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The twisted webs we weave




Why then is there a constant battle over the meaning of defence?

Because it does matter. In this world of war and turmoil people must still seem legitimate. And in this world legitimate and lawful action has begun to share the meaning of the word defence. Why? Well that is obvious. There are almost no mandatory aggression treaties left. All mandatory obligations that exist are defensive. So fighting on the defence makes us more likely to be defended.

This has grown and grown and today we see the total extreme of this when the New Sith Order engaging in conflict on the basis of a legitimate and widely recognised Causus Belli feels the need to frame the war as a defensive one. This is despite there being no mandatory defence clause in any treaty held by Kaskus and a large number of very powerful alliance that would bail out the New Sith Order if they were to face any aggression from another.

I find this strange. Often the wars that are regarded as most legitimate are the ones most regarded as legitimate actions. The declaration on NpO a year ago was regarded by many as a legitimate action. It was not a defensive one. IRON's declaration of war on LSF was not a defensive war. However it was a legitimate action. NSO declaring war on Kaskus was legitimate. However for some reason they now feel the need to frame it as a defensive war.

We can also see examples of very aggressive wars framed as defensive wars. This is especially so when they are not legitimate. The Dave War began with MK claiming to be acting in defence. GOONS often claims to be fighting in defence under its claim to be fighting rogue unaligned nations rather than small alliances.

What is the result? We have changed the meaning of the word legitimate so that people now believe that as soon as a war is defensive it is legitimate and we seem to have allowed the concept of a just war become secondary to this. In some ways this is good. It prevents mindless aggression. It keeps war relatively at bay. However it also serves as a paralysis. An alliance with an honest and good cause will struggle to overcome the barrier that the treaty structure creates, whereas one with a weak cause but a nominal military offense against them (however twisted) may feel itself safe.

This tangled web we weave has made legitimacy a second place concept. And now we must live with that.



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Excellent post. Reminds me of the waiting game between LSF and NoR to see who would post a DoW first (before NoR finally posted a "recognition of hostilities)... though that had to do with trying to activate LSF's MD treaties, as opposed to simply being seen as legitimate. Even after LSF admitted it was the aggressor (more or less), it still held that the war was legitimate. :P

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Contrary to what seems like popular belief, you can't activate someone else's treaty.

Parties will always want to paint themselves as aggrieved. It doesn't usually mean that much.

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What is a defensive action and what is an aggressive action is really very very simple. The alliance who sends troops (or any other sort of military) first is being aggressive. The alliance that is attacked by the military of the first is defending.

Hypothetical example 1:

Alliance A uses their military (OOC: the declare war buttons) and attacks The Javahouse League.

a) The Javahouse League are fighting in defense.

b) Alliance A is the aggressor

Hypothetical example 2:

Alliance A attacks our ODP The Sandwich Confederation and since we have an ODP we decide to "defend" The Sandwich Confederation.

a) The Javahouse League is taking an aggressive action (OOC: using our declare war buttons) against alliance A.

b) Alliance A is defending against us and at the same time acting aggressively against our allies.

Our reason for declaring war is to defend treaty allies who are directly being attacked, a reason almost everyone agrees is "legitimate." It's still an aggressive act however.

In this case, since New Sith Order used their military first. They are the aggressors.


In terms of the confusion - historically alliances asked for harsher peace terms, usually including high "reparations" for ending the war if the war could be defined as "aggressive." Thus all the spinning to make an otherwise clearly aggressive act (declaring war for any reason) seem like "defense" was historically to avoid harsh peace terms. Then the system of "defense" and "aggression" treaties gets developed and e-lawyers have fun ever since.

Since reparations are going out of favor by many members of the community, maybe it shouldn't be such a big deal anymore.

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Not sure if I entirely agree with your assertion.

The way I see it is that we base legitimacy upon nothing more formal than victory and current power. NPO was able to have legitimacy despite their "crimes" while they were the major power on bob. Now we have a more varied split and as such popular causes become legitimate. The most popular cause is a winning war. Because it provides entertainment, while also increasing the reputation and relative power of the victors.

Defensive wars that are losing propositions rarely occur now (better to let one alliance get rolled than actually defend them if you might lose). So these are not considered legitimate.

Also aggression can take many forms, spying, outright attacks etc.

The key to whether something is considered defensive or not is whether an alliance that responds to some action (such as spying) is legitimized in their action by the rest of the community. Weak CBs are considered aggressive, strong CBs are considered defensive. But then again, this is based on the opinion of related parties, thus both sides can (usually) have their cake and eat it too.

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I disagree with WC's post (respectfully, as always!). I've always felt that a "casus belli" and the war to which it belongs is largely a subjective matter, that can (and should) be spun to one's advantage.

We do ourselves a huge disservice by linking the roleplaying aspects of the game to the mechanics of gameplay.

Aggression is always going to be a gray area, and that's a good thing. Objectivity is boring.


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