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Old March 13 2011, 05:34 AM   #428
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
There is no evidence of any sort of system for accountability for its agents, and Section 31: Rogue by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin made it very clear that Corwin was going to get away scott-free. Which you would know if you read that novel.

Rush, read the damn book.
Sci, unfortunately, not all of us have total access to all information at all times.
Which is fine, but there comes a point where you're asking so many questions about the book that you really ought to just read it first.

Yes, Picard was aware that Corwin had been had. Picard had no way of reporting it to anyone. Corwin got away with his own incompetence.
You are assuming that Picard's superiors--whom he would naturally have reported to--were not being accessed by Section 31.
Picard did not report the existence of Section 31, nor the story of Corwin being hoodwinked. He was going to, but he was persuaded not to. If you want to know why, you'll need to read the book.

I mean, how on Earth is any of that not "behaving in the asshole manner" I described?
The fact that the conspiracy was done in secret, without the Empire's knowledge.
That is utterly irrelevant. The point of "try not to behave like an asshole" was to acknowledge that the Federation can be susceptible to political corruption and that such corruption can lead the Federation to engage in actions its neighbors might find provokative, not to make a statement about levels of political corruption or provocation. It's wonderful that this time, they were able to avert a war, but that doesn't mean that such an aversion would be possible the next time we see a Min Zife in the Presidential Office (if there is a next time). Thus, the Federation has to try not to be an asshole.

Yes, but you tend to frame your possibilities in terms of inevitability or high probability. That's what I'm objecting to. I make no claims about how probable my scenario is; you, on the other hand, constantly use language that implicitly discounts other possibilities.
Perhaps I do, Sci.
Not perhaps. You do. And that's what I and others object to -- not talking about possibilities, but using the language of inevitability to talk about worst-case scenarios. When you do that, you're just creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Why on Earth would you ever think anyone would not want the worst to be prepared for? That's not the issue.
Isn't it?
No, it's not. The issue is that it's important to not think of the worst-case scenario as inevitable, because that just leads to one behaving like an asshole.

So far as we know, none of the Typhon Pact states save the Romulan Star Empire lost any of their planets (though plenty of independent worlds near the Klingon/Romulan/Federation border did). This, again, is not the point, though -- the point is simply that the Typhon Pact states were hit hard by the Borg, too, by virtue of losing so many of their ships at the Azure Nebula, and that as such there's no reason to think they're in a better position to launch a war than anyone else.

Indeed, this is explicitly established in Rough Beasts of Empire, where it's noted that none of the Pact states have the resources or inclination for a war.
I see. Frankly, Sci, that last line of explanation was all I needed to answer my question.
It was already in the novel that this thread is about, so I don't know why you wouldn't have already had that answer.

I'm sorry, did you just argue that the decision to kill a Federation President makes them not hopelessly corrupt?
I did not just argue that the decision makes them not hopelessly corrupt. I just argued that it does not make them hopelessly corrupt.
How on Earth can you reasonably argue that the decision to assassinate a President does not make them hopelessly corrupt? How can an organization that engages in presidential assassinations not be hopelessly corrupt? In what strange land do you live that murdering a president is not a sign of hopeless corruption?

Furthermore, I'd hardly think dealing with corruption "permanently" makes one hopelessly corrupt.
Nice to hear it, Michael Corleone. Meanwhile, the real world disagrees with you.

I'll happily concede that they're not pure mustache-twirling supervillains. Clearly, they're driven in part by empathy towards their fellow Federates. That does not mean that they are not hopelessly corrupt. Bernie Madoff gave a lot of money to charity; doesn't mean he's not hopelessly corrupt.
You are assuming he gave out of the goodness of his heart. One could easily argue he was giving in order to secure a "respectable" air on his own part.
Indeed, I see no reason to think that he didn't give out of his own sense of generosity, and see no evidence to think it was part of cultivating a respectable air. Generosity and greed can live side-by-side in the same heart, and there's no reason to think that a man can't have a genuine desire to give to charity and try to make the world a better place even as he steals billions from innocent people.

People are not simple. People are complex. Decency and corruption can live side-by-side in the same heart. The issue is not whether or not they can live side-by-side; the issue is which side outweighs the other.

I do not for one second believe that if anyone could take Section 31 down, that they would not have spread the word far and wide about this horrible thing that existed in the heart of the Federation. Saying that Section 31 could be brought down and then rebuilt, all in secret, is a bit like saying that the Mafia could be brought down and then rebuilt in secret. It's just silly -- no one who brings them down would ever allow them to be secret. They'd be part of the history books, and every Federate would know about them. Bashir would never have been surprised by the idea of their existence.
First, that actually helps those who would secretly bring them back.
No, it wouldn't. Nothing that exposes their existence to the public helps them at all. The best they can hope to do is try to mitigate the damage such knowledge would give them.

But that's also irrelevant to the point. The point was that your scenario of the history of Section 31 is so improbable as to be effectively nil, because it is inevitable that if Section 31 had been "taken down" in the past, the knowledge of its existence would have been exposed to the public. That Bashir had never heard of Section 31 before "Inquisition" thus indicates that it's highly improbable that it would have ever been "taken down" in the past.

Second--consider the political implications of the widespread news that Federation citzens--an element of Starfleet Intelligence, "conveniently" claiming autonomy, mind you--conducted such illegal activities. It would damage relations with allies, and cause even more suspicion among enemies.
You mean like what happened when the Church Committee exposed the CIA's various crimes?

If the United States today is morally advanced enough to expose its dirty secrets, I don't for a second think the Federation has regressed to the point where it will cover up its corrupt elements' crimes as a matter of routine.

Third, if Section 31 really were as incompetent as you claim here:
Because that's how they've been depicted time and again in the novels and in the canon. It's how Sloan describes how they operate in "Inquisition" itself.

No, it's an indication that Section 31 is motivated by paranoia and is incompetent.
It leads one to wonder why the scenario you devise--of their destruction, followed by mass publicity--never in fact took place. How could an orginization so incompetent, without any structure or chain of command,
I did not say it has no chain of command, I said it has no system for accountability. In other words, there's no evidence that it has a court-martial system.

as you point out Rogue indicates--how could such an orginization somehow manage to evade such exposure and destruction?
By being mostly inactive and/or constricting its activities to backwater planets throughout most of its existence, as Christopher has said.

Absolute malarkey. I've read the DS9 Companion, I've read the interviews, and not once do the writers claim that Section 31 is the reason the Federation has it so good.
From the article on "Inquisition", first three paragraphs:

"Section 31 grew out of a line of dialogue in 'The Maquis, Part II,'" Ira Steven Behr says, still intrigued by the subtext of the words he'd written in the second-season teleplay: "It's easy to be a saint in paradise."

"It came from my growing realization that we could do more with the Star Trek franchise than we'd initially thought we could. It was the idea that we should avoid knocking the Federation and we should avoid knocking Starfleet, but we could knock elements of them."

The theories behind Section 31 are diabolical. "Why is Earth a paradise in the twenty-fourth century?" Behr asks. "Well, maybe its because there's someone watching over it and doing the nasty stuff that no one wants to think about. Of course it's a very complicated issue," he adds, "Extremely complicated. And those kinds of covert operations usually are wrong!"
Oh, please. Behr is engaging in creative speculation, in kibbitzing, not describing in detail his creative intent for Section 31. It's a mistake to take kibbitzing and take that to be indicative of the intention for the final product.

And it's notable that at no point in DS9 was a Section 31 depicted as saving the Federation from something Starfleet couldn't.

This all begs for the question, Sci: Why do even good societies have such dark sides?
For the same reason they have prisons: Because human beings are morally flawed creatures who lust for power, and some put that lust for power above decency.

Enterprise1981 wrote: View Post
This episode of Star Trek: Odyssey sums it up. "It's people like us that let them have their ideals."
Utter hogwash -- the delusional self-justifications for tyrannical, corrupt behavior used by people who never really believe in liberty, equality, justice, or the rule of law in the first place.
Those words, beautifully demagogued, do not change the theory behind Enterprise1981's point: the theory that, like it or not, this is an indifferent universe which does not care about "values and principles".

As a political scientist, Sci, surely you are aware of the theories in Machiavelli's The Prince. Values and principles seem well and good, but "if one considers everything carefully, doing some things that seem virtuous may result in one's ruin, whereas doing other things that seem viscious may strengthen one's position and cause one to flourish.
Yes, I am. I'm also familiar with the fact that Machiavelli's point was to describe how a dictator might secure the obedience of a population, not to describe how a society that believes in liberty and justice ought to behave.

And I'm also aware that you should not conflate securing a government's power with national security.
Democratic socialism is the hope of human freedom.
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