The Old Mixer wrote:
Part of the problem is that Trek uses the Prime Directive to describe two related but effectively different protocols.
Non-contamination only applies to pre-warp cultures. They're not supposed to be contacted or influenced until they're considered "ready".
Because it's assumed that any interaction will 'contaminate' a culture, deviate it from its unaltered, pure 'natural evolution' defined as a cosmic plan in whose preservation the federation religiously believes.
For warp cultures, it's non-interference...the Federation and Starfleet aren't supposed to impose their will or beliefs on other cultures, particularly by force. Of course, there are limits to this. Warp cultures are out there, a part of the greater interstellar community. The Federation interacts openly with them, which can involve diplomacy, trade, and even war.
Federation members are expected to conform to certain Federation standards, but nobody's making them join.
Yes - warp being seeming an utterly arbitrary delimitation - until Picard explains the reason in 'First contact', that is. The reason being that the warp culture will encounter other cultures and will be corrupted anyway.
First - the federation is a gathering of religious fanatics, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.
Second - the federation argument for contacting warp cultures is flawed, if we accept as premise the faith about contaminating cultures: just because a person may get robbed/beaten in the future is not a valid reason for one to rob/beat him/her now.
In conclusion, the UFP expansion remains at odds with its own ideals
(religion being a better term).