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Old October 23 2012, 03:48 PM   #79
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Federation Law of restricting cloaking device

Timo wrote: View Post
In the end, FTL sensors have effectively become plot holes
In the end? Don't you mean in the beginning?

If anything, the attempt to introduce delays-due-distance was a desperate one, detrimental to both drama and consistency.
Consistency, yes, if only because they didn't stick with it. But not the drama, not by a longshot. "We don't know how to handle this situation and Starfleet's response won't get back to us for another twelve hours" is a pretty effective plot device, putting extra pressure on Kirk to make a correct decision without being able to pass the buck to his superiors. That extra layer of responsibility adds a bit of flavor to the story premise that IMO has been missing from Star Trek.

If every ship were in effect cloaked while at warp, we'd be in an even worse jam trying to explain why wars aren't conducted by surgically destroying the opponent's defenseless homeworld during Day 1, Hour 1.
Actually, it would require only two things to be established in canon:

1) War is expensive, especially in space. So space wars are fought for possesion of planets, not for possession of space. Only a few planets in the galaxy are valuable enough to justify the expense of a major war, and very few of those planets are the homeworlds of anyone who matters (Bajor being a very famous exception). You never fight a war over a planet you don't intend to keep, so you never invade your enemy's homeworld unless you're prepared to conquer it.

2) Destroying a planet -- or just the surface thereof -- requires a massive fleet, especially if you're assaulting a world that has modern defenses (forcefields for the cities, ground-based emplacements, etc). So if you're fighting someone else for possession of a valuable planet, it is ALWAYS more efficient to focus your resources on the contested prize than waste ships and lives throwing them right at your opponent's fortifications.

Some of these will have exceptions. The Romulans, for example, might choose to preemptively annihilate (or at least conquer/occupy) the home world of some young upstart rather than risk being in competition with them for the mineral worlds later in life. And certain resources might be easier to extract once the surface of the planet along with its population and urban centers have been reduced to molten slag. These would be specific episodes and historical events, though, not descriptions of space war in general, which is still too expensive and too expansive to be conducted over anything but very specific objectives.
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