R. Star wrote:
It's not "giving anyone an advantage." It's keeping them all from dying when it costs you absolutely nothing. Picard stopped a geological disaster in Pen Pals on those grounds even though it broke the Prime Directive. Heck, every Starfleet captain that's had a show has broken it several times. None of them got court martialed.
I'll agree that the Valakian social system leaves something to be desired, but letting them die off? Heck 200 years ago in our culture it was legal to own a person as a slave based solely on the color of their skin. We improved for the better, and by all accounts the Valakians weren't even so malicious as we were. So it stands to reason so could they. Too bad they never got the chance.
They do not let them die off, the Valakians have ample chances to meet somebody else who will help them or discover a cure themselves.
I think you missed Phlox's point, the Valakians are only wicked oppressors from a human perspective. If you zoom out and take a look at many species the Valakian-Menk relationship was extraordinary as on most planets one species usually kills all its rivals. (We eradicated the Neanderthals but nonetheless think we have any business lecturing the Valakians? So much about the first cracks appearing in the notion that human ethics are universal and perfect.) Phlox doesn't wanna mess with this and help either side.
The Valakians have a "human right" to be given medicine, the Menk have a "human right" to live on their own. If you wanna be consistent you gotta apply human rights equally. In this case this means treating the Valakians and liberating the Menk.
Playing dictator, or as Archer said playing God, is not why humankind is out there. If there are the implications of applying human ethics in space they don't work, hence the need for interspecies ethics which are legally materialized in the Prime Directive.
This isn't really all that complicated given the many episodes that explain it. Cogenitor also shows pretty clearly why you cannot apply human ethics on non-human species. Gee, human ethics, non-human species, you can even get this via pure semantics.
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?