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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old May 22 2014, 05:12 AM   #1
Lance
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Federation/Cardassian war

According to "The Wounded", the Federation and the Cardies have been at war for decades. We never saw any of this on-screen, the first we hear of it is in that episode, which deals with the fall-out and of both sides making a hard readjustment to peace-time.

It's kind of hard to credit that this 'war' is going on in the background through TNG's first three seasons. One would imagine that the 'war' would be much more front-and-center for the Enterprise and her crew. Everything is too laid-back in TNG's era for them to be facing this kind of conflict.

So: why didn't we see more of this, prior to "The Wounded"? Are we to suppose that the Cardassian 'war' is in reality more like isolated incidents and skirmishes, than it is an intergalactic conflict?

Maybe the Federation and the Cardassian Union are in a technical state of war, but it isn't depicted (on-screen at least) as a sustained conflict with territorial borders, or even a Cold War style "see who blinks first" conflict ala the Klingons or Romulans.

Or, maybe the reason TNG seasons 1-3 don't depict this so-called state of 'war' is because by then the conflict was already simmering down. It would appear that the height of the war, the massacres and combat scenarios, all happened prior to TNG's first season, even though as I say on a technical level a state of war still exists, the actual incidents of conflict have vastly diminished by the time even of TNG's first season.

What we hear of this Cardassian war, in both TNG and DS9, certainly sounds brutal enough. Setlik III is held up as the lynchpin, but it is clear that ship-to-ship combat was often the case. Picard mentions an incident where USS Stargazer faced down a Cardassian opponent and had to flee, and USS Rutledge and USS Tecumseh are also said to have seen extensive combat, so maybe it was simply down to patrol areas, and certain vessels saw the brunt of the conflict more than others.

Certainly the war was so bad that the Federation is willing to capitulate quite significantly when it comes to the moving of borders and the establishment of an demilitarized zone, conceding a lot to the Cardassians in the process. Hence, the events of "Journey's End" and "The Maquis".
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Old May 22 2014, 05:48 AM   #2
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

According to the rough chronology on Memory Alpha, the main points of the war were between the late 2340s and the mid 2350s. The war had largely become a stalemate by then, but some isolated incidents were still occurring in the early 3060s when the D entered service. Setlik III is given the date of 2347, making it a very early attack.
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Old May 22 2014, 07:21 AM   #3
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

Through TNG, I saw The conflict between Cardassia and the Feds as analogous to that between the Feds and the Ferengi. Aggressive cultures that didn't understand each other at first.
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Old May 22 2014, 09:22 AM   #4
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

It's kind of hard to credit that this 'war' is going on in the background through TNG's first three seasons. One would imagine that the 'war' would be much more front-and-center for the Enterprise and her crew.
But "The Wounded" already establishes that the war is a "forgotten" one, from the UFP side at least. It also emphasizes that Cardassians are nearly harmless - their ships can do no damage when on the offensive, while a Starfleet rogue can walk over them with impunity. It's easy to see how a conflict with these wussies would be ignored, then.

Certainly the war was so bad that the Federation is willing to capitulate quite significantly when it comes to the moving of borders and the establishment of an demilitarized zone, conceding a lot to the Cardassians in the process.
On the other hand, Cardassia after the war has no holdings beyond or around Bajor, which in turn is the next-door-neighbor of the Cardassian home system! OTOH, the Union on the other side of the home system still features dozens of star systems at least, per episodes like "Return to Grace".

It appears as if the UFP got fed up with the Union, conquered half of it easily enough, stopped short of liberating Bajor because fighting so close to the homeworld would have been too bloody a mess, and then left, leaving the space around Bajor "neutral" (although in many cases pro-Cardassian) as seen in early DS9. So what remains is an asymmetric star empire, with the homeworld pressed against one border.

So the UFP may not have "capitulated" much. It just dictated a border it preferred, and its two enemies, the Cardassians and the reckless colonists in the frontier, had to yield.

Setlik III is given the date of 2347, making it a very early attack.
But it's not part of the war yet. It's an incident of Cardassian "militia" raiding a colony and inconveniencing the landing party of the Rutledge, and later apologizing for their mistake! Surely nobody would apologize for anything if this was in the middle of an ongoing war.

There is a different battle at Setlik III later on, in 2362 according to "Tribunal", and involving entire regiments of regular Cardassian military according to "Empok Nor". So the war is ongoing as of 2362, but not yet in 2347, and no longer in 2368; beyond that, it's pretty much guesswork.

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Old May 22 2014, 11:56 PM   #5
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

The old, aggressive Cardassians were unpleasant. But, once they overthrew their dictators and embraced democracy, I really began to like them. Although they have some bad history, they have many redeeming qualities.
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Old May 23 2014, 01:27 AM   #6
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

I don't see what the problem is. I mean, TOS had the Klingons apparently be this huge Galactic Threat to the Federation but we never hear about them until "Errand of Mercy".
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Old May 23 2014, 01:42 AM   #7
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

Timo wrote: View Post
There is a different battle at Setlik III later on, in 2362 according to "Tribunal", and involving entire regiments of regular Cardassian military according to "Empok Nor". So the war is ongoing as of 2362, but not yet in 2347, and no longer in 2368; beyond that, it's pretty much guesswork.
I'm pretty sure there was only one Setlik III battle, and that it took place in 2362 as per "Tribunal." "The Wounded" never gives a date in dialogue for the battle. Okuda just got the 2347 date from some random remark O'Brien made about his transporter use in an entirely different episode. "Tribunal" trumps that.
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Old May 23 2014, 08:20 AM   #8
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

I'm with Okuda here, because the two distinct battles are described as being completely dissimilar.

In one Setlik III incident, O'Brien was part of a squad from the Rutledge that responded to a minor raid by militia ("The Wounded"); was appalled that he accidentally ended up killing a single person, his very first ("The Wounded"); and had to retreat in face of a superior enemy, saving the day by repairing a transporter, another first for him ("Paradise"). Cardassians said they had mistaken the settlement for a staging ground for an attack against the Union ("The Wounded").

In 2362 ("Tribunal"), O'Brien led a larger contingent of infantry in a battle that succeeded in driving an entire regiment of Cardassian regulars from their encampment. He said he was a soldier back then ("Empok Nor"). Apparently, he was still associated with the Rutledge ("Tribunal"), possibly even as her Tactical Officer, in yellow ("Paradise").

Since "Realm of Fear" tells us when O'Brien first operated a transporter, we get the 2347 date. It all holds together, and wouldn't if we tried to think of Setlik III as the location of a single incident only.

In any case, an interconnected web of half a dozen episodes surely trumps a single episode if it ever comes to that? It doesn't come to that here, though.

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Old May 23 2014, 06:55 PM   #9
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

^Premises in Star Trek change all the time, and conflicting information can always be rationalized for or against a thing. The fact is, there was never any mention of two distinct Setlik III incidents, only one. Ergo, the 2347 date (which was obtained by means that had nothing to do with Setlik III) is superceded by the 2362 date which was actually mentioned in dialogue.

And I don't think Okuda believed there were two separate battles either. In the Chronology he sticks to the 2347 date using O'Brien's history of transporter use, and completely blows off the "Tribunal" info.
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Old May 23 2014, 07:50 PM   #10
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

I wonder why they never mentioned that Picard had any involvement in the war. Surely he was in Starfleet during the war. Perhaps he was just lucky and was stationed elsewhere during the war.
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Old May 23 2014, 11:28 PM   #11
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

It won't be the last time Star Trek retcons a war late into the continuity even though it makes no sense. In DS9, there was an alien race called the Tzenkethi which was at war with the Federation more than once. An alien race we never see, and never hear about again.

Yeah. Whatever.

Seems silly that any single species can sustain a war against the Federation which is made up of dozens of alien races and hundreds of star systems. It only ever made sense with the Dominion since they were comparable to the Federation in size and resources.

With the Cardassians, the events from The Wounded seem to indicate that the Federation is far superior to the Cardassians with weapons. The Enterprise easily disabled the attacking ship, and the Phoenix (a science vessel) easily wiped out a warship, even with its shields compromised. Why did the Federation need to capitulate? In real life, the Cardassians would have been forced to surrender.
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Old May 23 2014, 11:38 PM   #12
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

^Same deal with the Talarians. They were also at war with the Federation at some unspecified date (although when actually seen, they appear to be quite inferior to Starfleet in terms of tech and weapons...)

The Tholians were also mentioned as former adversaries in TNG.

Now if, say, the Talarians, and the Tzenkethi, and the Cardassians, and the Tholians, and the (fill in the blank) banded together to war against the Federation, it would make more sense. But that's never been implied.
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Old May 24 2014, 02:31 AM   #13
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

I think they were all just border skirmishes rather than full on all out war. I really don't think the Cardassians, the Talarians or the Tzenkethi were going "right let's invade UFP space and take over Earth" in the way the Dominion were. They weren't those kinds of 'wars'
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Old May 24 2014, 03:13 AM   #14
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

Ro_Laren wrote: View Post
I wonder why they never mentioned that Picard had any involvement in the war. Surely he was in Starfleet during the war. Perhaps he was just lucky and was stationed elsewhere during the war.
Not quite true. The very first scene of "The Wounded" tells us of one of Picard's previous dealings with Cardassians, presumably during the War:

DATA: Captain, we are nearing the periphery of Sector twenty one five oh three.

PICARD: Be on the lookout for a Cardassian patrol ship, Mister Worf. They should be hailing us soon.

RIKER: Even with a treaty, they're still skittish about protecting their border.

PICARD: Last time I was in this sector, I was on the Stargazer, running at warp speed ahead of a Cardassian warship.

TROI: Running, Captain? You? That's hard to believe.

PICARD: Believe it. I'd been sent to make preliminary overtures to a truce. I'd lowered my shields as a gesture of good will. But the Cardassians were not impressed. They had taken out most of my weapons and damaged the impulse engines before I could regroup and run.

WORF: The Cardassians have no honour. I do not trust them.

TROI: They're our allies now, Mister Worf. We have to trust them.

WORF: Trust is earned, not given away.
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Old May 24 2014, 03:45 AM   #15
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Re: Federation/Cardassian war

Another naive and useless line from Troi, ugh.
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