Your summary of Liu Cixin’s argument against a strategy of interstellar trade and cooperation: “Even if two societies were able to communicate, there would still be incredible distances to surmount, both physically and in terms of culture and language.” I suggest that the same two factors, physical distance and cultural distance, are also obstacles to a strategy of interstellar extermination.

Even assuming you have the technology to quickly destroy every living thing on a planet light years away… if you don’t have thorough knowledge of their culture, how do you know they don’t have colonies or allies on other planets, perhaps in other star systems, which can respond to your attack with a counter-attack?

Perhaps the pragmatically optimal strategy for dealing with other civilisations will be neither a cooperation strategy nor an extermination strategy, but an isolationist strategy. You don’t try to make friends with them and risk betrayal, you don’t try to kill them and risk provoking their friends and relatives, you just keep your distance and leave them alone… Which would explain why we’re not picking up messages.

Someone who likes sharing factual information and fragments of the big picture

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