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The Idiran-Culture War was a conflict between the Culture and the Idiran Empire that officially spanned from 1327 CE to 1375 CE. The result was the dissolution of the Idiran Empire. It was regarded as a small and short war that involved .02% of the galaxy's volume and .01% of the population. Nonetheless from a historical perspective it was the most significant conflict of the previous 50 thousand years.[1]

Background[edit | edit source]

Idiran Empire[edit | edit source]

The Culture[edit | edit source]

Homomdan polity[edit | edit source]

The Homomdan polity's foreign policy for the tens of thousands of years prior to the war was to maintain a balance of power amongst its peer civiliations. The Homomda feared the Culture's rising power would soon disrupt this balance,[1] perhaps presaging the rise of a poor - or intransigent - galactic actor if left unchecked.[2] The Homomda were alone in overtly acting on this assessment, though they were not alone in making the assessment.[1]

The conflict between the Idiran Empire and the Culture was a convenient way for the Homomda to pursue their own interests. The Homomda deployed a limited portion of their space forces to support the Idirans; Homomdan warcraft remained superior to Culture warcraft throughout the war and filled quality gaps within Idiran forces. Contrary to expectations, the Homomda found their ability to influence and moderate Idiran expansionism to be very limited. Ultimately, the Homomda were only prepared to support the Idirans so long as it served Homomdan interests to do so.[1]

This was a limited war for the Homomda. It did not seek the Culture's destruction - or vice versa - and throughout the war the two polities maintained limited diplomatic, cultural, and trade links. The Homomda made it known that it would commit itself fully to the war if its homeworlds were attacked by the Culture, but this never happened.[1] The dispute between the Homomda and the Culture was always secondary to the conflict between the Idirans and the Culture.[2]

Pre-war events[edit | edit source]

The war followed a series of escalating disputes between the Culture and the Idirans that preceded it by 150 years. The first dispute was in 1267 CE. The second in 1288 CE saw the Culture construct its first warship, in prototype form, in 500 years in 1289 CE.[1]

The third in 1307 CE resulted in machine fatalities. The discussion of the possibility of open war caused the Peace Faction to split from the Culture proper. The situation was temporary defused by the mutual withdrawal of forces arranged by the Anchramin Pit Conference.[1]

Armed conflict erupted again in the fourth dispute of 1323 CE. Initially only Culture proxies were actively engaged against the Idirans. The Culture's War Council of 1326 CE saw more parts of the Culture renouncing violence and splitting away. The following year, the Idiran-Culture War Conduct Agreement was ratified and the war officially started with the direct engagement of Culture units and personnel.[1]

Course of the war[edit | edit source]

The war starts and Homomdan involvement[edit | edit source]

Contrary to Culture expectations, the Homomda joined the war in a limited capacity on the Idiran side in 1332 CE.[1]

The Culture fell back during the early stages. The Idirans found it difficult to locate and attack the distant nodes of Culture war production, and were forced to subdue the often uncooperative lesser civilizations abandoned by the Culture's retreat. Several war-irrelevant Culture Orbitals were attacked, some instances resulting in several billion deaths, but these strikes only stretched the Idiran military further.[1]

The key Culture combatants during this time were the General Contact Units. The GCUs were grossly outnumbered but superior field technology made them individually superior.[1] GCUs bore the brunt of the fighting for the first four years of the war.[3]

At the end of the first stage, the Culture completed the changeover to war production to support a growing and augment a fleet of dedicated warships.[1]

The Idiran advance[edit | edit source]

The Culture strikes back[edit | edit source]

Endgame[edit | edit source]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

With the Idiran Empire defeated, the Culture resolutely returned to its pre-war disposition.[4] The majority of its war fleet was scrapped during the post-war demobilization, with a relative few retained disarmed, or Stored. Within 200 years the number of its active warcraft fell below pre-war numbers.[5]

The same determination to return to peacetime activities also affected Culture foreign relations. In the immediate post-war period, the Culture rejected the option to affect major change to the Affronter polity through a short and sharp war; as a result the Affront became a long term problem for Culture foreign policy.[4]

Millions of Culture citizens went into Storage, with the instructions that they were to be revived when the Culture proved that the war was morally justified. The "proof" was the peaceful passage of time over which it was probable more people would have died from Idiran Empire expansion than from the war. The criteria was fulfilled in 1813 CE.[6]

The Homomdan polity maintained its civilizational course after the war, even though the war did not achieve its desired goal. Over time, the Homomda discovered the Culture to be a reasonably responsible member of the galactic community, and the two developed an amiable relationship.[2]

Not all Idirans accepted the victors. Some committed suicide. Others went into exile; the Homomda took in and employed some exiles, but refused to aid further attacks on the Culture; some fled to little-known parts of the Magellanic Clouds, or to the Andromeda Galaxy. A few joined the Culture, or entered the Culture's employ.[1]

Casualties[edit | edit source]

Type Quantity
Sentients 851.4 billion (±3%)
Interstellar vehicles 91,215,660 (±200)
Orbitals 14334
Planets and major moons 53
Rings 1
Spheres 3
Stars suffering major alterations 6

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Consider Phlebas, The war, briefly
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Look to Windward, chapter 5
  3. Consider Phlebas, chapter 2
  4. 4.0 4.1 Excession, chapter 5.3
  5. Excession, chapter 4.5
  6. Consider Phlebas, Dramatis personae
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