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Old June 25 2013, 06:37 PM   #38
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Re: ENT: A Choice of Futures by C. L. Bennett Review Thread (Spoilers!

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
ST:E was kind of up and down about that. Archer had a big problem with bullies and criminals ("Mauraders", "Civilization", "Detained") even if it meant interfering. Yet, there's the infamous "Dear Doctor" episode I suspect not even you could untangle the logics behind. I think episode which handled it best was "Desert Crossing" where Archer obviously is tempted to interfere but recognizes how profoundly stupid that would be.
Yeah, but that's the problem -- the characters figured out too early that they shouldn't recklessly interfere, so we didn't get to see them making interesting mistakes. Sure, they screwed up royally in "The Communicator," but as a result of trying not to interfere, rather than as a result of well-intentioned intervention or cultural imperialism.

OTOH, knowing the Orion Syndicates carry on indefinitely is rather depressing.
But not necessarily in the same form. In the ENT era, they seem to be treated as the actual Orion government -- though at this point I haven't quite figured out how that might work. But by the TNG/DS9 era, they seem to be more of an interspecies crime cartel distinct from Orion as a government; Silent Weapons shows an Orion homeworld whose government is evidently legitimate.

For me, that itch was scratched by the Saurian section of the story. It answered that age old question Picard asked Crusher about whether a planet could join the Federation even if it wasn't a one-world government.
Well, they haven't joined yet. They've just entered into an economic treaty. As of the end of ACOF, the Federation only has one member beyond the five founders, namely Mars. The process of bringing in new members is a thread I'm exploring in book 2 and probably beyond that.

Though, admittedly, it might have PREVENTED a war as Ronald Reagan said that he'd team up with the Soviets to stop an alien invasion.
You know, that might've been an interesting way to take that story: Archer decides to pretend he's the vanguard of an alien invasion, in order to push the factions to come together. Thus he'd sacrifice any hope of good relations between Earth and their planet in order to save the people of the planet. (And it was awkward for me to reference that episode when they never gave the planet a name. Although maybe that was appropriate, since the warring factions probably gave it different names.)

Although that wouldn't really have worked. History shows that alliances against a common enemy don't really resolve existing enmities, just put them on hold until the common foe is defeated. The US and the USSR were worse enemies after WWII than before it. And while racial tensions in the US subsided during the war, they flared up with a vengeance when it was over.

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
RL examples, of course, go both ways. Star Trek just dares us to imagine otherwise. I.e. that the Nazis are horrible but maybe this whole thing could have been prevented if we'd figured out how to keep Hitler from power (or even, way back when, negotiated that going to war over six drunken guys killing an Archduke was moronic). War may be necessary but glorifying it tends to beget war.
Of course, the reason Hitler was able to gain power was because the German people were suffering, humiliated, and angry due to the harsh, punitive reparations the allies demanded after WWI. If something like the Marshall Plan had been instituted after the First World War, if the allies had helped rebuild Germany and establish a viable relationship with them rather than punishing and marginalizing them, then there wouldn't have been as much resentment and free-floating anger for the Nazis to exploit.

By the same token, the Ottoman Empire would've been willing to come into WWI on England's side, but Winston Churchill decided to break his word to them and refuse to give them a pair of battleships that they'd paid England to build for them, because he was afraid of those ships being used against England. So his paranoia was a self-fulfilling prophecy -- by treating the Ottomans as an enemy, he gave them reason to side with the enemy when they could've been an ally. And further, it was the West's heavyhanded treatment of the Mideast after WWI -- forcibly dismantling the Ottoman Empire in violation of the promise that had led to its surrender, then arbitrarily drawing lines defining new nations without any consideration for local religious and cultural affiliations -- that generated most of the tensions that have racked the Mideast ever since.

So a lot of the chaos and conflict of the 20th century could've been avoided if the winners in WWI just hadn't been such jerks. Sure, people like Hitler and bin Laden were total scumbags, but they were only able to gain power because the rank-and-file citizens around them were suffering and angry and looking for someone to blame. If you don't want people like that to end up in charge, then don't create a suffering, desperate population that they can manipulate and expoit.

I do, however, note that Deep Space Nine could never really come to a conclusion on the reality of a just war. Sisko and Odo resolve the Founders conflict by making peace with them but that's only AFTER they've been threatened with annihilation. The carrot, in this case, was useless without the stick.
I've never agreed with that interpretation. They didn't just end the war because Odo gave them the cure, they ended it because he agreed to return home to stay -- and because he linked with the head Founder and shared with her his trust in the Federation, his certainty that they would not become a threat to the Dominion and would not allow the Klingons or Romulans or others to invade it. Basically he proved to her that, despite what Section 31 had done, the Founders were waging the war based on a faulty premise, i.e. that the Federation posed a threat to them.

I'll always remember something my father once said -- not the exact words, but the general concept -- about the strange cultural blind spot that perpetuates so much violence, the double standard people use when thinking about oppression and coercion. So many people think, "If anyone tries to oppress or invade our nation, we will just fight back all the harder until we are free. But if we oppress/invade them, it will break their spirits forever and they won't dare to fight us anymore." It never occurs to them that their enemies will react to oppression or violence the same way they would, fighting back harder rather than being defeated. Even though that's pretty much always what really happens.

The Dominion would never have ended the war based solely on the threat of annihilation. The Federation wouldn't have, so why would they? Maybe they would've backed down long enough to get the cure, but if they'd genuinely believed the Federation was still a threat, they just would've broken the peace and launched a second war. Peace was only possible once they realized the Federation wouldn't harm them if they didn't harm it. Everything the Dominion did was out of fear and mistrust of "solids" -- and Odo ended the war by letting the Female Shapeshifter and the Great Link experience his trust in the Federation, his love for a "solid" woman.

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
It was both the benefit and the flaw of the Borg, too. The Borg were cool because they were unreasonable and antithetical to the Federation. Simultaneously, those very facts meant they undermined the whole theme of the setting.
I suggest you reread Destiny. The Borg weren't defeated by violence.

And no, I'm not saying "pacifism is always the answer." I'm saying that what goes around comes around. Sometimes fighting is necessary to survive a threat, but it doesn't resolve the underlying factors that created the threat, and by itself it usually just exacerbates them. If violence is the only tool in your kit, then you'll be trapped in a cycle of violence forever. You need something else to wield in addition to it, something more constructive, if you want to find a lasting solution.
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Last edited by Christopher; June 25 2013 at 06:48 PM.
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