Let's imagine a future humanity that has just recently achieved FTL ability. They've recently begun expanding, and are ravenous for resources. They encounter an alien race, but they can't ascertain much about them. Any probes get destroyed, any long-range scans are blocked. Humanity can only deduce their presence by unusual radiation spectra and astronomical bodies cauterized by bombardment. What could motivate humans to attack these aliens? My current ideas are:
- The aliens' territory can be deduced by finding out where probes go dark. That territory contains something humans want very badly.
- The aliens attacked first.
- Humanity is gripped by very powerful xenophobia
Now let's imagine a stomatopod-like race that calls themselves the Zaux. Their world is one of such violent competition that it is like a perpetual warzone. Due to a biological peculiarity unique to this world, evolution happens thousands of times faster there than on Earth. Almost every species is in an arms race with almost every other species. The Zaux have achieved a relatively stable position in this environment, even if they are constantly at war. They rely on biological machinery for technology, and are capable of interstellar travel. Several other species from their world have naturally evolved such capabilities, and several more have developed non-natural means of doing so. The Zaux are expanding to acquire more resources, but must fight with their enemies every step of the way. Suddenly, a new, nosy, expansive race comes up out of nowhere (humans). The Zaux have limited resources they can divert to deal with them. What could motivate them to attack these newcomers? My current ideas are:
- Zaux could take resources from humans more easily than they could extract them on their own
- Humans are in area that Zaux can expand in without threat of their other enemies fighting them for territory
- Zaux do not realize that humans are an extraterrestrial race, and assume that they are hostile
- Humans attacked Zaux first
Finally, let's imagine that humans have details on the Zaux. They're a bit younger than humans, but they don't waste resources and allocate them with an efficiency humans have never been willing to force each other to do. They have also had the benefit of the faster rate of technological advances that come during wartime for the entirety of their existence. Consequently, they are thousands of years ahead of humans technologically. The only advantages we could possibly hope for are numbers, or that the Zaux are too engaged with more advanced enemies to pay us much attention. Given such knowledge, how would any human motivations for aggression against the Zaux change? Is there anything that could make them risk war? Or would they stoop to the lowest levels to avoid it?