This is the first in a series of semi-prose ramblings I’ve started to try and get a better grip on the characters in Xenesis’s upcoming Advance Wars 2 hack. There’s not going to be any super consistent theme to them, but the general premise is that I ask the character a fairly vague question about their motivations or outlook and get a response of sorts. In this one, I ask Carla, the commander of the high-tech Galacian faction, why she thinks going to war is the right thing to do, and how she plans to prosecute it.
For me, the trappings of ordinary life – family, friends, work, leisure – were stripped from me by people who did not believe I had a right to them. For me, the invasion was not simply a political statement, it was an existential struggle. We were not treated as conquered citizens or even prisoners – to the soldiers that attacked my home we were no better than vermin. I will never command such an army. If the Autonomous Defence Forces I have lobbied so hard to create end up no better than the desensitised thugs they are fighting against, then I will have failed.
I do not consider this war to be a matter of duty to the Galacian nation – I prefer to think of it as a moral obligation. I have experienced first hand the evil that prejudice can work in the hands of the powerful, and I intend to prevent it wherever possible. To that end I will oppose the empire’s incursions at every turn, both militarily and politically. My moral obligation is not simply to repulse imperial attacks on the territories I have been ordered to defend – it is to convince my superiors and my colleagues that these nations are worth defending. I do not discriminate in this duty – for the ADF to act as a true moral force, all of its members – every infantry grunt, every engineer, each officer, mechanic, nurse, spy and orderly – must share this belief in their hearts. For the first time, we have the chance to show that an armed force can serve not as an instrument of destruction and oppression but as a shield for those who cannot defend themselves. I hope to prove with this unit that Might can be made subordinate to Right – that it can be used to uphold principles of universal human dignity and steadfastly oppose those who spit upon them.
Every soldier deployed to Ferres needs to think of this mission not as a rebuff to the Boscans’ aggression but as a bulwark to guard the people of that small nation from brutalisation at the hands of a pitiless empire. If my soldiers consider this campaign to be a matter of resources, targets and strong points, then I have failed – it is crucial that the people of Ferres are regarded as exactly that: people. Sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. While the armies of Bosca and Littorand habitually regard the rights of their own citizens as impediments to the completion of their mission, our army must regard the preservation of those rights as their mission’s central and most sacred objective.
It is true that I deplore the behaviour of our enemies – their actions in this war are morally ambiguous at best – but this does not mean that I or the soldiers I command will stoop to their level. Many people have suggested that the Boscan soldiers – and those who command them – ought not to be treated as humans. The argument follows that their callous and brutal treatment of those around them has disqualified them from the fair treatment that all Galacians believe every human deserves. I disagree: if anything, we must offer them the same compassion that we offer their victims, for to do anything less is to sink to their level. The principle of empathy is central to the entire nation of Galacia, and to set it aside even now, when tempers are high, would be hypocrisy.
Naturally, I do not mean to suggest that this compassion should stay our hands when we are given no choice but to fight – I instead remind you of it to emphasise that this war must be waged in a civilised manner. Enemy soldiers, officers, and even political authorities must all be given ample opportunity to surrender and treated with clemency and dispassionate justice when imprisoned. It is true that many of these people have committed monstrous acts, and it is not only understandable but right for us to be enraged at their inhumanity. What is not right is for us to use that rage as an excuse for joining them in their barbarity. In war, as in everything else, our emotions should serve as motivation, not as moral compasses. Any Galacian soldier who thinks that they ought to be the sole arbiter of a prisoner’s fate will not be a soldier for much longer – I will not tolerate such childishness in the ranks.
That’s it for now – there may be more on this subject in the future!