Thread: The Typhon Pact
View Single Post
Old July 19 2009, 02:33 PM   #79
Sci's Avatar
Location: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."
Re: The Typhon Pact

Oy gevalt! I'm gone to the Medieval Faire for a day and look what I come back to!

Re: My hypothetical Typhon Pact salesman. Thanks for the kind words, all.

Kestrel wrote: View Post
Except that's *not* how the Federation acts. The Prime Directive is meant to prevent cultural contamination on pre-warp (thus pre-contact) planets, to prevent societies from being manipulated with promises of lofty technology and miraculous abilities.
Actually, "Redemption, Parts I & II" made it clear that it allied to post-warp societies like the Klingons, too. The Federation just doesn't, in general, share its technology. It trades some of it with societies it deems "mature" enough to handle it -- though how they can argue the Klingon Empire is more "mature" than, say, a peaceful liberal democracy that simply hasn't yet developed warp drive, I'm not sure -- but in general, it doesn't share its toys. Now, the upshot of that is that it also, in general, does not interfere in foreign cultures' internal affairs (unless Captain Kirk or whoever breaks the PD in that episode). (Though that hasn't stopped the last two Klingon Chancellors from being installed by Starfleet officers, or stopped the Ferengi from adopting Federation values about gender roles and the need for social welfare programs within fifteen years of meeting the UFP, so someone who is more cynical might argue about the Federation not interfering in foreign cultures.)

It's just a fact of life: There are choices and trade-offs you have to make, and when you're the big kid on the block with all of the biggest toys and you chose not to share them for any reason, someone is going to be pissed off at you and will notice that you gain things from not sharing (such as no one else having toys as good as yours).

The scenario Sci describes is the Feds acting like a dick, but it's not how they'd act, because said planets are already enmeshed in the politics of the Quadrant, and have been victimized by the Borg and are asking for help. The Prime Directive is out the window.
The scenario I described is backed up by canon and by A Singular Destiny. In that book, the Federation is withdrawing most of its humanitarian aid from non-Federation words like Tezwa because it simply does not have the resources to keep it all up. It's not abandoning all humanitarian aid, but it's not maintaining previous levels, either. It can't.

Now, what my hypothetical Typhon Pact representative does not mention, and does not care for the Barzanian President to realize, is that the Federation simply cannot help. However, my Pact representative does accurately report pre-Borg Invasion Federation behavior.

I promise you, there are going to be plenty of worlds out there that see the Prime Directive as just being the Federation's way of maintaining its military and technological dominance (just like in real life, there are plenty of people out there who see the U.S.'s attempts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology as being just the newest step in a long tradition of Western European cultures trying to stop other cultures from gaining military and technological parity with them). There are going to be people who will see the fact that the Federation will stand by and let pre-warp civilizations go extinct from natural phenomena in the name of not "contaminating" their cultures (TNG: "Pen Pals," "Homeward"), and will see that as hypocrisy and passive genocide. There are going to be people who notice that Federates installed the last two Klingon Chancellors and conclude that the Klingon Empire now has a Federation puppet government (just like in real life, there are plenty of people who see the aid and loans that go to developing countries from the International Monetary Fund and the industrial countries and conclude that this is a new form of imperialism and that those developing countries have puppet governments). There are going to be people who will look at the fact that the Federation does not share all of its abundant resources with everyone and accuse them of being greedy and of profiting off of the economic oppression of foreign worlds -- just like people do with the U.S. in real life. There are going to be people who look at the fact that the UFP is allied with, engages in trade with, and sends military and other aid to the Klingon Empire (which has been canonically established as engaging in brutal acts of what we would today call human rights violations, which I would presume the characters of Star Trek call "sentients' rights violations") and therefore conclude that the Federation is partly responsible or complicit in Klingon sentients' rights violations (just like there were people who made that conclusion about the U.S.'s relationship with Latin American dictatorships during the 1970s and 1980s).

We, the audience, tend to see the Federation's behavior through Federation eyes. And even through Federation eyes, we sometimes see the Federation's actions as not being morally pure. To someone who is looking at the Federation through alien eyes with an alien value system, though, the Federation's actions might look fundamentally hypocritical and self-serving. What my hypothetical Typhon Pact member said is propaganda, to a point -- but it's also all true. Just like the way the Federates from the canon tend to describe the UFP is propaganda, to a point -- but also true.

In a lot of ways, the behavior of my hypothetical Typhon Pact member -- go to someone who needs help but isn't getting it, point out hypocritical or "bad" behavior on the part of the liberal democratic superpower, then go ahead and give help without being dicks about it -- mirrors the situation that's cropping up between the United States and China today. China has a policy that we might compare to the Prime Directive:

They have a colonial past and value their own right to self-determination as a country, and therefore refuse to interfere, in general, with the internal politics of foreign countries (provided, of course, that they don't consider your culture to be a part of China, like the Tibetans). Meanwhile, Chinese businessmen and the Chinese government are making it a point to invest in the economies of developing countries throughout the world -- in Latin America, in Africa, etc.

The fact that China provides aid and builds up their economies without making demands on their domestic politics -- investing in and trading with the Sudan, for instance, without demanding that the Sudanese government stop engaging in genocide in Darfur -- is making China very popular right now. This is especially true because a lot of people look at things the U.S. has done, like the abuses of Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay, or at the U.S. invading Iraq and then there turning out to be no weapons of mass destruction, and conclude that the U.S. does not really believe in liberal democracy and the rule of law, and has only claimed to do so as a way of interfering with their internal affairs when it provides them with aid or investment.

It's like real-world politics: Looked at through one set of lenses, the U.S./UFP and its actions throughout the past 60/however many years mostly look okay, with some notable lapses. Looked at through another set of lenses, those notable lapses are merely the most famous of a long series of abuses of power and hypocritical behavior that constituted routine policy.

Who's "right?" Probably a little of both.

Doesn't mean the Feds wouldn't act like dicks anyway, but the Pact - if they did that - would be intentionally misleading.
Well, yeah. Of course the Typhon Pact would be lying -- lying, as Rush Limborg noted, with the truth.

It's like the strategy the Soviet Union used against the U.S. in the Third World during the Cold War -- mislead with truth. Point out factual examples of poor U.S. behavior, then do what the U.S. should have done -- provide humanitarian aid without being dicks about it. It was a major tactic for influencing countries away from the U.S. sphere and largely successful in the 1950s, and that was before the Vietnam War convinced half of the developing world that the U.S. was just another imperial power out to dominate them and take away their right to self-determination. Read The Ugly American for a fascinating take on that whole issue.

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
Which isn't really all that much. The only criteria are: 1) No caste-based discrimination, and 2) One world government. Apart from that, it's pretty much anything goes. Doesn't seem that bad, does it?
Actually, I'm pretty sure that the DS9 Relaunch has established that the standards for Federation Membership are more rigorous than that. The basic impression I get is that the Federation requires its Member States to possess governments that are liberal democracies (respecting sentients' rights as outlined in the Guarantees of the Federation Constitution, which were established in TNG's "The Drumhead" and VOY's "Author, Author") and to respect the rule of law. The DS9 Relaunch also seemed to imply that the establishment of normal diplomatic relations with the Cardassian Union was one of the indicators the Federation was using to judge if they were "ready" to join the Federation -- presumably they wanted to measure whether or not bigotry and prejudice were widely-accepted cultural norms on Bajor.

So if, for instance, the Planet of the Nazis had established a Nazi-style government (since Nazis seem so popular with aliens in the Trekverse) and had successfully unified the planet, had then eliminated caste-based discrimination (by, say, successfully expelling or exterminating their ethnic minorities), but also made bigotry against, say, the Planet of the Romans a generally-accepted value, I doubt that the Federation would accept the Planet of the Nazis as a Member.

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
Now, the question of what constitutes a true world government could also be debatable. Would Earth's United Nations qualify? It's obviously not a world government as we would understand the term, but for the Federation's purposes, it just might. If the UN actually worked, that is.
I doubt that the U.N. would work for the Federation's purposes, even if it worked. The U.N. is not a government in any sense of the term. It describes itself as a "tool of its Member States;" it doesn't possess, in its own words, sovereignty.

One other thing. We're all thinking there must now be a competition - will a world join the Pact or the Federation? - but it doesn't have to be.
Actually, I'm thinking more in terms of, will a world align with, but not join, the Pact or Federation? South Korea and North Korea did not join the U.S. or Soviet Union, but both aligned with those respective states. Which presents another interesting possibility: Federation and Pact client worlds ending up in civil wars over their foreign policy disputes.

The Khitomer Accords include wildly diverse groups such as the Federation, Klingons, Ferengi, Talarians, etc. A prospective world can join the Khitomer group but not any of those smaller ones. The Federation should use that to its advantage: A world whose leaders are worried about being subsumed into Federation culture, would be reassured that they don't even have to join the Federation - they could simply ally with it as part of the larger Khitomer group.
Sure, and there will probably be plenty of worlds that take them up on that offer. But the Federation has been so ubiquitous, so huge, and has spread its culture so far and so wide -- within two decades of Federation-Ferengi first contact, the Ferengi Alliance adopted the Federation's ideas about gender roles and social welfare, for goodness' sake! The Ferengi! -- that there are going to be worlds that will want nothing to do with the Federation, either as a member of the UFP, as a member of the Khitomer Accords, or even just as an ally.

In a very real sense, the members of the Typhon Pact are more closely integrated than the Khitomer Accords (shared technology and even currency), so a world would be *more* at risk of losing its identity if it joined the Typhon Pact.
Again, I think you're getting too specific, too literal. The real question is alliance, not membership. In the Cold War, client states didn't join the superpowers, they just allied.

Hartzilla2007 wrote: View Post
Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
In a very real sense, the members of the Typhon Pact are more closely integrated than the Khitomer Accords (shared technology and even currency), so a world would be *more* at risk of losing its identity if it joined the Typhon Pact.
just by have a common currency and sharing technology
Dude, money and technology are important! That kind of close-knit economic integration is guaranteed to encourage a process called syncretism: cross-cultural interaction, the movement of ideas, beliefs, technologies, and practices between cultures. Mr. Laser Beam is very right to note that syncretism is probably even more likely between Pact members than between Khitomer Accords members. Though to a lot of worlds, the very fact that it's syncretism between non-Federation cultures would probably make it preferable to syncretism with the Federation.

I think the books should also explore more instances where the Federation's high-minded ideals become an impediment and result in a few losses, not just in terms of lives but also in terms of political power, economic power etc. in the coming struggle against the Typhon Pact.
That would be well worth exploring to an extent, but if we look at real history, a failure to live up to one's stated values tends to do much more harm than actually living up to them. In the CIA, it's called "blowback;" a strong example of blowback would be the Iranian Revolution. The United States and United Kingdom in 1953, faced with a democratically-elected Iranian government that wanted to nationalize Iran's oil resources (and thereby endanger U.S. and British corporations), chose to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mosaddeq and install the former Shah of Iran to power -- creating a brutal but pro-Western dictator. It worked well enough at first, but then the Shah was overthrown, and the resultant government turned into an anti-American dictatorship that was far more oppressive and hostile towards the U.S. than Mohammed Mosaddeq's government ever would have been.

Some people may like the idea of exploring how Federation values will cause it problems and make it harder to survive, but as I noted in my Typhon Pact example, it is actually inconsistency in behavior with the UFP's stated values that will hurt it far more. In my experience, a lot of people who want to promote stories about how adherence to the principles of liberal democracy, rule of law, and human rights/sentients' rights will hurt us and make it harder to survive are actually doing so to promote an anti-democratic, anti-human rights, anti-rule of law political agenda.

Arpy wrote: View Post
Though I can hear a Ferengi make this pitch, it doesn't fly.
Sure, I'm not saying that there wouldn't be plenty of worlds that would see through the Typhon Pact's message. I'm saying that it would be a compelling narrative that would gain a lot of adherents and cause problems for the Federation. There would be worlds that would fall for it, just like there would be worlds that wouldn't. Why do I say that? Because there were countries that fell for the same line of propaganda that the Soviet Union put out during the Cold War; my Typhon Pact pitch was essentially the same as theirs.

Posted by Sci:
"…Millions on the brink of starvation, entire food and water delivery infrastructure torn to pieces isn't it? Well, I'm sure you can ask the Federation for help.
"Yeah cause whenever we've asked you, you've said you don't bother with inferior cultures. Or as you put it, 'We can't afford it…our people must come first,' and then wagged your finger at that hypocritical commie Federation."
To be fair, there's no evidence, canonical or in the novels, one way or the other on whether or not most Typhon Pact members have ever been asked for humanitarian aid. But even if that's a fair counter, I wouldn't be surprised if the Pact starts deliberately sending out humanitarian aid and building a reputation for doing so as part of a program to win allies and influence away from the Federation and Khitomer alliance.

What's that? They only sent you a few industrial replicators? Why haven't they just shipped you 6.7 million food replicators (Earth and Alpha Centuari have plenty, you know) and maybe about 3 dozen industrial replicators to help you feed your people and get yourselves up and running?
"Because they can't afford to?"
To which a crafty salesman would reply by giving rhetoric about how much comfort the people of Earth and Alpha Centauri live in, and then by talking about how much the Alpha Centaurans and Pacificans resented having to help out their fellow Federates who came to their worlds as refugees, thereby establishing a narrative of the rich but stingy Federates who won't even share resources with their own people, let alone non-Federation worlds.

Again, I'm not saying the Pact is being completely honest. It's spin. But it's spin that would convince a lot of people.

And don't you use most of yours to build more war machines to conquer little guys like me to compete with the Federation rather than feed your own people, or heaven forbid help your neighbors?"
As I've noted several times, a number of the states in the Typhon Pact do not have a history of imperialism that we know about, especially the Gorn, Tzenkethi, and pre-Dominion War Breen.
"Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it." - George Orwell, 1946
Sci is offline   Reply With Quote