Re: General order 24, were Kir kand Scotty bluffing?
Threatening to turn the surface of a planet to glass may sound great and all that, but it's a useless threat. If the other guy decides to call your bluff, you either have to back down or carry out your threat. Both options won't bring back the hostages. And in the latter option, the irony is that it's not the other guy who kills the hostages. It's you.
Eminiar had been losing three million people a year for the past five hundred years. Executing General Order 24 would have killed perhaps three million people, but also would have finally ended their war with Vendikar once and for all.
It is the stated position of the Department of Defense and the United States Air Force that a rigidly enforced system of safeguards and controls insure that occurrences such as those depicted in this story cannot happen.