The Price of Trust, and Arranging (and Foiling!) Mass Murder

  1. A nasty ambush in Jordan kills three Green Berets, as reported on Zero Hedge. As you might expect, it was a trusted Jordan guard who pulled the trigger. That’s the thing in the Middle East (and other areas with related cultures, like the Empty Quarter): a) you don’t know who to trust, and b) no matter what, you are always an outsider.It would be nice to be completely independent and autonomous, but that is not possible for social beings like men (and Vargr!), who need to cooperate to make money, to build things… and to fight well. So, you trust your tribe: but you can’t run an broad interstellar concern, be it an empire, a corporation, or even a church, just by trusting blood relations. That region of trust has to expand, if you want to go big.But some cultures, after weighing the pros and cons, decide to stick with the tribe, and only the tribe. By nature, they are going to be poor (…unless they have a natural resource everyone wants…), so traders will often avoid them. Military men may not have that option, depending on just how militant said tribal culture is.

    “Be careful out there.”

    Tactically speaking (as a rank civilian), note that shoot-out occurred at the gate of the military base, and used the element of surprise and (mistaken) trust to maximize impact. Bottlenecks, lack of mobility, the requirement to trust strangers, an unfamiliar environment, possible language/cultural difficulties… I’m getting stressed out and twitchy merely writing this, never mind actual Travellers in the field!

  2. How to Get Away with Mass Murder: Denying Mass Atrocities in Sri Lanka and Syria. Basically, deny, deny, deny, no matter the evidence. The offender need not actually prove himself innocence, but merely cloud his guilt. The bigger and more relentless the lying, the better.“Our troops went to the battlefront with a gun in one hand, and the Human Rights Charter in the other.” Snort. To translate into Traveller, replace “Human Rights Charter” with “Imperial Laws of War”.The keys to pulling this off successfully is to:
    A) Restrict the flow of information. Exclude international interstellar reporters, and terrorize/kill local ones. Kick out all foreigners, including aid workers.
    B) Aggressively contest what information leaks out. Photos? Video evidence? Confessions? “All enemy propaganda!” Never give an inch, no matter what.
    C) Atrocities that are just too big to hide? Just attribute it to the enemy! Massive shelling? “All of it is enemy action!”
    Piles of corpses? “Most of them supported the government!”
    Smashing hospitals? “They were terrorist centres!”

    Now, this isn’t the whole story. It definitely helps to have powerful friends in high places, to snuff out investigations before they begin.

    Also, it’s good to fight someone who is friendless/repulsive to most or all outsiders: that would be ‘Terrorist!’, especially ‘Islamic terrorist!’ in AD 2017, but depending on the local history, it could just as easily be:
    * ‘Alien!’, ‘Fake human!’, ‘Half-breed!’, ‘Race Traitor!’ (in the Solomani Rim),
    * ‘Republican!’, ‘Revolutionary!’ (as in, ‘anti-monarch/anti-aristocratic’.
    Not a great tag to wear, in a massive interstellar aristocratic empire…),
    * ‘Infidel!’, ‘Unbeliever!’ (in religious regions of the Imperium,
    certainly including the Empty Quarter),
    * ‘Fanatic!’ (in the more atheistic regions of the Imperium),
    * ‘Psion!’ (everywhere in the Imperium),
    * ‘Innovator!’, ‘Modernizer!’ (for that Vilani flavour),
    or even
    * ‘Solomani!’ (in much of the Imperium, during the Solomani Rim War)

    The ease of killing hated, friendless populations is one reason why, even in the intensely tribal Empty Quarter, every large tribe – Arab, East Indian, Bwap, Vilani — are in regular, if sufficiently wealthy even constant, contact with their off-world brethren, despite the heavy cost this imposes.

    Collective security helps insure that an enemy can’t just ‘disappear’ a village or annoying minority without paying a price: and if you can get a message off before its too late, there’s a real chance that off-world help will arrive in time.

    The night is deep and silent… the distances are long… it takes weeks, even months, for news to spread… and it’s real easy for someone, even millions of someones, to simply vanish. Better keep up the communication chatter, so if the monsters in the dark finally eat you, at least someone will ask why.

    BTW: While it is possible that said ‘monster in the dark’ really are unknown monsters in the dark — enemies from nowhere, like a Suedzuk Vargr slaughter-raid from beyond the Lesser Reft — its far more likely that your killers would be a quietly envious neighbouring tribe…. off-world traders who notice both your wealth and your lack of security… or even members of your own tribe, religion, and culture, nursing ancient grudges and seeing a golden opportunity to strike.

And what does it all mean to noisy, footloose Travellers, adept with high-tech video technology and drone/orbital cameras, who love to find secrets… and may well sell it to the highest bidder, even if they don’t want to get involved personally?

Well, I just answered my own question, didn’t I…

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About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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