The Earth-Minbari war

Chronicles of a paradox


In the year 2277, on December 1, was celebrated the 30th anniversary of the end of the Earth-Minbari war. Attended to the ceremony the presidency of ISA, the diplomatic and government representatives of the Earth Alliance, of the Minbari federation, and representatives of all the ISA members. Clearly, in accordance with the logic and the common sense, and in the wake of the Treaty of the Four Stars, the whole ceremony could have not been anything different from a celebration of the new ties between former enemies, of the actual Alliance, and in memory of the ones that in that war lost their lives.

What the EFNI historical office presents in this short essay, is the outcome of thirty years of inquiries, carried on by our service in order to assess not only and not essentially the individual responsibilities in the War, but to build and present an overview of what has been discovered in these years, beyond the celebrations and the polemics.

This essay is an analysis of the political and intelligence activity before, during and after the Earth Minbari war. The tactical and strategic intelligence activity of the EFNI during the war is not included, because, while historically interesting, it lays outside the aims of this article. The Earth-Minbari war has a preparation, a beginning, a development, an end and an aftermath. While the events of the war are vastly illustrated by an enormous mass of publications, many of them very well written and documented, some other events, that were at the origin of the conflict, and that conditioned and influenced the evolution of the conflict and its consequences, have not been presented until now.

The ultimate goal of an Intelligence Service is the knowledge of the Truth. The use that will be done of this truth is tied to strategy, politics, situations, but at the end the Truth is the one and only instrument to make correct choices. And it is, in ethical terms, the base of the Freedom and of a better future: at least, the knowledge of the truth is essential to allow in the future to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The Earth Alliance Government, and the new political coalition that represents our citizens since the general elections of 2268, allowed and endorsed the diffusion to the Public of some informations collected by our Service. Some of these informations have deep implications in terms of individual and political responsibilities, and surely will feed critics: the feeding of political polemics is not the aim of our work.. We simply asked to publish these informations because, more than 30 years after the war, the relatives and friends of the 535000 Killed and Missing in Action of the Earth Alliance, and even the ones of the 65000 Minbari died during the war, deserve to know why their loved ones did not came back.. They are the only ones that have the right to judge.

This essay has been written with the collaboration and thanks to the testimoniances, researches and the extensive and unedited material provided by the efforts of Alyt Mr. Sharani Varenn, of the Star Riders Warrior Clan, Alyt Mrs. Dyron Limini, of the Star Corsairs, and Sus'Alyt Mr. Lennan Neriss, Religious and Anla'shok.
All of these minbari Officers are veterans of the Earth-Minbari War and of the Drakh war, Mr. Lennan having participated even to the Shadow war and to the Thirdspace Incident of 2261, and have offered their support and collaboration "in name of the seek for Thruth, in Honour of the Ones that belonged to both sides, and are gone beyond, for the ones that are still on this side, and deserve to know". To them the most sincere gratitude of the EFNI, and the esteem and respect of Earthforce.


Before the war

Political choices and Strange relations

In 2232 the Earth Alliance was under the limelight thanks to our victory against the Dilgar Empire: at foreing politics level, we were on the top: just after the war, the Earth Alliance was virtually the focal point of the interstellar diplomacy of the Orion sector, not only as the defenders and savers of the LONAW worlds, but even because we were in the same time even the only power to keep good relations with both the Centauri and the Narns. (see Dilgar war).
In the 2235, at internal level, the things changed a lot, and for a series of reasons.

First of all, the 2235 was an year of general elections - The extinction of the Dilgars, and the consequent polemics, rumors and suspects, undermined the image of the Government: part of the Earth alliance press leveraged even the economical consequences of the military expenses of the 2220's: the 4000 ships navy program (that anyway was a 2000 ships program) and the Nova project were paid with the taxes of the EA contributors, and, while the whole military starship building activity had positive outcomes for the advancement of the EA shipyards and heavy space industry, a certain shifting of the investments in the Earth Alliance public budget was strongly wanted by the EA public opinion.

As well known, the General elections led to the defeat of the Freedom Coalition, and brought to the power the Unionist Party.

The consequences were significant, in political, economical and military terms.

One of the first actions of the new Government was a strong reduction of the Earthforce budget, both for the new shipbuildings and for the current expenses. The consequences were extremely heavy, both in the short and in the long term.

The original 4000 Ships Navy program was intended to reshape the structure of the Earthforce Navy: the Earthforce JSOC had envisioned a Navy centred upon the Nova Dreadnoughts, to be built in more than 1000 units, the upgrade of part of the heavy cruiser fleet at a level of 1400 Hyperion, all at the same standard, with the decommissioning of the older batches, and a new breed of heavy frigates, the Sabre class, jump capable and aimed at the replacement of the outdated Olympus corvettes and Artemis frigates, with performances similar to the Centauri Vorchan attack cruisers.

The victory in the war, and the good prove of the Novas, saved in a certain measure the Dreadnoughts, even if without the improvements allowed by the new technologies acquired during the Dilgar war, that would have materialised in the Nova Evolution Advanced Dreadnought. The other programs were literally cancelled with a trait of pen: the "excellent corpses" were the Sabre class frigates, the Tillman battleships, considered too much expensive and not needed, the Aurora Starfury, that, while accepted in service in a simplified version, had not the missile capability of the Tiger starfury, (one of the limits of the Nova during the war was the lack of missiles, due to delays in the development of the guidance and tracking systems, that led to the cancellation of the whole project) - The Avenger carriers fleet was mothballed, as were mothballed or scrapped the powerful Tarawa heavy amphibious assault ships.

In the new scenario, took place a cannibalistic duel between the various shipbuilders: the Rocketdyne Shipbuildin Venture, builders of the Nova and of the Avengers, and proponents in association with the Lockheed and the Mitchell corporations of the Sabre class Frigates were the losers of the politic game for the few funds left, while the Karmatech shipyards, builders of the breed of the Hyperions in the various evolutions, were the winners, thanks to their strong ties with the new political majority: this allowed the paradox of the inception in service of a significant flow of Hyperion cruisers, in replacement of the older variants of the same class, while the more performing Novas were literally struggling to survive.

In the 2235, the Earthforce Navy had a first line of 410 Nova Dreadnoughts, 1850 Hyperions, 75 Avengers, 90 Tarawa landing ships, 70 Normandy amphibious assault ships, 650 Olympus corvettes and 180 Artemis frigates. Ten years later, the Navy had in service 400 Novas (and 25 mothballed), 1100 hyperions (with 1200 more mothballed), no carriers (The Avengers were all mothballed, and only one of the new Poseidon heavy carrier was produced), no specialised landing ships and a shrinking light force of less than 400 Olympuses and about 100 Artemis.

Another shift, that later was clearly a tragic mistake, was essentially politic.

The Earthforce ships have always had a significant arsenal of medium and long range antiship missiles, equipped with thermonuclear warheads: while the evanishment of the missile based weapon systems, as the disappearance of the Railguns, was claimed as a technical choice related to the logistic strain of the ordnance based weapons during the long range offensive operations, the truth was that the new government did not trusted in the military class: the nuclear tipped missiles were identified essentially as planetary bombardment or strategic deterrent weapons, and this perceived "politic power", the supposed capability of the military to menace the civil government with a "nuclear blackmail", led quickly to the elimination of the missiles and of their powerful fusion warheads from the Earthforce arsenals, and, later to the demolition of the technical know-how and industrial capability to develop and produce spaceborne antiship missiles.
One of the most deleterious effects of the budget shrinking was the loss of professional officers and trained crews and specialists, due to the reduced career expectations and lack of economical bonuses, while the expensive fleet exercises were reduced in number and duration.
A starfury pilot in the late 2220's - early 2230's had its Initial Operational Clearance at 400 hours of flight, and was considered combat ready at 750 hours and two fleet exercises, and flew an average of 40 hours/month- in the early 2240s a pilot was lucky if he flew 25 hours/month, and was considered Combat Ready at 250 hours of flight.

In the 2245, the Earthforce Navy was the phantom of the potent force that fought and won the Dilgar war, regardless the claims of the Government and of the more "politically wise" members of the command ranks.

Before the war II

policy and intelligence


The old government politic in the interstellar arena was centred upon a "low profile" diplomatic approach: since the late 2100's the borders and the commercial lanes of the Earth Alliance were secured by an effective navy, and we carried on good relations with almost all the more relevant powers in the Area: we had intense commercial relations with the Brakiri, the Markabs and the Vree, and, mostly, with the Centauri Republic, that was favourable to support a growing Earth Alliance to counterbalance the growing power of the Narns, and to act as a counterweight respect to the divided, but troublemaking, League of Non-Aligned Worlds.
The EA victory against the Dilgars solved a problem significant even for the Centauri and the Narns, and so, just after the Dilgar War, we found ourselves in an enviable position: good commercial and politic relations with the LONAW, cooler but equilibrated ones with the Narns (and even with them we had a good commercial flow, that seemed to be the best insurance against strange surprises), and in extreme situations, the simple possibility of a Centauri Republic siding with the Earth Alliance was really a powerful deterrent.

The new political line marked a strong deviation from this traditional asset.
The new foreign affair line had the undeclared aim to create an area of politics "influence" among the minor powers of the sector, exploiting the consequences of our participation in the Dilgar War: in the long term, this politic influence was illusory: the relations with some powers of the LONAW were cooled down by the new behaviour of the Earth Alliance - Civilizations like the Hyach and the Yolu, with millenary experience in the interstellar arena, were not very happy of some excessive inferences of the Earth Alliance, and, mostly, of the way these were carried on: the "first of class" behaviour of the humans was well capable to offend these ancient and influential peoples, destroying in a few years what was built in decades: and, not bad enough, with no outcomes. Even the Narns and the Centauri did not appreciate the arrogance of the newcomers, the ones because they had just proudly won their freedom after a century of guerrilla, the others because, at the end, expected at least some gratitude and more respect from the people to which they gave the stars.

At internal level, the things went on in a less evident, but more harmful way.
The traditional supporters of the old politics were the entrepreneurs and the colonists, the new politic line found its sponsors in certain sectors of the industry, among whose was the IPX, but mostly in other organizations, mostly the Psi-Corps. Along a few years, was possible to see a progressive tightening of the ties between political power, Psi-corps, EABI (the Civilian security service, Earth Alliance Bureau of Investigation ) and some sectors of the Earthforce command staff.
This mixing of different interests was at the origin of the particular actions and choices that led to the Minbari war, and, later, to the Civil war.

At the Battle of Balos, the Earth Alliance crews saw the quick appearance of a large vessel, of advanced technology and unknown type that disappeared in the hypersapce as quickly as it appeared. Some representatives of the LONAW, namely officers of the Yolu and Hyach Navy, identified the vessel as a cruiser belonging to a race called Minbari: the informations available about this people were so few that, at that time, was possible to collect them in a single sheet of paper, with only three or four lines written.
The EFNI started a preliminary investigation (Blue dossier) to collect informations, but the work was difficult for two main reasons: Who had the informations was not very available to give them, and very few had really something affordable to present. What was knew was that the Minbari were a race with at least 1500 years of interstellar flight, extremely seclusionist, with the control of a large space sector located at the border of the centauri republic and about 20 light years beyond the Vega border of the Earthj alliance. While not considered an expansionistic power, even the oldest races of the LONAW that had knowledge of them seemed to have a sacred fear of the military power of the Minbari.

Informal contacts with the CSS (Centauri Secret service) led to a simple statement: don't interfere with the Minbari. Anyway, even the Centauri had scarce informations and virtually no regular contacts with the Minbari. The EFNI was even informed of the existence of another mysterious races, called Vorlons: if the informations about the Minbari were scarce, the informations about the Vorlons were virtually reduced at the fact that they did exist and lived in some place beyond the Minbari Territory.

Given the higher priority of the management of the aftermath of the war, and the lack of contacts with these almost unknown races, the first EFNI report (Blue light) was closed, issued and every further activity was stopped by superior orders and postponed to better times.

In 2242, the political situation of EA was stabilized and consolidated, and the Government wanted an overall look beyond the borders of the explored space: the EFNI, supported by the SID*, reopened the "Blue" commission works to carry on investigations about both the Minbari and, later, the Vorlons. In the same time, a situation that was in the cards since the elections of the 2235 evolved, and its consequences were devastating.

The Psi Corps was banned from the participation to politics activities, for obvious reasons. In the year 220, after a period of political tensions, the Psi Corps attempted to enter the political arena, and to insert members of the Psi Corps internal security in the structure of Earthforce.
This attempt was publicly denounced by the EFNI in front of the public opinion, clearly neither the public administration nor, mostly, the Military, wanted the presence of "political officers" with telepathic power in their ranks, and this was at the origin of the "bad blood" between Psi Corps and EFNI. The Psi Corps never forgot nor forgave the harsh halt of their political project.

Since the 2235 the Psi Corps begun to participate to the politics with "advisors" and "observers", and progressively extended its influence in the public administration - the efforts of the Earthforce command staff and the activity of the EFNI made of the Earthforce an "island" free of the Psi Corps Influence, but the consequence was that the constructive relations between EFNI, EABI and Minister of foreign affairs were destroyed. In the 2242 the EFNI was tasked to carry on an investigation on the Minbari, and opened the "Deep Blue" Investigation. The activity was carried on with the usual basic means: informations collected among alien people having had precedent contact, historical analysis, listening, supported even by the SID (see note 1).**. The EFNI was banned to perform reconnaissance missions in the Minbari territory. In the January 2244 was issued the Deep Blue Report, whose main conclusions, endorsed by EFNI and SID, but not by the EABI and by the Foreign Affairs ministry, were the following:

Abstract from the Deep Blue Report.

1-The Minbari have surely at least a millennium of experience in the interstellar navigation and warfare. The Minbari people is numbered between 20 and 30 billions, the Minbari federation has more than 30 colonies in a volume of space greater than the one controlled by the Earth Alliance.

2-The social structure of the Minbari is organised in opened castes and clans - it is known the existence of three of them: a religious caste that in fact is essentially the civilian ruling body that provides the public administration and the public instruction, a worker cast that includes almost all the productive and commercial activities, and a warrior caste that is totally dedicated to the military power. The technical performances of their military equipment is very likely vastly superior to the capabilities of the Centauri Republic.

3-The foreign policy of the Minbari people is seclusionist but non expansionistic: it is unlikely an aggression war for conquest finalities, while is rumored a tendency to overreact to a perceived menace.

4- The Minbari have not diplomatic representatives. The only known races that have had contacts with the Minbari in the last Century are the Narns, the Yolu and the Hyachs. The Centauri republic has had contacts with the Minbari in the past, but not actually.

5- A First contact with the Minbari must be approached with prudence. While not being an active player in the Orion Arm's politic environment, they seem to be one of the most ancient and powerful people of this quadrant. It is strongly recommended a low profile approach supported by a third-party pre-contact, and it is strongly suggested to start every activity with the aid of Yolu or Centauri diplomatists. The establishment of diplomatic ties with the Minbari, even if potentially difficult, can have relevant implications and positive potentialities for the Earth Alliance.

The war

The conclusions and the suggestions of the "Deep Blue" report was heavily criticised by the Public relations office of the Psi Corps, that detailed its critics with accusations of political interferences: the Corps reported that a military organization like the EFNI had neither the competence nor the institutional duty to provide political analyses and to trace a political route, while the government speakers branded the whole "Deep Blue" report as a political interference.

More than one year later, the Earth Alliance presidency organised an exploratory expedition in the Minbari territory, jointly managed by the Government and by the JSOC of the Earthforce.

This mission was the "Prometheus Expedition", and what happened is well known. (see Essential chronology, Year 2245) - Then the events precipitated.

The Earth Minbari war started as a retribution of the Minbari, respect to which the Earth Alliance replied in the most ambiguous manner: On one side, there were frantic efforts to present official apologies to the Minbari through all the possible channels, included all the alien powers that could have given a far better support before the incident - On the other side, the Humans tried to gather on their side the military and material support of all the LONAW and other worlds that had been treated with condescendence in the former years, while organising a demonstrative show of power, aimed to intimidate the Minbari.

This was an ambiguous approach: the Centauri, the Hyach and the Yolu had no interest to be involved, well aware of the military power of the Minbari, and had yet received the advice to non interfere in the question, while the disasters of the first battles suffered by the Earth Alliance after our failed attempts to oppose the Minbari nailed the coffin on every attempt of a quick reasonable solution of the war. We were left on our own to fight the war to its bitter end.

After six months of war we were well ready to surrender: in eight battles we had yet lost 180 ships, and we managed to destroy or cripple only 12 Minbari units, while the only survivors of a battle against the Minbari were the crew of the Lexington that destroyed the Drala'fi and its escorts in the Asteroid belt.

At this point, the situation was complex: on one side the Earthforce was clearly unable to hold the line against the enormous Minbari superiority: some key technologies, like the production of nuclear tactical missiles and the development of new ships and of Stealth resistant fire control systems needed at least a couple of years to give operational outcomes: the whole know how and the production facilities had been dismantled, and needed to be rebuilt from zero. More, even refurbishing and rushing in service the mothballed units and building new ones was only a provisional solution, not sufficient to turn the tide of the war: the attrition rate was too heavy to be compensated, the training of the crews and of the troops, recalled from the reserve or drafted in service, had physiological rhythms too low for the needs of the war, and the only way we had to obtain some tactical success was to operate with an overwhelming numerical superiority, accepting monstrous losses: and usually we were even outnumbered, in a measure between 1.5 to 2 to 1. More, while Earthforce was quickly bleeding resources, the Minbari were strengthening theirs own capabilities: while they were still unable to mount an all-out definitive blow against the Earth in the Solar system, they were growing at a steady pace (see note 2).**

But on the Minbari side, the situation was not as single minded as seemed from an external view: while the vast majority of the Warriors and a significant part of the Religious embraced with full conviction what was, from every point of view, a genocidal war, the vast majority of the workers and vast sectors of the religious had yet begun to have some doubts: while the repeated slaughters of humans seemed well enough to vindicate the Death of their Prime Minister Dukhat, begun to grow the conscience of the fact that the attack against the Valen'tha that led to the war was clearly the outcome of an unwanted incident, and that, anyway, the humans had not attempted offensive moves against the Minbari territory. At this point, even some clans of the warrior castes were unable to find more reasons beyond the traditional obedience to the hierarchy to fight against an enemy that at the end was not only unable to oppose them, but was well ready to cease the hostilities: someone considered even the Minbari responsibilities in the "Valen'tha" incident.

All in all, while the situation was fluid and the political balance was ready to change in every moment, there were all the premises for a cease fire. There were secret contacts through hyperspace transmission, and was arranged a meeting between human and Minbari representatives, with the support of the Narn diplomatics corps. And here happened two facts that precipitated the situation. The mistake of the Earth Alliance was to not inform the governments of the most representative alien powers of this attempt of negotiation: this choice was made to avoid leaking of informations to the sectors of the Minbari still favourable to bring on the war to its ultimate consequences, but such a secrecy curtain was not equally maintained by all the parts involved, and the ambiguous situation was misinterpreted, must be said, with some help.
Some years ago was confirmed that the ship that destroyed the Narn cruiser in orbit of Delta:********* and bombarded the area in which were located the peace talks was a Centauri warship, But until today the real reasons that carried to this tragedy have not been officially explained: this is a question to which will be given an answer in the present article.

Anyway, both the Minbari Government and the Earth Alliance presumed that the disruption of the peace talk was related to internal factions unfavourable to the peace, and, for pure inertia, the hostilities went on, more ferocious than before, up to the inevitable conclusion.

In the following two years, if possible, the situation worsened: The Minbari military was more and more able to line all its power, while Earthforce, even if always in worsening conditions, was able to develop some basic tactics that allowed to inflict relatively higher losses to the Minbari, particularly in the ground fightings: while this was not enough to stop their advance or to give a real hope of survival (the victory was out of question), was sufficient to slow down the enemy advance, but even to stitch the more belligerent sections of the Minbari to their will to whip away the human race. The factions favourable to peace, even if growing, were simply unable to expose and support their reasons without the risk of an internal revolt. (See attachment 1 for a balance of the operations and of the military intelligence during the war operations)

Only at the Battle of the Line, after the virtual destruction of the human military forces and on the verge of the extermination of the Human race, the Minbari, suddenly and unexpectedly, ceased the hostilities. And still today, we don't know why.

After the war

The consequences

The Aftermath of the war had an enormous series of consequences, and not only for the Humans: some of them were positive, some other were not.

The Babylon project, even if carried on with difficulties and sabotages of different types has been a key element in the dialogues between the representatives of almost all the powers of the Orion sector, placing the bases of the future Interstellar Alliance and acting as a key element of victory during the Shadow War the Earth Civil war and the Drakh war. The contribution given by the Minbari to this human initiative is a consequence of the war, and the end of the Minbari isolationism, even if paid by the lives of the Humans died in the conflict and of the Minbari died in their civil war, has been essential for the present and the future of all the people of this sector.

At Foreign politic level, the wealth of prestige and credibility of the Earth Alliance, yet eroded during the decade between the Dilgar and the Minbari War, was lost in relevant part: at the end of the Dilgar war we were respected and esteemed, before the Minbari war we were regarded with some suspect, after the war, at the end, we were considered as a still relevant player, but essentially something to be feared: we were unpredictable enough to be involved in an all out war without apparent reason, dangerous enough to fight for more than two years against the Minbari, weak enough to lose, powerful enough to make their will weigh on the balance of the interstellar politics. We have spent more than twenty years to overcome this situation.

At internal level, the things were even worse: there was the dangerous dichotomy of a public opinion and of a government that on one side wanted the peace at every cost, on the other side wanted the power to make of the Earth Alliance a fortress against every conceivable menace: in this scenario the Psi Corps played its cards to ascend the towers of power, up to the support to the candidacy of William Morgan Clark to the Vice-presidency in the general elections of 2255, while extra-parliamentary groups, like the "Home guard", gained ground among the most xenophobic sectors of the public opinion.
A deep infiltration of agents of the Shadow in the Government and in the Psi Corps placed the premises for what could have been the definitive Last Dance of the Human race in the interstellar scenario: the Shadows operated continuously and effectively to build a front made of Centauri, Humans, Brakiri and Stribe, to oppose the impending alliance of Vorlons, Minbari, and part of the LONAW. They did not succeeded, but we were not destroyed in a war against the Vorlons and the Minbari only because we were too much busy in fighting a Civil War.


The "Opened" Questions

1-Why the Earth Alliance operated its approaches to the Minbari in a totally different way respect to the traditional guidelines followed until then in the Interstellar diplomacy?
2-Why the Earth Alliance sent a badly organised scouting party in the territory of an almost unknown race, acting on hers own, without the support of a third party contact?
3-Why the Government designated the Commander Jankowsky to lead this mission, with the possibility of a "First Contact situation" ?
4-Why a Centauri ship disrupted the attempts of peace talks of the 2246?
5-Why the Minbari carried on a genocidal war, well beyond every rational concept of retribution?
6-Why they surrendered?


Some Answers

The events that led to the war

The whole Government actions from the 2235 elections up to the end of the civil war were more or less influenced by a deep infiltration of Shadow agents in the political body. This is not a suspect, but a fact: we know the names, the actions and the identities of the people involved, many of them have been processed and condemned, others have met their destinies, under different circumstances, in the disordered years during and after the Shadow war. At this point, we have even a clear picture of the reasons that placed ourselves in the aim point of the Shadows.

As yet said in some essays presented in our site ( "Military Intelligence in the Shadow War" and "Dilgar War: The Earth Alliance Involvement" ) , the original "plan" of the Shadows was to generate a war in which the main element were the Dilgars. The Dilgar war, and its unexpected conclusion, led to a disruption of their original timetable and, potentially, to the less wanted conclusion: at the end of the Dilgar war there were all the potentialities for an enlarged network of alliances involving, in an united front, the LONAW, the Earth Alliance, the Centauri, eventually the Narns and, in a latter time, the Minbari and the Lumati. This would have meant that almost the whole power of the civilisations included in a range of about 150 light years would have been ready to unite together against any possible external menace, and, very likely, to ally themselves with the Vorlons.
Such an alliance would have had the military might of tenth thousands warships and the resources of hundreds of planets and hundreds of billions of civilised beings, and, mostly, would have been a powerful instrument of peace and stability: on the side of the Shadows, would have been left only the Hurr, the Grome, the Drakhs and the Stribes, and among these only the Drakhs were really powerful and trusty, even if absolutely not powerful enough to win a war against a similar alliance. The Earth Alliance was the only power really capable to pull the ropes of such a structure, because even if the natural leaders would have been the Minbari, only the humans had the diplomatic relations, the prestige and the mentality to hold together a coalition including former enemies like some members of the LONAW, the Centauri and the Narns, and our stand against the Dilgar was the key element for this capability: even the Vorlons were aware of this key role of the humans.

All in all, a small political intelligence mistake of the Shadows in this phase of the history (see "Military Intelligence in the Shadow war" ) led to a potential nightamre, from their point of view: a situation with small possibility of conflict, and all the elements to ensure a victory of the "Vorlon Front" in case of war.

The action of the Shadows was straightforward: the humans were the key, and this key had to be broken: a direct attack was virtually out of question: to unleash the Drakhs against the humanity would have meant to start an hard war against the recent winners of an important conflict, well capable, at that time, to hold the line for long time: more important, the humans could have easily called the payback for their war against the Dilgars, and so the various Shadows allies would have to fight not only the humans, yet an hard nut to crack, but against the LONAW, and mostly, against the enormous power of the Centauri Republic and even against the Narns- and, very likely, against the Minbari. A direct involvement of the Shadow forces would have immediately called to Arms the Vorlons.

The only way to restore the situation at the precedent "warlike-chaotic" level was to act from the inner front, exploiting the weak points of the Humans.

The infiltration of Shadow agents in the Human government and politic structure begun a few months after the end of the Dilgar war, and went on regularly. Even if with some bumps along the Way, their experience allowed the Shadows to quickly understand the political situation and act in consequence.

The actions of the Shadow operators, overall less than 100 primary human agents, was well aimed and managed (see "military intelligence in the Shadow war") - The main mean term objectives were accomplished through a good management of the politic evolution: essentially, a weakening of the human military, the strategic destruction of some key technical capabilities (particularly in the field of sensors and missile engineering), and the politic influence in the government, that lived well into the late 2250's - early 2260's. The Psi-Corps was virtually under the Shadow control.

At the Verge of the first contact with the Minbari, the Shadow infiltrated foreign minister organised the whole operation placing all the elements for a troubled start: the aid of Yolu or Centauri diplomatists was discarded as a potential menace for the independence of the human foreign policy, and, if this could have been a reasonable suspect for the Centauri, was absolutely out of question for the Yolu, that had repeatedly shown to operate as a valid support for the human politics, even if in the latter times the relationships with the Earth Alliance have someway cooled.

About the choice of Commander Jankowski as the leader of a potential First Contact mission, a man that had yet a precedent in an "alien Incident", this was the masterpiece of the Shadow agents - Jankowski, in fact, was only partially responsible for the disaster that led to the Minbari war - He acted for months under the influence of a partial mindwipe operated by a Shadow infiltrated Psi Corps Agent. The clues of this plot have been recovered only in the wake of the Psi-war, and kept under State Secrecy until last year. From many points of view, Capt. Jankowski was in equal measure responsible for the Prometheus incident, and victim of the circumstances: he was the wrong person, in the wrong place at the wrong moment, and he was accurately chosen for exactly these reasons. It is even possible that the expected outcome was essentially an incident with consequent cold relations, instead of an all out extermination war, but surely what happened later, even if it went beyond what their human agents expected, was not a bad surprise for the Shadows.

The one and only real peace chance, in the early 2246, when the war had yet mowed more than 60000 human victims, was even in this case ruined by a Shadow intervention: in this case, a disinformation activity in the Centauri government generated the belief that the secret peace talks, aided by the Narns, was a weapon trade between us and the declared Centauri enemies, with potential disruptive consequences in the Centauri relationships with the local powers.


Other Answers

The Minbari - Behind the appearances

While the direct and indirect responsibilities of the human and alien foreign politics in the Minbari war are at this point more clear than before, and mostly, at this point we have a clear picture of the deep and negative influence the Shadows had in the Earth Alliance politics for the period between 2235 and 2265, there are still to understand the reaction of the Minbari to the Prometheus Incident.

The reasons for this behaviour must be researched in the Minbari sociology and mass psychology, more than all. In fact, we have had at least an example of the social troubles experimented by the Minbari in the Earth history, namely, in the evolution of the ancient Japanese society between the 1600 (beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate) and the 1850. In both the cases, there was a caste-based society, with a miltary caste (the Minbari warriors or the Japanese Bushi) built for the war and forcedly adapted to a prolonged era of relative peace, a "middle class" (in this case, is clear the parallele between the Minbari Workers and the Japanese classes of the Merchants, artisans and farmers) that virtually managed all the wealth and the production of goods of a nation, but with a limited politic influence (the Minbari Workers representatives in the Gray Council voted against the war) and a Religious Caste that advocated one of the most relevant peacetime roles of a "warriors" organisation: the exercise of the civil administration and the position of ethical and moral reference.

The outcome of a structure frozen for about a millennium was a growing frustration and a cynic view for the Warriors, a seclusive, someway superb mentality for the Religious, and a perceived disproportion between the real relevance and the political weight of the Workers, that in fact were not only the working class, but even the whole entrepreneur, industrial and commercial body of the Minbari society. The possibility to "change the caste" was a too small relief valve for a society that is technologically advanced, but has a social structure that is still stitched with schemes typical of a primitive society; while this situation was at least in part purged through the fires of the Minbari Civil War of the 2262 (and it is still evolving), at the time of the Earth-Minbari war and of the Shadow war led to the paradoxal situation in which the war against the human was endorsed and fought essentially by the Warrior caste, while the Shadow war was fought by the Religious and the Workers castes, without the involvement of the Warriors.
In such a scheme, the ferocity of the Minbari against the humans is, from every point of view, the manifestation and the consequence of a social structure lacking of equilibrium: that part of the Minbari society living with the War as its ultimate scope and the backing reason of its existence threw itself in the first conflict and against the first enemy they found, regardless the deepest reasons of the conflict, and behaved as an unleashed fury, nearly impossible to manage and control. But the origin of this behaviour was essentially the frustration of a closed class in a closed and frozen society, as perfectly explained by Alyt Dyron:

  "If You keep someone in a cage for 1000 cycles, teching him that he only exists to fight, You can't avoid consequences. Without any other significance in the existence but the fight, without allowing the Minbari inside to express him in no way but the war...No art, no real participation to the civil life, no way to exploit what every intelligent being has inside, creativity, will, hope, participation, no way except discipline, training, courage, is someway as if it is torn away the reason to fight, and a part of the soul. The War becomes not the mean, but the goal; we have imposed ourselves this cage for millennia. When we fought and killed the humans, we had toward us a target for what we had made of ourselves, but we were not really aware of the fact that, in fighting that war, we were losing the bright part of our soul, the one that makes of everyone of us a true Minbari. The time will heal some wounds, but will never cancel the memory, that instead must be kept alive as a warning for the future, for us Warriors and for the other castes: if we exist to fight against the Darkness, the first darkness to be defeated is the one inside, and this is true not only for the Warriors, but even for the Religious and the workers; the true valour of a people, the measure of its greatness, it is given when this people understands that something must be changed.
We have build a society that has three sides but had even three walls, built higher and higher along the years by the ones on both sides of them: what we have to do isi not to blame the ones on the other sides, is to look beyond the walls, and to make them fall down. And this is true for the Warriors, the whole Minbari people and all the others.
  - Comment by Alyt Dyron Limini -  

Historically, when a military structure becomes an insulated part of the society, like in the Japan from the middle age to the late XIX Century, or like in the late Roman Empire, or, unluckily, in the recent Minbari History, the outcomes are always the same: at least one civil war, at least an external war, and, frequently, a closure that hampers the real capability of the "military/warrior caste to defend the People they are responsible of - The Minbari Warriors were born to fight the Shadows, they fought against Humans and other Minbari, but they did not defend their people against the Shadows, even if they had the instruments, the training and the cultural background to comply with their ancestral duty.

So, if from the Human point of view the Minbari war is the outcome of a lack of internal security that allowed the infiltration of the government by the Shadows, for the Minbari it was the clear failure of a caste-based system, as were other similar situations in the histories of the human and of some alien races.

But, even if this can seem surprising, were not only the Human and the Centauri Governments to be infiltrated by the Shadows.

The tensions among the castes that erupted in the Minbari Civil war dates back to the late XX Earth century, and there were factions even inside the castes that had different points of view, as confirmed and explained even by Shay-Alyt Sharani.


  "After more than one year of war, many of us, even among the Warriors, had some doubts about the prosecution of that conflict and the real reasons behind it. The humans were absolutely not strong enough to be a potential menace against the Minbari people, but were even too stubborn and efficient fighters to be chrushed in a few weeks. What we faced, someone of us begun to understand, was a people the only choice we had left to was the way to follow in going to face the death. In the beginning, we were all sworn to the sacred fire of revenge, and what we know of the Humans was enough to put to silence every doubt in the rightness of what we were doing. In the beginning we were fighting someone that, having defeated the Dilgars, seemed to move in order to attain a dominant position at the expenses of all their neighbours - The killers of Dukhat , that were even a new "imperial power", arrogant and violent. What an excellent enemy You were. And how many doubts begun to surface, when, instead of evil enemies, we faced a people that was desperately fighting for its own survival, Warriors and a people that were neither worse nor more evil than many others, not worse than us.

When someone of us begun to consider that what we were doing was well beyond a retribution, I remember something strange: what seemed united before, our Castes, our Clans, begun to show unsuspected differences, deep currents below of the surface of an ancient sea.
Many of us had not doubts, or at least did not expressed them. Dul'vann - Honour. Perhaps the unconfessable fear that an internal strife could have led to the unsayable.
When was clear that the end was close, that the Humans had left almost nothing to throw against us, we all were waiting for the unavoidable conclusion. Many for the Glory of the Victory, of a figh as each one of us is prepared to face - Tenn'shah - To the death - Someother because the conclusion of the war, the sunset of your race, would have given some rest from what had become a nightmare, a secret, intimate view of the darkness inside.

Twenty years ago, to tell and to write what I, we wrote here would have been unthinkable. Now we must begin to think to the truth with less mental barriers: the Humans, that made their mistakes and had their responsibilities, now are our allies: there were Minbari died to defend humans, and humans died defending Minbari. Now, we are side by side, and it is possible that in the future we will be called to face, together, a new darkness upon us. For this, all of us must take a look at the darkness that was inside us.
  - Comment by Alyt Sharani Varenn -  


A further question, and some more answers

The Deathwalker

Among the warriors, the most powerful and belligerant groups were the Star Riders, the Star Corsairs and the Windsword Clans. The Windswords followed with attention the whole progress of the Dilgar war, and were the strongest official supporters of the neutrality in the conflict (that involved even old allies of the Minbari, like the Yolu and the Markabs) - But, in the deepest secrecy, the Windswords were the ones that sent a ship to save the Dilgar Warmaster Jha'dur, the "Deathwalker", and sheltered her for more than fifteen years (2232-2258).

  What the Windswords obtained through their hospitality were informations and support for the development of biogenetic weapons, but what they had was a Shadow agent among them, that operated very well to plant the seed of Evil, portraying the humans as a people not better than the Dilgars itselves, power thirsty and with a long term domination plot against all the other powers of the sector, well concealed beyond the mask of Paladins of Life and Justice. Mostly, Jha'dhur leveraged one of the traits of the Warrior cast, the frustration for the relative lack of official power.
All in all, the move went well beyond an high effectiveness, it was devastating - The Windswords were literally the sponsors of the prosecution of the war, and was always their voice to be determinant, even in the moments in which some other voices among the Minbari, even among the Warriors itselves, begun to put under discussion the prosecution of the war.

It is not totally clear if Jha'dur acted only for personal revenge, or in accordance with instructions given by the Shadows: the clues supporting this last hypothesis are not negligible. - Surely, until hers death, the "Deathwalker" had access to shadow technologies. Surely, in the years in which was hosted by the Windsword, she had freedom of movement well enough to keep alive regular contacts with the Shadows. Surely, there are clues, coincidences and testimonies that strongly support frequent contacts with the Shadows and their thralls - Jha'dur regularly travelled alone in Hurr territory, and at least in three occasions her jumpgate movents pointed to Zha'dum. Surely, her actions were always in accordance, and perfectly sinchronized, with the Shadows needs and actions. Surely, the Vorlons would have not moved a battle cruiser and committed an homicide towards literally thousands of witnesses, without a really relevant reason.
There is not an ultimate proof of a direct infiltration of the Shadows amongst sectors of the Minbari, but today, taken into account what said above, we have credible clues that they were able to exercise a significant influeence.
  - Analysys by Alyt Lennan Neriss -  


A balance

The Minbari War is a paradox: it was a ferocious war between two races that had absolutely no reason to fight one against another, it was an event whose real origins and conclusions are still today not totally explained, and that was prepared by the worst of the human race, and brought on by the worst of the Minbari people.

Beyond the deaths, the worst consequence was its legacy: still today, the memory of the war is a dark cloud in the memories of the two contenders: both of us have something to feel guilty for, and something to be still angered for. The years after the Shadow war (and the Earth and Minbari Civil Wars) allowed a progressive improvement of the relations between our peoples, and this thanks to many reasons: the foundation of the Inter Stellar Alliance, the participation of human recruits to the "Anla'shok" (Rangers) organization, the key roles played by a human (President Capt. John Sheridan) and a Minbari (Ambassador Lady Delenn Mir) in the events during and after the Shadow war. All these events led to strong ties between humans and Minbari, and today, luckily, the political evolution of the situation, and the time passed, have changed the reciprocal perceptions between us, even among the respective public opinions.

But this cannot cancel the fact that the Shadow plots led to more than 300000 deaths (Note 3) *** between humans and Minbari in a direct war, some other thousands in two civil wars, and, mostly, came extremely close to the success: an all out war between the races of this galactic sector, an outcome that was avoided essentially because the Shadows, as almost all the Ancients and many politics and sociologists, have the tendency to make their plans and evaluate the elements involved in the great picture in terms of races and people, while the history, as always, is made by whole peoples, but changed by single individuals. (see even the essay "Military Intelligence in the Shadow War")


* Note 1 - SID - Special Intelligence Department - The Intelligence Service directly organized by and directly responding to the government. The SID and the EFNI have a long history of mutual respect and reciprocal collaboration, dating back to the 2160's. (Usually, the EFNI acts as operational-military arm even for the SID) - Both the services have maintained the type of independence needed to correctly develop their activity. During the Clark's presidency, SID and EFNI were the only agencies that were not infiltrated by the Political Office and by the Nightwatch, (and by the Shadows).
The SID agents, in the 2260, developed an effective investigation against the Shadows, and were, maybe, too much efficient in discovering the ties and the infiltrations of the Shadows in the Clark's regime and in the PSI Corps: this was paid in the "night of the knives", when the SID was disbanded by the Nightwatch, while the EFNI was barely able to maintain its autonomy in the last three months of Dictatorship, and, at the end, managed to cooperate to the restoration of the legality during the Civil war.
Many brave SID agents were arrested or assassinated by the Nightwatch and by the Psi-Corps, a few others were sheltered by the EFNI, or managed to escape and join the Resistance. The SID has its main seat, and its command, in the government offices in Geneva, so it was "politically" vulnerable, while the EFNI has a series of different bases, and, mostly, the command is placed in a space base, and this ensures that the control of the EFNI is related only to the Military legitimate chain of command. Must be added that all the seats of the EFNI are protected by SWAT teams of the Naval Commandos, and an opened clash between Navy Special Forces and Nightwatch and Psi-Corps in an eventual attempt of occupation of the EFNI seats without a clear justification was a too high risk for the Clark's regime, even at the end of its dictatorship.
Actually, the SID, rebuilt and having recovered its wounds, is again an effective and capable element of the Intelligence Community of the Earth Alliance, and the traditional useful collaboration with the EFNI is still well alive today.

* Note 2 - The Limits of the Minbari in the first months of the war were neither logistics nor of informationsl: they perfectly knew the locations of the Earth alliance worlds and colonies, and they had no logistic stretching: simply they were not really ready for an all out war and mostly, to a general attack against the Earth: the Bulk of Earthforce was still intact, the Minbari navy had no more than 700 or 800 Warcruisers in service, while more than 2500 were mothballed: the problem was that, while they were able to rush in service some hundreds Warcuisers each month, we were barely able to send in service a dozen of Hyperions and one or two Novas each month. Given the abyssal difference in terms of performances of the ships, we were not only qualitatively, but even quantitatively overwhelmed at local level, and at strategic level. If an attack of 500 or 600 warcruisers against the Earth in the 2246 would have meant a battle against 1800 or 2000 Human warships, and tenths of thousands of fighters, with a sure victory for the Minbari but to be paid at high price, a slower, steady advance with the initiative advantage against the Earth Alliance was clearly the best way for the Minbari to progressively destroy the military power of the humans with the most favourable loss rate.

** Note 3 - The official figure of 245000 EA casualties during the Earth-Minbari war, alive until our days, was in fact a way to present in a less bitter form the outcome of the war. We had 245000 Killed in action, but we had even more than 35000 missing in action, military and civilians, that never came back, while the Belt Alliance Forces had more than 18000 casualties, most part in the battles of the Orion Colonies.
This is not an one-sided misleading: even the Minbari have accurately covered the real number of the casualties suffered during the war: the official numbers after the end of hostilities told of 43 ships destroyed and 24000 casualties among crews and ground troops: in fact the ships lost by the Minbari Navy were about 160, and about 35 more were decommissioned because of the damages suffered, while the ground fightings, more equilibrated than the space combat, were more costly than suspected for the Minbari Warriors, and the final victims count leaped beyond the 55000 deaths for the Minbari, about the 65% of them among the ground troops. Such heavy losses were a bitter drink to swallow for the Minbari Warrior caste, essentially because inflicted by a very less advanced enemy against which the hate was at the same level of the contempt. In fact, beyond the bloodshed of the ground fighting, the last year of the war was costly even for the Minbari Navy: enormously more advanced, and outnumbering the battered human forces, they were made to face a series of new tactics that, while being too little and too late to change the tide of the war, imposed their price.



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