Armchair Quarterbacking

Dragon1

Rear Admiral
What does the Wing Commander community think Confed's biggest mistake was during the Kilrathi War?

Could it be the signing of the False Armistice or the funding of the Behemoth? Perhaps the waste of resources and personnel during the Repleetah campaigns. Or maybe the treatment of the Border Worlds, which, according to Vagabond, were not treated as equal partners. What do you think?
 

Primate

Spaceman
What does the Wing Commander community think Confed's biggest mistake was during the Kilrathi War?

Could it be the signing of the False Armistice or the funding of the Behemoth? Perhaps the waste of resources and personnel during the Repleetah campaigns. Or maybe the treatment of the Border Worlds, which, according to Vagabond, were not treated as equal partners. What do you think?

The False Armistice it may be. How about a certain lieutenant's failure to pass along a priority triple A message from Admiral Banbridge on McAuliffe on Confederation Day eve, 2634?
 

frostytheplebe

Seventh Part of the Seal
The False Armistice it may be. How about a certain lieutenant's failure to pass along a priority triple A message from Admiral Banbridge on McAuliffe on Confederation Day eve, 2634?

No, I still say that damn armistice. Not only did it cripple Confed's forces, kill any chance of Confed winning the war without resorting to a doomsday machine, wreck one of the most respected ships in the Fleet, cause staggering casualties for Confed civilians and marines, not to mention Confed's governing body, but it also caused the Kilrathi to completely change their attitude towards Terrans. They were no longer equals.
 

Primate

Spaceman
No, I still say that damn armistice. Not only did it cripple Confed's forces, kill any chance of Confed winning the war without resorting to a doomsday machine, wreck one of the most respected ships in the Fleet, cause staggering casualties for Confed civilians and marines, not to mention Confed's governing body, but it also caused the Kilrathi to completely change their attitude towards Terrans. They were no longer equals.

All true. But, since you mentioned it, where humans ever really considered equals? I think that with the exception of Jukaga and a few others, they (we) were always considered a prey species. That's one reason I mentioned McAuliffe. I wonder whether the Kilrathi view of humans and, consequently, their persecution of the war would have been different had their fleet been smashed up by a well-prepared and superior Confed force.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
No, I still say that damn armistice.

Well, a false truce to stab your enemy in the back is coward's act, and since the kilrathi were so big on their honor, you would expect them to keep their word as warriors.

Ofcourse, mothballing your ships during a truce is plain stupid, just put them in orbit somewhere, with a minimal crew until there is truly peace. Sure ships and personall cost something, but there is nothing more stimulating for an economy then a war machine.
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
The False Armistice it may be. How about a certain lieutenant's failure to pass along a priority triple A message from Admiral Banbridge on McAuliffe on Confederation Day eve, 2634?

I'd even go a bit further back. How about Confed treating the Kilrathi like a second-rate enemy and only launching limited attacks in Facin? Confed didn't respect or understand the power of the Kilrathi until McAuliffe.

Although, the failure to get the war warning to the proper people in time certainly ranks up there.
 

frostytheplebe

Seventh Part of the Seal
Well, a false truce to stab your enemy in the back is coward's act, and since the kilrathi were so big on their honor, you would expect them to keep their word as warriors.

Ofcourse, mothballing your ships during a truce is plain stupid, just put them in orbit somewhere, with a minimal crew until there is truly peace. Sure ships and personall cost something, but there is nothing more stimulating for an economy then a war machine.

See I think that was stupid all around. They Kilrathi are pursuing peace, which in my opinion means that they realized they were vulnerable. The opportunity there, would have been for Confed to launch a full scale attack on the Kilrathi, at the very least knocking out their shipyard facilities. Mothballing your fleet during an armistice is a dumb move. Seizing the opportunity and bringing the Kilrathi to their knees would have been the better choice.
 

J "Phantom" D

2nd Lieutenant
See I think that was stupid all around. They Kilrathi are pursuing peace, which in my opinion means that they realized they were vulnerable. The opportunity there, would have been for Confed to launch a full scale attack on the Kilrathi, at the very least knocking out their shipyard facilities. Mothballing your fleet during an armistice is a dumb move. Seizing the opportunity and bringing the Kilrathi to their knees would have been the better choice.
That's what separated us from the Cats though, our ability to show mercy. When a power sues for peace (historically speaking) most human cultures have accepted that, not launched full-scale attacks.

Furthermore, since the Kilrathi were suing for peace, the brass probably figured that they were already on their knees. Why else would the Kilrathi want peace?
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Furthermore, since the Kilrathi were suing for peace, the brass probably figured that they were already on their knees. Why else would the Kilrathi want peace?

Several high-ranking officers resigned over the false peace. They knew they had the Kilrathi on the ropes all they needed to do was hit the knock out punch and there was a chance they could win the war outright.
 

NinjaLA

Alex Von T.
that would have made a good plotline right there. A wing commander 3 where Blair and Tolwyn and Co fight a private war during the armistice to put the kilrathi on the ropes.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
You guys aren't taking into account the rest of the universe. It's all well and good to talk about what Confed should and should not have done, but here's the thing - Confed can neither do good, nor can it make mistakes, for exactly the same reasons why the United States can neither do good nor make mistakes... because it's not a person. It's a collection of people.

When you look at the armistice or McAuliffe, you have to consider all those other people. In the case of the armistice, for example - would it have been possible to reject that armistice at all? I'm sure Confed's propaganda had made a big deal prior to the armistice that the Kilrathi are on the verge of defeat - so how did the average citizen feel? Did he see any point in continuing the war against a defeated enemy, when all he got out of it was trouble? If the Kilrathi were offering a treaty - why not take it?

Now, I'm sure there was a whole lot of mistakes made during the armistice. Things like continuing fleet reductions when it was evident the Kilrathi weren't following suit, and the like. But really, who in their right mind could consider the armistice itself a mistake? Ask yourself this - just how do you think the war could have ended, prior to the false armistice? Do you seriously think Confed would have continued the war until every single Kilrathi was dead? Because if you don't, you need to understand that at some point, Confed would have agreed to an armistice. Heck, consider the historical examples - if anybody in Confed at the time was comparing the Kilrathi to the Japanese (a comparison made, IIRC, in the Victory Streak), they had to deal with the fact that the Japanese offered a cease-fire before the US could invade Japan. The Kilrathi were losing - why shouldn't they do the same? Unless you know what happened later, accepting the armistice seems pretty darned reasonable.

Additionally (though this could not have been a decision-making factor), in the long run, the false armistice was necessary. It had to happen sooner or later, in much the same way that McAuliffe had to happen - because humans are not Kilrathi. Both sides had to learn how the other side actually thinks. I think it's safe to say that had the Kilrathi actually been defeated properly without that false armistice, the result would still have been a false armistice. I think it was actually the armistice that really nailed across the point that the humans were not a prey species. I mean, just imagine the impact of the battle and the events that followed - when the false armistice ended, most Kilrathi probably thought that the new fleet would completely destroy the humans. When places like Sirius and Warsaw were destroyed, the Empire probably made sure that every single Kilrathi in the universe knew about it. And then, suddenly - silence. Probably, like the Japanese, the defeat would have been announced as a victory, but everyone knew what the objective was, so everyone knew it really was a defeat. When your enemy is naive enough to fall for a trick, you laugh at him. But when he then beats you to a pulp in spite of that trick - well, suddenly, the joke's on you. You can't help thinking that he wasn't naive in falling for your trick, but simply confident in his ability to beat you regardless of any trick. If you were laughing at him earlier, this is the point where you're just too impressed to continue laughing.

Had Confed been able to reach Kilrah without the false armistice... what would the Kilrathi had done? Either they would have fought to the death... or they would have, sooner or later, come up with the exact same plan - offer peace, and then secretly prepare for war. It was simply inevitable.
 

Primate

Spaceman
You guys aren't taking into account the rest of the universe. It's all well and good to talk about what Confed should and should not have done, but here's the thing - Confed can neither do good, nor can it make mistakes, for exactly the same reasons why the United States can neither do good nor make mistakes... because it's not a person. It's a collection of people.

Maybe. But the excercise is: what action taken by a member or group of members of the Confederation could have been done differently to the greatest positive effect for Confed?

When you look at the armistice or McAuliffe, you have to consider all those other people. In the case of the armistice, for example - would it have been possible to reject that armistice at all? I'm sure Confed's propaganda had made a big deal prior to the armistice that the Kilrathi are on the verge of defeat - so how did the average citizen feel? Did he see any point in continuing the war against a defeated enemy, when all he got out of it was trouble? If the Kilrathi were offering a treaty - why not take it?

Now, I'm sure there was a whole lot of mistakes made during the armistice. Things like continuing fleet reductions when it was evident the Kilrathi weren't following suit, and the like. But really, who in their right mind could consider the armistice itself a mistake? Ask yourself this - just how do you think the war could have ended, prior to the false armistice? Do you seriously think Confed would have continued the war until every single Kilrathi was dead? Because if you don't, you need to understand that at some point, Confed would have agreed to an armistice. Heck, consider the historical examples - if anybody in Confed at the time was comparing the Kilrathi to the Japanese (a comparison made, IIRC, in the Victory Streak), they had to deal with the fact that the Japanese offered a cease-fire before the US could invade Japan. The Kilrathi were losing - why shouldn't they do the same? Unless you know what happened later, accepting the armistice seems pretty darned reasonable..

Because there were people who knew better. And we are speaking from hindsight. I think you are right, the average citizen probably welcomed the armistice. That doesn't mean it was the right decision, in retrospect.

Additionally (though this could not have been a decision-making factor), in the long run, the false armistice was necessary. It had to happen sooner or later, in much the same way that McAuliffe had to happen - because humans are not Kilrathi. Both sides had to learn how the other side actually thinks. I think it's safe to say that had the Kilrathi actually been defeated properly without that false armistice, the result would still have been a false armistice. I think it was actually the armistice that really nailed across the point that the humans were not a prey species. I mean, just imagine the impact of the battle and the events that followed - when the false armistice ended, most Kilrathi probably thought that the new fleet would completely destroy the humans. When places like Sirius and Warsaw were destroyed, the Empire probably made sure that every single Kilrathi in the universe knew about it. And then, suddenly - silence. Probably, like the Japanese, the defeat would have been announced as a victory, but everyone knew what the objective was, so everyone knew it really was a defeat. When your enemy is naive enough to fall for a trick, you laugh at him. But when he then beats you to a pulp in spite of that trick - well, suddenly, the joke's on you. You can't help thinking that he wasn't naive in falling for your trick, but simply confident in his ability to beat you regardless of any trick. If you were laughing at him earlier, this is the point where you're just too impressed to continue laughing.

Had Confed been able to reach Kilrah without the false armistice... what would the Kilrathi had done? Either they would have fought to the death... or they would have, sooner or later, come up with the exact same plan - offer peace, and then secretly prepare for war. It was simply inevitable.

But Humans had been learning how the Kilrathi think, and this armistice didn't add up. And, if Confed had reached Kilrah they might have done the same thing they did anyway: fight to the death untill their home planet was destroyed, and then sign an armistice that really incapacitated their warmaking capabilities.
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
United States can neither do good nor make mistakes...

Well, there are people in other countries who disagree with you in that.
Especially here in Germany, many people keep saying that a country or even a people can make mistakes and be guilty for something.
(BTW: Isn't it the same thing in your country? I guess there are still people in Poland who blame the Germans (all of them, as a people) for WW2)


But back to topic:
I think the leaders of confed did something wrong when they allowed Dr. Severin to try his weapons on civilians. The Military should never act that way with civilians.

Concerning the war against the Kilrathi.... The False Armistice was something bad, I think.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Well, there are people in other countries who disagree with you in that.
Especially here in Germany, many people keep saying that a country or even a people can make mistakes and be guilty for something.
(BTW: Isn't it the same thing in your country? I guess there are still people in Poland who blame the Germans (all of them, as a people) for WW2)
I'm sure there are people like that - but there's people out there that believe all sorts of crazy things. Be that as it may, it's still entirely pointless. A group, by definition, cannot make a mistake - not unless it's a hive-mind of some sort. Even when a democratic country votes to do something, that's still not a common decision - you can blame someone for putting forth the idea, you can blame individuals for voting for it... but it's always individuals.

The reason why blaming an entire group is pointless is because there's no individual interest to it. I can say Germany was to blame for WWII - and yeah, obviously, Hitler was elected by a majority, so in a way it would be true. But what's the value in blaming Germany as a whole? Individual Germans can be blamed for voting for Hitler, but that's a collection of invididual decisions. Any one German could have voted differently, and it wouldn't necessarily have changed the final result - but that one German could obviously no longer be blamed.

Now, I would suggest that this discussion will only be interesting if we apply some basic rules. Firstly, let's talk about individuals, not groups. Even if it's a group decision, there's always gonna be some individual (not necessarily known by name) at the bottom of it.

Secondly, in asking whether a particular decision was a mistake or not, let's take into consideration two things:
- The decision-maker's state of mind and knowledge. If a decision had disasterous results, but the guy making it could never have predicted such a possibility... well, obviously he's still to blame for the disaster, but it's not a big mistake from his point of view. For example, that guy in Action Stations who failed to deliver the message on time. He is to blame for the disaster that followed, but there's no way that you could reasonably punish him for anything more than simple negligence (and perhaps dereliction of duty). He could not have known there was any possibility of such consequences. So, his decision can't really be considered a major mistake - it's a small mess-up that happened to have huge consequences.
- Context. It's dead easy to make something look bad by depriving it of context - but it leads to dry and trivial discussions. Take, for example, Hitler's declaration of war on the US. Taken out of context, it's a ridiculously bad decision - what was he thinking, didn't he have enough wars going on already? And so, all over the world, you've got otherwise intelligent historians railing about how stupid Hitler was, about how that decision was the final nail in Germany's coffin, et cetera. But if you put it in context, if you consider that the US was already fighting an undeclared war with Germany, if you consider that Roosevelt was already determined to do everything he could to help England... suddenly, it turns out that Hitler's decision was much harder to classify, it may actually have been the best thing to do at the time.

Because there were people who knew better. And we are speaking from hindsight. I think you are right, the average citizen probably welcomed the armistice. That doesn't mean it was the right decision, in retrospect.
See, that's exactly the problem with hindsight. You're not looking at that one particular decision - you're looking at an entire chain of decisions and events that followed. Because they all followed, it seems like they were all inevitable after that one decision was made. But that's not the case.

Ask yourself this - can the armistice actually be blamed for anything? In European history, there is a long, long tradition of enemies signing armistices for a particular period of time, with both sides fully intending to return to the fighting after that time has run out. Both sides would use this time to regroup, refresh their forces, et cetera. Now, this was clearly not what happened with the Kilrathi armistice. But it could have. Especially after it was obvious that the Kilrathi were not disarming, the president could have decided to pull the plug on Confed disarmament. Action Stations had made the point that Confed was more powerful industrially than the Kilrathi - so it is easily conceivable that the armistice could have actually increased Confed's advantage rather than decreasing it.

So, even if we ignore the near-impossibility of turning down the armistice, even if we ignore the fact that nobody could have predicted this was a mistake (really - remember how outraged the Kilrathi were when the plan was first proposed? When your enemy does something that's completely alien to his thinking, it's hard to predict what he's doing)... how can we argue the armistice itself was the wrong decision? Maybe it was - but it's certainly not as clear and obvious as hindight would indicate.
 

Tigerhawk

Captain
Quarto, you bring up some very good points.

However, I tend to think that because your enemy is known to act a certain way and has been proven that they think in such terms because it's their culture to do so, saying that it was a mistake in accepting an armistice outright without much thought behind it isn't necessarily hindsight...it's critical thinking. At least it is such ONLY if one puts oneself into a position of "This could happen now" without thinking about it as if "This happened then". In that way, we have the ability to dodge hindsight.

Now, from your examples that you've pointed out, I see some similarities between Kilrathi warrior culture and 1940s Japanese warrior culture. Fight to the death. Surrender is akin to a dishonorable death...things of that nature.

So, when all signs prior to suing for peace point towards a warrior culture that will accept nothing less than your surrender...how is taking such an armistice seriously possible? That would be like saying the U.S. would have accepted a Japanese surrender after the Battle of Iwo Jima. There's no logical sense to it.

You know your enemy can (and most likely will) still fight. You know your enemy still hungers for the fight. You know they won't give up until one of you is dead.

So accepting an offer for peace quite frankly doesn't make sense when you think about it critically and not via hindsight. When your enemy does something that's so completely against their own grain, that's normally when you must be the most vigilant.

I also see a similarity in that the Japanese surrendered after horrible losses from Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the Kilrathi surrendered after suffering horrible losses from Kilrah going boom. In that context, accepting a surrender is perfectly logical. But accepting such a peace accord before an enemy that's made it their mission in life to either destroy or enslave you doesn't exactly mesh.

But that's just my way of thinking. :)
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
...But the US absolutely, most definitely would have accepted Japanese surrender after the battle of Iwo Jima :).

Besides, to continue with your logic - what reason could the US have had to accept Japanese surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki? It certainly would have been completely reasonable to expect the Japanese to continue to fight to the death, and the US certainly did - legend has it that the Purple Hearts given out to wounded US soldiers today were all forged in preparation for the invasion of Japan.
 

frostytheplebe

Seventh Part of the Seal
You know your enemy can (and most likely will) still fight. You know your enemy still hungers for the fight. You know they won't give up until one of you is dead.

So accepting an offer for peace quite frankly doesn't make sense when you think about it critically and not via hindsight. When your enemy does something that's so completely against their own grain, that's normally when you must be the most vigilant.
I think I'd rather prefer to leave modern war tactics =/= future war tactics out of the discussion. In this case I do not view them as relevant. That said, I agree with Tigerhawk's logic here. The Kilrathi have no word for surrender, and asking for an armistice is along the same lines. It should have popped into someones head like, "Wait a minute... Kilrathi do not surrender, nor do they co-exist... something isn't right here... HEY THEY AREN'T DISARMING!!! Time to go invade, and take them out."

But instead they cast this aside and continued to sue for peace. I think personally the Civilian government was either extremely ignorant and blind, or just completely unwilling to accept the truth, which in the end, cost the, greatly.\

legend has it that the Purple Hearts given out to wounded US soldiers today were all forged in preparation for the invasion of Japan.

I've heard that one myself. I don't knew whether its true or not, but its an interesting perspective.
 

Tigerhawk

Captain
...But the US absolutely, most definitely would have accepted Japanese surrender after the battle of Iwo Jima :).

Besides, to continue with your logic - what reason could the US have had to accept Japanese surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki? It certainly would have been completely reasonable to expect the Japanese to continue to fight to the death, and the US certainly did - legend has it that the Purple Hearts given out to wounded US soldiers today were all forged in preparation for the invasion of Japan.

Oh, well then...I stand corrected. :)

It would have been reasonable to accept that Japanese soldiers would die to defend their homeland...you're absolutely right. But the difference here, I think, is that prior to the A- and T-Bombs being dropped, both the Japanese and the Kilrathi had military strength with which to fight.

The U.S. didn't really kill Japan's naval and air arms until at and after the time from which the battle of Okinawa was fought, and Japan still had industrial capacity, diminishing as it was. I have a hard time believing Truman's military advisors would have urged him not to accept surrender unless they were sure that Japan couldn't fight any longer, much less that an invasion of Japan itself would have been horribly bloody. But by that time and at points after, Japan had next to no navy to speak of, highlighted with the sinking of the Yamato. And why invade an enemy homeland that can't engage you anymore when you can just plink away from the air? Even they knew when they were beaten...kamakaze attacks diminished to nearly nothing by near the end of the war, and the loss of life realized by the A-bombs would tell pretty much anyone with half a brain that they're licked when all evidence would likely point to suffering more of the same.

When the armistice was signed between Confed and the Kilrathi, Confed had no clue what Kilrathi military strength was, thus the military leaders (Tolwyn among them) urging the civilian leadership to decline the offer. That the Kilrathi had fleets with which to strike when the cease-fire was ordered is a clear signal that your enemy is, by far, very capable of fighting on...and if you have a navy, you most likely have marines. Saying, "Cool! We're at peace now!" when evidence that your enemy still poses a threat doesn't seem to make sense.

Sorry for getting a little long-winded. :)
 
Top