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Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)

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Re: Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)
Post by drothgery   » Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:32 pm

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runsforcelery wrote:Except that there was "nothing new here, move along" from the Solly perspective. Missile pods had been used as area defense weapons in star systems for centuries. The only novel aspect of it (from the perspective of a Solly reading reports over his morning croissant and cup of coffee) was that the poor, pathetic Peep neobarbs were stupid enough to sail into reach of such an obsolescent weapon. Tsk-tsk! No Solarian officer would be stupid enough to do that!

The poor, pathetic Peeps with an active fleet a quarter of the size of the SLN (and with more modern warship designs, if less advanced basic tech) who had been conquering everyone in sight of them for half a century? The ones with lots of combat experience? Those guys?

Honestly, there's no way I'd be able to accept the SLN's degree of cluelessness about Haven Sector tech or their complacency about potential enemies if it hadn't been made clear that SLN Intel was massively penetrated by Alignment moles and pawns. Manticore wasn't some remote system in the middle of nowhere; it was practically their next door neighbor via Beowulf and some huge percentage of their trade went through there. Haven was playing conquistidor on most of humanity outside the League and was on a path that would have made conflict with the League all but inevitable if Manticore or the Andermani didn't stop them. And honestly it couldn't have looked like either was going to be able to before the first war started.
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Re: Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)
Post by kzt   » Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:49 pm

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runsforcelery wrote:
Nothing guarantees that just because someone is really smart and thinks about something really hard he's going to draw the correct conclusion.

Of course, in the Sollies' case (to bring this back to the Honorverse) the real root of the problems is that aside from a handful of people like al-Fanudhi (and Governor Barregos) none of the smart people had even glanced in the right direction to begin with. :roll:

What I’m trying ineptly to to convey is that you can see how it works and manage to draw the wrong conclusions. The way the armies were armed, for example. Without digging deeper than I have time for I can’t check, but I think only the Germans had even vaguely adaquite number of machine guns (at least machineguns that worked...), and they added a lot more in short order.

Then when it did turn into 700 miles of trench they didn’t skip all the failed Japanese tactics that they had seen and instead tried other approaches. But no, they just shouted different slogans as they charged into dug in machine guns behind barbed wire and died by the thousands. Baa. Baa.

So even if there were observers they can manage to write off what they saw as somehow a special case that really didn’t apply to them and then repeat all the same errors.
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Re: Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)
Post by runsforcelery   » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:08 am

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drothgery wrote:
runsforcelery wrote:Except that there was "nothing new here, move along" from the Solly perspective. Missile pods had been used as area defense weapons in star systems for centuries. The only novel aspect of it (from the perspective of a Solly reading reports over his morning croissant and cup of coffee) was that the poor, pathetic Peep neobarbs were stupid enough to sail into reach of such an obsolescent weapon. Tsk-tsk! No Solarian officer would be stupid enough to do that!


The poor, pathetic Peeps with an active fleet a quarter of the size of the SLN (and with more modern warship designs, if less advanced basic tech) who had been conquering everyone in sight of them for half a century? The ones with lots of combat experience? Those guys?

Honestly, there's no way I'd be able to accept the SLN's degree of cluelessness about Haven Sector tech or their complacency about potential enemies if it hadn't been made clear that SLN Intel was massively penetrated by Alignment moles and pawns. Manticore wasn't some remote system in the middle of nowhere; it was practically their next door neighbor via Beowulf and some huge percentage of their trade went through there. Haven was playing conquistidor on most of humanity outside the League and was on a path that would have made conflict with the League all but inevitable if Manticore or the Andermani didn't stop them. And honestly it couldn't have looked like either was going to be able to before the first war started.


Actually, a point I probably didn't make sufficiently clear, is that while it is true Alignment moles were working on keeping the blinkers on, don't forget that even after the war against Manticore began, the SLN had a very good eye inside the Peoples Navy. The League was the Peeps's primary technological enabler — remember the sensor platforms it provided for the PN before Hancock Station? — and ONI knew the People's Republic's infrastructure was crumbling, its economy was in serious trouble, its education system was was second rate (at best) and headed south from there, and that its general technical competence was such that it had officers performing routine maintenance instead of NCOs. Yes, it had a big fleet. No, its designs were not "more modern" than those of the SLN, and "big" is a purely relative term. The PN had 460 superdreadnoughts and dreadnoughts; the SLN had 10,000, including the Reserve. Much of the Reserve would have required significant refits, and its active strength in that class was "only" a couple of thousand, which means that it matched the PN at around 4.4-to-1 in active ships-of-the-wall which were arguably better armed and have the advantage of Made in the League™ going for them in any weighted analysis ONI might have made. Then there was the fact that the PN had 300 or 400 battleships. Battleships, for God's sake! How could any Solarian admiral, serving in a fleet that hadn't built anything as useless as battleships in the last couple of centuries, take that seriously? And then there was the fact that Frontier Fleet (which, as everyone knew, was Battle Fleet's half-witted sibling), out-massed the entire Peoples Navy by a factor of somewhere around 6-to-1. Given those tonnage imbalances, the Solarian League wasn't at all worried about what the Peeps might get up to any more than the USN worried about a war with Brazil in 1935. Whatever the Peeps might be up to, it couldn't possibly be a threat to the League's fundamental security. Especially since, as I say, right up until the moment that the Peeps effectively chucked them out under the Committee, League armament manufacturers offering derated "export" war-fighting technology were considered essential suppliers by the Peoples Navy. So the Sollies "knew" that the Peeps' cutting edge technology was their export-version hardware and that Peep technicians were hard-pressed just to keep it serviceable. Which said even more horrendous things about the capabilities of the other neobarbs the Peeps had been busy conquering, since they had to be even less competent than the Peeps were. Their attitude towards the People's Republic was actually fairly similar (although for different reasons) to Western Europe's attitude towards imperial China, except that Haven was far enough away that it was on the other side of the goodies OFS was sweeping up in the Protectorates so no one in the League was trying to carve out any imperial territories or concessions in the Haven Sector.

If the Peeps were 19th-century imperial China, then as far as the Sollies were concerned the Manties were probably early twentieth century imperial Japan leavened with a little of the British attitude towards the American colonies between the American Revolution and about 1840. The Manties were a significant maritime power, much as the United States' merchant marine was prior to the Civil War, with the significant difference that the Manties' merchant fleet was essential to its fundamental economic health because it wasn't busy expanding across a continent. Yes, they were only a week or 10 days away from the Sol System via the Beowulf Terminus, but despite the fact that their merchant ships seemed to be everywhere, sticking their noses in to everyone's business in the League, their warships were very seldom seen in Solly space. They were places like Silesia, or increasingly deployed to keep an eye on the Peeps, so the Solarians didn't really see that much of them. It's worth bearing in mind that Manticore's degree of domination in the Solarian League's carrying trade was a relatively new phenomenon which had not yet reached its peak at the time the war with Haven went hot. The degree to which Manticoran-registered hulls had been displacing Solarian-registered hulls wasn't fully appreciated even by the SLN in the years leading up to Hancock Station and Second Yeltsin, and it was vastly accelerated once hostilities began because of the "discriminatory" rates Manticore charged non-Manticoran ships transiting the Manticoran Wormhole Junction. It was financial pressure, as much as anything else (and coupled with a deliberate Crown policy of supporting the acquisition of more and more of the Solarian carrying trade), which created the League's dependency on Manticoran shipping.

The Sollies, and especially the less bigoted of Frontier Fleet's officers, had considerable respect for the RMN as a commerce protection force and obviously the Manties had acquired a lot of experience in single ship and even small squadron-level operations in Silesia, although the opposition there had been distinctly third class, at best. Arguably, however, the RMN had never fought an actual war in its entire history. Edward Saganami had been a long time ago, the heaviest unit the Manties had ever committed to actual combat Silesia had been a handful of battleships, hundreds of years ago, and don't forget how hard Roger Winton had to fight to begin the build up of a true war of battle. For that matter, his arguments in the RMN's Proceedings were public record and he was heir to the throne, so if he couldn't shift the needle towards a more powerful wall, who the hell could? Against that historic background and the pre-Roger resistance to building superdreadnoughts, it seemed reasonable to assume that Manticore' war-fighting doctrine as opposed to its piracy suppression doctrine was . . . underdeveloped. Moreover, there was a tendency to evaluate Manticore through a Peep lens. Manticore was the other side of the cold war with Haven, and it was therefore reasonable to assume that Manticoran and Havenite war-fighting technologies were roughly comparable. And since they had a good feel for the limitations of the Peeps' war-fighting capabilities, they could extrapolate that even if Manticore was 20 or 30% better, it remained significantly inferior to the SLN in terms of its individual units' capabilities, and prewar, its wall of battle was almost 40% smaller than even the People's Republic's. It didn't even have Haven's backlog of battleships!

And let me just add here in the Sollies' defense that there were 2 other factors involved in their misjudgment of Manticoran capabilities. One was that the Legislaturalists (although not the Committee after it came to power) had been sharing their estimates of Manticoran capabilities with their Solarian suppliers. This meant that the Sollies' ONI thought it had good intel on the Manties, because who should know Manticoran capabilities better than the people they'd been getting ready to fight for the last half century or so? The second factor was that King Roger, and later Queen Elizabeth, and their advisors and Admiralty, had managed to completely conceal Gram and their new weapons' developments from the Peeps, which meant, in turn, that they'd been concealed from the Sollies. Manticoran security on the new systems was good. You can think of it as the equivalent of Japan and the Long Lance torpedo on steroids. Very few Manticoran officers knew about King Roger's "skunk works" or what sort of technology was gestating there. And until the multidrive missile came along, there was nothing about Manticoran ship design that suggested any radical shifts in the war-fighting paradigm to an outside observer.

So what I'm saying here is that the degree to which the Solarian League "ignored" the neobarbs of the Haven Sector and persistently dismissed all the claims about new weapons was at least partly because they hadn't "ignored" the Haven Sector in the decades leading up to Hancock Station. Indeed, they'd thought they were thoroughly tapped in, and they completely missed the way in which Pierre and Saint-Just's brutal methodologies shattered and then began rebuilding the People's Republic into a far more capable and dangerous creature. As far as the Manties were concerned, the SLN recognized that Manticoran war-fighting technology was at least as good and probably marginally better than the Peeps', but that was still far short of anything the League possessed. And, finally, they didn't know the degree to which the fleets on both side had expanded once the shooting began and their analysts (partly because of Alignment influence, but mostly because of ingrained trains of thought) persistently downplayed the reported sizes of the clashing fleets and the level of losses. They believed — and reported up the chain — that both sides were inflating the other side's losses, and so they routinely cut reported tonnages and hull numbers by at least a third.

And all of this combined is why Daud al-Fanudahi found it practically impossible to get any of his superiors who weren't being influenced by the Alignment to take his "wildly alarmist" reports seriously. There were 40 or 50 years of reports and analyses indicating that nothing in the Haven Sector could pose any sort of existential threat to the League, and chipping away at that kind of assurance takes time unless there is a radical change in the upper echelons. Like, say, having Kingsford become CNO.

And as a final thought, let me point out that in many ways, even the Grand Alliance didn't represent an existential threat to the League, when you come down to it. Yes, there was a point in time at which the Grand Alliance could devastate any military force it encountered. But in realistic terms, the combined forces of the Star Empire and the Republic of Haven were hopelessly inadequate when it came to thoughts of occupying and controlling something the size of the League. That was the very reason that Honor and most of Elizabeth's other advisors were so adamant that they needed to avoid a situation which left the League intact and revanchist if they possibly could. What the Grand Alliance did pose an existential threat to was the corrupt, bureaucratic, regulatory system which allowed the Mandarins to exercise power unfettered by political oversight. And that was the true reason the Mandarins couldn't seem to find a handle on any sort of negotiated settlement short of Manticoran surrender. They recognized the threat to their power and got themselves in too deep to extricate themselves again after Operation Lacoön had begun strangling their revenue streams. The League was never fighting for its existence the way the Star Kingdom had been against the People's Republic of Haven. Only its unelected rulers were fighting for their existence.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)
Post by ywing14   » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:17 am

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You're up late RFC.
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Re: Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)
Post by runsforcelery   » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:22 am

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ywing14 wrote:You're up late RFC.



And I'm about to go to bed, but I'm having to keep an eye on Sharon and Chris Kennedy on Facebook. They are having way too much fun teasing people about the collaboration Chris and I will be doing.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)
Post by ywing14   » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:26 am

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runsforcelery wrote:
ywing14 wrote:You're up late RFC.



And I'm about to go to bed, but I'm having to keep an eye on Sharon and Chris Kennedy on Facebook. They are having way too much fun teasing people about the collaboration Chris and I will be doing.


reasonable, being in south korea makes it easy to keep up with everyone's late night posts.
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Re: Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)
Post by kzt   » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:55 am

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runsforcelery wrote: it seemed reasonable to assume that Manticore' war-fighting doctrine as opposed to its piracy suppression doctrine was . . . underdeveloped.

Well, the experience of the RMN's vaunted Battle Cruisers in the war does lend a certain credence to this analysis.

BTW, this is all great stuff. Thanks.
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Re: Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)
Post by kzt   » Tue Jul 24, 2018 12:13 pm

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A paragraph about how insular a society can get.

“Seventeenth-century China was well aware of growing European technological developments. Yet neither Kong Shangren nor any of his relatives and descendants ever thought that the optical glass business was worth studying or researching or entering or even financing. It was simply not the kind of thing that a Confucian gentleman would do. One consequence of this lamentable uncuriosity was extraordinary ignorance about the outside world. During the first Opium War of 1840 the staff of High Commissioner Lin, the Qing plenipotentiary on the spot in Canton, appears to have debated whether an embargo of rhubarb exports might be enough all on its own to win the war for China.”
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Re: Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)
Post by runsforcelery   » Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:00 pm

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kzt wrote:
runsforcelery wrote: it seemed reasonable to assume that Manticore' war-fighting doctrine as opposed to its piracy suppression doctrine was . . . underdeveloped.

Well, the experience of the RMN's vaunted Battle Cruisers in the war does lend a certain credence to this analysis.

BTW, this is all great stuff. Thanks.



You're welcome. It occurred to me that although I think a lot of this is implicit in the books if you really think about stuff that's been going on ever since the time of "I Will Build My House of Steel," there's never been a place where I explicitly explained it. I may need to do that in the next Torch novel --- would be logical place, since that's where our spooks hang out, and I could probably have our reformed (more or less) Gendarme explaining it to someone like Indy Graham without turning it into too big an infor dump python lump.

It's all been part of my thinking when dealing with the SLN's ignorance all along, but the only people who'd really have been good viewpoint characters for explaining it to the reader were all SLN types who didn't really know they'd been wrong all these years. I suppose I could've used Daud or Irene, but they were too busy looking for ghosts and not even Daud really understands how the basic intelligence bus went as badly over the cliff as it did. He's an analyst, not an intel gatherer, and he never had any more reason to doubt the SLN's prewar assessment of the Haven Sector than anyone else. And as I pointed out in another post somwhere, it's only been 8-9 years since the first known use of MDMs in an area where the Sollies no longer had any real intelligence assets to report back on it. That's actually a pretty slim time window when you start looking at distances, transit times, and the barricade of preconceptions that has to be breached.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Uncompromising honor snippet #10 (?)
Post by cthia   » Fri Aug 03, 2018 1:09 am

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snip

And they weren’t maneuvering — didn’t even have their wedges up. They were frigging sitting ducks, and I was so damned confident I held all the cards that I just let the fucking Hypatians kill a couple of hundred of my people and take out my entire un-deployed supply of missiles.

snip


The SLN just entered a system meaning business. But if they meant business, why wouldn't all their ships keep their wedges up?

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
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