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Old October 13 2012, 10:43 PM   #1
EmperorTiberius
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Power of the Federation

For years I watched and read Star Trek and always imagined from what I've seen that semi-military Starfleet is about equal in military power to Romulans, and slightly weaker than the on-perpetual-war-footing Klingons. They're obviously slightly stronger than Cardassians. Balance of power is kept by careful diplomacy, aliances, etc.

Then, when I started visiting Trek forums, I noticed fans talk about "Super Power" Federation as the only true power in the Alpha Quadrant (most often it's compared to the U.S.). I also noticed that people think Romulans are supposed to be a small empire like the Klingons; and Cardassians are considered insignificant ants that Starfleet can brush aside at any time.

Where is this fans' impression coming from?
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Old October 13 2012, 11:27 PM   #2
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Re: Power of the Federation

The impression that the Cardassians weren't a major power comes from how easily the Klingons beat them in DS9 season 4. One assumes the Federation would be able to do this too. That they had to join the Dominion to be taken seriously militarily also lends weight to this. The Border War that look place before TNG grays things a bit but I like to think the Federation just didn't put all their effort into it and settled for a doctrine of containment rather than defeating them. Though their losses during the Dominion War clearly leave them as a second rate power and a dependency of the Federation after the war.

I was always under the impression that the Klingon/Federation alliance presented a super power that no one empire in the quadrant would be able to contend with. The impression that the Klingons are weaker than the Federation can be had easy enough from DS9's seasons 4 and 5 where the Federation was pretty much able to check them. Couple that with their losses during the Civil War that took place in TNG. Sloan also mentions that the rate of Klingon casualties during the Dominion War would leave them a second rate power.

The Romulans by there very nature were a vague thing. They'd skirmish regularly with both the Klingons and the Federation but wouldn't push it to all out war. So that would imply that they're either on equal footing or somewhat stronger than the Federation, but not powerful enough to confront both them and the Klingons. Sloan stated in the series that the struggle for local dominance after the Dominion War would be between the Federation and Romulans, which I think is credible. They probably look lower casualties during the war too being it wasn't fought in their space and they didn't join it until later. The only hint of weakness comes after it. One assumes they took a lot of military casualties during the Reman Insurrection and the whole Hobus Supernova is bound to ruin their long term power projection ability.

I really never got the impression that the Federation was pulling way ahead of the pack until the late movie era and novelizations that follow them.
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Old October 13 2012, 11:36 PM   #3
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Re: Power of the Federation

Zombie Redshirt wrote: View Post
The impression that the Cardassians weren't a major power comes from how easily the Klingons beat them in DS9 season 4. One assumes the Federation would be able to do this too. That they had to join the Dominion to be taken seriously militarily also lends weight to this. The Border War that look place before TNG grays things a bit but I like to think the Federation just didn't put all their effort into it and settled for a doctrine of containment rather than defeating them.
Plus there's one federation starship beating the snot out of them in the Wounded and Jellico believing the Enterprise could take on 12 Galors in Chain of Command.
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Old October 14 2012, 04:54 AM   #4
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Re: Power of the Federation

Well after the Tal'Shiar/Obsidian Orders failed attack on the Founder world in DSN, the Founders didn't consider those two Empire's to be a threat to them any longer.

If the Federation is the largest in terms of volume of space (some 8000ly span) that might require a high number of ships to support it. So it is possible in terms of raw strength of ships the Federation is the most powerful.

But a larger area of space can be harder to defend, who knows what other agressive powers are lurking around the Federation large borders?
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Old October 14 2012, 05:20 AM   #5
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Re: Power of the Federation

MacLeod wrote: View Post
Well after the Tal'Shiar/Obsidian Orders failed attack on the Founder world in DSN, the Founders didn't consider those two Empire's to be a threat to them any longer.

If the Federation is the largest in terms of volume of space (some 8000ly span) that might require a high number of ships to support it. So it is possible in terms of raw strength of ships the Federation is the most powerful.

But a larger area of space can be harder to defend, who knows what other agressive powers are lurking around the Federation large borders?
There were 20 ships in the Tal'Shiar/Obsidian Order attack. So roughly half and half or maybe a 5/15 ratio respectively since the Cardassian Keldon class was smaller. That's hardly going to cripple an entire empire.

So the fleets were manned by renegade intelligence agents mostly. Those two intelligence agencies were definitely crippled for awhile, the Obsidian Order having been said to have "fallen" in Season 4 of DS9 but the Tal'Shiar was a going concern again by season 7.

As for the Federation being 8000 LY across, while this could be true, you could say the USA is 9500 miles across(the distance from Guam to Puerto Rico) but that doesn't quite paint an accurate impression.
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Old October 14 2012, 10:55 AM   #6
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Re: Power of the Federation

The Romulans were originally a minor power, behind the Federation's advances since being defeated and isolated after the Romulan war. In their first appearence ("Balance of Terror"), they had a ripped-off Starfleet ship with a bird painted on it and no warp drive. It was only their new cloaking device and plasma torpedo weapon that made them formiddable. Later they got better, Klingon-designed ships.

Later Treks, most notably Enterprise, would retcon Romulans into a big galactic power in the 22nd and 24th centuries, with warp drive and cloaking devices, holographic starships and a vampiric slave race.

As for the Klingons, they were originally the Soviet Union to the Federation's USA. Other Treks would turn them into an almost technologically stagnant society, using the same ships in Enterprise as they do in DS9, 225 years later. On par with the Federation in TOS, far above them in ENT and lagging behind in DS9. Since reading the novel Ishmael years ago, I like to think Klingon technology is inhereted from their former slave masters (the Karsid Empire), who mysteriously vanished 600 years prior to TOS. It explains why all their ships are old rustbuckets.
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Old October 14 2012, 11:26 AM   #7
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Re: Power of the Federation

Zombie Redshirt wrote: View Post
As for the Federation being 8000 LY across, while this could be true, you could say the USA is 9500 miles across(the distance from Guam to Puerto Rico) but that doesn't quite paint an accurate impression.
I agree. I have always gotten the impression from the series, especially the large number of pre-warp civilizations and otherwise one star system races, that the Federation's 8000 light-years either includes a lot of non-Federation world within it or is a very irregular shape due to the number of "borders" with non-Fed members.
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Old October 14 2012, 04:40 PM   #8
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Re: Power of the Federation

MacLeod wrote: View Post
Well after the Tal'Shiar/Obsidian Orders failed attack on the Founder world in DSN, the Founders didn't consider those two Empire's to be a threat to them any longer.
Meh, fascist founders were a bit diluded in many things and got a lot of stuff wrong. Romulans sure proved it when they joined the war. Besides, I think that might have referred to the cream of the crop of those intelligence agencies being wiped out, which would weaken them significantly.

KingDaniel wrote: View Post
The Romulans were originally a minor power, behind the Federation's advances since being defeated and isolated after the Romulan war. In their first appearence ("Balance of Terror"), they had a ripped-off Starfleet ship with a bird painted on it and no warp drive. It was only their new cloaking device and plasma torpedo weapon that made them formiddable. Later they got better, Klingon-designed ships.
What is this about the ripped-off ship? Is this from the novels?

And no way did they have no warp drive. It might have been impusle power, but capable of generating warp fields, otherwise, they could never sustain a star empire.

Zombie Redshirt wrote: View Post
The impression that the Cardassians weren't a major power comes from how easily the Klingons beat them in DS9 season 4. One assumes the Federation would be able to do this too. That they had to join the Dominion to be taken seriously militarily also lends weight to this. The Border War that look place before TNG grays things a bit but I like to think the Federation just didn't put all their effort into it and settled for a doctrine of containment rather than defeating them. Though their losses during the Dominion War clearly leave them as a second rate power and a dependency of the Federation after the war.

I was always under the impression that the Klingon/Federation alliance presented a super power that no one empire in the quadrant would be able to contend with. The impression that the Klingons are weaker than the Federation can be had easy enough from DS9's seasons 4 and 5 where the Federation was pretty much able to check them. Couple that with their losses during the Civil War that took place in TNG. Sloan also mentions that the rate of Klingon casualties during the Dominion War would leave them a second rate power.



.

You're probably right about Cardassians, but I disagree about Klingons.

They were a superpower in TOS as Daniel indicated, and I think they were a superpower in TNG and DS9 all the way until the end of the war, where they'll need 10 years to get their fleet back on par. Think about what they went through in less than 7 years:

1. Civil war with Duras
2. War with Cardaissians
3. War with Federation
4. War with Dominion
5. Held the line alone against Dominion/Cardassians/Breen
6. We also see Klingon Borg drones, so they must have had some contact with them too.

In all this time, Federation had two encounters with Borg and Dominion. Of course, they'll have supremacy for about a decade or so.

I think it's worth mentioning Yesterday's Enterprise, where Klingons were on the verge of defeating Starfleet. Even though it was an alternate timeline, it was a perfectly valid one.

Then you see All Good Things, and Klingons conquered Romulans. Even though it's just an illusion by Q, I don't think he pulled it out of his bum, he must have based it in reality.
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Old October 15 2012, 10:09 AM   #9
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Re: Power of the Federation

It should be noted that a lot can happen in twenty years which was the time gap of Yesterday's Enterprise. Like as you mention, a full civil war, contact with the Borg among other things. 20 years earlier, the Klingons and Federation WERE on a more level playing field, enough so that a surprise attack could have seized much Federation territory before Starfleet could fully mobilize. From then it's just a matter of them leaning on the Federation until they collapse. They were fighting near the Archer system so the front lines were quite close to Earth. The Federation considerably buffed up post Wolf 359 when they seemed to start taking their military seriously.

As for the All Good Things bit? I can't say I take that very seriously given it was an illusionary timeline. Too much unexplained to just write it off to brute Klingon strength. The Hobus Supernova could have happened there too, the Borg could have attack them, the Federation/Klingon alliance could have taken them down and things soured when the Klingons occupied then, etc.

The balance of power in the TNG era wasn't so radical that either side would attack the other. It's not like there's no love lost between the Romulans and Klingons so if one side or the other had a decisive advantage, especially the Klingons since the Federation would probably stay neutral, they'd attack.
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Old October 15 2012, 11:12 AM   #10
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Power of the Federation

EmperorTiberius wrote: View Post
KingDaniel wrote: View Post
The Romulans were originally a minor power, behind the Federation's advances since being defeated and isolated after the Romulan war. In their first appearence ("Balance of Terror"), they had a ripped-off Starfleet ship with a bird painted on it and no warp drive. It was only their new cloaking device and plasma torpedo weapon that made them formiddable. Later they got better, Klingon-designed ships.
What is this about the ripped-off ship? Is this from the novels?

And no way did they have no warp drive. It might have been impusle power, but capable of generating warp fields, otherwise, they could never sustain a star empire.
From a bit cut from the "Balance of Terror" script (and ignored by later Treks):

INSERT - SHIP'S VIEWING SCREEN
The attacking vessel can now be seen definitely to be some modified version of a starship saucer main section... but with the dark markings on its underside which suggests a bird-of-prey with half-spread wings. And centered there is a threatening-looking "weapon tube" device. We see it in full size only momentarily... then it launches a torpedo-like bolt of blinding energy from the weapons tube.

HANSON'S VOICE
You see it, Enterprise?! Starship design. Warn Earth...
(STATIC CRACKLE)
... espionage, stolen our designs... traitors...

http://www.fastcopyinc.com/orionpres...ceofterror.htm

As for the warp drive, that's I think more of Trek's bad science. Insurrection had the line "Warp drive turned a bunch of Romulan thugs into an empire... a century ago..."
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Old October 15 2012, 12:54 PM   #11
Timo
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Re: Power of the Federation

Which might mean Romulans got warp drive a century before the movie, that is, around TOS (and thus perhaps didn't have it in "Balance of Terror" yet, even though their plasma cloud weapon effortlessly moved apace with the hero starship that flew at "emergency warp"). Or just that warp drive was the decisive factor in turning Romulans into a credible empire in the 2260s, when the species first challenged the RNZ and was offered the two paths of development - but that warp drive as such was old news.

In any case, both Romulans and Cardassians were introduced as "old and neglected" enemies, presumably not powerful enough to warrant constant attention. Klingons in turn were introduced as an "ongoing" foe.

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Old October 15 2012, 01:11 PM   #12
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Re: Power of the Federation

They had warp drives that worked just fine in Enterprise.
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Old October 15 2012, 04:25 PM   #13
Timo
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Re: Power of the Federation

And nobody ever said they lacked warp drives in "Balance of Terror" as a species. Scotty may or may not have believed that this particular ship lacked warp drive, but there was absolutely no mention of the Romulans being ignorant of the secret of the warp drive.

Of course, just like the status of the Romulans can change from "enemy to be feared" to "forgotten enemy who has fallen behind times and no longer is a credible threat", the status of Romulan technology could change from "can warp and cloak" to "no longer knows how to build warp drives or cloaks". It just takes some heavy-duty believing to accept that this sort of amnesia could strike in just a single century. And there's no particular need for it, as Romulan warp drive in the 2150s is in no way contradicted by "Balance of Terror".

...Now, the idea that the Federation forgot that the Romulans already had invisibility down pat in the 2150s is a bit harder to cope with. But perhaps Romulans went from major 22nd century foe to pitiful 23rd century nuisance specifically because they forgot how to cloak?

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Old October 15 2012, 05:37 PM   #14
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Re: Power of the Federation

Well after the Dominion War the cardies are kinda weak broken race with not much of an empire. So basically after the big war the powers changed and cardies are no longer a force to be reckoned with (I would imagine). Again Klingons took a big blow, not entirely sure but maybe they lost most of their ships. So I would assume the big parties left would either be Feds or Romulans.
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Old October 15 2012, 08:36 PM   #15
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Re: Power of the Federation

My OPINION is that Enterprise represents a divergent timeline that started with the events of First Contact and runs through Enterprise and on up to Star Trek 2009 - Nero and Spock Prime didn't actually branch the timeline, they just ended up in the one that was already branched in First Contact.

So, Romulans ended up with warp and cloaking earlier, somehow. In the Prime timeline, the Romulans stole warp from the first Earth ships that surveyed their star system. (Yes, I know - not canon, from the novels, but I like it.)
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