Originally Posted by Calemyr
The moment Balgruuf (rather angrily) announced he wouldn't put politics before the well-being of his people, I knew what side I was on. Whiterun's. Seriously. Ulfric will never win on my computer just because of that one outburst.
That's a perfectly respectable and admirable positions to take, but purely playing devil's advocate here, is it such a wise choice for Whiterun to attempt to go it alone?
Its strategic importance (the only way to get around Skyrim without going through Whiterun Hold, is to detour north through Hjaalmarch (Morthal), The Pale (Dawnstar) and Winterhold, all three of which are coastal thus prone to raids by Imperial forces which control the seas) coupled with its known security problems suggest it's not strong enough to hold out against the Imperial army AND the Stormcloaks.
It may be able to hold off an assault by one side, but then what's stopping the other from marching in and mopping up afterwards? Wouldn't that cause even more suffering on Whiterun's citizens than just surrendering/allying from the start?
The only reason why it hasn't been taken, is because of this very fact - the Stormcloaks and the Imperials are waiting for the other to make the first move on Whiterun.
Baalgruuf is playing for time by refusing to station Imperial troops, but equally he's not opening his gates to the Stormcloaks. Eventually however, he's going to have to make a choice.