Hobbes took a few thoughtful bites, then set down his toast. "We've given our listeners a number of hints on dealing with citizens, we've never shared with the citizens tips on dealing with humans. Do you think there would be a pay-off if we tried?"
"I don't know" Diego began "We already have one here, that would be a pretty big pay-off itself. The aliens to the east aren't going to listen, and we can't be too sure any other ones would trust us. What kind of pay-off can you expect? There are truces with small towns and limited fighting - but none of them have tried throwing in with a major city-state, No attempts to replace satellites have gone off without getting shot down. nor are they going to pay us much tribute."
"Sounds like there is room for improvement then."
"Hobbes, I was town a few days ago, and found a reclamation specialist who had some cocaine to trade. You do not grow that stuff anywhere near hear. We have all of civilization to save and rebuild, yet someone down south still thinks growing and selling poison to stupid Yankees is a priority. If citizen nature is even half as bad as human nature - its just not going to happen."
"Well, what can we do then?"
"I don't subscribe to the 'I'm not a pessimist, I'm a realist' junk adage - I'm just a pessimist. I would agree that we are doing a good thing, just not that we are doing all the good things, or even much good things. However, at some point that greed is going to matter. Citizens are going to want potato chips enough to actually trade with or deal with humans to get them in a manner easier than growing an unknown vegetable and an unknown legume to produce oil to fry them in. The trouble is humans need to start their machine, the alien's theirs, and then the two need to find out where the cogs inter-mesh."
"What if we redefine the metaphor? Argue its a path together, encourage sharing now, not once everyone has factories?"
"Words have power. Bullets do as well. But really, power is power - all else is just tools. We can describe the world and influence some opinions, but it takes an actual demonstration of ability to influence. The world isn't a quantum state that changes because you look away."
"Didn't we rule out physics metaphors?"
"Have we played a devil's advocate yet that hasn't had a few broken rules?"