The Prime Directive is counter-intuitive. Our intution might suffice to deal with human ethical problems but obviously it is unable to handle inter-species issues.
Imagine the situation on Earth when the Vulcans met Cochrane. Radiation sickness, civilization nearly undone, probably a lot of anarchy and hunger. And yet they did not help us, did not deliver food, medicine and technology but stood idly by while we had to solve our problems on our own. They did not give us warp technology and pissed off a lot of folks at Starfleet, among them Archer and Tucker. And yet the Vulcans have been right. Archer realized this after he has been in deep space for some time.
Hey, here's my first challenge to argue in English: I hope I'll be able to translate what my thoughts are
First of all, the situation you describe is different because earth achieved warp tech when the vulcans came to offer guidance. Then, we don't exactly what help they did offer or not, though I'm sure they didn't meld in politics. About the warp technology, they didn't piss off humanity because they didn't share, but because they refrained the humans with their tests and applications. I'm not saying they were wrong: we're talking about technology.
Yet you guys suggest that Archer and Phlox should not merely have done what the Vulcans did not do on Earth but in addition to that given one group an advantage over another group (Forget evolution, that's precisely what the problems boils down to.)
How would we have reacted if the Vulcans helped e.g. the North Americans but not the East Asians?
And what about the Menk, doesn't Cutler feel that they are oppressed by the Valakians? Why not help them as well, equip them with all they need in their emancipatory struggle?
The story itseld contains 4 possible problems:
a. helping a non-warp civilization;
b. the warp technology;
c. wether or not the Menks are oppressed;
d. the plague: valakians are dying.
a. They already have been "contamined" with the encounter of 2 warp species and they came for help.
b. Would the PD exist at that time, well, Archer did the right choice with not sharing warp tech: "They're not ready".
c. Helping the Menk - though they don't seem to want any help - whatever the crewmen think, would clearly be melding in the politics and evolution of the two races, the PD would apply.
d. Here's the problem: in the first place, if you're not gonna help for the sake of "evolution", you don't try to find a cure, you don't even try to ease the pain, this is intervention, isnt' it ? Question: if the Menk hadn't existed, they wouldn't even had thought about not giving the cure
. That's the core of the problem. So, what about evolution ? Maybe there's a microbe who is going to evolve and become a powerful sentient species and you're killing the microbe's chance by giving the cure to the Valakians.
Phlox and Archer are making an assumption: the Menk are supposed, one day, to be more than the Valakians are now. So they decide that the Valakians are not worth saving. It's not about human morale, it's about choosing a race over another. So if curing people is going against evolution (I don't care if it's genetic, virus or bacterial), why bother having medics at all ? Just to choose who to give a cure or not ?
You say that giving the cure to the Valakians is giving an advantage to the them over the Menks: well, that would be true if the Menks were sick. In this episode, it is assumed that the Menks cannot evolve if the Valakians are alive... Well, hum, sure, that's the only possible path
I'm coming back to your first argument: if the vulcans hadn't come to earth, we would surely have evolved differently: vulcans has changed the course of human's evolution, just by being there. What I'm saying is, evolution is not static.
ARCHER: You knew you had no business interfering with those people. But you just couldn't let it alone. You thought you were doing the right thing. I might agree if this was Florida or Singapore. But it's not, is it? We're in deep space, and a person is dead, a person who'd still be alive if we hadn't made first contact.
This particular quote made me cringe when I heard it. Had it come from T'Pol, it would have been totally appropriate, because it's right. But coming from the righteous Archer... He takes the right to free sulibans (meddling with politics), he decides to help a colony fight Klingons, etc etc. But it's alright when it comes to HIS decisions (Sorry, not on topic, but I had to say it
). And in this particular case, we're not talking about curing someone who is dying, Trip's interventionism meddles with culture where no help is asked. That's exactly what the PD is about.