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Old April 10 2011, 06:55 PM   #1
Crewman47
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Territories and borders?

I was watching the TOS episode Arena and the reason the Gorn gave for why they attacked Cestus 3 made me think why borders don't appear to be marked out by each race? I mean if you want people to stay out of your space then at least drop a buoy or two along "your" border lines to let others know that this is your territory and that everyone should stay out, essentially. It'd probably prevent any political disagreements and everyone would be better off.

It would probably prevent a lot of exploration from getting done in certain areas of space but that would be where the Diplomats could come in useful.
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Old April 10 2011, 07:48 PM   #2
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Territories and borders?

This issue comes up every so often. The only way for borders to be marked between societies that haven't previously encountered each other is by photon torpedo. How many buoys would you need to deploy to mark the borders of an entire space empire? How do you know a new ship coming across the buoy even knows what it is? If you want to defend your borders, you patrol them and shoot at intruders. That message is unambiguous.

Starfleet always gets so huffy when they blunder across somebody's border and get shot at, but realistically, that's how it's going to happen. Jonathan Archer really set the tone here, that arrogant Starfleet assumption that their "peaceful exploration" should never rile anyone up, and if it does, it's the other guy's fault.

As for societies that know each other, I'm pretty sure there would be disagreements where the "legitimate" border should be drawn. And in that case, the resolution is also by photon torpedo. Once everyone agrees on where the borders should be, they can feed the data into ship's computers, so a buoy would no longer be needed. Why bother with buoys when they serve no purpose before or after the treaty lines are drawn?
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Old April 11 2011, 04:54 AM   #3
indolover
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Re: Territories and borders?

It was a first contact situation, so a territory dispute is natural.

It's similar to Picard and Daimon Bok's son. Picard had entered Ferengi space, but did not know (hence him killing Bok's son). At that time, there was no formal relationship between the Ferengi and the Federation.
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Old April 11 2011, 06:37 AM   #4
Robert DeSoto
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Re: Territories and borders?

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
This issue comes up every so often. The only way for borders to be marked between societies that haven't previously encountered each other is by photon torpedo. How many buoys would you need to deploy to mark the borders of an entire space empire? How do you know a new ship coming across the buoy even knows what it is? If you want to defend your borders, you patrol them and shoot at intruders. That message is unambiguous.

Starfleet always gets so huffy when they blunder across somebody's border and get shot at, but realistically, that's how it's going to happen. Jonathan Archer really set the tone here, that arrogant Starfleet assumption that their "peaceful exploration" should never rile anyone up, and if it does, it's the other guy's fault.

As for societies that know each other, I'm pretty sure there would be disagreements where the "legitimate" border should be drawn. And in that case, the resolution is also by photon torpedo. Once everyone agrees on where the borders should be, they can feed the data into ship's computers, so a buoy would no longer be needed. Why bother with buoys when they serve no purpose before or after the treaty lines are drawn?
As Geordi said, a photon torpedo is the universal greeting for someone you don't like. Phasers work pretty well too.
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Old April 11 2011, 07:06 AM   #5
Timo
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Re: Territories and borders?

How many buoys would you need to deploy to mark the borders of an entire space empire?
If they transmit their presence to the visitors across what in Trek is referred to as "communications range", probably a few quadrillion might suffice. If each masses something like ten kilograms, you'd only need to convert one fairly small moon totally into probes...

How do you know a new ship coming across the buoy even knows what it is?
The Universal Translator seems to work well enough to get a warning across in most cases. Although whether that is of any real help in an universe where even the do-good Federation Starfleet's standard response to a border buoy is to shoot it up...

If you want to defend your borders, you patrol them and shoot at intruders. That message is unambiguous.
And since patrolling the borders themselves tends to be an impossible task, you intercept any intruder you can wherever you can and then punish them harshly enough to deter others.

Picard had entered Ferengi space, but did not know
...Basically, Picard might have run into the Ferengi equivalent of a border buoy, only it happened to be crewed. Again, standard UFP Starfleet response was to shoot it up. Which was probably a good idea, as the "buoy" also employed the standard response of shooting up the intruder. Both sides might have long since realized that mere abstract messages establishing a territorial claim would simply be ignored...

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Old April 11 2011, 07:26 AM   #6
Paradon
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Re: Territories and borders?

Don't they have a software that tells them they are reaching certain part of space, like, crossing over another alien's territory?
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Old April 11 2011, 08:08 AM   #7
Timo
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Re: Territories and borders?

Only if they have prior knowledge of where such territory might lie. If they aren't in speaking terms with the aliens, the software will be useless.

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Old April 11 2011, 08:16 AM   #8
Paradon
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Re: Territories and borders?

I'm sure they've charted every place in Alpha Quadrant...haven't they?
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Old April 11 2011, 08:45 AM   #9
Timo
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Re: Territories and borders?

In Kirk's time, they haven't even charted Pollux, a star basically next door to Earth.

Even in TNG, the Federation apparently has only visited a tiny corner of the galaxy, and hasn't gained detailed information from places beyond that corner from secondhand sources, either. The figures 11% and 19% are mentioned in early TNG as referring to the portion of the galaxy that has been "charted", which may mean knowing were each star and planet lies, but not knowing who's claiming them and by what right.

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Old April 11 2011, 06:27 PM   #10
T'Girl
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Re: Territories and borders?

Picard said at one point that the federation itself was eight thousand light years "across." If that was a sphere eight thousand L/Y's in diameter, that would be about two and a half percent of one quadrant of the galaxy.


If instead the Federation is a drawn out string of stars then far less than one percent.

The galaxy be big.

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Old April 12 2011, 04:55 AM   #11
Myasishchev
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Re: Territories and borders?

The whole concept of "borders" would be hard to enforce and maybe legally/morally indefensible across light years. I mean, we wouldn't recognize American borders that extended two thousand miles out into the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and that's more reasonable by a few orders of magnitude than just extending the border of United Earth to Neptune, let alone the border of the Federation across star systems.
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Old April 12 2011, 07:34 AM   #12
Timo
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Re: Territories and borders?

...OTOH, in a "world" where strategic weapons don't instantaneously cross from one "nation" to another, but rather take hours or days to do so across the separating (interstellar) gulf, it's a matter of life and death to keep the enemy away from your empty borderlands. If, say, ICBMs today had a range of 1,000 kilometers, theoretical tops and never to be surpassed, then keeping enemy ships 1,200 km off your coast would be a worthwhile goal.

I don't see why claiming ownership of empty space could be morally indefensible. It is, after all, empty space - worthless for any other purpose except as attack path, or a buffer zone blocking such a path. It shouldn't be too difficult legally, either, as everybody can make their own legislation on the matter, and then the legislation of the one with the biggest guns wins, regardless of other factors.

For Starfleet, it would be hugely important to prevent Klingon warships from entering the empty space between Earth and Sirius, because the enemy could strike within hours or minutes from that range, but would take days to attack from the more distant line-in-space border that separates the outermost holdings of the respective empires. And Starfleet would need those days to gather its far-flung starships into a defensive fleet. Thus, any Klingon scout loitering two and a half meters beyond that line-in-space border would have to be escorted out by a battleship, or blasted apart and then asked stern questions. Without the deterrent, the Federation would be open to surprise attack.

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Old April 12 2011, 08:58 PM   #13
T'Girl
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Re: Territories and borders?

Timo wrote: View Post
empty space - worthless for any other purpose except ...
Just as the United States and other terrestrial nations have two hundred mile resource exclusion zones, the federation might have something similar. Consider the bussard collector, which harvests fuel from interstellar space, when a starfleet vessel enter foreign political space they may have to turn off their collectors, and the federation would insist non-federation ships do the same upon entering the federation's realm. Unless there was a standing agreement.

Myasishchev wrote: View Post
The whole concept of "borders" would be hard to enforce and maybe legally/morally indefensible across light years
Well the federation could certainly "claim" open space, and if the had the political will and military might they could back it up. If you accept that the united federation of planets is politically a form of thalassocracy, (which I kind of push) then controlling the interstellar space surrounding the various members many star systems would be one of the federation primary reasons for existing at all. Although I can't see the federation controlling a continuous bubble surrounding the entirety of all the federation's members, there likely being other political states in between some members.

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Old April 13 2011, 01:43 AM   #14
Myasishchev
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Re: Territories and borders?

[QUOTE=Timo;4879652]...OTOH, in a "world" where strategic weapons don't instantaneously cross from one "nation" to another, but rather take hours or days to do so across the separating (interstellar) gulf, it's a matter of life and death to keep the enemy away from your empty borderlands. If, say, ICBMs today had a range of 1,000 kilometers, theoretical tops and never to be surpassed, then keeping enemy ships 1,200 km off your coast would be a worthwhile goal.

I don't see why claiming ownership of empty space could be morally indefensible. It is, after all, empty space - worthless for any other purpose except as attack path, or a buffer zone blocking such a path.[/quote

What? Empty space is what you navigate in. If you could claim empty space, you could cut off one star system from another or completely box in a rising species. Imagine if the direct approaches to Alpha Centauri are Vulcan space, for example.

It shouldn't be too difficult legally, either, as everybody can make their own legislation on the matter, and then the legislation of the one with the biggest guns wins, regardless of other factors.
That's only sometimes how international law works.

For Starfleet, it would be hugely important to prevent Klingon warships from entering the empty space between Earth and Sirius, because the enemy could strike within hours or minutes from that range, but would take days to attack from the more distant line-in-space border that separates the outermost holdings of the respective empires. And Starfleet would need those days to gather its far-flung starships into a defensive fleet.
I dunno. Even before you factor in cloaks, I was never convinced that anything but point defense of important targets combined with a retaliatory policy could ever be effective.

Thus, any Klingon scout loitering two and a half meters beyond that line-in-space border would have to be escorted out by a battleship, or blasted apart and then asked stern questions. Without the deterrent, the Federation would be open to surprise attack.
They're open to surprise attack anyway. It's fantastic to believe they could police that much area, and cloaks just seal it.

T'Girl wrote:
Well the federation could certainly "claim" open space, and if the had the political will and military might they could back it up. If you accept that the united federation of planets is politically a form of thalassocracy, (which I kind of push) then controlling the interstellar space surrounding the various members many star systems would be one of the federation primary reasons for existing at all. Although I can't see the federation controlling a continuous bubble surrounding the entirety of all the federation's members, there likely being other political states in between some members.
The Royal Navy could police the North Sea approaches and enact a long blockade of Germany, but even enacting a close blockade of something the size of the Neutral Zone* strikes me as unlikely. Even high estimates of the size of Starfleet, like 100,000 just couldn't cover the volume. They're all thalassocracies, or the equivalent thereof, by necessity (few land connections to other planets), but the question is really how best to approach the problem of maintaining control over that thalassocracy's territoy. Space demands a Mahanian strategy. Corbett just can't hang when the lines of communication are many millions of cubic light years in extent, and a single infiltrator is capable of devastating a biosphere. Concentration of one's own fleet and seeking the destruction of an enemy's fleet, fleet resources, and in extremis the its value targets is probably the normal mode. Also, Mahanian strategy looks cooler.

Although the very existence of Neutral Zones suggests they have proper borders. But it's only narrative convenience or the timorousness of adversary forces that realize the Fed could annihilate them in return, if provoked, that makes it possible to enforce.
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Old April 13 2011, 02:58 AM   #15
neozeks
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Re: Territories and borders?

Myasishchev wrote: View Post
If you could claim empty space, you could cut off one star system from another or completely box in a rising species. Imagine if the direct approaches to Alpha Centauri are Vulcan space, for example.
Isn't that something like what we have in real life law of the sea with the concept of archipelagic waters? An archipelagic state (which, in Trekverse, is everyone) has almost the same sovereignty over the waters between it's various islands as it has over it's internal waters (in many ways, they are it's internal waters). If there was an independent island located in the middle of such a state, it too would be cut off. That's why there's the right of innocent passage guaranteed by treaty. Now, of course, if the surrounding state chooses not to respect the treaty, tough luck. But I don't think the Feds would do something like that. As for the Klingons, Romulans, etc, well, if you're in the middle of their territory you're likely conquered anyway.

And you can't just claim empty space like that. You need "anchor points". Islands IRL, stars most probably in the Trekverse.

Space demands a Mahanian strategy. Corbett just can't hang when the lines of communication are many millions of cubic light years in extent, and a single infiltrator is capable of devastating a biosphere. Concentration of one's own fleet and seeking the destruction of an enemy's fleet, fleet resources, and in extremis the its value targets is probably the normal mode.
While I do agree that's the best overall strategy, I do think there's still value in borders and controlling empty space. Sure, in an all-out war, a border in space is basically meaningless, but for dealing with foreign civilian shipping and not letting just anyone get in between your star systems, not so. Borders don't exist just for purely military reasons. And, of course, not everyone has cloaks.

And it might not be THAT hard. We don't know exactly just how long-range their long-range sensors are but it's certainly in light years. IIRC, the Cardassians used the Argus Array to spy Utopia Planitia all the way from the Federation-Cardassian border! A number of strategically placed sensor arrays of various sizes and ranges, combined with patrols, might be sufficient. So you don't need to have all your ships out on patrol, you position the bulk of them at a couple of advantegous central locations and then just run intercept. Even if warp speed is not all that fast in regard to interstellar distances, the other side is just as limited (or if they're non-military ships, say traders, even more limited). You can't stop them from crossing the border, but if you organize it nicely you may be able to catch them in empty space, away from your planets. It's not foolproof by any means but it's better than waiting for them to come to you.

It might even partially work with cloaked ships. Doesn't Starfleet have a gravitic sensor net or somesuch along the Neutral Zone for exactly that reason? Individual ships it may not detect (and they can go around anyway) but at least the Rommies can't sneak through a whole invasion fleet along the shortest route.
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