[LMB] Casus belli

John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Sat Nov 27 14:31:06 GMT 2010

Tel, shooting herself in both feet with a bazooka, said:

I think half a million deaths for Vashnoi is also an overestimate (could be
> wrong - textev?). Hassadar doesn't even have half a million people in DI.
> Miles, IIRC, says "thousands" when he's comparing it to the Solstice
> massacre.
>> It was also not unexpected or unpreventable. Miles said in TWA they took
>> the
> city hostage for the good behavior of the Vorkosigans and "eventually"
> destroyed it.
>> As far as such things go, the Cetagandan occupation was not a war of
> annihilation. 5 million sounds like a lot (and is a lot!), but for a war
> that encompassed the entire planet and took twenty years, it's surprisingly
> low. 250,000/year, about 4,000/year/district, with each district being the
> size of a modern country. A good chunk of the deaths are likely to have
>> been
> Barrayaran-on-Barrayaran violence... collaborators fighting with the Cetas,
> reprisals against collaborators, collateral damage, dead babies (I'm not
> sure anyone was counting the dead babies), private vendettas being settled,
> that sort of thing.
>> 4,000 deaths was what the Russians clocked up every several hours during
> World War II. 250,000 is about half what they suffered a month.
>> Nevertheless, the fall of the Berlin Wall was a good thing.
***Yowsah! As Gwynne vigorously pointed out, there are some real squirmy
manoeuvres here.

I agree 0.5m is too high for Vorkosigan Vashnoi, but both the preventability
argument and the 'lots of them must have killed themselves' argument are IMO
close to seriously morally offensive. They certainly would be if we were
dealing with a real-world case.

It's clear from the textev Tel has cited that the nuking of VV was meant to
be both punitive and deterrent - and the real parallel here strikes me as
Lidice and Lezaky, the Czech towns where all males over 16 were massacred
and all structures levelled in June 1942 as a reprisal for the assassination
of Reichsprotektor SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Heydrich by individuals linked to
those towns ; but this time a city and a nuke, not a town and guns and arson
-- as if the Germans had nuked Prague as a final reprisal for resistance in
that occupied 'district'. So yes, it was 'preventable' - by surrendering and
offering no resistance ; but by this logic any threat against anyone
directly, or against a third party by way of coercion, imposes a moral
obligation on the person/polity threatened to submit. So Czech resistance to
German occupation should have been foregone because of the certainty of
reprisals. French and other Partisan resistance also. All resistance to the
SS, NKVD/KGB/GRU, BOSS ... the list is endless, and would also include
terrorist threats that should be deferred to. Presumably My Lai should have
made the VC surrender too, to 'prevent' any more such atrocities.

Do you *really* want to stand by this line of argument, Tel?

And then there's the combination of 'well, a lot of them must have killed
themselves' with 'well, there weren't that many of them really, by
comparison'. Perhaps you'd care to try this one on the next Amerindian you
meet ...

Very unusually, *Not* a good response - and the 'lots of them must have
killed themselves' argument takes pride of place in my 'Barrayarans not
being given a level playing-field' file. You've really made my case for me
with that one.

John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)
Director of Studies in English, St Catharine's College

General editor, Humanities-E-Books Genre Fiction Sightlines and Monographs

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