Obviously Starfleet is a military organisation.
Its organisational structure mimics (if not exactly copies) Earth military structures. It has
officers, enlisted people, uniforms, people say yes sir and no sir to each other and salute.
If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck is it not a duck?
Two different present-day real world examples have already been provided for organizations that are militarily structured and/or serve some military purposes without themselves being militaries: NOAA and Japan's Self Defense Forces. This is not to suggest that Starfleet is necessarily the same as either of these organizations (though there may be similarities) but it demonstrates that the premise "it looks and acts like a military, ergo it is one" is readily falsifiable.
And by the way, apropos of both your comment and those of others with reference to how SF was envisioned during the production of TOS, this is what the series guide for writers and directors said as of April 1967:
Is the starship U.S.S. Enterprise a military vessel?
Yes, but only semi-military in practice -- omitting features which are heavily authoritarian. For example, we are not aware of "officers" and "enlisted men" categories. And we avoid saluting and other annoying medieval leftovers. On the other hand, we do keep a flavor of Naval usage and terminology to help encourage believability and identification by the audience. After all, our own Navy today still retains remnants of tradition known to Nelson and Drake.
So yes, it is more or less correct to say that SF was "in the beginning" envisioned as military, but not without caveats. (I am leaving aside the fact that they didn't really
decide right from the beginning what organization our heroes worked for, it being called various names in early episodes, including one that at least sounds
distinctly civilian: the United Earth Space Probe Agency.)
In the movies, beginning with TWOK, creative control and production changed over into new hands, Meyer's and Bennett's, and a conscious choice was made to portray SF as more martial. When TNG began, Roddenberry and others went the opposite direction, partly to directly contrast with the choices made by Meyer and Bennett, which Roddenberry felt to be too
militaristic. TUC, made after TNG had already been on for several years and gained wide popularity and cultural currency, was in many respects designed to "connect the dots" and show people how the world of the 23rd century morphed into the world of the 24th. Thus, we see Kirk and company struggling to adapt to a changing political situation with the Klingons and a corresponding shift in Starfleet's roles, and ultimately bowing out to pass the torch to the next generation.
After Roddenberry's departure, his hand-picked successor Berman continued at the reins, for his part mainly holding to Roddenberry's directives, but allowing DS9 and VGR to break out of the box because they dealt with main characters of mixed affiliations in remote settings and under unique pressures that made such deviations from "the vision" plausible and sensible. Later still, we got ENT, which elaborated on the early days of Starfleet (early being a relative term, as it was also indicated that SF had already been around for two decades prior to the time frame of the show) and the events that led to the founding of the UFP. Now, Abrams and his writers are at the helm and they obviously are walking a fine line between going their own direction and staying generally consistent with what's come before.
The Mighty Monkey of Mim wrote:
Not really, because again, at its foundation Starfleet is a scientific and exploratory program.
Wait, how the hell do you know that ? Isn't that the whole question of the thread ?
His reply is a sideways way of saying they were going to get back to what they were really supposed to be doing and shed the excess built up in response to a threat that would no longer be posed by the Klingons.
You are of course right that I am to a degree speculating in interpreting the evidence, which is at times contradictory, and my conclusions are not the only possible or plausible ones. I said as much upthread and really, I thought that to be understood in the context of discussing a fictional TV/film franchise that someone comes along and to one extent or another remakes in his own image every decade or so. Any attempt to fit it all together requires some amount of conjecture.
No, this thread was not started to ask or answer this question and the original poster said this explicitly in his initial post. Nevertheless, it obviously has become the dominant area of discussion, apparently because it's a topic that lends itself to philosophical rumination and to debate, at times provoking marked contention and circular argument, which seems to be where we are at this point.
Anyone's supposition of what a character was going to say but didn't is of course pure speculation, but I suggest you revisit the film and reexamine its plot and theme to see if you really think the concerns of those characters were supposed to be seen as warranted, because when put in context of the story and the ultimate outcome, it's clear to me that they were not. Why you would view the alarmists and conspirators who are the villains in this film (or the jaded whelp who spews hostility toward SF in TWOK) as being more trustworthy than the respected protagonists of TNG and ENT, I do not understand.
In any case, while recognizing that this constitutes a tu quoque
, you are doing the same thing of which you are accusing others by ignoring the multiple statements made by Picard, Forrest, et al
, that indicate SF is not a military organization. If you want to just dismiss them and say they were wrong, I think you need to offer some kind of evidence that comes from within and is supported by the relevant story.
Saying Picard is an idealist is not good enough; he certainly is, but this alone does not mean we shouldn't believe him when he states a fact. (Besides, Kirk is an idealist too, or have you forgotten how every other episode of TOS featured him making a paternalistic speech about the morality of that week's antagonist or alien culture?) If Picard had been in denial of reality don't you think someone would have challenged him on his statements, like maybe the master military strategist he was talking to, or the lawyer whose very job it was to argue against him in court, no less? And how about Forrest, two hundred years earlier? Was just a crazy idealist too? And Hernandez? And now Scotty? They all directly or indirectly said SF was not military. That's how I "know" that.
My speculation that Starfleet militarizes and demilitarizes as required by circumstance, or that its non-military status may rest on some technicality, legal or otherwise, to which characters of differing viewpoints attach varying levels of philosophical significance, contradicts no
onscreen evidence of which I am aware, and is supported by a substantial amount of it. (I earnestly welcome being reminded of datapoints I have overlooked.) The idea that SF is military, full stop, period, move along home, may be supported by some evidence but is also contradicted by multiple statements on multiple shows from 1987 to today, and even (to a lesser extent) the TOS writer/director's guide. I disagree with the idea on that basis, acknowledging that mine are not necessarily the only alternatives.
, long post! Done now.