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Old February 18 2013, 07:35 AM   #1
Daybreaker
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The politics of the Prime Directive

Couple of questions regarding the Prime Directive:

1) Is it the Prime Directive that requires the Federation to only offer membership to worlds that have unified under a government that can represent the entire planet? 'Cause if there were still factions, then dealing with one faction or another could constitute unacceptable interference. Am I even right that there is such a rule, or does it only seem that way?

2) Isn't it a bit convenient that the Prime Directive allows the Federation to trade with worlds regardless of what kind atrocities might be happening on those worlds?
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Old February 18 2013, 01:03 PM   #2
T'Girl
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

On one, I don't think that a part of the PD, but rather a admissions rule instead. A planet probably could still have factions, political parties, opposing viewpoints, what have you, as long as the majority of the planet isn't being torn by civil war. The Bajorians certainly didn't alway get along with each other.

On two, there has to be a practical side of the things in the real world/universe. If the Federation needs a resource, and a unpleasnt group is the best provider of tha resource, well it's their world, isn't it?

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Old February 18 2013, 01:58 PM   #3
The Wormhole
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

Daybreaker wrote: View Post
Couple of questions regarding the Prime Directive:

1) Is it the Prime Directive that requires the Federation to only offer membership to worlds that have unified under a government that can represent the entire planet? 'Cause if there were still factions, then dealing with one faction or another could constitute unacceptable interference. Am I even right that there is such a rule, or does it only seem that way?

2) Isn't it a bit convenient that the Prime Directive allows the Federation to trade with worlds regardless of what kind atrocities might be happening on those worlds?
Neither of these are Prime Directive related. The Prime Directive is a first contact protocol, forbidding Starfleet officers from interfering in the natural development of pre-warp societies and forbidding Starfleet officers from making contact with them. Also, the Prime Directive is a Starfleet regulation, the rest of the Federation isn't required to follow it (as stated in TNG's Angel One).

But, in answer to your questions, yes generally a world does need a unified governemnt to be permitted Federation membership. We do know that Kesprytt was considered for membership despite having a territory that wasn't part of the unified global government, but likely due to the events of the episode their membership was rejected.

And so what if the Federation trades with less than pleasant planets? They need exotic mineral 47, and only providers of exotic mineral 47 are the Space Nazis, who obtain EM 47 through concentration camps on a world they annexed and force the native inhabitants to labour in harsh condtions. Since Annexed World is outside Federation territory and fits the legal definition of a Space Nazi world as established in the treaty, there isn't anything the Federation can do. These kind of politics go on in the real world, why won't they continue in the interstellar community of the future?
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Old February 18 2013, 02:17 PM   #4
Timo
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

The Prime Directive restricts Starfleet's options in first contact situations, yes. But it also restricts Starfleet's options in later dealings: it was explicitly quoted as the reason Starfleet couldn't interfere with Bajor's civil war at the start of the second season of DS9, and as the reason Starfleet couldn't interfere with the internal politics of Angel One, a well-known world, in the titular TNG episode. It was also associated with Starfleet's staying out of the Klingon civil war.

It should be pointed out, though, that the PD only restricts Starfleet. It has never been explicated as a limiter of Federation policy except when it comes to executing that policy through Starfleet. Indeed, the only time it has been applied to an apparent civilian (in the sense of limiting the options of that civilian, not in the sense of protecting the civilian from Starfleet action) is in "Bread and Circuses", where the commanding officer of SS Beagle was to be dragged away in chains for violating it. But the status of said officer as a "civilian" might be disputed...

So the UFP government may practice all sorts of realpolitik regardless of the PD. Indeed, the UFP government is the one organization empowered to alter the PD to meet the requirements of the day. The PD just keeps the soldiers of the Federation from meddling in politics.

We do know that Kesprytt was considered for membership despite having a territory that wasn't part of the unified global government, but likely due to the events of the episode their membership was rejected.
So in theory, split planets are quite eligible; in practice, it's just not done, especially if the first serious attempt at it ends badly.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old February 18 2013, 02:36 PM   #5
The Wormhole
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

Timo wrote: View Post
Indeed, the only time it has been applied to an apparent civilian (in the sense of limiting the options of that civilian, not in the sense of protecting the civilian from Starfleet action) is in "Bread and Circuses", where the commanding officer of SS Beagle was to be dragged away in chains for violating it. But the status of said officer as a "civilian" might be disputed...
Honestly, I suspect he would have been in more trouble for manipulating himself into a postion of luxury while his crew were condemned to gladiator fights, and then trying the exact same thing on the crew of a Starfleet ship than he would doing actions Starfleet considers against the Prime Directive.

We do know that Kesprytt was considered for membership despite having a territory that wasn't part of the unified global government, but likely due to the events of the episode their membership was rejected.
So in theory, split planets are quite eligible; in practice, it's just not done, especially if the first serious attempt at it ends badly.
I doubt a planet with a fractured political landscape like Earth of today would be considered for Federation membership and indeed usually 100% unity is required. Though since Kesprytt was something like 97% percent unified the Federation decided it was worth further review and in the end rejected it anyway.
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Old February 19 2013, 06:30 PM   #6
Dale Sams
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

The thing about the PD that doesn't make sense is....if it's Starfleet only...there would be tons of Greenpeace-like orgs going around doing the work Starfleet won't. And even if SF turns a blind eye towards groups that save planets or rescue endangered species...how can they ignore soemone who sets himself up as king of a planet?
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Old February 19 2013, 07:06 PM   #7
T'Girl
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

With the existence of the Prime Directive, it might make sense that there is a reciprocal civilian verison. But we've never heard of such.
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Old February 19 2013, 07:20 PM   #8
indolover
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

I think it makes good sense. it's not the Federation's place to act as galactic police officer.

Also, how can species with different evolutionary tracts (and thus unique psychological traits) possess exact morals? Changelings, until Odo, had never hurt another. That's quite staggering, if this includes things such as basic assault and not only serious things as murder, rape, torture, etc. People in real life and in-universe view Klingons as brutal and bloodthirsty, well duh, it's how they evolved/are neurologically geared.
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Old February 19 2013, 08:25 PM   #9
Pavonis
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

T'Girl wrote: View Post
With the existence of the Prime Directive, it might make sense that there is a reciprocal civilian verison. But we've never heard of such.
The existence of a civilian "Prime Directive" would depend on how often civilians have the opportunity to interfere with non-Federation cultures.

Starfleet needs a general order regarding non-interference because it's out there on the frontier all the time, and the officers need to know that Starfleet Command would frown on one of them setting themselves up as a tin god on some backwater world of primitives.

Civilians, though...how often do they end up on the frontier? As colonists, sure, they're on the frontier, but then again, they're busy setting up a colony, not flitting about in starships. And presumably they've set up shop on an uninhabited world, so no need to worry about Prime Directive problems for them.

Perhaps there is a similar directive among the Merchant Marines? But wouldn't they spend most of their time shipping cargo between established worlds, and not so much on the frontier? Not much point in selling plasma phase converters to primitives that barely mastered indoor plumbing, is there? Though the Merchant Marine might operate survey ships, which could operate on the frontier, so maybe they're bound by the Prime Directive?
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Old February 20 2013, 01:50 AM   #10
Sci
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

T'Girl wrote: View Post
With the existence of the Prime Directive, it might make sense that there is a reciprocal civilian verison. But we've never heard of such.
Actually, we have. DS9's "Inter Arma Enim Silent leges" established that the Federation Charter bans the UFP government from interfering in the internal affairs of foreign cultures.
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Old February 20 2013, 03:01 AM   #11
Pavonis
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

Yes, but what about civilians with ships, like Harry Mudd? What stops them? Is there some clause in a "master's license" that prevents them from setting up shop as gods on primitive backwoods planets?
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Old February 20 2013, 11:20 AM   #12
Timo
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

But wouldn't they spend most of their time shipping cargo between established worlds, and not so much on the frontier? Not much point in selling plasma phase converters to primitives that barely mastered indoor plumbing, is there?
The most lucrative market might be at the far frontier, really. Not only would there be primitives who'd pay good alcohol or pergium for electric razors and other trinkets - there would be the potential for meeting advanced civilizations that might accidentally sell something of great value in the regular market. Neither of these deals would benefit from the careful official oversight one would encounter deeper inside the UFP.

Transport vessels do operate in unexplored space, not just in the pathfinding days of ENT, but also in TOS: for some untold reason, the Antares visited Thasus in "Charlie X"...

As for the one known indication of a civilian ban, the wording in "Inter Arma" remains a bit ambiguous:

Bashir: "I suppose it would be naive of me to point out that interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign power is explicitly forbidden by the Federation charter."
Forbidden from whom? If the Charter establishes organizations within the UFP (like the Franz Joseph version, derived from the UN Charter), such as Starfleet or the Interstellar Court of Justice, it may also contain specific regulations on what Starfleet (or, in this case, Section 31) is banned from doing - regulations unrelated to what the Interstellar Court of Justice, or the UFP government at large, might be banned from doing.

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Old February 23 2013, 05:46 PM   #13
T'Girl
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

Sci wrote: View Post
Actually, we have. DS9's "Inter Arma Enim Silent leges" established that the Federation Charter bans the UFP government from interfering in the internal affairs of foreign cultures.
There a Human from the Federation was going to manipulate the selection of one Romulan (over another) for a political position.

The Federation Charter forbids interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Which isn't the same as forbidding all interaction. Trade, finance, tourism, education, social discourse could all be neither allowed nor disallowed by that portion of the Charter. Even a certain amount of external political advocacy could be completely kosher.

What constitutes "internal affairs?" And does the prohibition specifically refer to steering clear of a foreign government's operation? But outside of that, most other things in that foreign "land" are fine ... up to a point (covered by different prohibitions).

bans the UFP government
I don't believe that was mentioned.

Timo wrote: View Post
Not only would there be primitives who'd pay good alcohol or pergium for electric razors and other trinkets - there would be the potential for meeting advanced civilizations that might accidentally sell something of great value in the regular market.
And who knows when some ultra low-tech culture is going to introduce you to the next chocolate, or maize, or tobacco?

Pavonis wrote: View Post
... civilians ...that prevents them from setting up shop as gods on primitive backwoods planets?
Even with a law against it in place, what would prevent them? Consider how low the odds are of being discovered.

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Old February 23 2013, 06:24 PM   #14
JirinPanthosa
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

indolover wrote: View Post
I think it makes good sense. it's not the Federation's place to act as galactic police officer.

Also, how can species with different evolutionary tracts (and thus unique psychological traits) possess exact morals? Changelings, until Odo, had never hurt another. That's quite staggering, if this includes things such as basic assault and not only serious things as murder, rape, torture, etc. People in real life and in-universe view Klingons as brutal and bloodthirsty, well duh, it's how they evolved/are neurologically geared.
To some degree yes, but I think there's a line in the sand with extreme violations, such as genocide and slavery. Moral relativitism should be applied in some cross-cultural cases but it's got limits.

If there wasn't a civilian ban from interfering with prewarp planets, there'd be no prewarp planets left, because somebody would have traded warp technology to them for insane amounts of wealth the way Quark wanted to in Little Green Men.
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Old February 23 2013, 08:54 PM   #15
T'Girl
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
because somebody would have traded warp technology to them for insane amounts of wealth
Which might actual be the way the majority of species in the galaxy get a warp drive in the first place. How many of the Federation Membership invented their own, and how many simply purchased all of theirs on the interstellar open market? One of the criteria for Federation Membership would seem to be having warp technology, but who ever say the species had to of created theirs endogenously?

How many nations on Earth today don't manufacture their own jet engines, computers, medicines?

If a species had 24th century Earth equivalent technology in every way, minus the warp drive, what would be the problem with one of the companies from within the Federation selling the tech to them?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
indolover wrote: View Post
galactic police officer
... I think there's a line in the sand with extreme violations, such as genocide and slavery ...
But unless you knew the situation on the planet pretty well, could you identify genocide when you saw it?

Two scenarios.

Tribe/culture A is warring with B. A is going to eventually be kill one thousand people in B. Which is all the people B has ... this is genocide.

On the other side of the planet tribe/culture C is warring with D. C is also in time going to be killing one thousand people from D, difference here is D is wide spread and number over a hundred thousand ... this is not genocide.

While different cultures, they are all the same species. How do you tell from orbit which one to stop (and which one you don't)?

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