The nature and culture around the Kilrathi war(s)

MannerOfLoaf

Spaceman
Revisiting the Kilrathi Saga, I think the story had some interesting implications about the nature of the Kilrathi War - how it was fought and the things that would have kept it going for 35 years.

1 - In WC1 at the end of the Vega campaign Shotglass mentions watching Kilrathi POWs loaded onto transports where they'll be shipped back to Kilrah. This seems to imply a kind of formal or semi-formal prisoner exchange system that's been set up over the course of the war. It certainly makes a lot of sense to me - Confed and the Kilrathi seem to be the only 2 "big" powers in this region of space and Confed at least has at least one fairly wild, semi-autonomous frontier region in the Border Worlds. Trained personnel and equipment are expensive so I'd imagine it'd be in both sides interest to cycle prisoners between each other regularly to ensure that each side can keep control of their own domains. While it doesn't really square with the Kilrathi warrior ethic that brings me to my next question...

2 - How do the Kilrathi really feel about surrender or negotiation? Over the course of WC1 we see plenty Kilrathi troops with their hands in the air but by the time of the sequels and the novels that vanishes in favor of a warrior ethic that is comparable to the WW2 Imperial Japanese. Has something changed tactically during this time (maybe orbital bombardments became less effective or advances in surface-to-space weapons made it possible and desirable for planet-bound ground forces to fight as long as possible later in the war) or has there been a change in Kilrathi military culture? Which leads me to...

3 - How intense was the war prior to WC1? I've always been intrigued by the only early-war battle besides McAulliffe (and what we know about that is dubious, see below) - the Enyo Engagement. It seems so different from what I'd expect in the bitter and high-intensity war that is described over the course of the novels and games. Not only does hostage taking seem like an odd idea for the Kilrathi to have (unless earlier in the war they had different ideas about the status of prisoners and noncombatants of course) the whole character of it seems to be more of a large raid or even part of a private feud as opposed to a military campaign. This runs up against...

4 - How reliable is "Action Stations" in describing the start of the war? The description of an all-out Kilrathi blitzkrieg that seizes a large portion of the Confederation and brutalizes a large fraction of its citizens seems at odds with the conflict described above. In the author's forward he calls it a novel and differentiates it from a 'study of the beginning of the war' he is also writing. Moreover the author served with Admiral Tolwyn and certainly seems to think he was done dirty by the Confed establishment. Is this nothing more than some dubious piece of pro-Black Lance propaganda much like the defector Suvorov's "Icebreaker" or David Irving's "Hitler's War" - a pseudo-scholarly piece of propaganda intended to justify Tolwyn's horrific post-war crimes? Speaking of how Tolwyn was done dirty...

5 - Why did the Terran Confederation fall for the armistice offer (assuming of course that Fleet Action is reliable) considering that the Kilrathi had never before acted in good faith? There's a whole post I could write on this but I'm inclined to think that Confed also signed the agreement with the intention of launching a surprise attack on the Kilrathi as well. What mattered to Confed were the provisions that scrapped both fleets, since that would have meant that when the war restarted for the first time the human fleet would be at parity with Kilrah's (that is, zero ships on both sides). What doomed the Confed was not knowing about the Kilrathi's hidden shipyards and the many and major security lapses in their camp.
 

MannerOfLoaf

Spaceman
So to make sense of all of the above, here's my idea. The Kilrathi war wasn't WW2 in space for the most part, but a low-intensity conflict much more comparable to frontier America, the Ottoman-era Balkans, or the heroic age of Ancient Greece in space.

By "low-intensity" I mean that the war was characterized by limited military operations and maybe even private feuds or vendettas in addition to the "official" war between Confed and Kilrah. Over the years an elaborate code of conduct gradually comes into being to regulate the war and avoid undue damage to either side. Quite possibly trade, cultural exchanges, and diplomacy might have been conducted between the core worlds of each power even as soldiers and civilians fought it out on the frontier.

The conflict would have also been broken up by long periods of peace via regular or semi-regular armistaces where both sides rebuilt their strength, rested their forces, and attended to internal problems. Over time this would make the Confederation see Kilrah as a rational power who could be negotiated with in good faith.

The war was also characterized by major changes in Kilrathi society. For most of the war, I believe that the Kilrathi forces followed laws of war comparable to humans and have what we would consider a "normal" idea of when surrender is acceptable. Over time the Kilrathi military, and probably the whole society, was brutalized both to each other (Kilrathi soldiers may no longer surrender) and to the Terrans (Unseen Death, strontium-bombing Sirius). The tragedy of the False Armistice then is that Confed didn't pick up on this brutalization, rather than Forstchen's nasty "women, academics, and other untermenschen stabbed our near-victorious army in the back!" idea

Based on that, here's my chronology of the "real" war :D

2029-2034: First contact inaugurates a period of low-intensity warfare. A ship full of orphans is murdered 😢

2034: The McAullife ambush ends in a stalemate

2034-2049: Low-intensity war resumes, with the Enyo engagement and other similar battles

2049-2056: A Terran offensive leads to Custer's Carnival. The war becomes more intense before culminating in the Vega Campaign and Operation Thor's Hammer.

2056-2066: The war winds down during and after the Firekka campaign, once again becoming a low-intensity conflict

2066-2068: The Kilrathi offensive and defeat in Enigma, followed by Confed's disastrous year prior to Vukar, to the Confed offensive culminating at Munroe. This is when the "real" war begins, where all the resources of the Terran Confederation and Empire of Kilrah are brought to bear against each other.

2068-2069: The False Armistace and Battle of Earth, followed by Operation Unseen Death, Behemoth Offensive, Battle of Freya, destruction of Kilrah. The war continues to intensify and is marked by an escalating series of atrocities.

What do you all think? The Kilrathi war is fought 600 years in the future over a scope far larger than any historical conflict. What could it have looked like? How was it fought?
 
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EmuMusicFan

Ensign, 2nd Class
4 - How reliable is "Action Stations" in describing the start of the war? The description of an all-out Kilrathi blitzkrieg that seizes a large portion of the Confederation and brutalizes a large fraction of its citizens seems at odds with the conflict described above. In the author's forward he calls it a novel and differentiates it from a 'study of the beginning of the war' he is also writing. Moreover the author served with Admiral Tolwyn and certainly seems to think he was done dirty by the Confed establishment.
Well, first of all, Col. Wilhelm Schwarzmont stated that he had only worked briefly under Tolwyn:

This author briefly served on Admiral Tolwyn’s staff during the Earth Defense Campaign, and I can attest to the fanatical devotion of nearly everyone who served under him.
Action Stations, FOREWORD

Plus he's still a colonel of Department of Military History of Confederation Fleet Academy, I guess it is highly unlikely that he ever belonged to Black Lance.

And, There is at least no literally attitude problem with the author's words:

Unfortunately, his subsequent political actions will forever place his name in the ranks of the dishonored. One must go far back in history, to Alcibiades during the Peloponnesian Wars, Benedict Arnold in the War of American Independence, or Sun Wan Lu in the Faraday Rebellion, to find a military leader so gifted, and yet so controversial and doomed by his own brilliance to a final, irrevocable downfall.
Action Stations, FOREWORD

Some related discussions are also present in WC4 novel.

Secondly, as for the number of casualties in the whole war, different sources have different accounts. So for now, let's look at what's written in Action Stations:

... a war that claimed more than thirty billion lives on both sides.

Yes, we have lost a hundred and fifty-three systems, thirty percent of our industrial capacity, nearly forty percent of key strategic resources and the shocking number of twenty-eight billion citizens who are now behind enemy lines and condemned to slavery or death.

Action Stations, CHAPTER FIFTEEN

This may indicate that most of the people on the occupied Confederation worlds in the early period were just temporarily imprisoned or enslaved. As the war entered a stalemate, many of the occupied worlds were recaptured by Confederation and the people on them were liberated.



How do the Kilrathi really feel about surrender or negotiation?

A roar of disbelief thundered from all the clan leaders.
Fleet Action, PROLOGUE

Pay attention to the reactions of these clan leaders. They were shocked and outraged by the peace talk. It seemed as if the Kilrathi culture did not accept negotiation and surrender?

But note one thing: this feudal empire was the result of a compromise of many different factions. This in itself showed that they could negotiate and compromise.

"Va ka garga ka naru ha garga." The Crown Prince intoned, matching Gilkarg's mastery of the ceremonial dialect of court, "Those not of the blood must have their blood spilt. "
Action Stations, CHAPTER ONE

Prior to the conflict with humans, Kilrathi had not been systematically defeated by another species in their history. So this allusion may reflect an ego brought about by centuries of smooth interstellar expansion in history. But:

A foe worthy of respect, an intellect as good as our own.
Action Stations, CHAPTER FIVE
And:

You became the equal of any Kilrathi, enough that you were honored by our people as much as by yours. Your hero-name reflected that honor.
The Price of Freedom, CHAPTER EIGHT

So:

We are surrendering to you, Heart of the Tiger. It is an action unlike any we have ever taken - - but it is time the Kilrathi find new ways.
Wing Commander III, Winning Endgame
What conclusion could be made from the tips above? Could it be like this: They traditionally believe that it is acceptable to negotiate within the same hierarchy.

As for surrender, it's likely that they were enslaved to each other before the interstellar expansion. With the technology of interstellar travel, their slavery shifted to enslaving other species. So, I guess, many Kilrathi were worried about whether humans would treat them with slavery after surrendering. Of course, Melek understands very well that humans as a whole don't do that.

As for the Kilrathi surrendered in the course of the war, it is easy to understood since Kilrathi is NOT ONE person, they are billions or trillions of people belongs to different factions. There were tough Marines even early in the McAuliffe Ambush:

"Still mopping up some pockets," Ulandi said. "Got to admit, those bastards are tough. No surrender."
Action Stations, CHAPTER FIFTEEN
And as we know, in 2669, Kilrathi as a whole formly surrendered to Terran Confederation and Allies, after the fallen of the Kiranka dynasty as well as the Empire of Kilrah.

"Friends . . ." Melek seemed to ponder the idea. "Perhaps it is possible. Will you carry our offer to your superiors? To help us put an end to the fighting?"
Heart of the Tiger, CHAPTER XXX
In short, it's better to be pragmatic.





 
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MannerOfLoaf

Spaceman
Well, first of all, Col. Wilhelm Schwarzmont stated that he had only worked briefly under Tolwyn:

This author briefly served on Admiral Tolwyn’s staff during the Earth Defense Campaign, and I can attest to the fanatical devotion of nearly everyone who served under him.
Action Stations, FOREWORD

Plus he's still a colonel of Department of Military History of Confederation Fleet Academy, I guess it is highly unlikely that he ever belonged to Black Lance.

And, There is at least no literally attitude problem with the author's words:

Unfortunately, his subsequent political actions will forever place his name in the ranks of the dishonored. One must go far back in history, to Alcibiades during the Peloponnesian Wars, Benedict Arnold in the War of American Independence, or Sun Wan Lu in the Faraday Rebellion, to find a military leader so gifted, and yet so controversial and doomed by his own brilliance to a final, irrevocable downfall.
Action Stations, FOREWORD

That's true - I think what's giving me the hardest time is that the Colonel is writing 2 books, the scholarly work about the beginning of the war (and man I would have loved to see something like that published!) and Action Stations which he explicitly described as a novel. From that I assumed that "real" history was going to be taking a back seat to the needs of the novel.

That's true, I was originally thinking that if not an actual Black Lance agent the Colonel might have been sympathetic to their goals due to the Nephilim War but looking at the foreward again it looks like he was writing this in 2677, before that broke out. Darn you for making me do some research :D

Some related discussions are also present in WC4 novel.

Secondly, as for the number of casualties in the whole war, different sources have different accounts. So for now, let's look at what's written in Action Stations:

... a war that claimed more than thirty billion lives on both sides.

Yes, we have lost a hundred and fifty-three systems, thirty percent of our industrial capacity, nearly forty percent of key strategic resources and the shocking number of twenty-eight billion citizens who are now behind enemy lines and condemned to slavery or death.

Action Stations, CHAPTER FIFTEEN

This may indicate that most of the people on the occupied Confederation worlds in the early period were just temporarily imprisoned or enslaved. As the war entered a stalemate, many of the occupied worlds were recaptured by Confederation and the people on them were liberated.

A Kilrathi reverse early in the war that liberates a lot of those worlds is logical enough yes, but I'm having trouble squaring that with the situation that Confed is in at the end of the Novel. Kind of like at the end of Fleet Action:

  1. Confed has lost much of its fleet combined with losing the resources needed to build and service a fleet
  2. Confed lost many many trained personnel at all levels
  3. There doesn't seem to be a great deal of buffer between the edge of the Kilrathi advance and Earth and the other core worlds
  4. Most of the military and political leadership of Confed has been revealed to have been deeply, deeply incompetent (if not actively treasonous like Fleet Action)
I can't imagine a situation after a series of those events where Confed can even stay in the war, much less launch a counter-offensive. The closest "historical" parallel that would come close to such an event I can see is the French victory at the Marne in 1914 but even then the result of that was stopping the German advance, not the liberation of previously-conquered territory.

A roar of disbelief thundered from all the clan leaders.
Fleet Action, PROLOGUE

Pay attention to the reactions of these clan leaders. They were shocked and outraged by the peace talk. It seemed as if the Kilrathi culture did not accept negotiation and surrender?

But note one thing: this feudal empire was the result of a compromise of many different factions. This in itself showed that they could negotiate and compromise.

"Va ka garga ka naru ha garga." The Crown Prince intoned, matching Gilkarg's mastery of the ceremonial dialect of court, "Those not of the blood must have their blood spilt. "
Action Stations, CHAPTER ONE

Prior to the conflict with humans, Kilrathi had not been systematically defeated by another species in their history. So this allusion may reflect an ego brought about by centuries of smooth interstellar expansion in history. But:

A foe worthy of respect, an intellect as good as our own.
Action Stations, CHAPTER FIVE

That's true - now that you mention it it occurs to me that the Kilrathi surrenders we see in the WC1 cutscenes seem to be whole units. As in, presumably the commander negotiated the surrender of his entire unit which was then marched into activity in an orderly fashion. Individual Kilrathi soldiers might have felt compelled to fight to the death as they had at McAulliffe when they were no longer in contact with their chain of command.

And:

You became the equal of any Kilrathi, enough that you were honored by our people as much as by yours. Your hero-name reflected that honor.
The Price of Freedom, CHAPTER EIGHT

So:

We are surrendering to you, Heart of the Tiger. It is an action unlike any we have ever taken - - but it is time the Kilrathi find new ways.
Wing Commander III, Winning Endgame
What conclusion could be made from the tips above? Could it be like this: They traditionally believe that it is acceptable to negotiate within the same hierarchy.

As for surrender, it's likely that they were enslaved to each other before the interstellar expansion. With the technology of interstellar travel, their slavery shifted to enslaving other species. So, I guess, many Kilrathi were worried about whether humans would treat them with slavery after surrendering. Of course, Melek understands very well that humans as a whole don't do that.

As for the Kilrathi surrendered in the course of the war, it is easy to understood since Kilrathi is NOT ONE person, they are billions or trillions of people belongs to different factions. There were tough Marines even early in the McAuliffe Ambush:

"Still mopping up some pockets," Ulandi said. "Got to admit, those bastards are tough. No surrender."
Action Stations, CHAPTER FIFTEEN
And as we know, in 2669, Kilrathi as a whole formly surrendered to Terran Confederation and Allies, after the fallen of the Kiranka dynasty as well as the Empire of Kilrah.

"Friends . . ." Melek seemed to ponder the idea. "Perhaps it is possible. Will you carry our offer to your superiors? To help us put an end to the fighting?"
Heart of the Tiger, CHAPTER XXX
In short, it's better to be pragmatic.






That's true, the Kilrathi are not a single entity and there are presumably lots and lots of different viewpoints and factions within the empire. The trouble though is that by the tail end of the war (the period covered by the books and WC2-3) they seem to operate with a scary level of single-mindedness and coordination. For example:
  1. The empire is able to transfer a large percentage of their shipbuilding infrastructure a significant distance away from the traditional base at Kilrah, over into Hari space without leaking any information to Confed or it seems any real loss in efficiency (the start of Fleet Action mentions that Project Hari started 6 years prior to the completion of the first group of Hakagas, only a year longer than the 5 years Confed needs to build a carrier in an existing shipyard!). This is despite the low esteem that support personnel are held in.
  2. The False Armistace and Operation Unseen Death. The Kilrathi Empire is a feudal society, which I presume will mean a lot of duplication of effort and infighting as different factions vie for favor and plot against their superiors. In addition Kilrathi religious beliefs are all about victory in a stand-up fight (notice the reaction of the Kilrathi lords at the start of Fleet Action when Confed attacks on rear areas are mentioned). Both these operations are large, complex, and violate this warrior ethic, yet both not only go off, but without any leaks and catch Confed by suprise.
I think the best way to account for this behavior is that not only was political control increasingly centralized under the Emperor and Thrakhath over the course of the 40 year war, leading to only the trappings of feudalism being left, but also that the Kilrathi leaders were brutalized and deranged over the course of the war, with the Kilrathi warrior code that existed at the beginning of the war being completely unrecognizable at the end.

I think there's a good parallel here with the Imperial Japanese forces in the 20th century. During the Boxer Rebellion, Russo-Japanese War, and WW1 the Japanese soldier was renowned for his restraint and chivalry in battle. This warrior code mutated horrifically over the 20s and 30s though, leading to the atrocities of WW2. I think it's possible to read something similar happening with the Kilrathi over the course of the war.

In this case I see Melek's reaction at the end of WC3 to basically be the result of trauma. His world has been shattered and he's reaching back to dimly-remembered ideas of chivalry and honor from his childhood (I'd assume in the early days of the war).

His dialogue doesn't sound ambiguous I admit ("It is an action unlike any we have ever taken") but again that might just be the trauma talking.

Thanks for indulging me btw - most people look at me funny when I try to explain my theories about the Kilrathi War in real life :)
 

EmuMusicFan

Ensign, 2nd Class
I can't imagine a situation after a series of those events where Confed can even stay in the war, much less launch a counter-offensive.

I didn't learn history well enough, and this aspect may not be at the level of discussion. But one thing I have noticed is that Crown Prince Gilkarg's blitzkrieg plan actually failed, whereas in the last war of invasion of the Varni, the Empire completely conquered Varni Republic in a few months. My speculation, then, is that for a long time, Kilrathi's interstellar expansion was mostly advanced in a blitzkrieg mode, with only inter-clan civil wars being long-term wars, so they might habitually adopt some of the tactics of inter-clan civil wars, such as giving up control of some regions, after realizing at the beginning of the war that it would not end soon. And the resource reserves on the part of the Confederation were actually relatively abundant, and I think at least the solar system belongs to the core of the Confederation, rather than being the last place strategically and geographically. So the Confederation was still able to organize the next counterattack after losing a large number of worlds bordering Empire.

"We have learned this, at least," Vakka finally replied. "If they have an advantage it is in their depth, their web of alliances with half a dozen races, the sheer number of worlds they have colonized. Such a depth of organization could be of infinite help if the challenge from within the core is to one day be met. We lack that depth. We annihilate or enslave everyone on the worlds we take."

Action Stations, CHAPTER ONE

As in, presumably the commander negotiated the surrender of his entire unit which was then marched into activity in an orderly fashion. Individual Kilrathi soldiers might have felt compelled to fight to the death as they had at McAulliffe when they were no longer in contact with their chain of command.

I think there may be more to analyze here.

For a soldier of the Kilrah Empire, what was honor? Action Stations has actually mentioned that honor was actually a social resource that was used in exchange for social status and survival resources.

"It is time to grow up!" Vakka snarled. "It is time to put away your childish dreams of how the universe should be, and accept the truth behind it all. Everything is power, that is the goal. Glory is but a tool to trick others to give power to those who rule.

"Once there was the glory of the hunt and those who returned with red talons were acknowledged and glorified for feeding the clans. But now? If you should fight in this attack and destroy a Confederation ship, what does it bring you?"

Jukaga looked at him, unable to reply.

"What is glory then? You destroy a ship, but it will be the Emperor's power which grows, not yours. Oh, you will be praised, you will wear new baubles, concubines will come to you willingly. But as for power? We, the heads of the clans, will receive new worlds as our bribes and new wealth as payment. But when one owns entire worlds already, what is one more? Only the Emperor will grow stronger and chances are you will die for nothing in this fight."


Action Stations, CHAPTER SEVEN
It is clear that while young Jukaga didn't quite understand, middle-aged Jukaga of the End Run and Fleet Action era fully understood what his father was telling him.

This paragraph is one of my favorite parts of Action Stations.

This set of values and the rewards and punishments behind them were generally solid in the early days of the war, but I think it highly likely took a considerable hit as the war entered its duration.

The trouble though is that by the tail end of the war (the period covered by the books and WC2-3) they seem to operate with a scary level of single-mindedness and coordination. For example:
  1. The empire is able to transfer a large percentage of their shipbuilding infrastructure a significant distance away from the traditional base at Kilrah, over into Hari space without leaking any information to Confed or it seems any real loss in efficiency (the start of Fleet Action mentions that Project Hari started 6 years prior to the completion of the first group of Hakagas, only a year longer than the 5 years Confed needs to build a carrier in an existing shipyard!). This is despite the low esteem that support personnel are held in.

Let's not discuss whether this episode is very rigorous or not. As I remember, Project Hari was a top secret plan of the emperor's family. Most of the other clan leaders knew nothing about it until the beginning of Fleet Action. So it was not so strange that Confederation had no report.

Now the question is:
what is the true state of mind of the lords who were showing their anger at the "dishonorable" plan.

At that time the strategic situation was already dangerous for the Empire. Under this premise, which was more cost-effective, temporary dishonor or being defeated? As for the so-called dishonor, it was not really important anymore, as long as someone would take the blame in the future.

I think the best way to account for this behavior is that not only was political control increasingly centralized under the Emperor and Thrakhath over the course of the 40 year war, leading to only the trappings of feudalism being left, but also that the Kilrathi leaders were brutalized and deranged over the course of the war, with the Kilrathi warrior code that existed at the beginning of the war being completely unrecognizable at the end.

I agree with half of your judgment. The emperor used the war to collect power into his own hands and wanted to convert the feudal empire into a single centralized empire. This one may be one of the essential attributes of the Kilrah Empire - Terran Confederation war. Project Hari was a tip of an iceberg. I think it is conceivable that if Hari's plan succeeded as the emperor's family envisioned, the other clans would no longer have the strength to check and balance with the emperor.

However, this does not mean that the previous Kilrah Empire did not have those problems, just that victory after victory masked those problems.

There are relatively few settings available on the history of Kilrathi, but here are a few small tips:

He had left his oldest friend, Harga, in charge. It was the type of task to Harga's liking. A strange one, war had lost its appeal for him. Perhaps he had seen too much at the Battle of Karing, with the death of all his own cubs; it was after Karing that the questioning had begun. And it was through Harga that the warnings had come. Bizarre how the old warrior now claimed friendship with one of the captives, but Vakka had to admit he could not help but admire the human as well.

Action Stations, CHAPTER FOUR

I think this shows that even in the seemingly smooth process of conquest, there were too much of "not-so-idealism".

"Precisely why we must fight the Confederation now," the Crown Prince said, staring at Vakka and speaking as if explaining the simplest of things to a cub. "Each war sharpens our talons. Each war requires us to improve our weapons and take as well the secrets of our enemies. Remember, it was the foolish Shata who came to us peacefully, and revealed to us the secret of the jump points and how to use them. And once we took that secret, we slaughtered the fools who bore it to us as we would slaughter any prey."

Action Stations, CHAPTER ONE

I don't think this was something aboveboard.

"The attack will be preceded by two light smuggler-type craft. The Confederation keeps a frigate on picket duty in front of the jump point into McAuliffe. We will simulate a hot pursuit of the smuggler craft as they jump into the demilitarized zone and then break off the chase. The smugglers will then approach the frigate and allow themselves to be overhauled and boarded for inspection."

Action Stations, CHAPTER FOUR

Disguised as a civilian vessel to sneak up on the other side, this was not a decent strategy either.

Also, note that there was no official declaration of war from the Empire side throughout the Kilrathi-Terran War. It was started by an undeclared sneak attack.

Tolwyn: We weren’t ‘officially’ at war with the Kilrathi either, but there were two sides.

Wing Commander IV, Peleus System

And there is a discussion here about the nature of ambush.

"No. It is more. For if you do not overpower your prey with the first strike, if you don't break its neck or back to render it defenseless, it will thrash about. Even as it dies it will flay at you out of sheer terror. It then becomes dangerous, perhaps even killing you.

Action Stations, CHAPTER FIVE

Fearlessness, to a considerable extent, was not a principle. It is the pathway, not the goal.

Perhaps, someone would argue it is because they once thought the war against humans was a predation. But there was something else:

It was evident that the Emperor wanted a good killing off of those who were the best of the young heirs to the control of the clans. Well, this one he would not get.

Action Stations, CHAPTER SEVEN


I think it was not the war that has eroded Kilrathi mind, but the war that has exposed their problems that had been masked for a long time. As a "Firekkan", I am cautious about discussing real world history, so I don't think it is appropriate for me to comment more on the real world history topic you mentoned above.

In this case I see Melek's reaction at the end of WC3 to basically be the result of trauma. His world has been shattered and he's reaching back to dimly-remembered ideas of chivalry and honor from his childhood (I'd assume in the early days of the war).

Well, such reasons could certainly exist, but I think it's important to first consider that Melek is a fairly rational and pragmatic clan leader.

Melek began to wish he had never accepted the post as Thrakhath's chee'dyachee. As senior vassal and retainer to the Crown Prince, he wielded great power and commanded much influence . . . and was perfectly placed to watch the Imperial family in the interests of his own Clan. But it was a precarious perch at best, given the Prince's temper, and sometimes it was difficult to restrain himself from voicing the doubts he could not put aside.

Heart of the Tiger, CHAPTER XIX
I think the emperor's family understood such a thing at the time, they were just using each other.

Thrakhath gave him a dismissive gesture. "I expected none," he said, not bothering to hide the angry growl in his voice. "See to it there are no apes left alive once their base has been secured."
"But, Lord Prince, there will be many suitable slaves there." Melek looked shocked. "Surely you would not deny the Clans their right to take back captives—"
"No survivors, I said!" Thrakhath snapped.
Melek stepped back as if physically stricken. "As you wish, Lord Prince," he said, bowing again.


Heart of the Tiger, CHAPTER XXI
"Yes, Lord Prince," Melek agreed. Behind his mask, he allowed himself a moment's impatience. As the plan unfolded, the Prince was becoming increasingly filled with a sense of his own self-importance. The arrogance of the Imperial Family was one of the major sources of disaffection among the great nobles of the realm, and Melek was finding it difficult to maintain his pose of sycophancy as Thrakhath's posturing grew more blatant. "It seems we will indeed have a battle here, and soon."

Heart of the Tiger, CHAPTER XXV

This kind of things showed that the foundation of the relationship was no longer solid.

And finally:

"And what is the Race without the Homeworld?" Melek asked. "Nothing . . . dust in the wind." He paused. "You have defeated us, Heart of the Tiger. Brought down the Empire with one blow. Thrakhath was a fool to discount what you Terrans could achieve, but he and his accursed grandfather have both paid the price for that folly."

Heart of the Tiger, CHAPTER XXX
Melek stepped down from the dais, his face only inches from Blair's. "With the Homeworld gone and the Emperor dead, the rest of the Empire will fall apart. There will be civil war, factions fighting for power, subject races throwing off our rule. Chaos. And enemies waiting to exploit our weakness . . ." He lowered his voice, until Blair had to strain to hear the words. "Perhaps the only hope for either of our races is to face the future together. The Kilrathi Race has become too corrupt, slaves to blood lust and the evils brought by too much power. We have paid a heavy price . . ."

Heart of the Tiger, CHAPTER XXX

Melek's plot in WC4 game is a bit different from that of the novel, but my understanding is that Melek knows exactly what to say is correct in front of different people. On his own ship, he treated Blair the same way he treats his heroes in Kilrathi. I certainly don't think Blair liked it too much, but it was important to Melek that he accepted it.

"You have helped my hrai find the true way, the honorable way. The taint at our core had to be cleansed in blood. Kilrah had to die for Kilrathi to live. Sivar smiles on us again."

The Price of Freedom, CHAPTER EIGHT
Many Kilrathi need a reason to accept that they had lost the war with the humans, and Melek gives them that explanation.

Melek: My only regret is the circumstances that now bring us together. Since my personal surrender to you, Colonel, we Kilrathi have tried to co-exist peacefully with Terrans.
...
Maverick: We’ll be jumping to Pasqual soon. You should be safe there.
Melek: As you know, Colonel, we Kilrathi dismantled all of our warships under the terms of our treaty with the Confederation. Thus, we have no means of defending ourselves.
Maverick: We’ll get you home, Melek.
Melek: But why is a new war waged upon us? My race no longer presents a threat. What happened to the Terran concept of absolution?
Maverick: It’s still alive… in most of us.
Melek: Forgive me, Colonel. I am railing at the man who I should be thanking. I wish I could properly express my gratitude for your assistance here.
Maverick: Consider it pay-back.
Melek: What is this word… “pay-back”?
Maverick: Well, you may recall that a few years ago you had the chance to kill me, and didn’t.
Melek: It’s a decision I do not regret.
Maverick: Me either.


Wing Commander IV, Orestes and Pasqual Systems
You could notice Blair and Sosa talking to Melek in a friendly manner more than once after that, and they both patted Melek on the arm. Melek showed pleasure about this.

I think Melek is a politician who is very aware of the reality of this universe.

Thanks for indulging me btw - most people look at me funny when I try to explain my theories about the Kilrathi War in real life :)

It is my pleasure! And I would like invite you to take a look at my semi-fanfic visual novel on such topics.
 
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EmuMusicFan

Ensign, 2nd Class
One question comes to my mind.

How should the event of "False Armistice - Battle of Earth" be interpreted from Kilrathi's perspect of view? Analysis from the substance, not the propaganda of the Empire, haha.
 

MannerOfLoaf

Spaceman
It is my pleasure! And I would like invite you to take a look at my semi-fanfic visual novel on such topics.

Oh yeah I just finished week 3 of dorothy's diary and am enjoying it a great deal - I love the idea of any kind of look at the wing commander universe's civvy street.
 

EmuMusicFan

Ensign, 2nd Class
Well, could you guess what the story behind the story of Dorothy’s diary is?

This story is based on another WC parallel universe fanfiction, but you can read my article directly, just remember that it is different from the official universe stories, and it is based on an absurd comedy background. However, behind those funny settings, I am still trying to discuss some more serious topics.

What Dorothy the young girl saw is more or less different from what actually happened.
 
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