Jedi Ben wrote:
Found this quite a tough read due to the nature of the plot.
Certainly it's here that Ishan, for me, became a cardboard villain - an embargo against Andor? For leaving? How juvenile is that? Trade tariffs, yes; border controls, yes, embargo? That'll screw over the Federation members as well!
Is Ishan really
that unrealistic, though? I mean, think about the leaders of belligerent nationalist movements that get vomited up when societies face major trauma in real life. Think about politicians who do things like, launch wars of aggression against countries on the basis of lies about weapons of mass destruction. Or who provoke ethnic wars over half-imagined national grievances. Or who are just aching for a wars with emerging powers, to the point where they'll put into place embargoes designed to hurt normal people.
Their reasons for acting are all identical to Ishan's -- they want a foreign enemy they can act against in order to bolster their power on the domestic front.
On top of that, Ishan's logic is not entirely unjustified. He is right in noting that the Federation has limited resources, and that Federation worlds should not feel free to blackmail the UFP into giving them whatever they want by threatening secession. He's not entirely wrong when he says that Andor turned its back on the Federation. And, remember, when he institutes the embargo, he doesn't know that the Treyisha administration is withholding Tholian data from the Science Institute.
Where he goes wrong, like most militarists, is that he takes his logic too far. He takes his own need for a foreign enemy and his sense of betrayal and decides to therefore start an embargo that just hurts normal Andorians. Then, when Andor does the rational response to that by allowing the Typhon Pact to court them, he reacts even more disproportionately by viewing Andor as an active threat to the Federation -- even though his belligerent actions created the problem
. All of this is completely plausible
behavior from Ishan; we've seen nonsense like this in real life.
And I don't think the embargo actually hurt Federation worlds to any appreciable degree. It's pretty clear from the references to Andor lacking in foodstuffs and medicines, and to references to the return of poverty to cities like Lor'Vela (to the point where some Andorians even resorted to prostitution out of desperation) that Andor's infrastructure still hasn't recovered and that secession hasn't helped this any. More than likely, Andor needed trade with the Federation more than the Federation needed trade with Andor.
He then follows that up by deciding that yes, as penalty for leaving the Federation, the Andorians should become extinct!
Well, no. We need to get very specific here: Velk says in The Poisoned Chalice
that the Andorians would have gotten what they needed eventually. Ishan wasn't deciding the Andorians should go extinct. He was, rather, deliberately risking
the extinction of the Andorian species once Bashir told him that he had the cure and that it was needed immediately, and he was doing so out of a combination of motivations that included his own sense of betrayal, his anger over their letting the Typhon Pact court them, his legitimate concerns over proliferation of the Shedai Meta-Genome, and, most of all, his political need to appear "strong" for the election.
This is depraved indifference, not active genocide.
Also loathed the whole "we must obey our orders unthinkingly" aspect, OK yes, it's setting up Dax and co's rejection of that, but it was a bit clunky.
Again, I just thought it ran true to life. Just ask Private Chelsea Manning about the costs of defying unjust orders.