Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by T'Girl, Feb 9, 2014.
This is a continuation of a discussion that was a small part of the "What do you hate about Star Trek?" thread. The thread was recently closed.
In Star Trek The Undiscovered Country, after Kirk and McCoy were taken into the Klingon Empire, the Federation President agreed to not attempt a rescue mission in exchange for the Klingon Chancellor's participation in a political conference.
I feel his decision was in error.
I proposed that the communication between the President and the Chancellor should have gone more like this ...
Chancellor Azetbur: "Mister President, let us come to the point. You want the conference to go forward and so did my father. I will attend in one week, on one condition. We will not extradite the prisoners and you will make no attempt to rescue them in a military operation. We would consider any such attempt an act of war."
President Backbone: "Yes I do want a conference and apparently we both want peace, but madam that peace will not be bought at the price of two men, or even one.
Chancellor Azetbur: "Mister President, what you're doing ..."
President Backbone (calmly): "Is my job and my duty. Madam Chancellor, your home world's atmosphere is heavily contaminated, you lack the means to both fight a major war and save the lives of the majority of your species, we both know this. You require our help, which we won't be in a position to give if we're fighting each other.
If your wish is to die as a people, far be it for me to deign you this ... now then, do you release those two men, or do we come and get them?
Your access to peace and survival, rests in the lives of those men. Or you can have neither
Madam Chancellor, what do you want, and how badly do you want it?"
It's my position that the people of the Federation (and that includes Starfleet personnel) are not simply political pawns, and even though it would have cost more than their two live to do so, Starfleet should have been sent in to attempt a rescue. And in all honesty the Klingons should have been assured that the Federation was morally and ethically unwilling to surrender two of it's own people, even for a important political gain.
There are some factors that help to muddy up the waters of this matter. Kirk did surrender when confronted by Kronos One. Subsequent he and McCoy were arrested aboard Kronos One. Kronos One was a diplomatic ship (embassy like?). Kronos One was inside Federation space at the time.
What say you, was the President right or wrong? Legally, ethically, personally.
Also, the thread was closed just prior to my posting this response to a previous posting, I'm including it here, if only because it took me a minute to type it out.
Why would the Federation have any level of recognition for Klingon political show trials? If that farce had indeed been on the up and up, where was the Federation diplomatic or Starfleet JAG provided lawyers?
How can you say that? The actual shooters still had not been found at the time, the murder weapons were not in evidence, a Federation/Starfleet legal team never interviewed Klingon witnesses.
What about examination of physical evidence from Kronos One? Was it actual struck by a Starfleet torpedoes, or were they Klingon torpedoes? They do leave behind a signature.
You mean after the show trial? With no legal evidence. Without legal council of the defendants own choosing?
What law? When did the Federation sign a treaty that said that Klingons in Federation space could move prisoners without the Federation authorization across the border into the Empire? The Council would never vote in a piece of foolishness like that.
The Klingons aboard the diplomatic ship would have had to of release the two prisoner to the Federation, and request extradition.
With weapons aimed at me, I could surrender myself to a British police inside the British embassy, that would not give him permission to then remove me back to Britain initially across American soil.
My position is that the Federation President's first duty is to protect people from Federation Member worlds. That laws from within the Federation do not stand on equal standing with laws from regions outside the Federation. The Federation President doesn't represent people from outside the Federation, but he does the people from within it. Through (presumably) elections, the President was hired by the people of the Federation to manage their needs and protections ... first.
The calm and reasonable message I had the President send the Klingon Chancellor was a reminder to her that the Federation was composed of free people, and not disposable political pawns, that Kirk and McCoy's lives were not bargaining pieces.
The Chancellor was not going to be able to use the promise of a conference and perhaps eventual peace to reduce two men to the status of conveniences. It was too high a price to ask.
The President wasn't going to give her that power, not for any reason.
It's unambiguously established in the movie that the Federation did - and does - recognize klingon law; what with the president not being above the law, etc.
And that was not a show trial - the 'prosecutor' had an agenda, but the judge, etc performed their duties in accordance with klingon law.
Kirk was condemned as captain of the Enterprise, responsible for the actions of his crew (firing on the Kronos 1, then beaming aboard and going on a killing spree).
McCoy was condemned, essentially, for manslaughter - he was utterly incompetent while trying to save the klingon chancellor.
As for the level of proof for these deeds - it may not be sufficient in some courts of law today; as per klingon law, it was quite sufficient.
As is evident also from the reactions of the Federation president/etc to the verdict.
You sure like your euphemisms.
I put it much more concisely: your view is that 'all people are equal, but some are more equal than others'.
For you, the federation is free to break treaties recognizing foreign law at its convenience (to say nothing of foreign law not recognized); to let its people get away with murder/etc (as long as the victims are foreign nationals), etc.
Again with the euphemisms - you would have the Federation threaten the klingons (the substance of the message does not change regardless of the wording) in order to let its people get away with committing crimes.
BTW, having your citizens respect foreign law you already recognized =/= your citizens being political pawns or bargaining pieces.
Given that there's been over a century of intermittent conflict with the Klingons. The premise that "They can all slowly die and rot in Hell." is a valid one. The Klingon Empire conquered and enslaved countless worlds and millions if not billions of people. And probably killed nearly as many or more. They shouldn't be given a handout or a free pass just because they had an ecological disaster. They should have to earn their place at the table. And those responsible for warcrimes against the Federation and the deaths of Starfleet personel and Federation citizens. Should be held accountable.
I don't think the president did the right thing. He took an easy way out by submitting to the chancellor.
As far as the Federation president knew, Kirk and McCoy were simply being imprisoned on Rura Penthe. He probably figured that there could be future negotiations for their release after a peace treaty was signed. Perhaps he could have been more assertive, but the Klingon chancellor had a (mistaken) personal grudge against Kirk and the Enterprise crew. The Federation offered help in exchange for a peace treaty, but the Klingons did not have to accept (and probably would have conquered their way out of their bind). Had Starfleet attempted a rescue, it probably would have been viewed as a sign of bad faith (and there was no guarantee of success).
In general, the Federation could have taken three possible stances toward the Klingons.
The Federation could have struck the Klingons while they were down, as suggested by Admiral Cartwright.
Pros: Likely defeat of the Klingons...
Cons: ... with great cost to people and personnel due to the continued existence of the Klingon military, potential chaos in the region, loss of reputation, etc., not to mention the ethical issues with such an action.
The Federation was not obliged to help the Klingons in their time of crisis. (Prime Directive for everyone!)
Pros: The Federation could focus on their other pressing issue of the moment: whether the Federation Science Council should continue their program of encouraging middle school students to suggest 3-year exploratory missions for Starfleet vessels.
Cons: The problem is that the Klingons probably would have chosen a military solution. While the Federaton probably wouldn't be a target given its strength, once the Klingons eventually got back on their feet, the chance for a peace treaty between the two powers would have passed once New Qo'noS was well established.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
See Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Pros: It eventually turned out well for the Federation. It led to decades of relative peace, and the peace treaty that eventually led to an alliance (thank you Enterprise-C) proved to be critical when the Dominion War began.
Cons: One does wonder what the Klingons do on the far side of the Empire away from the Federation-Klingon border...
But yeah, focusing on getting that peace treaty did turn out pretty well for the Federation.
Of course he did the right thing. Kirk and McCoy are grizzled space veterans who would have put peace above their own well being. Simply put they are expendable.
The Federation does almost go to war in TNG(for civilians). See Data's Day and Suddenly Human.
How would a rescue attempt even have worked? No info, no tactical planning. Good thing the plot is littered with devices like viridian patches and stealth Enterprises.
Rura Penthe contains numerous races in addition to Klingons. This alone creates a rich tapestry for numerous Prime Directive violations regardless of the wrongness of the show trial. Starfleet lives are forfeit to upholding core Federation principles.
That's a perfectly reasonable alternative to what we saw. Although, the movie would have been about 40 minutes shorter...
Perhaps the President thought that Kirk and McCoy's release could have been arrived at during the discussions rather than a pre-requesite for those discussions to take place. Now we might consider it a show trial, but what matters was the trial conducted within Klingon Law. For example if you are on holiday abroad you are subject to the laws of the country you are in it doesn't matter if those laws or court proceedings are differend from your own laws and courts procedures.
I'm expected to believe that nobody was even watching Enterprise on their viewscreen and said in their gutteral Klingonese, "... look at that! The torpedo shot out from 15 kalakams underneath, from what appeared to be empty space!" This strains all credibility, except that, perhaps, it could be argued that the Klingons presumed it to have been fired from aft torpedo launchers. Nah ...
The Federation President's flat-out refusal to even listen to Colonel West's plan to rescue Kirk & McCoy was even more absurd. For one thing the Romulan Embassador is there for no apparent reason, just ... standing around, and only interjects to say that "there won't be a better time" for an attack. When what he should've done was reminded the Federation President of the Romulan's ability to cloak, also. And its value in a cooperative rescue attempt. At least now his participation in the scene makes more sense than it did before, though his actual presence in this secret meeting continues to mystify.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Establishing peace with the Klingon Empire is of greater significance than the lives of just two men, regardless of who they are. The UFP President made the logical decision in my mind, had they tried to force the issue of releasing Kirk and McCoy the Empire could've launched a full scale attack against the Federation (with their homeworld doomed they have nothing to lose).
Besides Kirk and McCoy, as officers in Starfleet, know that they may have to give their lives for the good of the Federation under pretty much any circumstances.
Better to have them remembered as heroes, who gave their lives for peace, than be the reason over half the Federation lies in ruins.
The thing is, the Federation President couldn't know of Kirk and Bones innocence in the matter. For all he knew, they might have been the people who killed Gorkon.
Presumption of innocence or presumption of guilt?
The needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few but after something like that, the Federation is telling the rest of the quadrant, "Feel free to take us hostage, we'll still work out a deal."
Their guilt was established as per recognized klingon jurisdiction/law.
The chancellor isn't the only person in power in the Klingon empire. If Azetbur had capitulated, she would have appeared weak, been assasinated, and who knows what the next chancellor would have done? If avoiding a war was the goal, it was the best choice.
There's also the inconvenient fact that they'd been tried and convicted of murder.
That doesn't strain any credibility at all. There were already at least two, I think, conspirators aboard the Gorkon. How would it be even remotely difficult for someone in Chang's position to ensure that the Watch officers were his own men? There wouldn't even necessarily need to be more than one - if he's the one in charge, he can just turn the viewscreen off.
Recognized by the klingons sure, but the Pesident actually watched that farce, he saw things that would never have been allowed to pass in a real court of law. Where was the presentation of evidence? We saw that Starfleet uses a "truth detector" in it's procedings, where was it? Why couldn't the defense examine the hull of Kronos One at the point of impact, and by the defense I mean Starfleet experts? Why wasn't starfleet JAG in the courtroom as Kirk and McCoy's defense,Modern day American JAG lawyers travel al around the world to defend Americans interests.
Why would the Federation President "recognize" what he witnessed on his screen.
But it was a real court of law, a Klingon court of law. Sure the Federation might not think it meets their crtieria for what a court of law is. But that doesn't mean it is any less real.
A real trial of a real alleged presidential assasin would take days, at least. Expecting the movie to depict a real court of law is more than a little unreasonable.
Besides, governments that want to get along with other governments don't generally disregard the others legal system just because they don't like it.
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