Jump to content
  • entries
    36
  • comments
    511
  • views
    2,264

A Note about Defence and Aggression


Bob Janova

210 views

It's war time again, and that means the inevitable attempts by both sides to paint themselves as the holy defenders beating back the barbarian aggressor hordes. That makes it a good time to look at aggression and defence in an objective fashion.

First, let's make clear that there two different concepts here. There is the concept of aggression versus defence, and the concept of a justified or unjustified war ('valid CB' or 'invalid CB'). In this case, Ragnarok's CB is cast iron: a government official deliberately and knowingly aiding an enemy after being warned not to do so is the best CB of any war for some time. This is not a note about the CB, but about what it actually means to be the aggressor.

There is a longstanding precedent that being provoked into a war doesn't make you the defender. The most obvious recent example is Karma, where NPO is almost universally considered to be the aggressor, despite their rather feeble attempts to justify it based on OV accepting screenshots. That situation is perhaps a little different in that they did not manage to prove that OV had committed 'acts of war' as so considered by most alliances, but no-one outside their immediate circle of friends would consider that anything other than aggressive. (And because OV couldn't be shown to have done anything seriously wrong, unjustified aggression at that, which is why so many alliances joined together to fight them at that moment.)

Another approach to the argument is to point out that 'acts of war' – aid and in-game spying – do not actually put you in a state of war at all. It's therefore non-sensical to claim that such acts immediate put you in a state of defensive war – if you don't choose to start a war over them, there is no war at all, so how can it be defensive. With spying this is particularly true as many spy ops are not even revealed, so they clearly don't start a war because you don't even know who you're supposedly fighting! You can test this by aiding a rogue nation and observing how it doesn't immediately put you at war with the alliance upon which the rogue is going rogue, though you should expect to pay reparations for such an experiment.

Let's take a look at a document which was well respected for a long time, and which actually defined the concept of 'aggression', the Citadel treaty:

Direct Aggression: Actual or attempted military action or economic sanctions by a party against a second party, except in the following circumstances:

1. When the first party is responding to military action or unjustified economic sanctions initiated on them by the second party; or,

2. When the first party is responding due to the activation of a mutual defense clause with a third party where the second party initiated military action or unjustified economic sanctions upon said third party.

3. Actual or attempted acts of espionage.

[OOC: Note that the Lux Aeterna was written before in-game spying. Espionage doesn't mean that.]

It's one of the very few documents to actually make a stab at defining aggression and defence for legal purposes, and as far as I'm aware no-one ever challenged these definitions. In less lawyerly terms, it means that you are acting aggressively if you start a war unless (i) someone attacked you, (ii) you are activating an MDP or (iii) someone is (out of game, i.e. forum) spying on you. The addition of that third clause is interesting in itself, as in general spying is considered to be a solid CB but not in itself aggression, and in point of fact Citadel did not actually follow that clause when TOP was spied upon by Vox (Grämlins, FCC and Umbrella did not declare war on Vox). However, forum spying is so rare these days (everyone realises how dumb it is) that the presence of the espionage clause can be considered an interesting anomaly and is not directly relevant. What is clear is that being provoked into a war by words (TOP/IRON in Bipolar) or aid (RoK here) relieves you from being aggressors.

Another place to look is the labyrinthine legalities of OBR treaties. For example, in their MDP with GR, we find this exception to defensive obligations:

... with the exception of any conflict where the it is as a result of a declaration of war by either ally or as a result of other treaty obligations. No obligation exist in either of these cases.

The second part of that is a standard non-chaining clause, but the first defines 'aggression' in the context of the treaty, and a declaration of war is considered aggressive (i.e. voids the defensive obligation) whatever justification it may have.

(In the Writ de Credo one can find a very broad definition of 'hostility', but that treaty was, as we now know, drafted as a legal trap and its definitions chosen accordingly.)

So we can see from three separate approaches – precedent, logic and well regarded legal documentation – that what counts as aggression is being the first ones to start the war. It can become blurred later in a war (for example is all of Karma defensive? or just the alliances which were attacked and their MDP partners?), but at the outset it is clear: the alliances which start the war (NPO in Karma, NpO in Bipolar, and RoK/GOD/R&R/VE here) are aggressors, and their immediate targets (OV, \m/ or NSO) are defenders.

A final reminder that this is not a post about justification. It is possible to be a justified aggressor; a good example from history would be the attack on Golden Sabres for supporting FAN's senator during the FAN war. In this case that is unusually clear-cut because of NSO's willingness to put their alliance in a dangerous position (taking in active rogues) that others wouldn't.

20 Comments


Recommended Comments

You know what? I actually agree with you on your assessment. Acts of war do not immediately place you in a state of war. Acts of war are what bring about a casus belli. For example, World War I started immediately because of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. This was an act of war. This gave Austria-Hungary the casus belli it needed to declare war on Serbia. (also I have no clue if this place is OOC or not, but whatever)

Therefore, when Sedrick was spied upon, he was given a casus belli to declare war on those that spied on him.

Link to comment

Bob, even if aiding Sedrick and spying on him are both valid casus bellis, these was being talked with other alliances as mediators and it would have been solved like it always is (this kind of troubles happens constantly in cybernations) but Rok and the others decided to declare war,

anyway, they have the strengh (actually 10vs1 odds) and this is just a game so good luck and we will try to do our best :P

it would have been great though a 1vs1 with Rok (they were more than twice our strengh anyway), but this is asking so much of planetbob

Link to comment

You know what? I actually agree with you on your assessment. Acts of war do not immediately place you in a state of war. Acts of war are what bring about a casus belli. For example, World War I started immediately because of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. This was an act of war. This gave Austria-Hungary the casus belli it needed to declare war on Serbia. (also I have no clue if this place is OOC or not, but whatever)

Therefore, when Sedrick was spied upon, he was given a casus belli to declare war on those that spied on him.

So by your definition... one exposed spy op constitutes a valid Casus Belli against an entire AA?

Link to comment

I think the tough part is that upon hearing the word aggressor and defender, people immediately paint the former as "bad" and the latter as "good". As you have pointed out, aggression can be both justified and not, which means such painting is not always correct.

This is what leads to the political maneuvering on all sides to always be seen as the defender, as it is far easier to laywer your way from aggression to defense than it is to lawyer your way from unjustified to justified aggression.

Link to comment
Acts of war do not immediately place you in a state of war. Acts of war are what bring about a casus belli.

Yes, precisely. And yes, Sedrick had a CB. Using such a CB when unaligned is a very bad move, though, because starting an aggressive war against an alliance makes you a rogue.

Ktarthan: Yes, precisely. The aggressor is not always in the wrong, though it is usually the case (which is where the link with 'bad' comes from).

Haflinger: I disagree, lots of people care, just look at all the attempts of both sides to paint themselves as defensive in this war, or the laughable attempts of some SG folks to claim the defensive position in the TPF war. I don't think you read the whole post if you think that 'hurr durr Citadel ended' is a good argument ...

Elpadrino: When your government representative does the material equivalent of two fingers at RoK, it doesn't really matter how many mediators are around. You know what, you're right, it would have been resolved diplomatically like 99% of these incidents – if Heft hadn't decided to order that aid sent, the one thing which was a massive provocation to war. That's not particularly relevant to the question of aggression and defence though ;).

Edit: Rush: One spy op which is supported by the government of the alliance would be a good CB, yes. It wouldn't usually lead to war, because usually it would be in the best interests of both sides to be diplomatic about it and come to a peaceful resolution, and acting on a CB and starting an aggressive war is a very risky move.

Link to comment

Elpadrino: When your government representative does the material equivalent of two fingers at RoK, it doesn't really matter how many mediators are around. You know what, you're right, it would have been resolved diplomatically like 99% of these incidents – if Heft hadn't decided to order that aid sent, the one thing which was a massive provocation to war.

he was spied (more than once) and threatened (with some messages) by TENE so he was fighting them, then Rok attacked with 3 nations a member of the NSO without saying a word to the NSO, they refused to prove or investigate who were in the right or who started it ..., the aid wasn´t the most polite move but looking at Rok actions before they can´t blame NSO for that...

That's not particularly relevant to the question of aggression and defence though ;).

the original post looks very interesting but its so long so I didn´t read it all, anyway this is interesting too :P

Link to comment

So by your definition... one exposed spy op constitutes a valid Casus Belli against an entire AA?

No, it constitutes a declaration of war against the targetted nation.

Link to comment

Haflinger: I disagree, lots of people care, just look at all the attempts of both sides to paint themselves as defensive in this war, or the laughable attempts of some SG folks to claim the defensive position in the TPF war. I don't think you read the whole post if you think that 'hurr durr Citadel ended' is a good argument ...

Yes, in the TPF war, Citadel still existed.

It was well-known that Citadel's NS would always side with the side that successfully claimed it was acting defensively. That's why those arguments went on.

Now Citadel is gone. Nobody else cares.

Link to comment

Yes, in the TPF war, Citadel still existed.

It was well-known that Citadel's NS would always side with the side that successfully claimed it was acting defensively. That's why those arguments went on.

Now Citadel is gone. Nobody else cares.

I sometimes wonder if you even read what you write.

Link to comment

Well, there you have it. Citadel controlled not only the world but the way people expressed themselves on the OWF! Success, boys, even if it didn't last that long! (Roll on 10.10.10!)

Link to comment

Yes, in the TPF war, Citadel still existed.

It was well-known that Citadel's NS would always side with the side that successfully claimed it was acting defensively. That's why those arguments went on.

Now Citadel is gone. Nobody else cares.

I always knew Citadel controlled the worlds definitions...

No, wait, that's completely retarded. You know people have been arguing over this point all week right?

Link to comment

You know people have been arguing over this point all week right?

No, people have been arguing about whether the attack is justified all week actually.

Which as Janova points out, is a different matter.

Link to comment

he was spied (more than once) and threatened (with some messages) by TENE so he was fighting them, then Rok attacked with 3 nations a member of the NSO without saying a word to the NSO, they refused to prove or investigate who were in the right or who started it ..., the aid wasn´t the most polite move but looking at Rok actions before they can´t blame NSO for that...

the original post looks very interesting but its so long so I didn´t read it all, anyway this is interesting too :P

Prove that he was spied more than once? Only 1 exposed spy op exists. See, TENE claims that he spied on them 1st(successfully, in game of course), and the stance from NSO is prove it. That knife has blades on both edges.

To Haf: I agree with you that the exposed spy op is a valid CB against the one nation who committed it, and had Sedric engaged that nation and stayed that course, I would be fine with what he did. However, he hit the guy, peaced out, then hit others guys. That, through his own action, makes him a rogue, not a defender.

Link to comment

I don't know Bob, it seems like this point is rather confused. First, the judgement of an act as an act of war contains as a necessary element the recognition of a state of war existing. Moreover, the judgment also contains the proposition that said judgement is held universally. For instance, acts of war are universally held as including amongst them the aiding of a hostile agent involved in active wars (active wars as defined by the game play mechanics). That this is an agreed upon norm is important since aiding a nation is not an action of war as defined by the game play mechanics and must therefore transcend the mechanical operations and gain its ground in the communities collective ability to reason, which has here been the case. Now, as this act of war has been given a place with other acts of war, including those implicitly indicated within the game play mechanics (i.e. ground attacks, etc.), it necessarily follows that a state of war exists when one aids a hostile agent involved in active wars. This leads to a different conclusion than the one you arrived at, that the aggressor is the agent that engages in the first act of war. Which would put ROK as being the defender in this engagement, with NSO as the aggressor. If you abstract "state of war" from the judgement of an act of war you are left with something entirely different and useless as either a justification for war or for anything to do with war.

Link to comment

To Haf: I agree with you that the exposed spy op is a valid CB against the one nation who committed it, and had Sedric engaged that nation and stayed that course, I would be fine with what he did. However, he hit the guy, peaced out, then hit others guys. That, through his own action, makes him a rogue, not a defender.

This seems like awfully fine hairsplitting.

It's also sorta funny to see people trying to defend Ragnarok by claiming TENE are utterly incompetent. You don't peace out rogues who have no defensive wars. And you don't spy on MHA applicants without clearing it with MHA first.

Link to comment

Eyriq, I think the confusion there is that people use the phrase 'act of war' poorly. Your post is entirely logical except that that isn't what it's used to mean. As I said in the OP, that's clearly absurd when you consider that aiding or spying on someone doesn't put you in a state of war, and in some cases (secret aid or non-exposed spy ops) can never do so. 'Act of war' is generally used to mean 'provocation that justifies war'.

Link to comment

Eyriq, I think the confusion there is that people use the phrase 'act of war' poorly. Your post is entirely logical except that that isn't what it's used to mean. As I said in the OP, that's clearly absurd when you consider that aiding or spying on someone doesn't put you in a state of war, and in some cases (secret aid or non-exposed spy ops) can never do so. 'Act of war' is generally used to mean 'provocation that justifies war'.

I agree that 'Provocation that justifies war' is a more precise way of defining acts that fall outside of the game's coded war system. I would still put forth that the communities' active use of reason can expand the judgment of 'acts of war' to include behaviors that fall outside the game's coded war system and has indeed shown to have done so regarding several such behaviors, (i.e. aiding nations with active wars that fall outside the aiding nation's AA, or aiding nations with active wars after that nation transfers to the aider's AA), in which case those behaviors should be judged as acts of war and an immediate state of war could be said to exist even though the action itself does not immediately activate the game's coded war system.

Link to comment
Guest
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...