The Old Mixer wrote:
Your argument assumes that the Prime Directive is an end unto itself, and takes it to a ridiculous extreme. The main purpose of Starfleet is to explore space and contact alien civilizations. The Prime Directive defines the limits under which they do that.
Anything taken to the extreme produces the opposite effect. If one takes the Prime Directive to an extreme that wasn't intended, then there'd be no Starfleet, because the Federation member races would all be extreme isolationists who never left their own planets.
Indeed, The Old Mixer. That's what I said that the UFP's expansion is at odds with its ideals (the Prime Directive, specifically).
As for my 'assumption' - it's not an assumption, it's what the characters of the show repeatedly said and how they acted. The 24th century Prime Directive IS an end unto itself.
See for example Dear Doctor, Homeward or even episodes where the crew made the sane decision in order to hear the pro prime directive arguments: Pen Pals, Who watches the watchers. For warp capable species, see for example Redemption or The circle.
The summary - the 'cosmic plan' is the best option for all species' evolution; any interference will corrupt, dirty this cosmic plan, leading to a less desirable evolutionary path, regardless of the circumstances.
This 'ridiculous extreme' IS what the 24th century Prime Directive has become (as per the intent of the writers).