In the amoral world of Diplomacy, [Loyalty, honesty, frankness, gratitude, chivalry, magnanimity] are the hallmarks of the born loser. If a fallen enemy reaches out a hand for assistance, the wise man lops it off. If a friend does you a good turn when you’re down, wait until he’s down, then beat him to death. If an ally asks for your help in planning the next season’s moves, give it freely and copiously, then do the reverse of what you agreed and let him take the counter-attack. Try to surround yourself with people who trust you, then let them down; find an ally who will gladly die for you and see that he does just that.
-"The game of Diplomacy" by Richard Sharp 1978For those who haven’t been following the diplomatic maneuverings in Providence, a little backstory:
When Against All Authorities (AAA) evicted Curatores Veritatis Alliance (CVA) from Providence nullsec and reseeded the space with hand-picked vassal alliances, they did a curious thing. They left Paxton Federation, a close CVA ally who fought alongside CVA during the Great Eviction, in place.
That raised a few eyebrows. Especially in CVA.
I mean, say you’re CVA. You’re being ignominiously defeated by AAA and driven from your 0.0 holdings. You’re locked in hopeless battle for nullsec survival, fighting shoulder to shoulder with your trusty Paxton Federation buddies. All for one! One for all! We stand or fall together! Rawr!
Then the enemy turns to Paxton and says: Look dude, my fight’s with CVA. Paxton, I kinda like. Paxton’s never crossed me and they’ve all got honest faces. So, I’m not going to take over Paxton’s systems and pass them out to my friends. Once the fighting’s over no hard feeling. Bygones, and all that.
Well. It’s one of those moments that test the bonds of trust.
Paxton quickly said it had nothing to do with AAA’s decision and was as surprised as anyone else. Paxton said that no secret deal had been struck under the table. No knife was poised behind CVA’s collective back. Paxton continued the losing fight as CVA’s trusted ally and the whole matter was chalked up as an attempt by the Machiavellian AAA diplomatic corps to sow mistrust between two loyal friends.
But when the war ended, the dust settled and CVA was relegated to low sec space, AAA was as good as its word. Paxton territories were not given away to friends of AAA. AAA even returned the station system D-GTMI to Paxton without evident preconditions. Kirith Kodachi and his Paxton brethren wondered openly what those clever lads at AAA might be up to with this unforeseen maneuver.
Now if you look at Paxton space, it is a line of systems running like a strand of pearls through the center of Providence. And there are two CVA systems (FX-7EM & MVCJ-E) that touch Paxton Space. If CVA decides to let sovereignty on these systems lapse for financial reasons (see “Friends Like These”), who better than Paxton to take them over. Sort of ‘Here. I’ll just hold these for you until you’re feeling better.’
And if CVA pilots longing for nullsec decide to move into Paxton corporations, is Paxton going to turn them away?
So. As CVA languished in lowsec, shedding pilots and plotting a comeback, Paxton appeared to thrive, growing stronger. And while the CVA/Paxton friendship remained solid, you have to think Paxton was relishing its new role as senior partner in the relationship. Its borders were secure and it had a good chance of expanding them if CVA dropped sov on systems bordering Paxton space. Paxton’s fortunes were looking up.
Alas, trouble loves company.
The rule among the alliances now occupying former CVA space is that they don’t mess with each other’s sovereignty. An alliance may not attempt to expand its sovereignty beyond the systems allocated to it by AAA without AAA permission. Period.
Last Monday, Chaos Theory temporarily lost sov in AY-24I due to some internal glitch. Paxton decided to have some fun at Chaos' expense and went in to shoot up the off-lined sovereignty mods and POS. CVA went along for the lulz. And CVA dropped a Territorial Claim Unit in Chaos Theory’s system.
For Paxton, it had to be a face-palm moment.
Supporting CVA would lose them AAA protection of their space. Extracting themselves from the situation would mean an end to the fiction of Paxton/CVA shared interests and the loss of Paxton’s only ally.
They chose (or were forced) to back CVA's play. Now the wolf, in the form of anyone with an interest in Paxton’s demise, is at the door. Unless Paxton’s diplomatic corps can talk AAA into calling off the dogs, the scouring of Providence has begun again – this time on Paxton’s nickel.
CVA had to know their action would be devastating for Paxton. So why do it?
I suspect that CVA took the opportunity to test Paxton’s intentions. In effect, it forced Paxton to either share CVA’s fate in exile, or renounce CVA openly. CVA leaders are known ideological purists – “with us or against us” types. In their minds Paxton’s need to observe AAA’s sovereignty rules in order to keep Paxton systems was in conflict with Paxton’s duty to help CVA recover their lost systems.
By breaking AAA sovereignty rules on Paxton’s behalf, CVA has broken any tacit agreements between AAA and Paxton. CVA has made sure Paxton will not profit from CVA’s losses, and that Paxton pilots are fully committed to the CVA cause.
CVA appears to have found an ally who will gladly die for them, and are in the process of making sure Paxton does just that.