Disproportionate Retribution: The Empire’s defense and anti-terrorism, etc., policy runs on Disproportionate Retribution – defined as, as we said back in Combat Pragmatist, “the ideal response is one which precludes any possible necessity of its repetition”. The Empire is painfully aware that being nice is not enough to make you universally liked, particularly since being nice in the eyes of all, or even most, of the more restrictive polities out there – which is just about all of them – would involve trying to exert all kinds of arbitrary prior restraint on Imperials, and there’s no way that’s going to happen.
Which is to say that while maintaining an overall foreign policy of friendly neutrality, their defense, etc., policy is based much more on oderint dum metuant, Making an Example of Them, and so forth. By this doctrine, every time an act of war against them is responded to with an actual war, every time (successful) government-sponsored terrorism gets the sponsoring governments’ facilities turned into a scattering of glass-lined craters, every time popular support for (or celebration of) these sorts of things gets Admiral Caliéne “Kill ‘Em All Today, Boys, And We Can Take Tomorrow Off” Sargas called out to educate the bloody savages in common decency, and so on and so forth, is an object lesson to the next dozen idiots who might get similar ideas.
(And, as a side note, it also satisfies the mob of very angry, very heavily armed people who might otherwise be inclined to privatize the retribution in a manner even more disproportionate, and potentially less careful about avoiding collateral damage.)
It wouldn’t work without the carrot, of course. The foreign policy chaps at the Ministry of State & Outlands work hard to maintain the standard position of “a neutral power, friendly with the world – well, much of the world, and largely indifferent to the rest”, whatever certain individuals and branches may do, and are always polite and civilized and emollient and delighted to help you work out trade deals (to such extent as they’re necessary, given the unilateral free trade policy that the Empire never – and indeed can’t – deviates from, but they can put you in touch with various useful people) and technology transfers and mediate treaties and generally get business done, and would never dream of trespassing, as a polity, on your sovereign rights.
Even if they have to give the occasional more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger speech on the Conclave floor on the general theme of how much they regret the necessity of the recent incident, but nevertheless, “the first duty of any government is to protect its citizens from aggressors”…
…and somehow the underlying message always goes home: if you want to live, if you want to prosper, if you want to see your cause do either – do not fuck with Imperial citizen-shareholders.