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The Myth of Planetary Invasion

The Myth of Planetary Invasion is a sociology and history book written by renowned historian Athene Saadi and published by the Eloran University Press in 1.27.

In this seminal work, Saadi develops her thesis that planetary invasions, in the modern era, are not merely hard, but outright impossible.

The problem is first and foremost technological notes Saadi in the first part of her book. Advances in rocketry have made it so that even relatively rudimentary missiles defenses can effectively counter-battery orbital ships and deny re-entry. Thus, planetary invasions do not only require orbital superiority, but ground superiority, in an age when even truck-launched missiles can threaten spaceships, and shoulder-launched projectiles engage landers. Orbital superiority is a myth, argues Saadi, and cannot be compared to air superiority. Ships in orbit are extremely vulnerable, as they are visible all the time, and cannot hide from dispersed ground defenses.

But the issue with planetary invasions do not stop at a technological problems. The real, profound issue, says Saadi, is that there is no way to curb ground-based defenses while still keeping the political and sociological state of things that justified the invasion in the first place. A planetary invasion, explains Saadi, stems from the desire to capture or control a planet, and it is impossible to destroy dispersed planetary invasions with orbital bombardments in a way that doesn't damage the planet's environment and society to an extent that doesn't render the war itself impossible to justify. Kinetics and conventional explosives would have to be used in numbers so large they'd wreck the planet, and nuclear weapons quickly create unjustifiable damage. As long as planetary invasions happen in a modern geopolitical context, asserts Saadi, it is politically impossible to destroy ground-based defenses without rendering the invasion unacceptable.

Even concentration of forces doesn't work, argues Saadi. The rampant proliferation of edge-of-atmosphere weaponry makes it so that even platoon-level infantry can effectively engage re-entry vehicles, even when used en masse above a specific point. Worse even, the tradeoff between lightly trained ground infantry and orbital drop troopers is so unequal that just a handful of missiles can render a regular invasion force economically unsustainable. Saadi is not optimistic when it comes to technological progress either; if orbital firepower will grow in accuracy in the future, this is also true for ground-based missiles.

Saadi's thesis, while controversial, was rightly confirmed when, five years after the publication of her book, the large-scale invasion attempt of the icy planet of Smyrnia by an interstellar warlord turned into the largest military disaster in recent history. She even added a new chapter to her book, entitled (with a certain amount of glee) "Seventy-Five Percent Casualty Rate" and dedicated to the analysis of this battle.

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