Paper Moon wrote:
It seems to me that most of the conflicts you list, Sci, were probably relatively minor conflicts in terms of an 8,000 ly state. All you need is three or four starships at a time on the Cardassian border who end up shooting at Cardassians, who fire back, and then you have a border war. Very bad for the people involved, and in the area, but not very disruptive across the Federation, partly because they simply don't need many resources. (One of the authors, I can't remember who, suggested something like this to explain why the Cardassian border wars could've been going on in the early years of TNG without making the whole Federation seem like it was at war.)
That was me. I was drawing on Poul Anderson's work, in which he portrayed an interstellar empire or trading federation as a very loose union by necessity because of the vast distances and sheer number of worlds involved. No one person could even really be aware
of everything that was going on throughout that vast region, let alone be directly affected by it.
So there could easily be a war that encompassed entire worlds and was huge from the perspective of those directly involved in it, but still had little impact on the majority of the Federation and its citizens, because "entire worlds" is just a small subset of a union of hundreds of member worlds and possibly thousands of colony or protectorate worlds.