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Haven Victorious

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Re: Haven Victorious
Post by TFLYTSNBN   » Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:55 am

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Just remember that life, not even war, has to be a zero sum game. Haven along with Manticore and Grayson can all win the war. Haven reclaimed its soul. Grayson emerged from isolation, barbarism and vulnerability to extermination to become one of the most economically and powerful star nations in the galaxy (right behind Haven, the SEM, the Andermandi Empire, Beawulf and perhaps half a dozen SL core worlds?)
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Re: Haven Victorious
Post by runsforcelery   » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:49 pm

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tlb wrote:
ldwechsler wrote:Why do we have to go through the "park full of children" nonsense?
That was done by a Mesan seccie, NOT by Zilwicki. We know this from textev, besides all the comments from people who know him that he would never have done something like it.

kzt wrote:Because "good intentions" is not a moral or legal defense when your actions directly lead to thousands of incinerated little kids.

tlb wrote:KZT is right. The bombs were obtained at Zilwicki's request He did not expect H-bombs, but decided he could work with them. He disabled the locator mechanism and then he sent them out to be used (just not at the park, but the original target would have killed people). We had a long discussion about the criminal liability he faced and decided that it was multiple counts of man slaughter at a minimum under British law (multiple first decree murder counts under US law).
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9279&start=400

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9279&start=430

Ldwechsler was in on the original discussion and took the same (incorrect) position then.

runsforcelery wrote:And did your original discussion include the fact that the Kingdom of Torch was in a declared state of war with Mesa . . . which had just dispatched a fleet of SS renegades to exterminate every man woman --- and child --- on Torch? I'm not trying to minimize what happened here, but if we're getting into parsing fine legal points, that needs to be taken into consideration, as well.


Yes sir, it did. Neither Zilwicki nor Cachet is officially working for Torch. Using nuclear weapons on civilians, when there is no clear military objective, is a violation of the Eridani Edict; which is generally considered to be a war crime by civilized worlds. What did not happen at Torch cannot morally be used to justify what did happen at Mesa.

Despite the dispute about legal and moral status, none of the people in the discussion expected that Zilwicki and Cachet would actually be brought to trial. That might be a failing on our part.

Anyway we are looking forward to what happens with the duo, plus Harahap, in the next book from you and Eric Flint.


Anton, in fact, is officially working for Torch; he happens to be working for the SKM and the PH at the same time, but he is an official --- and very senior --- member of the Torch intelligence and military organizations, and he was sent there by the Queen of Torch. So, yeah, it doesn't get a whole lot more "official" than that.

There's also an interesting question about "war crimes" under the Eridani Edict. Had the government of Torch officially sanctioned the attack on the park, it could have been plausibly argued that it constituted a war crime under the Edict. (But see below.) Neither Torch nor Anton did sanction it, however. One may argue that Anton enabled it, but he certainly didn't plan or order it. In fact, his instructions were specifically that such an attack was not to be made.

The explosions that Anton and Victor did plan would have killed far fewer people. Yes, there would have been some civilian deaths, but they'd picked their targets carefully to minimize casualties, and none of their bombs would've been used if they'd been able to extract themselves, Simoes, and McBryde as quietly as they'd originally planned. I'm not saying that the fact that they were "evacuating under fire" absolves them of any responsibility for planning those attacks; I'm simply pointing out that their plans had been predicated on inflicting the minimum damage and casualties that they could, whereas the attack on the park was deliberately designed to maximize civilian casualties.

You might also want to think about the fact that the "bombs" they used weren't actually military weapons at all. They were civilian construction explosives, and not "weapons of mass destruction," which is what the Eridani Edict covers.

Even if Victor and Anton had ordered the park attack, it almost certainly wouldn't have risen to the level of an Eridani Edict violation because of the nature of both the nuclear device and who put it into position and how. That doesn't mean it wouldn't still be considered an act of mass murder; only that it wouldn't be a war crime under the Edict.

The use of even "low-grade, civilian" nuclear devices against civilian targets is certainly the "grayest" (to say the least) act we have seen out of the "good guys" in the course of the Honorverse novels. (Had Aivars Terekhov carried through and blown the space stations in Monica without evacuating their civilian personnel first, that one would probably have displaced this one without too much difficulty.) Don't think that Anton Zilwicki doesn't have the occasional nightmare over what actually happened to a park full of kids, either. The other two nuclear charges that they and their seccy allies deployed don't bother him or Victor very much, to be honest, but the park does.

I'm not trying to say that Our Heroes™ actions and decisions weren't . . . morally ambiguous, at best, nor am I trying to say that the seccies wouldn't have been speedily tracked down by the authorities if Anton hadn't disabled the tracking beacons in the blasting charges. For that matter, there's no question that the bombs they did authorize would have killed innocent bystanders.

I do think, however, that since Anton and Yana were both official agents of the Kingdom of Torch, and since Torch was at war — an officially declared state of war — with Mesa, and since the "nuclear bombs" in question were civilian explosives, and since the only detonations Anton and/or Victor had authorized were targeted on buildings which were supposed to be empty, no unbiased interstellar court would convict them of "war crimes" for those two explosions. The park would be a much trickier proposition, of course, with Anton and Victor arguing (truthfully) that it was carried out against their specific orders and the prosecution arguing that they were still responsible for making the attack possible.

Of course, whether or not it was a "war crime" wouldn't prevent Mesa from trying them as, at the very minimum, accessories to murder under its municipal legal code. Their defense counsel would argue that it was, in fact, an act of war in a declared war, and that the laws governing warfare are different from those governing civilian actions. No matter how you slice it, Anton can't wiggle out of the moral issues of knowing that he put a live bomb into the hands of someone who ultimately proved so unstable and filled with hate that he used it to murder a whole bunch of kids. I'm not arguing that he could — or even that Anton Zilwicki would try to — salve his conscience with that argument. I'm simply pointing out that it's not really as cut and dried from a legal perspective as one might otherwise assume.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Haven Victorious
Post by tlb   » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:56 pm

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ldwechsler wrote:Why do we have to go through the "park full of children" nonsense?
That was done by a Mesan seccie, NOT by Zilwicki. We know this from textev, besides all the comments from people who know him that he would never have done something like it.

kzt wrote:Because "good intentions" is not a moral or legal defense when your actions directly lead to thousands of incinerated little kids.

tlb wrote:KZT is right. The bombs were obtained at Zilwicki's request He did not expect H-bombs, but decided he could work with them. He disabled the locator mechanism and then he sent them out to be used (just not at the park, but the original target would have killed people). We had a long discussion about the criminal liability he faced and decided that it was multiple counts of man slaughter at a minimum under British law (multiple first decree murder counts under US law).
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9279&start=400

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9279&start=430

Ldwechsler was in on the original discussion and took the same (incorrect) position then.

runsforcelery wrote:And did your original discussion include the fact that the Kingdom of Torch was in a declared state of war with Mesa . . . which had just dispatched a fleet of SS renegades to exterminate every man woman --- and child --- on Torch? I'm not trying to minimize what happened here, but if we're getting into parsing fine legal points, that needs to be taken into consideration, as well.

tlb wrote:Yes sir, it did. Neither Zilwicki nor Cachet is officially working for Torch. Using nuclear weapons on civilians, when there is no clear military objective, is a violation of the Eridani Edict; which is generally considered to be a war crime by civilized worlds. What did not happen at Torch cannot morally be used to justify what did happen at Mesa.

Despite the dispute about legal and moral status, none of the people in the discussion expected that Zilwicki and Cachet would actually be brought to trial. That might be a failing on our part.

Anyway we are looking forward to what happens with the duo, plus Harahap, in the next book from you and Eric Flint.

runsforcelery wrote:Anton, in fact, is officially working for Torch; he happens to be working for the SKM and the PH at the same time, but he is an official --- and very senior --- member of the Torch intelligence and military organizations, and he was sent there by the Queen of Torch. So, yeah, it doesn't get a whole lot more "official" than that.

There's also an interesting question about "war crimes" under the Eridani Edict. Had the government of Torch officially sanctioned the attack on the park, it could have been plausibly argued that it constituted a war crime under the Edict. (But see below.) Neither Torch nor Anton did sanction it, however. One may argue that Anton enabled it, but he certainly didn't plan or order it. In fact, his instructions were specifically that such an attack was not to be made.

The explosions that Anton and Victor did plan would have killed far fewer people. Yes, there would have been some civilian deaths, but they'd picked their targets carefully to minimize casualties, and none of their bombs would've been used if they'd been able to extract themselves, Simoes, and McBryde as quietly as they'd originally planned. I'm not saying that the fact that they were "evacuating under fire" absolves them of any responsibility for planning those attacks; I'm simply pointing out that their plans had been predicated on inflicting the minimum damage and casualties that they could, whereas the attack on the park was deliberately designed to maximize civilian casualties.

You might also want to think about the fact that the "bombs" they used weren't actually military weapons at all. They were civilian construction explosives, and not "weapons of mass destruction," which is what the Eridani Edict covers.

Even if Victor and Anton had ordered the park attack, it almost certainly wouldn't have risen to the level of an Eridani Edict violation because of the nature of both the nuclear device and who put it into position and how. That doesn't mean it wouldn't still be considered an act of mass murder; only that it wouldn't be a war crime under the Edict.

The use of even "low-grade, civilian" nuclear devices against civilian targets is certainly the "grayest" (to say the least) act we have seen out of the "good guys" in the course of the Honorverse novels. (Had Aivars Terekhov carried through and blown the space stations in Monica without evacuating their civilian personnel first, that one would probably have displaced this one without too much difficulty.) Don't think that Anton Zilwicki doesn't have the occasional nightmare over what actually happened to a park full of kids, either. The other two nuclear charges that they and their seccy allies deployed don't bother him or Victor very much, to be honest, but the park does.

I'm not trying to say that Our Heroes™ actions and decisions weren't . . . morally ambiguous, at best, nor am I trying to say that the seccies wouldn't have been speedily tracked down by the authorities if Anton hadn't disabled the tracking beacons in the blasting charges. For that matter, there's no question that the bombs they did authorize would have killed innocent bystanders.

I do think, however, that since Anton and Yana were both official agents of the Kingdom of Torch, and since Torch was at war — an officially declared state of war — with Mesa, and since the "nuclear bombs" in question were civilian explosives, and since the only detonations Anton and/or Victor had authorized were targeted on buildings which were supposed to be empty, no unbiased interstellar court would convict them of "war crimes" for those two explosions. The park would be a much trickier proposition, of course, with Anton and Victor arguing (truthfully) that it was carried out against their specific orders and the prosecution arguing that they were still responsible for making the attack possible.

Of course, whether or not it was a "war crime" wouldn't prevent Mesa from trying them as, at the very minimum, accessories to murder under its municipal legal code. Their defense counsel would argue that it was, in fact, an act of war in a declared war, and that the laws governing warfare are different from those governing civilian actions. No matter how you slice it, Anton can't wiggle out of the moral issues of knowing that he put a live bomb into the hands of someone who ultimately proved so unstable and filled with hate that he used it to murder a whole bunch of kids. I'm not arguing that he could — or even that Anton Zilwicki would try to — salve his conscience with that argument. I'm simply pointing out that it's not really as cut and dried from a legal perspective as one might otherwise assume.

Thank you, since none of the crew were in uniform they could have been executed as spies and saboteurs by Mesa even without the civilian deaths. This was what our understanding of the Edict was at the time of the discussion:
I asked what Eridani violation:
kzt wrote:The one that prohibits the use of ALL WMDs against civilians.

http://infodump.thefifthimperium.com/en ... ngton/31/0

" The Eridani Edict has some points in common with the rule of the "practicable breach." Essentially, the Eridani Edict says that no star nation may engage in the wholesale and wanton slaughter of civilian populations using any weapon of mass destruction. The actual language of the edict is clearly oriented towards nuclear or kinetic strikes, but it applies more to the intent and purpose of the weapon than to its actual characteristics, except inasmuch as those characteristics may define the… controlability of its area of effect."

Note that the seccie that detonated the bomb at Green Pines had originally proposed it as a target and that was only vetoed on the basis that he would not be able to escape.
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Re: Haven Victorious
Post by runsforcelery   » Thu Dec 06, 2018 3:28 pm

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tlb wrote:Note that the seccie that detonated the bomb at Green Pines had originally proposed it as a target and that was only vetoed on the basis that he would not be able to escape.


Sometimes you have to frame the argument in terms you can expect a less than completely reasonable ally to buy into. "No, you can't kill all those kids. I don't care how many hundred of thousands --- or even millions --- of seccy and slave kids have been slaughtered/"culled" in the breeding programs! We're the good guys, so you can't kill any of theirs back" isn't necessarily going to be effective. "No, you can't do that because whoever sets the bomb off won't be able to get out again" is more likely to reach someone in that situation.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Haven Victorious
Post by tlb   » Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:28 pm

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tlb wrote:Note that the seccie that detonated the bomb at Green Pines had originally proposed it as a target and that was only vetoed on the basis that he would not be able to escape.

runsforcelery wrote:Sometimes you have to frame the argument in terms you can expect a less than completely reasonable ally to buy into. "No, you can't kill all those kids. I don't care how many hundred of thousands --- or even millions --- of seccy and slave kids have been slaughtered/"culled" in the breeding programs! We're the good guys, so you can't kill any of theirs back" isn't necessarily going to be effective. "No, you can't do that because whoever sets the bomb off won't be able to get out again" is more likely to reach someone in that situation.

I agree, but that means the seccie was never ordered to stay away from Green Pines when the blast near the Gamma Center was no longer needed. So it was not against their specific orders.

Your discussion of the difference between civilian grade and military grade nuclear explosions with regard to the Eridani Edict is very interesting. It was not part of the information known to us in the earlier discussion. What is the lowest yield that would be considered a military grade bomb? And how is it handled if someone uses two or more bombs that are each considered civilian grade, but the total is in the military range?
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Re: Haven Victorious
Post by kzt   » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:27 pm

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tlb wrote:
Your discussion of the difference between civilian grade and military grade nuclear explosions with regard to the Eridani Edict is very interesting. It was not part of the information known to us in the earlier discussion. What is the lowest yield that would be considered a military grade bomb? And how is it handled if someone uses two or more bombs that are each considered civilian grade, but the total is in the military range?

So if a ship had dumped a subkiloton bomb on the middle of a stadium with 100,000 people is that a WDM? The same done from a mortar? If the guy with the mortar flew an Ricardo into the stadium on remote control does that count? If I fill a shuttle with commercial mining explosives and personally kick them out at 2 second intervals at 20,000 meters altitude set to go off at 500 meters does the 100 km long line of total destruction count?
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Re: Haven Victorious
Post by runsforcelery   » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:31 pm

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tlb wrote:
tlb wrote:Note that the seccie that detonated the bomb at Green Pines had originally proposed it as a target and that was only vetoed on the basis that he would not be able to escape.

runsforcelery wrote:Sometimes you have to frame the argument in terms you can expect a less than completely reasonable ally to buy into. "No, you can't kill all those kids. I don't care how many hundred of thousands --- or even millions --- of seccy and slave kids have been slaughtered/"culled" in the breeding programs! We're the good guys, so you can't kill any of theirs back" isn't necessarily going to be effective. "No, you can't do that because whoever sets the bomb off won't be able to get out again" is more likely to reach someone in that situation.

I agree, but that means the seccie was never ordered to stay away from Green Pines when the blast near the Gamma Center was no longer needed. So it was not against their specific orders.

Your discussion of the difference between civilian grade and military grade nuclear explosions with regard to the Eridani Edict is very interesting. It was not part of the information known to us in the earlier discussion. What is the lowest yield that would be considered a military grade bomb? And how is it handled if someone uses two or more bombs that are each considered civilian grade, but the total is in the military range?



It's really more a matter of intent than total explosive force. Remember that the Eridani Edict is specifically framed to prevent bombardments of planets and/or orbital habitats. From that perspective, it doesn't matter if their nukes or KEWs; the prohibition is the same, and it expressly designed to prevent the large scale use of weapons of mass destruction (whether kinetic or nuclear). "Mass destruction" has taken on rather more draconian meaning in the Honorverse, where starships capable of pasteurizing planets are generally available, and terrorism is considered a criminal offense under civilian law unless it is the act of one participant in a declared war. Note that there are significant differences between declared and undeclared wars, which is one of the reasons (among many) that the Mandarins wanted to avoid declaring war on Manticore. When the Grand Alliance formally declared war on the League, the gloves came off and the Allied navies were legally entitled to do all sorts of things they couldn't do in peacetime.

For the purposes of this discussion, a commercial blasting charge moved into place in an air car would not be an Eridani violation. It could be prosecuted as terrorism under civil law, or the perpetrators --- if apprehended and not in uniform or at least carrying military ID --- could be shot as terrorists/spies/etc. The Green Pines "bomb" was a pewee by nuclear standards, the equivalent (in today's terms) of an IED. An Eridani violation would have had to kill an awful lot more people than Green Pines killed. What the SLN planned to do in Hypatia, what the MA did in Oyster Bay or Beowulf --- those were Eridani-scale violations: an unnecessary, avoidable, mass-casualty event executed against a nonmilitary target by the armed forces of a recognized state or stateless combatant at the orders of or with the approval of command authority.

Green Pines did not rise to the standard of mass casualties contemplated by the EE and was not executed at the orders of or with the approval of command authority. As such it was clearly a terrorist act but not an Eridani violation (two different standards) and Anton and Victor could be held responsible only for deactivating the tracking beacons on an explosive device someone else had stolen. I'm thinking that would still be enough to tag them for complicity before the fact, but a good defense lawyer would argue that when the seccy set the weapon off, he was acting without their approval and, in fact, attacking a target they had told him not to attack. Whether the jury would buy that as a defense -- or the judge might take it into account come sentencing time if the jury didn't buy it --- is another matter entirely, of course!


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Haven Victorious
Post by tlb   » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:48 pm

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Thank you, no further questions; just hopes for the next book from you and Eric Flint, the companions books to House of Steel and various short stories about this well imagined time and place.
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Re: Haven Victorious
Post by Galactic Sapper   » Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:21 am

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runsforcelery wrote:The use of even "low-grade, civilian" nuclear devices against civilian targets is certainly the "grayest" (to say the least) act we have seen out of the "good guys" in the course of the Honorverse novels. (Had Aivars Terekhov carried through and blown the space stations in Monica without evacuating their civilian personnel first, that one would probably have displaced this one without too much difficulty.) Don't think that Anton Zilwicki doesn't have the occasional nightmare over what actually happened to a park full of kids, either. The other two nuclear charges that they and their seccy allies deployed don't bother him or Victor very much, to be honest, but the park does.


I would argue that Terekhov's destruction of the building in Mobius had a much higher body count that Green Pines and was totally unjustifiable as a military target. Under the Edict an attacker is allowed to use otherwise-banned weapons on military targets that might include civilian casualties if the planet does not surrender with hostile warships in orbit, but striking the civilian government did not in any way affect how badly the intervention battalions were about to be massacred or decrease the number of casualties the marines would take in doing so.

As we saw on Mesa, obliterating a modern structure to the degree which he did means an awful lot of civilian casualties in and around buildings nearby, as well as the thousands of government employees who were in the building but were in no way involved in the atrocities being committed by Yucel's troops.

That attack was pure "judge, jury, and executioner" for Yucel and Lombroso - fair enough, as far as they deserved - but also for the tens of thousands of people standing nearest them at the time. Anyone in the open within a couple kilometers of the building was likely killed, as well as people in the buildings facing the target.
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Re: Haven Victorious
Post by kzt   » Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:30 am

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Nope. Refusing to surrender when you are unable to defectively resist and only intend to commit mass murder is a total cause for a legitimate use of force. It was fairly small scale and I think was largely confined by the nature of the target construction. The assorted bystanders were unfortunate, but no good wat around that.
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