The League vs the Star Empire of Manticore: Can Manticore prevent the League from rearming?
Assuming that Manticore pursues an all-out offensive strategy resulting in the near-total destruction of Battle Fleet and the destruction of all known military shipbuilding centers, can Manticore indefinitely prevent the Solarian League from rearming?
This is one of the questions I've previously addressed here on the Bar. In my opinion, it would not be that difficult for Manticore to prevent the reemergence of large military shipbuilding centers in the territory of the Solarian League. I gave you the breakdown on the forces I thought would be necessary to manage something like this quite some time ago, and it really wouldn't be a huge commitment of forces on Manticore's part.
It would, of course, by the very nature of things, be far more difficult to prevent the development of clandestine shipyards -- like Bolthole --23 at this time might have very little or no industry, or even be totally unpopulated. Developing such capacity would be a far from minor chore, however. It would require a mammoth financial investment, and it would also require the movement of quite a bit of materiel and personnel. The sheer cost of the project would probably be a considerable deterrent for any individual member system of the League, and it would be extraordinarily difficult for something as corrupt and bureaucratic as the present League to manage something like this without having Manticoran sympathizers somewhere become aware of it and blow the whistle on the effort. I'm certainly not trying to argue that it would be impossible to accomplish this. I'm simply pointing out that it would not be easy to accomplish it, and that there would be many opportunities for Manticore to become aware of what was happening, even if they didn't know exactly where it was happening.
Bear in mind also, however, that it isn't Bolthole's productivity which makes Bolthole so dangerous to Manticore. The fact that it was possible to build up an entire modern navy without Manticore becoming aware of it was obviously of major importance, of course. But what truly made Bolthole dangerous were the efforts of Shannon Foraker and her little think tank. Bolthole could have built exactly the same number of pre-pod superdreadnoughts, and it wouldn't have materially affected the balance of power between Manticore and the Republic of Haven at all.
In the same sense, a Solarian Bolthole which served as the secret research center in which the Solarian League developed matching -- or superior -- technology would be extremely dangerous. However, Manticore has already been burned by that particular set of events already, and the Alliance has been building up its production capability ever since the beginning of this round of the Havenite Wars. Assuming the Solarian League or some other nasty person doesn't get a lot luckier than the Republic got in Operation Beatrice, Manticore's building capacity is unlikely to do anything but increase. I think that we could reasonably assume that the Star Empire's management would see a certain logic in locating well protected, locally manned shipbuilding centers outside the Manticore Binary System itself after what happened to Grendelsbane and what almost happened in the Battle of Manticore. The reason I make this point is that the Solarian League would not only have to build a Bolthole at which the new technologies could be researched and developed, but would also have to build a Bolthole -- or a series of Boltholes -- in which it could clandestinely build a fleet, as well, and that fleet would have to be big enough to take on whatever the Manties had built and/or were capable of quickly building. So if the Star Empire is monitoring the star systems where such fleets might be built (aside, of course, from whatever Bolthole-clone the Sollies might manage to create), it would really come down to what those built-from-scratch, secret building centers could produce compared to what the openly acknowledged Manticoran (and quite possibly Havenite and Andermani, as well) yards could produce. Given the fact that I'm pretty sure we could count on a Manticore which is attempting to impose what amounts to a long-term occupation of the Solarian League to remember the painful lesson of Bolthole and Operation Thunderbolt, I imagine that the difficulties in secretly building a navy capable of defeating the Star Empire in battle would be significantly greater than many people appear to be assuming.