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Old January 17 2014, 09:42 PM   #1
Turd Ferguson
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Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

I'm watching TNG for the first time all the way through on Blu-Ray and last night I got to the episode I, Borg (a great episode, btw) and I started thinking. If we ignore the Enterprise episode Regeneration and the movie First Contact, which are humanity's earliest encounters with the Borg, and rely solely on the incident of the Enterprise-B picking up some El Aurian survivors, shouldn't Starfleet have been asking some questions?

For one, it doesn't even seem like the basic questions of "Who destroyed your homeworld?" were asked to the El Aurian refugees, or else Picard and the Enterprise-D crew wouldn't have been so puzzled at their first encounter with the Borg in Q Who? In fact, when Guinan comes up to the bridge suggesting they turn back now gives the impression this is the first time any Starfleet representative was made aware that the El Aurians knew who the Borg were.

And, if we take the Voyager episode The Raven into consideration, the Hansens were trying to convince Starfleet that the Borg existed, much to Starfleet's hesitation. And this is only twenty years or so before Voyager.

So what did Starfleet do for the fifty years from the Enterprise-B incident to launching the Raven? Did they just not care that there was a race out there that was scooping up colonies or destroying whole worlds? Did the top Starfleet brass just sweep the whole thing under the rug? Or did they just not ask any questions? Maybe a sort of "Well if we ignore the problem, maybe it'll go away" scenario?

What say you?
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Old January 17 2014, 10:23 PM   #2
Robbiesan
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

I think it's a major writing mistake, but excusable based upon how many writers were working on the show, though odd. Did you look up the Memory Alpha text on the Borg?
http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Borg

I always thought the Borg were a HUGE future threat, but since they came from so far away, even with transwarp conduits, they'd still have problems with supply support from creating a "front" so far from Unimatrix-One. Technically they absorb species based upon threat assessment and to acquire new beings into their collective (since it's implied they don't procreate).

Whatever threat exists, based upon how far away it is located, then usually the amount of energy to oppose it is directly proportional.
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Old January 17 2014, 10:29 PM   #3
BillJ
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

Robbiesan wrote: View Post
I always thought the Borg were a HUGE future threat, but since they came from so far away, even with transwarp conduits, they'd still have problems with supply support from creating a "front" so far from Unimatrix-One. Technically they absorb species based upon threat assessment and to acquire new beings into their collective (since it's implied they don't procreate).
But they wouldn't need supply support in the tradition context. Everything they really need or need to acquire can be done using the nanites that are coursing through their blood stream. It looked quite likely that outside the "miracle", they would've assimilated the entire Alpha Quadrant with a single cube.
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Old January 17 2014, 10:33 PM   #4
Therin of Andor
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

We also don't know when the Borg destroyed the El-Aurians' homeworld. Guinan said in "Q Who" that the event had scattered her people, and I assumed her visit to Earth ("Time's Arrow") may have been due to that scattering.

The refugees in "Generations" may not have suffered their trauma recently, it could be a long-negotiated removal. Or the first place they went to was unsuitable and Starfleet was helping out with another new location.
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Old January 17 2014, 10:40 PM   #5
BillJ
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
We also don't know when the Borg destroyed the El-Aurians' homeworld. Guinan said in "Q Who" that the event had scattered her people, and I assumed her visit to Earth ("Time's Arrow") may have been due to that scattering.

The refugees in "Generations" may not have suffered their trauma recently, it could be a long-negotiated removal. Or the first place they went to was unsuitable and Starfleet was helping out with another new location.
I would think the destruction of the El-Aurian homeworld and the events of Generations likely happened in fairly close proximity to one another...

Star Trek: Generations wrote:
CRUSHER: He's an El-Aurian, ...over three hundred years old. He lost his entire family when the Borg destroyed his world. Soran escaped with a handful of other refugees aboard a ship called the Lakul. That ship was later destroyed by some kind of energy ribbon, but Soran and forty-six others were rescued by the Enterprise-B.
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Old January 17 2014, 10:47 PM   #6
Robbiesan
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

BillJ wrote: View Post
But they wouldn't need supply support in the tradition context. Everything they really need or need to acquire can be done using the nanites that are coursing through their blood stream. It looked quite likely that outside the "miracle", they would've assimilated the entire Alpha Quadrant with a single cube.
Technically they're nanoprobes, akin to nanites but not the same. How's that for extreme nerdiness?

I look at the Borg as a slow onslaught, a behemoth. Yes, they could conquer the whole Alpha Quadrant, but it's actually not in their best interest. It seems like they intnetionally wait until there is sufficient technological advantage in a species and if they're a threat as a result, then and only then do they conquer a species.

That behaviour is seen numerous times as a microcosym of their corporate behavior. You see this in TNG and Voyager for sure. In the former, the Borg ignore Starfleet officers at first, and when Seven of Nine's parents observe the Borg, they don't do anything for quite awhile.

They're an intentional or deliberate pseudo-species, and when they strike...it's overpowering.

An aspect of developing the mod in my sig is understanding the different species' inclinations (though that idea is stereotypical) as well as their technology. When I considered the Borg, though they possess a lot of accumulated technology from thousands of years of conquering other species, I wondered if they actually had that much innovatative ability or creativity. I would think not.

As such, the primary motivator for the Borg is acquiring bodies or worker bees to do the work to sustain a hive, but also waiting until creative ideas were noted. At that point, assimilating the species because it had developed that technology.
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Old January 17 2014, 10:55 PM   #7
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

Robbiesan wrote: View Post

I look at the Borg as a slow onslaught, a behemoth. Yes, they could conquer the whole Alpha Quadrant, but it's actually not in their best interest. It seems like they intnetionally wait until there is sufficient technological advantage in a species and if they're a threat as a result, then and only then do they conquer a species.
There's no way they don't assimilate the Federation if they had been successful in taking Earth. There's no way that the remainder of Federation worlds could wait to take action while the Borg built up their strength.

War (a short one) would've been on from the moment that Earth was assimilated. It couldn't have played out any other way.
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Old January 17 2014, 11:03 PM   #8
Robbiesan
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

BillJ wrote: View Post
There's no way they don't assimilate the Federation if they had been successful in taking Earth. There's no way that the remainder of Federation worlds could wait to take action while the Borg built up their strength.

War (a short one) would've been on from the moment that Earth was assimilated. It couldn't have played out any other way.
Agreed, but that's part of the writing error. In effect, the Borg would supercede all other dangers. That would make them a prominent villian species, and unassailable (The Federation can't get to Unimatrix One). They can travel faster than any other species (at least during TNG) due to the transwarp conduits. They have better weapons. They have no foes who can oppose them (yet...for Species 8472 isn't around at the moment but still in fluidic space).

As such, it's a classic error of an overpowering force that can't be logically defeated. It would mean practically the main focus of all of the episodes, or a swift defeat.
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Old January 18 2014, 02:35 AM   #9
Shaka Zulu
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

Robbiesan wrote: View Post
I think it's a major writing mistake, but excusable based upon how many writers were working on the show, though odd. Did you look up the Memory Alpha text on the Borg?
http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Borg

I always thought the Borg were a HUGE future threat, but since they came from so far away, even with transwarp conduits, they'd still have problems with supply support from creating a "front" so far from Unimatrix-One. Technically they absorb species based upon threat assessment and to acquire new beings into their collective (since it's implied they don't procreate).

Whatever threat exists, based upon how far away it is located, then usually the amount of energy to oppose it is directly proportional.
Also, imagine if the Enterprise had actually succeeded at destroying the Borg cube (as the Borg were dealt with in the Enterprise episode) without the cube notifying Unimatrix-One? Then the Borg wouldn't bother with the Federation.

Robbiesan wrote: View Post
BillJ wrote: View Post
But they wouldn't need supply support in the tradition context. Everything they really need or need to acquire can be done using the nanites that are coursing through their blood stream. It looked quite likely that outside the "miracle", they would've assimilated the entire Alpha Quadrant with a single cube.
Technically they're nanoprobes, akin to nanites but not the same. How's that for extreme nerdiness?

I look at the Borg as a slow onslaught, a behemoth. Yes, they could conquer the whole Alpha Quadrant, but it's actually not in their best interest. It seems like they intnetionally wait until there is sufficient technological advantage in a species and if they're a threat as a result, then and only then do they conquer a species.

That behaviour is seen numerous times as a microcosym of their corporate behavior. You see this in TNG and Voyager for sure. In the former, the Borg ignore Starfleet officers at first, and when Seven of Nine's parents observe the Borg, they don't do anything for quite awhile.

They're an intentional or deliberate pseudo-species, and when they strike...it's overpowering.

An aspect of developing the mod in my sig is understanding the different species' inclinations (though that idea is stereotypical) as well as their technology. When I considered the Borg, though they possess a lot of accumulated technology from thousands of years of conquering other species, I wondered if they actually had that much innovatative ability or creativity. I would think not.

As such, the primary motivator for the Borg is acquiring bodies or worker bees to do the work to sustain a hive, but also waiting until creative ideas were noted. At that point, assimilating the species because it had developed that technology.
THIS.
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Old January 18 2014, 02:45 AM   #10
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

I think the only writing mistake was to not make clear the extent of the Borg threat.

As of BoBW it seemed like that was the only Borg cube. Then in I, Borg when it's clear there are other Borg, it seems they no longer find interest in assimilating the Federation, and nobody seems too incredibly worried about them.
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Old January 18 2014, 02:55 AM   #11
Robbiesan
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

Actually a probe is a standard military tactic to determine the strength of an opposing force. The probe's intention is to determine reaction time, technological ability, weapons type, discipline, detection, etc.

As such, the first on the scene are survelliance and engage more to see what will happen. Then to strike later. If defeated, then this would only arouse the Borg's curiosity for it would be unusual to be defeated. The Borg being utterly destroyed by the Federation and by their self-destruct mechanism (to ensure no species has their technology like the transwarp conduit) is expected from the standpoint of if things go wrong, the Borg don't have a survival mechanism, because the Collective comes first.

In every case, as written the Borg would have sent a large taskforce to assimilate the Federation for sure. Again, this is bad writing.

Look at the 2nd Matrix film. Neo is too powerful. He's become a Superman. Who can defeat Superman? It's a given that the hero will win, but if you give either the protagonist or the antagonist too much power...then it becomes boring.

Honestly this is the conundrum of the first season of The Walking Dead. The writers create an overpowering horde that the professional military cannot defeat. The undead don't breathe. They don't have to eat but do act as mindless cannibals. They aren't affected by weather. They are an unrelentless mass that cannot be halted. Worse, every human is infected by a pathogen and so anyone could become a walker simply by dying. This kind of writing results in terrible problems for there is no further way to imperil except by sheer numbers. Then to make the untrained undisciplined survivors try to exceed the power of the military is highly illogical and the icing on the cake of that unsatisfying dessert.
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Old January 18 2014, 03:30 AM   #12
The Wormhole
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

Turd Ferguson wrote: View Post
I'm watching TNG for the first time all the way through on Blu-Ray and last night I got to the episode I, Borg (a great episode, btw) and I started thinking. If we ignore the Enterprise episode Regeneration and the movie First Contact, which are humanity's earliest encounters with the Borg, and rely solely on the incident of the Enterprise-B picking up some El Aurian survivors, shouldn't Starfleet have been asking some questions?

For one, it doesn't even seem like the basic questions of "Who destroyed your homeworld?" were asked to the El Aurian refugees, or else Picard and the Enterprise-D crew wouldn't have been so puzzled at their first encounter with the Borg in Q Who? In fact, when Guinan comes up to the bridge suggesting they turn back now gives the impression this is the first time any Starfleet representative was made aware that the El Aurians knew who the Borg were.

And, if we take the Voyager episode The Raven into consideration, the Hansens were trying to convince Starfleet that the Borg existed, much to Starfleet's hesitation. And this is only twenty years or so before Voyager.

So what did Starfleet do for the fifty years from the Enterprise-B incident to launching the Raven? Did they just not care that there was a race out there that was scooping up colonies or destroying whole worlds? Did the top Starfleet brass just sweep the whole thing under the rug? Or did they just not ask any questions? Maybe a sort of "Well if we ignore the problem, maybe it'll go away" scenario?

What say you?
One of the points Q was trying to make in Q Who is that the Federation/Starfleet has grown complacent and unprepared to counter certain threats in the galaxy. Applying that mindset, it becomes easily understandable.

When the El Aurians were rescued they may very well have told Starfleet everything they knew about the Borg, but when Starfleet reviewed the facts they likely felt that the Borg are on the opposite end of the galaxy and won't pose a threat any earlier than several decades later, it's not an immediate problem. We got other things to worry about, like maintaining this fragile new peace with the Klingons. Not to mention the Romulans seem up to something.

Or, alternatively, maybe reports of the Borg did stir something among the Starfleet brass who put forward several initiatives to counter them as soon as word first came from the El Aurians in the 2290s. But then years go by and then decades with no contact from the Borg and no evidence that they are sizing up the Federation or even that they exist. Eventually someone's going to realize that there's better things to be devoting resources to. Like cleaning up after the Tomed Incident, dealing with Tholians attacking starbases, war with the Cardassians, peace with the Klingons deteriorating, some mysterious race called the Ferengi who are rumoured to eat people and have destroyed a Federation starship commanded by one of Starfleet's top captains. In light of all this, one can understand why Starfleet and the Federation would downgrade the priority assigned to what is starting to look like a space myth.
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Old January 18 2014, 03:40 AM   #13
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

There was actually a simple way around the Borg being so overpowered: ditch the "Borg are from the Delta Quadrant" idea.

This wasn't established in either "Q Who?" or BOBW. The only thing that was established was that the Ent-D's encounter with the Borg cube took place way over yonder, but nothing was said about where the Borg as a whole come from. It wasn't decided until much later that the Borg are based in the DQ, controlling a large chunk of it and ever expanding outward, with thousands of cubes - all capable of transwarp - at their disposal.

Which, of course, makes the "Send a cube. It got blown up? Ok, wait a few years, then send... another cube. They blew that up too? Damn. *shrug*" approach that the Borg seem to take toward Earth and the Feds completely nonsensical. What they should have done is have them be from another galaxy. This would explain why they only accost the Feds occasionally, and with one ship at a time: their resources throughout the Milky Way are actually spread quite thin, and since one cube often IS enough to assimilate an entire world or more, they don't send more than one unless it's absolutely necessary. Of course, as it turns out, it IS necessary for the Feds, but it's reasonable that they'd try the one-cube-every-few-years approach a few times before giving up and sending in an armada if their situation forced them to be more careful with devoting large amounts of resources to any one task.

You could still run the Borg vs. 8472 plot line, too: say that the center of Borg power FOR the Milky Way region is in the DQ, and that that's the area that's being attacked by 8472. Perhaps a goal of 8472 is to glean information on just where the Borg home galaxy is, and of course, the Borg would be keen on not letting that information get out. This DQ force could have dozens, instead of thousands, of cubes at its disposal. The only other major consequence of having written the Borg this way would be that they probably wouldn't have been able to use them as often on Voyager, which could only have helped that show.

As to the original question in the thread: I agree with the idea that it's something which actually worked fine at first. Admiral Hansen mentions that the "Q Who" encounter was so far away that Starfleet Command expected much more lead time; they have been trying to prepare as best they could, but figured on having more time. Picard then speculates that perhaps the Borg have a far superior FTL system. The whole conversation underscores the fact that there is a LOT they still don't know about the Borg, and everything about this makes sense. Even with Guinan seeming to know about them during "Q Who," there's no reason to think she'd have detailed insights about their technological capabilities (she even says she wasn't there personally when they destroyed her world).

It's later, when GEN and FC and Voyager come along and retcon things in, when the problems start occurring. Not the first time this kind of issue has come up in Trek (and also not the first time it's been caused by there simply being too many cooks in the kitchen, writing-wise).
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Old January 18 2014, 04:32 AM   #14
The Old Mixer
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

Saito S wrote: View Post
...
the DQ
...
the DQ
...
This DQ force
...
I have a craving for a Dilly Bar....
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Old January 18 2014, 05:01 AM   #15
Robbiesan
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Re: Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

The Old Mixer wrote: View Post
Saito S wrote: View Post
...
the DQ
...
the DQ
...
This DQ force
...
I have a craving for a Dilly Bar....
A mint Dilly bar if you're buying.

And Saito S, the other galaxy idea is a great one. It gets back to the idea of the Federation is tooooo far away and possibly not technologically advanced enough to have something that would make it worthwhile.

Re: the Milky Way and the Star Trek galaxy

See the Stellar Cartography topic on the Trek Tech section. A major problem has been randomly assigning the Star Trek galaxy as being our galaxy. That has major issues since Sol is located on a very minor part of a minor spiral fragment, not even a spiral arm. As such, the lining up of say the Vulcan sun with Eridani doesn't make sense.
http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=232543&page=3

This is why it's far better to make the Star Trek galaxy and the Milky Way to be two entirely different galaxies. The center of the galaxy in the Milky Way is in no way close to say the alpha and beta quadrant borders.
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