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Old March 16 2011, 12:46 AM   #431
Rush Limborg
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Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
rfmcdpei wrote: View Post

But you do remember the followup in DC Comics in the early 1990s, when it turned out that Kirk's intervention ended up destabilizing the relationship and killing nearly everyone in the system?
I don't...but to be honest, the comics have a lot of things that conflict with TrekLit, so I wouldn't really consult them unless the events therein are referred to in said books.
The point is that the sort of willing brinksmanship that Kirk engaged in, however it may have ended well in the short term, ran longer-term risks of precipitating disaster thanks to his particular lack of care and scruples. How much more so Section 31, especially when acting beyond Federation borders against the interests of less scrupulous powers?
I see. On that same note, Peter David's short story in the "Dominion War" anthology establishes that Sisko's actions in "In The Pale Moonlight" eventually led to another war with the Federation.

Yes, there are consequences to actions--many of them immense. That does not mean that those actions were not the best ones to engage in at the time.

Can you unpack your definition of how it's different?
I don't understand....

The damage to the Federation was greater than expected--only a few ships returned to exploration--and Donatra's control of the IRS that much more fragile, dependent on her continued control of military forces loyal to her and the sustained consent of the populations included in her regime, even as the Star Empire was reclaiming its legitimacy ("Look, the homeworld has a Senate again!").
So...she gave up, rather than take action to reform her own state? Somehow, that doesn't strike me as like the Donatra we know.

Well, she did. Rough Beasts of Empire explains Donatra's decision in terms of her desire to minimize the amount of harm to the Romulan people--in both states--of Tal'Aura's praetorship.
All I'm saying is that I find it so hard to believe that her stated motives were legit. Perhaps I'm being "paranoid" (I would say: rationally suspicious)...but I can't help but wonder if there was something else going on--something that would bring her to that point of rock-bottom desperation.

Because it was low-key, yes, not because it was popular or its methods would be acceptable.
Oh, I know--not acceptable by the general populace. However...apparently, a sufficent portion of the Amiralty (including Cartwright) found it all acceptable--and their support supplied a sanction to their activities.

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
As Kirk noted, the section is very vauge, referring to non-specific discretionary power over non-specific matters.
But would those methods be approved of? It's worth noting that every Starfleet officer who came into contact with Section 31 we know of, apart from people like Admiral Ross who joined it, tried to take it apart. Are Federation civilians going to be any more forgiving?
Well, those methods are what happens when you leave a clause like that vague. Frankly, being knowledgeable of history, one wonders why that clause was left so vague in the first place.
Indeed. Proof that Section 31 is exploiting this vagueness to do bad things--trying to commit genocide against the Founders, say--in contravention to basic Federation laws and ideals is not going to serve its cause well.

Is there any evidence that people in the Federation want a Tal Shiar or an Obsidian Order running amok?
Not really. But that argument rests on the assumption that 31 neccessarily wants the people's approval.

Sci wrote: View Post
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.

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.
The problem, though, is that such facts are frankly important to this argument. Namely: Picards reasons for allowing himself to be persuaded not to. Was it for the same reasons Vaughn gave Bashir? Was he convinced that perhaps, for now, the UFP needed people like those in 31?

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.
That term is, to be frank, entirely subjective, Sci. One person's "a--hole" is another person's "man of blunt honesty and unyealding integrety, willing to speak the truth to power". As I have repeatedly stated, Tezrene certainly has no qualms about being, as far as the UFP is concerned, an a--hole. In Federation Space, I refer you to the Tellarites and the Zaldans. Among the Federation's allies, quite a few Kilingons are that way.

No matter how accomodating you are, Sci--if you are uncompromising about some part of what you hold to be the truth--someone, for valid reasons or not, is going to take that and use it as "proof" that you're an a--hole.

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.
When the issue at hand is the fate of billions of lives...I'm not going to take chances, in order to give others the benefit of the doubt.

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.
Again, one man's a--hole is another man's realist.

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.
To be perfectly honest, I was drawn into this thread before it came out, to anticipate how the events in the novel would turn out, for purposes of research.

After it did come out, I was drawn back into this thread because of the debates herein--many of which are off topic.

As you have probably ascertained, Section 31 is not exactly On Topic as far as this book is concerned.

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?
A world where there are no easy answers--there may be simple answers--but not easy answers.

In The West Wing, you may recall President Bartlett ordered the assasination of a foreign leader. It was not hopelessly corrupt--it was necessary, and he understood that. He hated it, but he understood it.

Coup d'etats--and assasinations thereof--have happened in real life throughout history--many times because the leaders currently in power were hopelessly corrupt. It was the idealists who engaged in such assasinations.

Taking an extreme example...were the Valkerie conspirators who attempted to assasinate Hitler "hopelessly corrupt"? He was legitimately elected chancellor of Germany. The power he had gained was given to him--he had decieved Germany, yes, but he did not simply take absolute power by force. It was given to him.

Nice to hear it, Michael Corleone. Meanwhile, the real world disagrees with you.
Oh, I sincerely doubt that. However, I will accept that you and I have two different worldviews which refuse any grounds for common ground of perspective.

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.
In that case? One might as well say that his rationale for stealing was that he was genuinely sacrificing the well-being of the few for the good of the many!

Frankly, Sci...the depth of his crime doesn't allow me to give him such a benefit of the doubt. I'm not that generous.

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.
Some things can be reconciled, some things cannot. In the case of Madoff, if he was truly giving out of altruistic motives--assuming, of course, his motives for stealing were not somehow altruistic, I'd suspect he was schizophrenic.

In the case of 31, legitimate altruistic desires cause me to take a good look at whether they have a legitimate right to exist.

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.

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.
I was just allowing for the possibility. I'll accept your reasoning on that for now.

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.
I'm not entirely convinced that such actions of exposure are "morally advanced". What of all the claims that news of what occured at Abu Grahib and Guantanamo Bay would encourage recruitment of Terrorism, and damage relations with the Muslim world?

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.
If it has a chain of command how does it follow that the consequences of such a chain--such as punisment of subordinates for innapropriate behavior--do not exist?

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.
Read the entire paragraph. It states that Behr was referring to "the origins of Section 31". The entire passage establishes that it grew out of Sisko's line in "The Maquis, Part II". And considering how Paula M. Block was one of the authors...I sincerely doubt she'd jump to such a conclusion without legitimate grounds.

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.
Prisons are there to combat and compensate for corruption in society.

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.
Jean Jacques Roussau would disagree with you--he was of the opinion that reading between the lines of The Prince unveils the same love of liberty apparent in The Discourses.

While I doubt I would agree with Rousseau on much, I'd say he was on to something here. Note, for example, Maciavelli's advice for how to rule a formally free society--either destroy everything and everyone in there (which is self-defeating), or go live there (which is absurd).

There is also his advice for rulers to not infringe upon their subjects' right to keep and bear arms, to not confiscate their property, etc. In short, to let them keep their freedom, and to concentrate on the actual duties of government.
"The saying implies but does not name the effective agency of its supposed utopia.... 'Needs and abilities' are, of course, subjective. So the operative statement may be reduced to 'the State shall take, the State shall give'."
--David Mamet
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