The Wormhole wrote:
See, I don't get this "Starfleet is more than just a military" line that gets tossed around in these debates. Everything Starfleet does has been done by militaries in real life. Historically, exploration was handled by navy ships.
Invariably? I know that Columbus had Crown backing, but was his ship military? What about Marco Polo?
Modern day militaries do have science and research programs. Granted, Starfleet does place a larger priority on science than most militaries do today, but that's because they're in space and space has all kinds of funky stuff which requires scientific professionals on hand, not because they aren't military.
Isn't most military research contracted to private third parties? And isn't it almost universally practical rather than pure research?
I also don't understand your last argument. You first seem to argue that Starfleet is exclusively
the military because historically, the military has performed every function Starfleet performs. But you then go on to use that claim to seat a further claim that Starfleet, somehow, is exclusively the military because
it is operating in an environment which differs sharply from those historically operated in by the military. That seems contradictory to me.
A lot of the 'exploration' depicted on the show consists of 'mapping' various areas. The military has been involved in this historically (Lewis and Clark), but so have non-military groups and individuals (the National Geographic Society).
While the military may be involved in, for example, extreme meaures taken against an extraordinary threat of epidemic disease outbreak, absent the actual declaration of martial law, ultimate control of those operations remains under the civilian aegis of the CDC. Similarly, I assume it's not unheard-of for the military to be involved in cleanup operations after environmental disasters, but again ultimate control of those operations would typically be under the authority of the EPA, would it not?
So my position is that Starfleet is best conceived as an umbrella group combining the military with statutory research bodies and parts of the executive branch of government.