ET wants YOU

Here’s the scenario. You’re the Pres, shaken awake from your afternoon nap in the Oval Office. After a knock on the door the Secretary of Defense leads in several odd looking but physically unimposing creatures.

You begin to wonder if someone has been spiking your banana daiquiris when one of them starts to speak. They explain that they represent a peaceful alliance of spacefaring species. They have come to Earth in desperation - in the last few years their colonies have been attacked by an insectoid race that attacks any spacefaring species and rejects any attempts at negotiation or surrender.

Their alliance has not known war for millennia. Violence of any kind is unknown. They are losing the fight, badly. Having observed Earth for several centuries they see that humans are warriors - with our help they can turn the tide. The weapons, martial knowledge and killer instinct of humans are all they’ll need - they will drop our troops on worlds under attack and share all the intelligence on the conflict they possess.

In return for our service, they will share their technology. They estimate it will advance our development in all areas by at least 300 to 400 years. The fighting they believe will take about a year or two until total victory, and inflict casualties on us about equal to the Normandy campaign in WWII - about 40,000 killed, about 150,000 wounded. As they haven’t a clue how to wage war they will give humans complete authority over the fighting.

If you reject their pleas they will leave Earth and never bother us again, although they anticipate total defeat in 2-3 years. Asked why they haven’t contacted us before, they reply that they were afraid they would simply be gunned down. What do you tell this alliance of space hippies?

The sacrifice of a few for the greater good? I’m in.

I would help, no questions asked. (Well, probably a few. Not many)

Um, no thanks. We’ve no way to verify their claims, and may be calling down the wrath of beings with the tech to wipe us clear off the celestial map. Not interested.

They are willing to answer any questions on the conflict and take any test in order to establish the veracity of their claims. If you wish, you may send human emissaries to an insectoid-held planet to gather your own intelligence about the enemy. However, they do warn that all attempts to discuss peace with them have met with claw and tentacle death.

Human weapons? Useless. Just send a couple dozen sci-fi fans to advise the Good Guys as to the hows and whys of kinetic energy strikes and the war is over.

I suggest something else, more along the lines of silenus’ idea. An interstellar spacefaring insectoid race that is warlike will probably be able to counter any and all human offensive weapons. Give us access to alien technology. Bring in the best that science and industry can offer to develop new weaponry. Use our military for developmental and operational testing of said weapons. Then we deploy advisors and military leaders to train and lead our ally’s forces, along with elements of our own military. I don’t think that our population would swallow fighting a war for our allies, no matter how evil the enemy was. Assisting our allies to throw off the evil oppressors, that we could get behind.

The OP identified we Dopers hypothetically as the Pres, not the Sec. Gen of the UN. This brings all of the human international politics into the problem, also. Did they only come to Washington, or did they land in Moscow and Beijing also? Will we be able to keep this secret from our human adversaries, so that we can use it against them to establish an American Hegemony on Planet Earth, or will we be forced to share the technology, possibly inducing a new arms race?

While they appreciate they thought (and are horrified by it), there are not sure there will be enough time to develop and deploy new weapons before the insects take their home worlds.

They have correctly identified the United States as the most powerful military of any nation on Earth - if the leader of this people agrees, getting other human nation states on side should be easy (especially once they realise that aliens will give the U.S. computers that make Tianhe-2 look like Babbage’s Difference Engine). If you want to get them on side, that is - they have and will only approach you.

As for sharing technology pre-emptively, they unfortunately have no weapons that could be of any help (their tambourine-based offensives have all failed) - no quantum torpedos or phasers to be seen, but an M4 will still kill the insects just fine. They have already factored in their medical technology when dealing with our casualties, although wounds still hurt and they can’t bring the dead back. Our advisors would have a tough time - they are unfortunately culturally and physically averse to violence and there would be a lot to teach in a very short time - akin to teaching Gandhi to be a MMA champ.

While I’m not exactly a war hawk, 400 years of technological growth? Imagine being in the year 1614 and gaining 400 years of technology in one swoop. I’d ask a few questions about whether human weapons are a fair match for these opponents (which I find a bit unlikely, but hey), and then Earth is in.
And even if you decide to take the cautious route and refuse to get involved, imagine what the rest of your life is going to be like. You’ve just denied the human race a huge advancement, closed Earth off from the first extraterrestrial communication in history, and now you’re supposed to go and live your life? Every time you look up at the night sky, the regret and unanswered questions would drown you . . .

400 years of advancements, interstellar travel and communication. I’m in.
Develop weapons against the space hippies just in case they use, uh, mind powers (?) against us after the bugs are taken care of.

I’d ask them if they were familiar with Earth literature, like Foster’s trilogy, The Damned.

A more serious question: if they are that clueless about warfare, how could they possibly estimate how long the fight would take or how many casualties we’d suffer?

The first response would necessarily be on the order of a request for all available intelligence on the enemy, as well as the transport and industrial capabilities of our would-be allies, to be used in consultation with my military staff. Then we’d need to collect our own intel, because the space hippies don’t know what to look for. Once we’ve got all that, I’ll be in a position to consider the matter in practical terms, including political aspects.

My inclination is to go for it, not just for the technological boost, but because if the bugs are actually attacking and conquering worlds in our general vicinity*, the odds are greatly increased that we’ll end up facing them eventually, anyway. It would be better to do so with allies and a massive tech improvement than without. One point in our favor: any race technologically advanced enough to have space travel with FTL capability and still be invading planets is probably pretty stupid.

*Being close enough in terms of whatever FTL tech the aliens have that the hippies have found us probably means we’re close enough for the bugs to find us.

Already the basis of at least one SF book series I can think of off the top of my head.

I would give it a tentative go - though as was pointed out, ballistic strikes using hunks of rock from space can be effective if you can sneak the rocks to their planets/establishments. Depending on the bugs defensive abilities it could be effective - I can think of bringing a rock on passive acceleration from somewhere other than the plane of the ecliptic - start it off and then end the propulsion so they don’t get a power sign on their detection systems. It might be possible to sneak volunteer plaguebearers onto their planets to give them problems. Sneaking a ‘wasp’ onto a planet to spread discord might also be possible, depending on how they treat their subject races and the security around their planets/establishments.

But I would start out with trying to sneak an observer onto one of their older planets and one of their newer planets to see how they treat their subject population. I would also want to actually have reports on the benefits that the aliens are proposing to give us, to make sure that we could do what they possibly want us to.

What develop deploy? You throw rocks at them! Control of space is control of any planet. This is one time when having the high ground actually means something, Obi-Wan. :stuck_out_tongue:

Having analysed how humans wage war and the insects wage war, they are able to input the variables into their computers which have extrapolated probably human losses. Whilst being dedicated to astro-tranquility they know that a war means dying, and that it is humans that are being called on to do the dying.

Ha, I thought you were on about the old Rods From God and killsat kinetic bombardment rather than just rock-chucking. Talk about speaking at cross purposes.

How did the conflict begin? For all we know, the “hippies” tried and failed to wipe out the insectoids, or are their former slavemasters. The only thing we really know about the hippies is that they have been capable of uplifting our civilization but have refused to; they’re only offering it now in exchange for, what, genocide?

They don’t seem very trustworthy to me, and it seems likely that any answers they provide will be lies and propaganda. If we were do send emissaries to speak with the insectoids, I wouldn’t but it past the hippies to murder our diplomats to make it look like the insectoids did it.

The problem, as mentioned, is that by participating in this war you are opening the earth up to attack by a species that is somehow defeating aliens that are centuries more advanced.

This isn’t a decision to take lightly. There’s also the risk of escalation. That casualty estimate of 400k? That has to be based upon assuming the insect aliens will continue to use their same tactics when they are facing defeat.

In reality, the insect aliens thought they were about to win, and then their opponents gained new allies and are turning the table. This means that turnabout is also possible - the insects might be able to unleash horribly destructive weapons.

If you try to even pencil in the numbers for the kind of energy you would need for a starship to work at all - much less warp spacetime in order to somehow cheat relativity - you quickly realize that at these energy levels, it would be trivial to destroy entire planetary surfaces with unblockable relativistic missiles.

The easiest counter for the insect aliens would be to drop bioweapons on earth and wipe us out in a few weeks. I assume the insect aliens must have some kind of horrifically scary way to invade. Since we are 400 years behind in technology, we would be an easy target.

They say they made first contact several years ago whilst exploring the galaxy, but met with instant and sustained hostility - eventually the insects landing on their own colony worlds and attacking. It’s only a matter of time before the homeworlds fall.

They would prefer a diplomatic solution or even surrender, but admit they would chose their own survival over that of the insects if that’s what it’s come to. They are aware that humans would need some incentive, a bribe, to come to the aid of strangers. Technology like FTL is the only thing they can offer, although they’d prefer all civilisations to develop at their own pace.

You are being inconsistent. A race of beings with a sense of self preservation and advanced technology is not going to permit mass murder of their own people on those colony worlds. I think you are trying to shoehorn in several sci-fi stereotypes, and are not trying to model how advanced beings would actually behave.

The real life hippies, if you gave them a rifle and put them in a situation where they could shoot to kill to save their own life, generally would shoot. Similarly, a race of beings with advanced weaponry (some models of how a warp drive might work suggest that coming out of warp alone would release enough gamma rays to wipe out part of a planet) isn’t going to permit millions of their own to die without returning fire.

I like to think of myself as a peace loving folk, but if I had advanced weapons and my personal survival was at stake, there’s almost no limit to how many people I’d be willing to kill.

Unfortunately the last recorded war any of their member species fought was millennia ago. Murder, assault and violent crimes are unknown - they have minimal experience of the concept of self-defence. What would be obvious for humans is hard to accept for them - this is why they have requested the assistance of humans. Their tactical and strategic ability to resist makes General Percival look like King Leonidas.

(Topic inspired by the Rachni Wars from Mass Effect - the civilisations of the galaxy are threatened by a violent insect like race and uplift a violent race of their own to combat it, although they weren’t losing due to being pansies).

I would offer to send some teams of covert observers with them. These teams could look around and assess the situation and then come back to report on whether what the aliens had told us is true.

Absolutely. This is not something to jump into without careful investigation. With that said, let’s take the author’s premise as given.

Suppose the investigations are completed, the aliens even give some human teams small ships so they can go check things out wherever they want. Everything checks out - the aliens are telling the truth.

The way to handle this is to create a professional mercenary army, similar to the French Foreign legion. The army would be funded by investors and governments who will be repaid by the almost incalcuble profits gained by the alien technology. 400 years of technology is probably worth tens of thousands of trillion dollars in NPV. I mean, by the way NPV, 400 years of tech NOW is probably worth more than all of global GDP over the next 400 years of normal growth.

So the mercenary army would be flooded with money, and they would use it to attract recruits willing to fight and die for money. If the death benefit is somewhere around 10 million dollars, and the annual salary is 250k or so, I think there would be a large number of well qualified troops signing up. You’d need millions, I assume, to make a difference in this war.

Do the humans also have to produce the military equipment, or will the aliens supply the troops with gear that uses their technology?