A science fiction story that I thought very clever, Kirk and associates encounter a society which has concluded that warfare between two belligerant worlds can never be ended, so it shall be replaced with a virtual war fought via computer network. Many of the miseries of actual war, such as material destruction, famine, pain, disease, war crimes and permanently disabled persons are abolished. Only death, instant and painless, meted out without respect to persons, remains.
This story is even more prescient in view of the news on the date of this writing, 08 December 2011. Today a concerted attack was made on various US-based Internet commercial assets in response to the detention of WikiLeaks principal Julian Assange. If we as humans should be so fortunate, perhaps our compulsion for killing the people who belong to the tribe over the hill and who worship strange gods can be supplanted by virtual warfare coupled to euthanasia. Aside from eliminating the above-named ills, the immense economic burden of our current warfare industry can be reduced by about 60 dB, with a concomitant blossoming of our society.
But getting back to our story, we have Kirk and crew first puzzled by an apparent sitzkrieg between the two combatants until Spock gains enough data to infer the outline of a the conflict. Kirk determines this to be a malignant societal devlopment and to throw a monkey wrench into the works, on the grounds that his crew is being threatened with annihilation. Escape, hit and run raids, other commando tactics ultimately put the Landing Party in a position to destroy the node computer, abrogating the treaty on which the war operates. Thus the neat and tidy Eminians are compelled to face actual war and are so repelled that peace talks commence.
An excellent story, presented surprisingly well considering the limitations of network television. Overall I rank this episode number 6 of the 79 original Star Trek episodes.