Herkimer Jitty wrote:
Crazy Eddie wrote:
AFAIK, this is a problem that Starfleet seems to grapple with about once every forty to sixty years. They're perfectly happy saying "We're peaceful explorers! Yay!" then something scary shows up and the conversation becomes "Holy shit, we're gonna have to fight those guys... are we the military now?"
You can see this reflected in NASA. They change direction every time a new administration comes into office - just look at the differences in the space plans that popped up under the last 4 or so US Presidents. Starfleet's always changing its focus because the Federation Government is switching gears every time a new administration pops in.
That's a really good point, on a number of levels. Different governments having different priorities, and even more extreme to the point that Vulcan -- which abhors violence -- would have more influence over some administrations than others.
But it might not even be the Presidents. There's clearly a HUGE amount of variation even within Starfleet's own ranks as to what their overall mission should be. We've seen war hawks like Marcus, Worf, Leyton, Jellico and (emergedly) Cartwright and West. We also have your science doves like Archer, Kirk and Spock, Scotty and Keenser, Picard and Riker, Janeway and Tuvok. Sisko seems to be a fence-sitter that would prefer for Starfleet to focus on scientific exploration but maintain specialized weapon platforms like the Defiant "just in case." Admiral Pike, interestingly, also strikes me as a kind of middle-of-the-road guy who figures Starfleet can wear both hats to an equal degree.
It seems to me it's an ongoing debate even within Starfleet that waxes and wanes one way or the other with different officers having different opinions. During peacetime, the science doves usually take all the top spots just because peaceful missions are the only show in town and tactically-minded officers don't get a lot of opportunities for advancement; things get so peaceful that they even start putting kids and families on starships. Then one year they run into somebody like the Borg or the Dominion or the Romulans come out of the woodworks and suddenly everybody looks up that one Admiral who thought that all the explorer ships need to run weekly battle simulations and live fire exercises.