Wednesday, 14 May 2014

War Crimes, and Garrosh Hellscream

This post will contain spoilers for the novel War Crimes, written by Christie Golden. Consider yourself warned if you care for such things, even if the title of the post should be enough of an indicator in itself to hold you away if you fear to learn anything about the new lore by second hand. But before I go further on rambling of how stupid the issue of spoilers is when it comes to games, and let us be real, this is a novel that ties into the game, let us move on. You have your warning, and I can continue rambling about the topic at hand.

First on the topic we have the accusations and the trial. I said it before, and I only confirmed it by reading the book. The trial is a simple farce. Everybody already established that Garrosh is guilty, and now they are simply trying to determine the punishment that would fit his crime(s). Baine is trying to convince the four August Celestials that Garrosh deserves to live, while Tyrande is arguing Garrosh needs to die. The trial itself is just a farce, show trial, there is nothing of value for justice. Everybody continues to talk about justice through the whole trial, yet the trial itself is just a show for the crowd. To sate their hunger for blood. And crowd is there for the spectacle, not for justice.

Garrosh told it as it was right at the beginning, and right to the end of the book you can see how very right he was about this:
 “The show has barely commenced,” he responded, sneering, “and already I give it a standing ovation. This promises to be more entertaining than the Darkmoon Faire!” His contemptuous laughter rang through the hall. “I will not say that I am guilty, for that denotes shame. Nor will I protest innocence, for I claim no such. Let the comedy begin!”
On the matter of the Accuser and the Defender. Tyrande seems to be at a loss. She thinks she has an easy job, and thus underestimates her opponent. She looks down on Baine, she looks down on Taran Zhu, who is the judge. She continues in trying to change the trial of Garrosh Hellscream into a general trial against the Horde. And this is her flaw. While she hates the Horde, and sees only the worst in it, her witnesses do not support her view, and Baine actually manages to refute most of her charges. I got the feeling Taran Zhu was too lenient to her when it came to her theatrics. He gave her at times a bit too much of manoeuvring space. Something he should not have done as a judge, even if Garrosh buried his axe deep in pandaren's chest.

Baine on other hand does not even try to defend Garrosh. He accepts that Garrosh is guilty and continues from that point onward. Continually arguing that in order to change, Garrosh needs to live. That is one way of defending I suppose. It does actually work, as Baine is able convince most of the hostile witnesses into wanting Garrosh to live, and repent for what he did. Baine, even if he hates the very idea of him defending Garrosh, does a brilliant job, all because of honour.

As I read, I realised I would defend Garrosh in a totally different way. It would be easier way, but it would be one that would truly put Horde on the trial. Because Baine accepted Garrosh is guilty, he distanced the Horde from Garrosh. I on other hand would fall in that trap. I would distance others from the Horde, like actions of Dragonmaw. I would present the attack on Northwatch Hold, and subsequent razing of Theramore as a necessary military decision. You might argue, but the case could be made well enough. Same for the attack on Ashenvale. I would make a victim out of the Horde. Present it as the underdog struggling for its place in the world. In words of Baine Bloodhoof, that might not be honourable, but it would certainly work on the Celestials.

Now for some of the accusations. While some are true, and there is not a shade of doubt that Garrosh did it, others are so farfetched it is just ridiculous. I mean, there is no point to accuse an individual for actions of one of his allies did twenty years ago. When that said individual was not in power, and not even on the same planet.
Genocide. Murder. Forcible transfer of population. Enforced disappearance of individuals. Enslavement. The abduction of children. Torture. The killing of prisoners. Forced pregnancy. The wanton destruction of cities, towns, and villages not justified by military or civilian necessity.
Let us start with the easy ones, the ones we can say without doubt he did commit. Forcible transfer of population. He forced the trolls to the slums and then out of Orgrimmar. Enforced disappearance of individuals. People did disappear under his rule, mostly because of independent actions of his Kor'kron elite. Torture, without a doubt. Killing of prisoners, as well. The last two crimes are not something that ever happened only under the rule of Garrosh, but they can pin it on him. The abduction of children could be argued about, for example, are magnataur even sentient beings, but let us just say that he did it.

That leaves us with genocide, murder, enslavement, forced pregnancy, and wanton destruction of cities, towns, and villages not justified by military or civilian necessity. Beside the imagined charges Tyrande came up with, there is, at least to my recollection no evidence of Garrosh ever committing a genocide. He was an orc supremacist, without a doubt. But he and his armies did not target just one race specifically. They targeted the enemy, and they killed it. All in the name of war. Although, she might be referring to all the cut trees in Ashenvale. That is the only genocide Garrosh committed, cutting down the forest.

Murder is another accusation that does not make any sense. As a Warchief, his position is of supreme military commander and judge. That means, when he kills somebody, it cannot be murder, because he is the law. As Baine elaborated in trial, while Vol'jin might have been right, in the eyes of Garrosh the troll was committing a treason, thus had to die. As for Garrosh actually killing anyone, so did all the other soldiers in the vast armies of the Horde and the Alliance. Generally killing in war is not a murder and is excluded from punishment by all sane or insane laws, whichever you prefer.

Enslavement is another interesting topic. Closest we ever came to was with the magnataurs, and they were not enslaved, they were extorted into helping the Horde. Their children were held hostage. Again, slavery is not how Garrosh rolls, or are we now putting him on trial for his shamans subduing the elements to their will? But then again, same were doing the warlocks on both sides with demons, and nobody is prosecuting them. Or the case of lepper gnomes? Bunch of them are working in the Silvermoon's sweatshops ever since Blood Elves joined the Horde, yet none is ever concerned about them. And let us not start with the whole issue of morality as the whole argument will be void.

Forced pregnancy is a blatant, and false accusation. It holds only because one single line in all of the bill of indictment. That line being "You are also charged for all acts committed in your name, or by those with whom you have allied". By this line alone they could pin the razing of Telmor, which took place even before the First War on him. Garrosh never ordered his allies to enslave Alexstrasza, he never had anything to do with the whole matter of enslaving the dragons, and using them as a weapon. That was the thing of the old Horde led by Orgrim Doomhammer and the generation that lost the Second War.

And if I wanted to play the devil's advocate, I would point out that Alexstrasza chose freely to give birth to more dragons in hope they would one day be free, even if she did it only because orcs smeared contents of her eggs over her face. And again, it was the members of the Old Horde that fell apart and was defeated by Turalyon that did this. Yes, the old Horde was bad, heinous, and all other synonyms that would fit, but Garrosh was not even around in those times.

If my memory is still any good, Dragonmaw Clan used Black, Nether, and Proto-drakes. Not any of the amicable flights that helped Azeroth. A point could be made, that by subduing the black dragonflight, Dragonmaw helped Azeroth after the Cataclysm, as the Blacks were set on destruction of the whole world. And they did not mess with Red, Green, Bronze, or Blue dragonflight.

That leaves us with the wanton destruction of cities, towns, and villages not justified by military or civilian necessity. Any target Garrosh set to destroy, wipe from the face of the world, was, or could be a military necessity. Theramore as the glaring example, was the main base for all the Alliance incursions in the South Barrens, exposing the Tauren and every Horde village south of Crossroads. Theramore is the prime reason why Alliance was able to set a foothold in Stonetalon Mountains, thus stretching the front line all around the Horde. Sure, I will admit freely that civilians died. But, and this but is important. Many witnesses confirmed that Garrosh was intelligent, cunning tactician. We can be certain at this point that he knew Baine would warn Jaina about the incoming attack on her city.

That again, was a calculated military decision. Garrosh let Baine warn Jaina. Proof of that is Garrosh being the only one in the whole court room not surprised by this unveiling of information and insisting on Baine to defend him. Garrosh wanted to wipe as much of the Alliance upper military command as possible in one fell swoop. The civilians in Theramore had the chance to leave, they themselves opted to stay. Thus they died. And with just one bomb thrown on Theramore, Horde got rid of the stretched front. Alliance forces still in Kalimdor were cut from their supply line in Theramore, and could only retreat to Ashenvale and from there to Darnassus. I am sure a similar argument could be made for any other Alliance outpost that Garrosh destroyed.

In the end, it was Zaela, Shokia, Kairoz, Thalen, and Wrathion who helped Garrosh escape. I had my doubts of Wrathion before. The one who surprised me was Thalen. But then again, he was afraid for his own well-being considering he helped in the attack on Theramore. And considering how Jaina and Regent Lord were actually talking lately, he was concerned about extradition. In the end, Garrosh escapes, travels to the Draenor of past, where he sees his father screaming at the top of the hill.

As once a wizened old wizard said to his little friend:
“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”

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