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Old April 26 2014, 12:24 PM   #1
popcultureevil
Lieutenant
 
I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

The Federation as far as we know had ANY treaty with the Dominion, pre-War. So "the rules of war" didn't apply to them. And frankly, given Dominion morality as it stood, they'd vanquish any chance to "be benevolent" to solids.

If I were Sisko, I'd have said "no discussion, we comply with the Vorta and get the fuck off this planet!" And if O'Brien says "but sir, in war there are rules." I'd reply "OK, well my RULE is you do as you're ordered or you stay on this planet for good and never fix a Cardassian replicator again!!"
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Old April 26 2014, 02:26 PM   #2
starburst
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

Just because there was no Geneva Convention or space age equivalent between the Federation and the Dominion, or for that matter the Klingons, Romulans or any other species it doesnt mean that they would just forget what they consider moral or not.

To paraphrase Archer "you cant save humanity if you loose what makes you human"
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Old April 26 2014, 06:50 PM   #3
JirinPanthosa
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

I think the issue in this episode was less a moral issue and more a 'Feeling like a huge dick' issue. It would have served their manly pride better to win a glorious battle against the Gem'Hadar who they respect as warriors and opponents. Sisko just reminded them, screw pride and sportsmanship, this is war.

There are rules in war. Legal treaty or not. Like no torture, no genocide, no random targeting of civilians. Exploiting a tactical advantage does not violate any of those rules.
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Old April 26 2014, 10:11 PM   #4
popcultureevil
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

But even before the Geneva Convention, it was just a for want of a term gentleman's agreement between countries. Like in the Middle Ages, they'd agree not to do certain acts, or kill civilians willy nilly, etc. I don't see how rules of war can operate with different species with different morals and evolutionary history. The Federation may treat a Vorta prisoner well (I'm sure they did Keevan) but then say Sisko traded himself to the Dominion, the Founders wouldn't be as kind as to them he's a lowly solid.

Even the Klingons don't believe in taking prisoners, and the Cardassians are obviously known for brutalising their prisoners. May seem cold, but then I reckon it was about survival, not morality. Rules of war only work if there is some agreement, it's not a transcendental thing.
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Old April 26 2014, 11:14 PM   #5
JirinPanthosa
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

I disagree, respecting the value of sentient life is a transcendental principle, even if it's not respected by all sides. If the Federation went around inflicting casualties on civilian targets in the GQ, or if they hadn't allowed Odo to cure his people at the end, then there'd be no reason to root for the Federation to win in the first place.

War isn't basketball, you don't root for the home team just because they play near where you live. You root for the side that respects transcendental moral principles.

But again, that has nothing to do with this episode. Accepting the Vorta's offer was not a war crime or a violation of sentient rights, it was just an issue of making good use of a tactical advantage that was given to them in a case where they had no respect for the person making the offer, which made them feel like dicks.
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Old April 27 2014, 01:00 AM   #6
Bad Thoughts
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

Ultimately, the moral choice was to respect the individuality and sentience of the enemy in spite of the fact that they are denied the ability to make choices for themselves.
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Old April 27 2014, 03:47 PM   #7
AgentCoop
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

popcultureevil wrote: View Post
But even before the Geneva Convention, it was just a for want of a term gentleman's agreement between countries. Like in the Middle Ages, they'd agree not to do certain acts, or kill civilians willy nilly, etc. I don't see how rules of war can operate with different species with different morals and evolutionary history. The Federation may treat a Vorta prisoner well (I'm sure they did Keevan) but then say Sisko traded himself to the Dominion, the Founders wouldn't be as kind as to them he's a lowly solid.

Even the Klingons don't believe in taking prisoners, and the Cardassians are obviously known for brutalising their prisoners. May seem cold, but then I reckon it was about survival, not morality. Rules of war only work if there is some agreement, it's not a transcendental thing.
You don't follow rules of war for the other guys' sake. You follow them for your own. There is no victory if you've sacrificed the moral pricipals you're supposed to be fighting for just to win.
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Old April 27 2014, 04:08 PM   #8
Timo
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

Few have the luxury of fighting for "moral principles". Most fights are about survival, and there's no particular incentive to hold back from becoming a bit meaner then.

No, "rules of war", whether by multiparty treaty or by self-restraint, really exist solely because of the "do unto others only what they do to you, or at most 10% worse, lest things get out of hand" concept. You don't shoot at ambulances because of the thin hope that then the enemy won't shoot at your ambulances, either. But if you aren't worried about your ambulances, you will do well to napalm any hospitals you see (while making sure that you create more wounded than dead, and preferably only kill the doctors), adding to the chaos and suffering on the other side and thus making your own victory more likely.

Sisko wouldn't expect the Jem'Hadar to reciprocate any gestures of mercy. But the Jem'Hadar really are irrelevant to the equation - the Vorta who enforce policies, and the Founders who create policies, might well be affected by "rules of war" decisions. There's also the matter of alliances to consider: the UFP needs to look attractive or at least acceptable to Romulans, Breen, Ferengi, or other prospective allies, while juggling the existing alliances as well.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old April 27 2014, 05:56 PM   #9
JirinPanthosa
Commodore
 
Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

The moral choice in Rocks and Shoals was "Kill or be killed". Sisko just struggled to find a more preferable third option that wasn't there.

@Timo

The Federation has never been about survival for survival's sake. If the only goal of the war was to minimize Federation casualties the best move would have been to surrender immediately. The goal wasn't just to survive, it was to preserve a way of life and to preserve the principles the Federation stands for. If it stands for them within its own borders and not outside them, then those are pretty fragile principles that surrounding worlds are too smart to take seriously. You can say "Join the Federation, and join the greater galactic community where we work to make life better for everybody", but if you don't practice what you preach, every planet in the galaxy will only hear it as a death threat.

And the Federation certainly do not flex their muscles just to make surrounding dictatorships like them more.

This idea of "We should be torturing people despite our principles because we're scared now and we want to make our equally awful allies happy" is a pretty disgusting worldview that if everybody followed would lead to galactic fascism.
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Old April 27 2014, 06:01 PM   #10
Bad Thoughts
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
The moral choice in Rocks and Shoals was "Kill or be killed". Sisko just struggled to find a more preferable third option that wasn't there.
" Given the choice between us or them, there is no choice." -- The Sisko

Yes, there was the attempt to find the middle ground, but ultimately the choice of actions was not there. It is for Sisko and his crew to recognize that the Jem'hadar (Sisyphus, if you will) must find honor in the fate that has been inflicted upon them, and to respect that those soldiers will find meaning in what would appear to be a meaningless death. Moreover, it is for them to recognize that there's is no victory to be found in an easy kill.
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Old April 28 2014, 08:06 AM   #11
Timo
Admiral
 
Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

The Federation has never been about survival for survival's sake.
Well, obviously not. They are the bosses of the universe, they don't have to compromise.

I was referring to the real world and the basics of the concept of "rules of war". There, ideology plays basically zero role, and survival is unrelated to principles.

Does that lead to galactic fascism? Hell, no. Fascism is all about principles and upholding them (they just happen to be pretty disgusting principles). When desperate fighting strips away principles, traditions, ideals, the veneer of civilization, what is left is... Well, civilization. Because that's what we are deep down: we're civilized because that's the most natural way of coping with there being so awfully many of us, and consensus being so rare. It's our beastly basic nature that makes us stop firing at enemy tanks if they happen to be painted with a red cross on white.

And the Federation certainly do not flex their muscles just to make surrounding dictatorships like them more.
How so? The Federation is always shown bending over backwards to make neighbors happy, and the rules of drama dictate that all the neighbors be evil or at least thoroughly rotten in some aspect of human existence, which in turn dictates certain tolerance and indeed embracing of evil for the UFP as well. Both TNG and DS9 feature many cases of our heroes doing things the Klingon way to keep Klingons happy, or even playing the Cardassian game by their rules to keep those totalitarianists at bay.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old April 28 2014, 07:49 PM   #12
popcultureevil
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
The moral choice in Rocks and Shoals was "Kill or be killed". Sisko just struggled to find a more preferable third option that wasn't there.

@Timo

The Federation has never been about survival for survival's sake. If the only goal of the war was to minimize Federation casualties the best move would have been to surrender immediately. The goal wasn't just to survive, it was to preserve a way of life and to preserve the principles the Federation stands for. If it stands for them within its own borders and not outside them, then those are pretty fragile principles that surrounding worlds are too smart to take seriously. You can say "Join the Federation, and join the greater galactic community where we work to make life better for everybody", but if you don't practice what you preach, every planet in the galaxy will only hear it as a death threat.

And the Federation certainly do not flex their muscles just to make surrounding dictatorships like them more.

This idea of "We should be torturing people despite our principles because we're scared now and we want to make our equally awful allies happy" is a pretty disgusting worldview that if everybody followed would lead to galactic fascism.
I don't agree.

Moral absolutism surely couldn't work in the Trekverse. If Klingons or Ferengi or the Founders evolved and thus think differently from us, stands to reason their entire psychology would be different.
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Old April 28 2014, 08:12 PM   #13
T'Girl
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
If the only goal of the war was to minimize Federation casualties the best move would have been to surrender immediately.
If surrendering would ultimately have no impact on your civilian population, then (and only then) you might have a point.

However if surrendering mean you populace would be explosed to slave-like condition, brutality, or assimulation by the Borg, then no surrender isn't "the best move."

Support the home team ... hurrah!!!

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Old April 28 2014, 11:34 PM   #14
Yanks
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

popcultureevil wrote: View Post
The Federation as far as we know had ANY treaty with the Dominion, pre-War. So "the rules of war" didn't apply to them. And frankly, given Dominion morality as it stood, they'd vanquish any chance to "be benevolent" to solids.

If I were Sisko, I'd have said "no discussion, we comply with the Vorta and get the fuck off this planet!" And if O'Brien says "but sir, in war there are rules." I'd reply "OK, well my RULE is you do as you're ordered or you stay on this planet for good and never fix a Cardassian replicator again!!"
I don't think it had anything to do with rules of war or the like.

I think it had everything to do with those that serve and the trust they place in their superiors. Also that respect is earned. Not just "the natural order of things".

Sisko doesn't like the Vorta and respects the Jemhadar. He wanted to give the Jemhadar an option other than blind obedience.

Just rewatched it.... very good episode.
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Old April 29 2014, 03:56 PM   #15
-Brett-
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Re: I don't get the "ethical debate" in Rocks and Shoals?

popcultureevil wrote: View Post
The Federation as far as we know had ANY treaty with the Dominion, pre-War. So "the rules of war" didn't apply to them. And frankly, given Dominion morality as it stood, they'd vanquish any chance to "be benevolent" to solids.

If I were Sisko, I'd have said "no discussion, we comply with the Vorta and get the fuck off this planet!" And if O'Brien says "but sir, in war there are rules." I'd reply "OK, well my RULE is you do as you're ordered or you stay on this planet for good and never fix a Cardassian replicator again!!"
The episode was a product of it's time, and of a slightly less bloodthirsty society.

Yeah, if it was written today Sisko would have killed the Jem'hadar with a smile on his face and a boner in his pants. Then brutally tortured the Vorta. For Amurrrrica!
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