Before we begin, some EXCITING NEWS. Maybe, actually, not that exciting, but this is the very last trope-a-day in the initial set! Woo! We’re done!
Well, okay. We’re not done. We now go back to A and start a second pass through to capture a whole passel that I missed the first time around. But it’s still a sort of milestone, anyway.
Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Definitions vary… widely, much as they do in reality. The Conclave official definition of terrorism is “the deliberate targeting of noncombatants for political ends”, but doesn’t go to the trouble of defining “noncombatants”, and also makes with the latter an unnecessary distinction between terrorists and, say, Space Pirates – unnecessary because the general policy for both groups is “Kill ’em all.”
The Empire’s definition is the broader-based “people who don’t fight like gentlemen” (i.e., according to the Laws and Customs of War), with the necessary caveat that what they really mean is “people who don’t fight like gentlemen… first”, inasmuch as a polity that sponsors terrorism, hides terrorists among the general population, etc., etc., has given de facto informed consent for what it gets when the Imperial Navy nukes it back into the Stone Age from orbit. After all, it’s the only way to be sure.
(And while they do like freedom fighters in theory, their hardline views on the proper conduct of even freedom-seeking insurgencies in re respecting people’s rights mean that revolutionary groups that don’t keep their hands very clean (i.e., avert The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized) and their targeting very carefully on the legitimate military/governance enforcement targets need not bother applying for Imperial assistance.
Which would seem more contradictory than it is if one wasn’t aware of how deeply cynical most Imperials are regarding the way most freedom fighters are primarily fighting for the freedom to oppress someone else.
On the other hand, it keeps them out of a lot of tar-pits.)