「冀う星々」 (Koinegau hoshi)
“Wishing on Stars”
Sadly catgirl engineering may not be on the horizon anytime soon, but at least we have Altair to help paper over the wait. A few days late in returning to this season’s best realpolitik, but with me now safely back home (and still potentially sporting a hangover, who can say) it’s time to get back into the swing of things. Considering Altair is barrelling headfirst into one serious war, it’s about time to start seriously paying attention.
While Altair has always been politically focused, this week is arguably the first time where the politics are now paying off (at least for us). A great amount of time was spent previously constructing and solidifying various dreams, desires, and national plans, having our eclectic character cast move about and see to the different threats opposing their goals. All of this time was necessary, however, for it gives reason to the events we are now seeing unfold. Contrary to popular belief, wars are not something decided on the fly, they are always the last resort even for the most aggressive of conquerors and often arise from the most inconspicuous of circumstances. As World War I spawned from an assassination (and quite a bit else beforehand), so too has Altair’s war emerged from Balt-Rhein backing itself into a corner. I mentioned it last time, but Balt-Rhein’s claim to Phoinike’s legacy is significant both on its part and others. No one will be naturally willing to recognize it (it would forfeit their own sovereignty) and unless Balt-Rhein actively “encourages” others to accept it, the empire will be laughed away as country too big for its britches. The empire (or at least Louis) understands this fact, which is why you now see Balt-Rhein openly waging war for its claims. Either it succeeds now or dies in the annals of history, there is no other option left on the table.
What makes this political setup work so well though is how Altair represents Balt-Rhein’s enemies. Turkiye and friends may be innocent when it comes to the empire’s aggression, but they have similarly settled on war as the only option left to them. As Balt-Rhein believes war is its only recourse, so too has Turkiye (and Venidike and Urado) decided to push the red button. It’s a fascinating representation of international relations because such manoeuvring and solidification is how real life politics often plays out. Much like a game of poker, every side must predict what the opponent will do while maximizing the use of their own cards. All they have to go on is prior responses, and when you mix it with competing interests, limited time, and good old fashioned pride, rational plans can quickly devolve into chaotically illogical messes. Cuore’s alliance is a good example of this fact, seemingly set on a path of neutrality, but quickly forced into making a decision as soon as a new piece of information is revealed. Cuore does not know if siding with Turkiye is the optimal choice, but it simply has no time to contemplate other options. Once a choice has been made you must live with it for better or worse—all you can do is limit the fallout. For a show about characters, Altair does a wonderful job of showing how little influence those characters can often have over the actions they must take.
With both sides now ready for some violence and two armies marching towards one another, it seems time for Altair to trade some politics for military strategy. Once the guns start firing only total victory will bring an end to the violence, and if Altair’s OP is any indication, we shall be seeing quite a bit of battle before all is said and done. Mahmut has proven himself a capable politician, now it’s time to see how he handles generalship.