The Imperial linguists pore over the conversation transcripts. Drones deliver the wood using automobile trucks.
Right. Okay. Time to orient. It's really very stressful having the future of your civilization resting on your shoulders.
There are very powerful spacefaring aliens who want to live here. They seem friendly, but the issue with being weaker is that you have to hope that the stronger party isn't interested in squishing you. Their blue representative seemed to imply that they would want to be able to live here, but wouldn't extend that same right to Imperials, because they don't like immigration. And they have tons of children, presumably, because they auction off child credits – probably that was some sort of policy to prevent the population from getting too high. Actually, it definitely was, because Shenmi talked about 'carrying capacity'.
Would that be bad? People would be unhappy, he bets, but if they pay tax and follow Imperial law, then it's all good. The lack of deontological symmetry would be very displeasing, though.
What leverage do they have? They absolutely cannot defeat the Amentans, but they could potentially deny them what they want. There was a proposition in the Senate a while back that passed with narrow margin about preparing scorched-earth tactics in the case of invasion – although in that case it wasn't specifically about aliens.
If they were willing to commit civilizational suicide, they could destroy all their infrastructure, technology, and stores of knowledge, and release hazardous materials into the air, water, and soil.
Would that make the entire planet uninhabitable? Probably not, but the most desirable areas would become unlivable, or at least very unpleasant to live in. Presumably if the Amentans had the capacity to clean up environmental pollution and also weren't interested in being antiantisocial, they could have just bombarded the planet from orbit and cleaned up afterwards.
Is he willing to do that? It only counts as leverage if he's committed to use it against aggressive actions. Does he have the conviction?
He's not sure. Decision theory says that he should be willing to. He really really hopes it doesn't come to that.
Okay. Time is up.