In the event there are no countries, my head explodes.
The point about all the squabbles that would crop up with a HOS/HOG-level meeting are non-trivial, but the problem is that there are decisions that need to be made with zero leaks
, more or less right then
, with no ability to wait for instructions from home - certainly in a timeline of hours at most. That's basically impossible at lower levels. At some point, you'd include a line in that Message to the Superpowers that basically says (more diplomatically, obviously) "We have a list of people we expect in that room. We shouldn't have to provide it - you're supposedly the leaders of superpowers, you should be able to guess who's on it. Your squabbles are insignificant now - we expect everyone on the list in that room. Attendance will be taken." And then, well, even the UFP isn't afraid of relying on "Oh shit aliens!" at first to get their way on things like "get every leader in the room, keep it quiet, and if you walk out because Sworn Enemy's leader is in the room, you lose
, Mr. President". There'll be time to apologize for the misconceptions later; Until the shoals of First Contact are navigated, the Federation is probably not above...Not lying
to the locals, but not necessarily telling them the whole truth. No, of course
they're never going to swoop down and blow up your cities if you don't show up (or try to send the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Agriculture instead of POTUS)...But only they
know that they won't (and probably couldn't even if they were willing). The New Folks' leaders, on the other hand, get to wet themselves in fear, and "Do as I say, because I'm the alien you didn't have a clue existed 20 minutes ago telling you to
" can be a pretty effective reason all its own.
The New Folks' leadership strata will be exposed to the Federation essentially relying on the shock factor of first contact, the way I see it. The New Folks are faced with everything they thought they knew
about stuff you could usually be pretty certain on changing massively in a timespan of a few hours. Even with the modern news cycle, we don't usually have events moving so drastically so quickly, and while most high-level leadership types are used to keeping up with the rapid pace of change, the "black swans" (does contact with aliens even fit that
, I wonder?) do tend to throw everybody off the ball for a bit. Keep in mind, too, that First Contact may well happen very shortly after a successful FTL engine test. "Shortly" defined as "The UFP saw the preps happening beforehand, got ready, and might come by and say hello within hours of a successful test."
They'll still be absorbing the idea that an FTL engine worked for real. And then ET shows up and says "Hi, and by the way, take me to your leaders"
And until you know
ET can't blow up your city, your country, or your planet with a button-push, you have to presume they can. Until you know they won't, you gotta presume they will if you look at them funny.
It's after you decide whether to reveal things to the public or not (and find the UFP respecting your decision either way) that you begin to figure out they're not likely to blow you to smithereens with an effortless button-push if you look at them funny.
I do suspect, though, that even if you get through the shock without the global leadership equivalent of everyone having a stroke at the same time (or forget equivalent, without that actually happening), or worse, there'd still be significant pressure from every other
country on the planet to put up a unified front and not strike out on your own. The same kinda pressure that makes ratting on someone on the playground so damned awkward - namely, you may be the biggest, baddest kid on the playground, but if everybody else gets together, they can still beat you up. Faced with incontrovertible proof - in the form of the new guy that just said "Hi" - that you are no longer necessarily top of the food chain, there is a huge incentive to cooperate.
(I should note that First Contact would be a proposition that would be insane for the UFP if they can't herd their members on at least that issue - even if they're not very united at all, the UFP has zero cred on anything
if they can't at least look united to the people who just got FTL travel.)
Trade is a funky issue - unless the UFP tells you first thing, how do you know you have something valuable to trade out in the galaxy? (And why would the UFP not hold off on telling you until they'd gotten you addicted like a drug user to their aid programs?)