Gary Mitchell wrote:
The Federation Council ordered Starfleet not to interfere until they could begin talks with Gowron. Sisko took it upon himself to rescue the Detapa Council. The mission was not endorsed by the U.F.P.
I stand corrected.
Here’s a review of key quotes and events, along with my commentary.
BTW, why are color tags disabled on this forum? For legibility, I wanted to represent quotes, events, and commentary in three different colors, but I can’t. Instead I’ll put quotes in bold
, commentary in italics
, and [events surrounded by brackets].
[Worf learns of the Klingon plan and tells Sisko.]
Sisko: By attacking Cardassia, they think they’re protecting the Alpha Quadrant from the Dominion.
Sisko accepts that the Klingons are honest in their concerns about the Dominion taking over Cardassia.
[Sisko confronts Martok.]
Sisko: General, I want you to call off this attack.
Martok: And what do you propose we do instead? Stand by and allow the Dominion to take over the Alpha Quadrant?
There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the Klingon Empire’s concern about the coup on Cardassia. Looking at it from the Klingon point of view, they have no choice. Like Martok says, they can’t just stand by and do nothing while the Dominion gets a huge beachhead in the Alpha Quadrant. Sisko is making a demand that the Klingons can’t possibly agree to, and doesn’t seem to realize it.
[Sisko addresses his senior staff after talking to Starfleet.]
Sisko: We’ve been ordered not to get involved.
It is the job of the top brass in Starfleet and the Federation government to make these decisions, and they made their decision. There is room for argument on whether it was the correct decision, but it’s certainly not a completely unreasonable decision, and it was made by the people who are authorized by the people of the Federation to make those decisions.
Dax: The Klingons are still our allies. If we warn the Cardassians, we’d be betraying them.
O’Brien: Besides, what if the Klingons are right? What if the Dominion has taken over the Cardassian government?
O’Brien: If we disobey Starfleet orders and warn the Cardassians, we may end up starting a war with the Klingons.
All these were certainly factors that influenced the decision not to get involved.
[Sisko defies orders and warns the Cardassians.]
I’m not sure what the point was of the silly “Tailor, take my measurements for a suit” game. When Sisko is intentionally talking about the coming invasion in front of somebody who he knows will convey the information to the Cardassians, does he think he’s not disobeying orders because he’s not addressing Garak directly?
[The Cardassian government becomes aware of the threat, thanks to Sisko.]
Sisko: They’ve [the Federation Council] decided to condemn the Klingon invasion. In response, Gowron has expelled all Federation citizens from the Klingon Empire, and recalled his ambassadors from the Federation.... The Klingons have withdrawn from the Khitomer Accords. The peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire has ended.
By disobeying orders and warning the Cardassians, Sisko may have forced the Federation to act sooner than they wanted to. Gowron’s response was certainly an overreaction, but not completely surprising, considering who we’re talking about. If Dax’s reading of the treaty is correct, it was Sisko who first breached the treaty when he warned the Cardassians about the invasion.
[Gowron asks Worf to join the invasion force. Worf says he cannot because of his oath to Starfleet.]
Gowron: What good is your word when you give it to people who care nothing for honor? Who refuse to lift a finger while Klingon warriors shed blood for their protection? I tell you they are without honor!
Given Klingon belief that the Dominion is behind the coup on Cardassia, and given Klingon values, and given Sisko’s violation of both the Klingo-Fed treaty and his oath as a Starfleet officer to obey the lawful orders of his superiors, Gowron’s position is completely understandable and completely predictable.
[Sisko disobeys orders again and arranges with Dukat to rescue the members of the Datapa Council.]
Worf: Sir, if the Klingons are right, if the Cardassian government has been taken over by the Founders...
Sisko: [interrupting] Then we’ll be helping them to escape. That’s the chance we’ll have to take.
A chance that his superiors judged was not worth taking, but who listens to them?
[Sisko and crew set out on the Defiant on the mission to rescue the Datapa council. They cloak on the way to the rendezvous.]
Bashir: Our agreement with the Romulans expressly prohibits use of the cloaking device in the Alpha Quadrant.
Sisko: You’re right, it does. But there are hundreds of Klingon ships between us and Dukat, and I intend to make that rendezvous in one piece.
Great. So in addition to disobeying orders, destroying relations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, and possibly supporting a Dominion plot to establish a large beachhead in the Alpha Quadrant, Sisko has also taken it upon himself to breach a treaty between the Federation and Romulus and effectively send the message that the agreement will be ignored whenever it’s inconvenient. That can’t be good for Romulo-Federation relations.
Bashir: Well, I won’t tell the Romulans if you don’t.
I wouldn’t expect the Klingons to be so tight-lipped. And how else are you going to explain how the Detapa council members ended up on DS9 with a Klingon fleet hot on their heels? There’s no way Romulus doesn’t find out about this.
[The Defiant arrives at the rendezvous and finds Dukat’s ship under attack by multiple Klingon ships.]
Sisko: Arm quantum torpedoes, drop the cloak, and raise shields. We’re going in. Red Alert. Commander Worf, transmit a priority one signal to the Klingon ship. Tell them to break off their attack and stand down immediately.
Ironically, this would probably be another breach by Sisko of the Klingo-Fed treaty, if the Klingon Empire hadn’t just withdrawn from it. Still, it is still arguably an act of war against the Klingon Empire, even if the Klingons did end up firing the first shot.
[The Defiant rescues the council and hightails it back to DS9 with the Klingons in hot pursuit.]
Martok: Captain [Sisko], I demand you surrender the Cardassian council members to us immediately.
Sisko has put the Federation in a very awkward position. It is one thing to stand by and not interfere while the Klingon Empire invades Cardassia. It is quite another thing to actively participate in the conquest by handing the Cardassian government over to the Klingons. Of course, Sisko spares the Federation from having to make that difficult decision by taking it upon himself to make the decision instead of consulting with those who have the authority to make it.
Sisko: They’re not Founders, Martok. We tested them. You were wrong.
Just because the council members themselves aren’t changelings doesn’t mean the Dominion hasn’t infiltrated this government or that the coup is not part of a Dominion strategy to control Cardassia.
Gowron: It is of no consequence. All that matters is the Alpha Quadrant will be safer with the Klingon Empire in control of Cardassia.
Sounds reasonable. It would sound even more reasonable if the Khitomer Accords were still in effect. Better to have Federation, Klingon, and Cardassian space ruled by two allied powers than by three powers who all hate each other.
Gowron: Now surrender the council members or we will have no choice but to take them by force.
Sisko: And risk an all-out war with the Federation?
What outrageous hypocrisy! Sisko figures that when he and his crew commit an act of aggression against the Klingons, the Klingons are supposed to take it, but if the Klingons respond with their own act of aggression (which, as pointed out above, the Klingons are pretty much compelled to), it is the Klingons who are responsible for starting a war. Ridiculous. Sisko invited the Klingons to war; ironically it was the war-loving Klingons who declined the invitation.
Gowron: If a war starts here, the blame will be yours.
Gowron: [says something in Klingon]
Worf: He said, “It is a good day to die.”
Completely unrelated, but I have wondered about this. How come the Klingons usually speak in English, and when they speak in Klingon the universal translator doesn’t translate it?
[A battle ensues between DS9 and the Klingon fleet. At least eight Klingon ships are destroyed.]
Sisko: This is exactly what the Founders want. Klingon against Cardassian. Federation against Klingon. The more we fight each other, the weaker we’ll get, and the less chance we have against the Dominion.
No kidding, Benjamin. Those sound like some pretty damn good reasons to leave the Klingons alone instead of turning against them.
[Gowron, realizing his fleet is up against impossible odds, withdraws, but makes a parting comment.]
Gowron: The Klingon Empire will remember what has happened here. You have sided against us in battle, and this we do not forgive, or forget!
What a day. Sisko has repeatedly disobeyed direct orders, possibly supported a Dominion operation to establish a strategic beachhead in the Alpha Quadrant near the wormhole, turned a powerful ally into a powerful enemy, and breached a Romulo-Federation agreement. He should be court martialed.