But the Pact already sees the Federation as a threat.
As a potential
threat, yes. Which is why it would be stupid for the Federation to take provocative action specifically
against the Pact.
Imagine two animals confronting each other, trying to protect their respective territories. They're both wary of each other, ready to strike if the other makes an actively hostile move. But if animal A doesn't
move toward animal B, if it just keeps its distance and doesn't give the wrong signals, then animal B will just stare and growl until it becomes clear there's no imminent threat, and then they'll both go on their way. It shouldn't be so hard to figure this out. It's a pattern going back millions of years. And no matter how much they dress it up with politics and ideologies and rationalizations, nations pretty much react the same way as animals.
Why else would they organize all those efforts to weaken and distract and destabilize the Federation, starting with the terrorist attack on Capella IV and the subsequent disruptions to the mining of vitally needed materials on Capella IV and Maxia Zeta IV, with the maneuvering to get Zalda to almost leave the Federation, with the disruption of trade between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
As I've pointed out repeatedly, the Pact is not a monolithic entity with a single agenda. Its members have conflicting agendas, as we've been shown over and over again. Yes, some
members of the Pact took those actions in A Singular Destiny
, but the other members made them stop and formally apologized for their actions
. Yes, the Breen and the Tholians have taken actions to undermine the Federation, but the Romulans and Tzenkethi just want stability, the Gorn just want to solve their own internal problems, and the Kinshaya are so isolationist that they didn't even bother to show up for the tetralogy.
So yes, there are forces in the Pact that are primed for aggression toward the Federation. But there are other forces within the Pact that are not, that are only interested in stability and self-determination. Right now, it's a tenuous balance that could go either way. So if the Federation reacts aggressively toward the Pact, it'll only prove the more militant side right and make it easy for them to win the power struggle. It'll just be giving them an excuse to stir up fear against the Federation. But if the UFP engages with the more moderate side, shows itself willing to be diplomatic and peaceful and respectful of the Pact's self determination -- in short, to do everything that defines the United Federation of Planets' normal philosophy
-- then that will give more weight to the moderate side and improve the odds of peaceful relations.
In short, if the UFP treats the entire
Pact as an enemy, then they'll lose an opportunity to appeal to the more reasonable, sympathetic forces within it, and may end up alienating them as well. Reducing your opposition to a stereotype never turns out well. Understanding the way the other side thinks is vital to avoiding tragic mistakes. Particularly when the other side has so many conflicting voices within it.