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General Trek Discussion Trek TV and cinema subjects not related to any specific series or movie.

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Old April 11 2013, 11:01 PM   #16
Shawnster
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

Since this is the best recent Prime Directive discussion I could find, I wanted to share an observation.

I'm rewatching TOS "The Apple." Interesting bit of dialog in the opening teaser:
(Kirk, Spock, Chekov, Yeoman Landon and two guards have beamed down to study a new world.)
KIRK: Start your readings.
(McCoy and two more guards beam down.)
MCCOY: Well, I just might stake out a claim and settle down here, Jim.
KIRK: It is spectacular, isn't it?
MCCOY: It's a shame to have to intrude.
KIRK: Well, the last scout ship reported some pretty strange sensor readings. Starfleet wants it investigated and the inhabitants contacted. We do what we're told.
So, this planet had been previously surveyed. Surely such an initial survey would reveal the technological level of the natives. Due to the unusual readings, Starfleet wanted Kirk to contact the inhabitants. Now, the landing party beamed down in uniform with visible display of phasers, tricorders and communicators.

Starfleet wanted the Enterprise crew to directly contact a pre-warp, technologically inferior culture.

Wouldn't this order directly conflict with the Prime Directive? Even in the TOS depiction of the Prime Directive "No identification of self or mission, no interference with the social development of said planet, no references to space, or the fact that there are other worlds, or more advanced civilizations.
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Old April 11 2013, 11:33 PM   #17
BillJ
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

Shawnster wrote: View Post
So, this planet had been previously surveyed. Surely such an initial survey would reveal the technological level of the natives. Due to the unusual readings, Starfleet wanted Kirk to contact the inhabitants. Now, the landing party beamed down in uniform with visible display of phasers, tricorders and communicators.

Starfleet wanted the Enterprise crew to directly contact a pre-warp, technologically inferior culture.
The original survey was likely done from a distance without ever landing on the planet (else Vaal likely wouldn't have allowed them to leave). The strange reading likely led Starfleet/the Enterprise to believe there was a more advanced culture than the one encountered by Kirk and Company.
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Old April 12 2013, 12:02 AM   #18
UssGlenn
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

When dealing with primitive cultures, you can always pull the "We're from far away" trick. They know there are other groups on the planet but have no way of knowing you aren't one of them.
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Old April 13 2013, 03:31 AM   #19
JessDD
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

Shawnster wrote: View Post
Since this is the best recent Prime Directive discussion I could find, I wanted to share an observation.

I'm rewatching TOS "The Apple." Interesting bit of dialog in the opening teaser:
(Kirk, Spock, Chekov, Yeoman Landon and two guards have beamed down to study a new world.)
KIRK: Start your readings.
(McCoy and two more guards beam down.)
MCCOY: Well, I just might stake out a claim and settle down here, Jim.
KIRK: It is spectacular, isn't it?
MCCOY: It's a shame to have to intrude.
KIRK: Well, the last scout ship reported some pretty strange sensor readings. Starfleet wants it investigated and the inhabitants contacted. We do what we're told.
So, this planet had been previously surveyed. Surely such an initial survey would reveal the technological level of the natives. Due to the unusual readings, Starfleet wanted Kirk to contact the inhabitants. Now, the landing party beamed down in uniform with visible display of phasers, tricorders and communicators.

Starfleet wanted the Enterprise crew to directly contact a pre-warp, technologically inferior culture.

Wouldn't this order directly conflict with the Prime Directive? Even in the TOS depiction of the Prime Directive "No identification of self or mission, no interference with the social development of said planet, no references to space, or the fact that there are other worlds, or more advanced civilizations.

It kind of begs the question about civilian oversight of Starfleet.

If Starfleet command ordered a ship to make contact with a civilization which was in direct conflict with the PD, isn't there a civilian oversight board to stop them? Given the vastness of the Federation and Starfleet, the UFP President wouldn't have time to handle it him/herself.
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Old April 13 2013, 04:22 AM   #20
R. Star
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

The Prime Directive pretty much is two different things as it's applied rather liberally to any number of situations. One, it prohibits interference in the development of a pre-warp society. Though this doesn't include spying at all. Two, it prohibits interferences in the internal affairs of any society. Even if they're your biggest ally asking for help in a civil war that was instigated and supported by your biggest rival.

Personally I think the PD is rather... stupid... at times. It's okay to let an entire people die when you can save them..... why? Because you don't know the consequences as Janeway said in Time and Again? Because there's a "cosmic plan" as Riker said in Pen Pals? Even Picard just says there are "ramifications" of the Prime Directive that dictate some lives cannot be saved in Homeward. Again.. why?

Picard asks if a geological incident should make an exception, then a disease, then a war. When people hesitate about the war, then Picard just acts like he won a point. As if it's an all or none kind of deal. I don't get that. Janeway's you don't know the consequences? Come on... that's like saying if someone's beating a pregnant woman to death you should just keep walking because that kid might grow up to be Hitler. Comic plan? Circular argument. If there's a cosmic plan I'm part of it and interfering to save lives seems more moral than letting helpless people die because it might be inconvenient. Ramifications? These are all self-imposed.

I never got upset when any captain broke the PD because... it's contradictory at times and morally bankrupt in others. Everyone acted like Worf's brother did something terribly evil by saving those alien sheep herders in Homeward. Heck Paris said it best "They're all going to die... anything's got to be better than that." Which Janeway just ordered him to shut up having lost that argument.

Not interfering with internal affairs of other cultures. That even somehow applied to the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. Which makes no sense to me at all being the Federation was fighting a war with the Cardassians at the times. The first thing you do in any war, is give weapons to the partisans fighting against the other side.

The PD is well intentioned, don't get me wrong. It's there to protect other cultures from exploitation and us from getting drug into matters that don't concern us. But in reality... you have to take things on a case by case basis. It can't be all or none, like the letter of the law says.
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Old April 13 2013, 10:29 AM   #21
T'Girl
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

R. Star wrote: View Post
it prohibits interferences in the internal affairs of any society. Even if they're your biggest ally asking for help in a civil war that was instigated and supported by your biggest rival.

GOWRON
: ... request your assistance in fighting these enemies of the Empire.
RIKER: These enemies are Klingons.
PICARD
: ... by definition, an internal Klingon affair.

(and)

ADMIRAL SHANTHI
: The Klingon civil war is, by definition, an internal matter of the Empire.
PICARD: Agreed.

I don't think that the prime directive was in play in Redemption. The noninterference referred to in Redemption had to do with the separate issue of interfering with another sovereign power. Not all "noninterference" matters pertain to the prime directive.

And in the case of Redemption, once it became established (and not just supposed) that the Romulans were involved, the Klingon government was able to invoke a existing mutual defense treaty with the Federation.

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Old April 15 2013, 10:13 AM   #22
Timo
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

Then again, "The Circle" explicitly equated noninterference in internal affairs with the Prime Directive:

Chekote: "But internal to Bajor. The Cardassians might involve themselves in other people's civil wars, but we don't. The Prime Directive applies, Ben.
The situation appears identical to that of the Klingon civil war: Starfleet knows outside agents have an interest in the outcome and may be meddling already, but as long as the declared combatants are from one and the same culture, PD says hands off.

But since there was no defense pact between Bajor and the UFP comparable to the Federation-Klingon alliance, Sisko had to go rogue despite the knowledge of Cardassian involvement.

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Old April 15 2013, 01:14 PM   #23
R. Star
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

No defense pact? What would you call Starfleet's presence on DS9? Though if I was a foreign power I'd be very skeptical about signing -any- agreement with the Federation when they have a vague Prime Directive that gives them moral latitude to ignore any agreement if convenient.
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Old April 15 2013, 02:49 PM   #24
Timo
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

No defense pact? What would you call Starfleet's presence on DS9?
Never mind me - Starfleet would never dare call it that. And explicitly shied away from doing so in "The Circle"...

moral latitude to ignore any agreement if convenient.
Latitude (moral or otherwise) is something you buy with big guns. For some reason, people still sign deals with the UFP even when the signatories arrive onboard a Galaxy class starship.

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Old April 15 2013, 04:28 PM   #25
Shawnster
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

I think the situation was vastly different in The Circle. What was the legitimate government? Was there a legitimate government? Once the Cardassians withdrew they started calling it the "provisional" government. The fighting in The Circle may have been seen by Starfleet as Bajor's way of sorting out the mess and establishing a full-fledged government instead of something provisional.

Which side should they have supported (keep in mind we tv viewers had more information than Starfleet)?

At least in the Klingon civil war there was an established relationship between the Federation and the legitimate Klingon government that went back several years.
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Old April 17 2013, 02:31 PM   #26
Timo
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Re: The politics of the Prime Directive

establishing a full-fledged government instead of something provisional.
A provisional government is a strong sign of stability and progress, actually. If a government that took power right after the previous landlords left did not have the courage to call itself provisional (i.e. pending elections, we uphold the law, but then we're out), that'd be quite worrying...

Sorting it out by fighting would be a massive step back from having a government that considers itself provisional.

Which side should they have supported (keep in mind we tv viewers had more information than Starfleet)?
Since the threat was to stability, and the UFP was reasonably happy with the state of affairs from the first season, the obvious protege of the UFP would have been the standing government. Starfleet is known to have defended status quo in general (even if Kirk personally preferred radical revolution), so such a stance would come quite naturally for them. And the Circle had already made it clear it wanted Starfleet out, so it's not as if the UFP would have had a choice...

At least in the Klingon civil war there was an established relationship between the Federation and the legitimate Klingon government that went back several years.
...But the UFP might have been better off siding with the Duras sisters, who were known for their willingness to let outside superpowers have a say in the affairs of the Klingon Empire!

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