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Babel

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“Honourable Commissioners, we stand on the brink of galactic peace. There lies before us a chance to forge a lasting alliance from the ruins of the late war between Earth and the Minbari.

“I know that many here are unhappy with the idea of making peace with the Minbari. Many have accused them of treachery and capriciousness; of conducting a great war and then ending it almost on a whim. While it is true that we do not know why the Minbari chose to break off the war on the point of absolute victory…

“Yes, yes! I know that some people say that some other calamity must be about to overtake the Minbari, but there has been no sign of it and whichever way you slice it, we must admit that we were beaten.

“Commissioners! Please, listen. This is what stands in our way now. We have the best chance that any human has ever been offered for a widespread and lasting peace, but we are too proud to take a stand. We say: ‘Let the Minbari sort it out if they’re so superior. Let the Centauri deal in galactic diplomacy. Let us look to our own backyard.’

“Marked on this map of the Earth is…

“Yes, that’s right. The Line. Our last defence against the Minbari. It did not hold, or would not have held if the Minbari had not called off their attack. This is because the Line was a desperate attempt that ran contrary to one of the primary maxims of interstellar warfare. If we look at a map of the solar system, with every vessel in the Earth Force fleet marked in scale, you can see how futile defensive warfare becomes over a large enough scale.

“We can not fence ourselves in any more. We can not avoid dealing with alien races and that means we must have a strength. We do not have the Minbari’s technology, nor the Narn’s military might, nor the Centauri’s wealth and territories. This project will give us an edge, by making us the galaxy’s leading force in interstellar and inter-species diplomacy.

“And think of the intelligence benefits! We would be unable to listen in on official diplomats, but we would at the very least know who was meeting with whom. And then there’s trade. We would be in a position to monitor all manner of transactions, giving us a handle on economic matters as well as political.

“In short, we gain a foothold in, a privileged view of, and unparalleled control over a major focus of galactic events by creating it. This is more than just an ideal, more than just a dream. We advance the cause of peace and interstellar relations, but we advance our own cause at the same time.

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Special Commission on Interstellar and Xenological Relations, I present the Babylon Project; our last, best hope for a better future.”