|Headline:||Interview with Hagalaz Thorsson on the situation in Epiphyte|
|Location:||Annyrion City, Annyrion Colonist-Eisshari Coalition, Annyrion|
GERARD: I'm David Girard for ANN, here with retired SDF Captain and former Coalition Chancellor, Hagalaz Thorsson, to speak about the continuing situation in Epiphyte.
As most of our viewers will have heard, four days ago, the Secretary Paris of Lopanga was ousted from power following a series of violent riots, apparently part of an audacious yet successful coup that the Lopangan military were unable to stop. There has thus far been little communication from the self-proclaimed Mayor Sethos now in control of Epiphyte, but reports from the city have shown that his robots' brutal suppression of resistance has virtually ended violence in the city and left its normally bustling streets near-empty, all with suprisingly little loss of life. Reports from fleeing residents and via the spotty communications network have raised more questions than they have answered.
I am hoping that our expert today can help us to sort through these reports and understand what our government will and will not be doing in response. Good morning, Mr. Thorsson. Thank you for taking the time to come speak with us.
THORSSON: Hello, David, thank you for inviting me.
[A brief pause occurs as both settle into their seats and make themselves comfortable.]
THORSSON: As you may have heard, the Coalition has enacted a quarantine zone around Epiphyte City and will be inspecting all cargo entering and leaving the city via ground, air or space transport. Since the beginning of my administration a few years ago, and the subsequent administration of Chancellor Rexus, the Coalition's policy has always been that Lopanga's interests are their own, so long as they don't interfere with the Coalition's. Our spaceport and all transport hubs that interface Inaria and Lopanga are heavily monitored to prevent contraband from crossing the borders. However… internal security on the continent of Lopanga has been the responsibility of the Lopanga Confederacy, and its immediate defense the responsibility of their space navy. I won't speculate as to how the events leading up to the coup may have been allowed to occur, but the important thing is that the current situation be resolved as quickly as possible, with a minimum of disruption.
GERARD: You mention the steps the Coalition is taking steps to 'quarantine' the city. Would you tell us what this will mean for space, air, and ground transport, such as the residents we see fleeing the city and the food that ends up on our grocery store shelves?
THORSSON: Well, David, unlike the blockade instituted by my predecessor, Chancellor Soliero, during the so-called “Annyrion Civil War” a few years ago, the Coalition is not seeking to prevent people from entering or leaving Epiphyte City, although they are discouraging people from traveling there unnecessarily. It is my understanding that uncia's 'translopanga' service is still in operation, as is their Roaring Coast ferry. As the terminii of both services on the continent of Inaria are secure locations, it is unlikely that their operations will be restricted any more than usual. Whether or not Sethos chooses to allow the citizens of Epiphyte City to move freely - and leave the city if they desire - is up to him, as will be his choice to honor the neutrality and freedom of uncia's operations - or attack them and suffer the consequences. Spacecraft that have cleared quarantine will be permitted to land on Annyrion. Let me reiterate - the people of Lopanga will be free to travel and have commerce with each other and the rest of Known Space.
GERARD: Even this limited action seems like a rather drastic response to the troubles experienced by our smaller neighbor. Why is our government taking such an interest in this, and so soon after the coup? Primarily humanitarian reasons? Sending a message to other would-be dictators out there? Or is this something we should be worried about, here in Inaria?
THORSSON: It may seem like a knee-jerk reflex by some, but while the Coalition will definitely be interested in their own security, we also have our planet's contributions to the rest of Known Space to look after. It would be an unfortunate waste of time and resources if other worlds felt compelled to show the flag in this system simply because it appears that no one here is concerned with preventing a major resource from falling into the wrong hands.
GERARD: Of course. I'm sure that no one would be happy with the results, were another nation to become involved. But let's talk about interplanetary issues. As the events here have not reached beyond our system, the SDF has no claims for becoming involved. As a former member of the SDF, tell us what can we do to avoid giving them the pretext for any invasions of our national sovereignty.
HORSSON: Well, as a general rule, the SDF refrains from military intervention in the affairs of a member world, so long as a situation remains confined to a specific member world. As far as SDF showing up in Thinora System, they could show up at the request of the Coalition to assist with traffic control and quarantine screening of ships, right up to the limit of Annyrion's atmosphere, but they absolutely would not land marines in downtown Annyrion City, even under the pretext of 'peacekeeping operations'.
[The interviewer frowns at the last remark and quickly moves on.]
GERARD: Yes… ANN will continue to carefully monitor the situation in Lopanga and keep our viewers up to date on the latest developments. Now, Mr. Thorsson, before we conclude, let's briefly discuss the robots that have caught the public's attention. Nearly the entire city of Epiphyte is patrolled by bipedal robots that stand over two meters in height and do not seem to match any known designs. Some of the more credible reports suggest that they are armed with less-than-lethal weapons for crowd suppression, lethal small arms, and perhaps even rockets. The reports on their intelligence is conflicting, with some claiming recom-level intelligence, while others say the robots show a complete lack of initiative. Would you care to speculate on why this Mayor Sethos chose to use robots, and what this might mean for the future security of our nation and others?
THORSSON: Well, the fog of war is always an issue with regards to gathering intelligence, and the Coalition is working to discover the origin of these robots and collecting first-hand reports in the hopes of discovering a way to disrupt their operation. While they may have been equipped for less-than-lethal response, there have been reports indicating at least one hundred twenty civilian residents of Epiphyte City were killed during the first day of the coup.
It is possible the robots have been shipped into Epiphyte City Spaceport over the course of several months and were assembled prior to the events of this week, given their sudden emergence and the lack of an opposing invasion force's ships suddenly showing up in orbit to deploy them. No military organization in Known Space uses combat androids in numbers like this - with the exception of Omicron Industries, who utilizes them to augment organic elements of their corporate security. While it would be easy to point the finger of blame at OI and Mars, it is important - and I cannot emphasize this enough - it is important to gather as much evidence as possible to determine the robots' true origin, and NOT let mob rule be the order of the day.
As to why he chose to use robots instead of organic personnel, there are any number of reasons why. Intimidation: we've all seen horror movies about death machines from the Apocalypse War terrorizing summer camp. Of course, the psychological value of an enemy that keeps coming at you even after you've blown its head off cannot be denied. Logistics: An army marches on its stomach, and it is easier to supply power to a force of robots than it is to feed/house an organic army. These are just a couple of possible reasons.
GERARD: That is certainly an interesting thought, though that is also wise advice that we must first get all the facts and proceed with caution. I hope that in the days to come, facts of this unfortunate situation will become more clear and that other experts will be so kind as to discuss their thoughts with ANN.