Why should the colonies solely have the right to decide whether or not the treaty is enacted?
You ask any population of size a question and you'll get disagreement. If 98% of the Federation supported the treaty and 2% said war would be preferable, should the Federation go to war?
Seriously, for the people who don't favor the treaty, I'd like to hear what they would have done instead. There seems to be a lack of alternative suggestions in this thread.
They don't solely deserve the right, but they do deserve some say, since it is their colonies being surrendered over to Cardassia. Just because they constitute a fraction of the population/territory of the Federation, does not mean that their rights should be violated.
It is how the Federation treated the colonies in question is what set the foundation for the Maquis. The Maquis felt disenfranchised, and they felt rights were violated in the treaty, and rightfully so. If, let's say, the leaders of the various colonies took part in the negotiation, no matter how small the colony might be, the Federation ambassadors could have reached a compromise with the very people who were making the sacrifices.
Here's a short list of things I would have done as the head negotiator of the treaty.
First, I'd gather as many of the colony leaders as possible to get their input on the negotiation process. If they're going to be screwed over, at least they should have a small part in the process.
Then, I'd explain that the borders, as they are, are too disorganized to properly defend all of these colonies from future Cardassian aggression, so the borders need to be normalized. I'd state that it'd be unlikely for the Federation to keep all of the colonies, and some sacrifices might be necessary to secure and defend the majority of your worlds and populations.
Then, I'd basically show them of the borders, pre-War, which I imagine are Cardassian and Federation colonies scattered about, and the "border" that would exist if they kept the same layout. I can only imagine it'd be a bunch of scribbles, with some colonies basically being little pockets surrounded by Cardassian worlds.
After that, I'd negotiate with the colonists about a more defensible border, basically being a more straight line which consists of the densest pockets of Federation colonies, with some scattered Cardassian pockets, and thus highlighting the few worlds that would basically fall under Cardassian jurisdiction.
After what I'm sure what would be a lot of grumbling, and some discussion of possible minor shifts, I'd tell the colonies on those worlds on the Cardassian side of the border their options.
- Evacuate and resettle on the Federation side, thus insuring their freedom and security from Cardassia. Any threat by the Cardassian Order against them would be an act of war.
- Stay, surrender their Federation citizenship and become members of the Cardassian Union, although that means they basically become under the heel of a fascist dictatorship.
- Stay, keep Federation citizenship, but realize that their freedoms and security cannot be guaranteed, and any attempt by the Cardassians to take their worlds will not receive Starfleet assistance.
Now, once their options are on the table, and once they realize being Federation citizens within Cardassian space means absolutely nothing to either the Cardassians or the Federation (as canon shows to be true since Starfleet basically did nothing once Cardassian state involvement in violating the treaty came to light), a majority of those colonists would realistically leave. No doubt there will still be some who stay, but there will always be a few stubborn individuals who refuse to leave. However, since they were made fully aware of the consequences of that, the Federation can wash their hands of any guilt.
Once an agreement with the colonists is made, then you go to the Cardassians, and hammer out a deal. Now, since the proposal would most likely consist of keeping the largest clusters of Federation colonies under your side of the border, it'd be logical that is how the negotiations would proceed. If the Cardassians get greedy, remind them that:
- We're stronger than you.
- We have Klingons as allies.
- We have superior technology.
- We're more numerous than you.
So on and so forth. The one advantage of the Cardassians is that they have a higher tolerance for war weariness. Anyway, since Cardassians aren't stupid, even if they are arrogant and egotistical, they should realize that they can't push too much, and I wouldn't compromise too far from said territorial border exchanges. Maybe some monetary payments, maybe some scientific exchange, but the border would be hard to change.
Once it is settled, then we discuss how to manage colonies that fall on the other side of the border. I'll tell them which worlds are voluntarily evacuating, and which want to stay. I'd politely suggest, as a sign of the new peace agreement, that these worlds are treated properly, and given sovereignty in domestic affairs. In exchange, we'd allow Cardassian colonies on our side of the border to freely communicate and exchange with the Cardassian Union, and security matters can be handled on any colonial justice system established planetside.
No colonies on either side of the border can have a large military presence (beyond X troop garrisons, Y fleets, Z orbital military installations) for whatever amount of distance. Basically creating a DMZ. However, if either side begins building up military forces, this segment of the treaty is voided, and the other side can respond to the buildup in kind. Of course, this provision would be unnecessary since the Cardassians are an honorable and lawful people, and such a provision would almost be deemed insulting, but protocol is protocol.
There, rights of Federation colonies respected. Border most likely resolved similarly to what occurs on the show, but this time said colonists understand that those who stay behind are basically on their own. DMZ established, with a firm commitment to the Cardassians that if they rearm, so shall we, and we have the better guns...and the Klingons. Basically, I would commit to the colonies that they are Federation citizens, and they deserve the respect and protections as Federation citizens on Earth or Vulcan, and I will not throw them to the wolves, or in this case, an aggressive fascist empire.