Imperial Rules of War
To mitigate most of the potentially disastrous aspects of armed conflict,
the "rules of war" evolved as an accumulation
of unwritten concepts, which were established on a case-by-case basis.
The rules of war were never officially codified, both to prevent them being
seen as an Imperial endorsement of war and to keep formal precedent from
preventing Imperial intervention whenever the Imperium deemed it necessary.
The main aim of the rules was maintaining the economic and military well-being
of the realm. They gave the Imperium the right to intervene only when
local military action threatened this well-being. The primary causes
of instability, as viewed by Imperial analysts, have been long-term economic
dislocation and excessive extraplanetary influence:
"Assistance" is tolerated so long as it is deemed appropriate to the level
of legitimate interest in the affairs of the world held by the extraplanetary
organization. For example, the Imperium has often tolerated the provision
by megacorporations of training cadre,
arms, equipment, etc.. on a limited scale, and even of training fully equipped
striker units to local governments. However, when it has appeared that
the primary burden for the conduct of the war has been carried by an extraplanetary
power, the Imperium has intervened, claiming the power is using the misfortune
of a local dispute as a pretext for aggression.
- Long-term social or economic dislocation is suffered when a region
loses its ability to carry on at its prewar level of economic activity.
- Excessive extraplanetary influence is even more vague. Historically,
the Imperium has tolerated the use of force as a necessary outlet for built-up
political and social pressures. In such cases, a short war is deemed
preferable to continuing tension, sabotage, political agitation, etc.
However, attempts by extraplanetary forces, such as offworld governments
or large commercial interests, to seize control of a world's affairs are
beyond the scope of the "safety valve" rationale.
Unlike the above rules, one prohibition is clear and firm throughout the
Imperium: use or possession of nuclear weapons, if discovered, and regardless
of size or type.