wet team in to kill the leaders of the UW.  No civilians get killed and the only deaths are the team itself since it's a suicide mission.

« Last Edit: March 13, 2009, 07:48:30 pm by Rocketman »

Jackson on March 13, 2009, 07:41:59 pm
All I said was that Admiral Harris has the advantage; he can still lose, through his own incompetence, bad intelligence, tactical brilliance by the Ceresians or simple luck. In fact, I hope he loses.
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In regards of your last statement that "sometimes there are no good choices".  How about this one.  The belters send a wet team in to kill the leaders of the UW.  No civilians get killed and the only deaths are the team itself since it's a suicide mission.
 
Well, I was talking about the atomic bomb with that statement, not about the impending Ceresian-Terran war. But in any case, killing the UW's leaders wouldn't solve anything. For one thing, it was confirmed that the UW's nominal leader Secretary General Timah is "just the front man for the Powers that Be," so killing him won't change anything. And even if you killed the UW's leaders they would just be replaced. If we use America as an example, there are fully eighteen people in line to succeed the President if the President dies. And finally, even if the leaders were killed, there is no guarantee that their successors will be any more favorably inclined towards freedom or towards Ceres than the previous UW leaders.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2009, 08:05:13 pm by Jackson »

Jackson on March 13, 2009, 07:55:59 pm
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Authoritative citation, please. I have never seen a scintilla of evidence of any such leaflets.

They were no different that the normal leaflets issued to warn against US bombings, but they were there. See: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol46no3/article07.html

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The truth is, by the end of the war, Japan could have been brought to its with a simple blockade. When they no longer have fuel and steel, they no longer are a military threat. In other words, there was absolutely no reason to invade Japan to kill and be killed in the hundreds of thousands. No need to kill hundreds of thousands of innocents with atom bombs. None.
 

The Soviet Union was also preparing to invade Japan. If we had chosen not to and had not dropped the atomic bomb, they would have. Just as many people would have died, and then what was left of Japan would have been under the control of Stalin. Things would have been worse, not better.

SandySandfort on March 13, 2009, 08:20:52 pm
The Soviet Union was also preparing to invade Japan. If we had chosen not to and had not dropped the atomic bomb, they would have. Just as many people would have died, and then what was left of Japan would have been under the control of Stalin. Things would have been worse, not better.

I don't know if Papa Joe had any such plans. I wasn't there and Stalin was a paranoid liar. I doubt the Soviets and the wherewithal or that the US would have permitted it. We can speculate forever and never really know. I believe that using the A bomb was monstrously immoral and totally unnecessary murder. You believe it was necessary and justified. Reasonable minds may differ. Unless either of us can come up with a magic bullet, I think further discussion will accomplish little. When we get into the next phase of Harris' actions on Ceres and the responsees, we can discuss the morality of what is done there. The only real question will be, did Sandfort get it right? Is that what could and should have happened?