"I'm a soldier not a diplomat."

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by James T. Vader, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. James T. Vader

    James T. Vader Lieutenant

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    So what's everyone's opinon of miltary gunho conservative war fighting savage Kirk in Errand of Mercy? Man seems determined to fight a war no matter what the cost.

    What was Gene thinking?
     
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Kirk was sent on a mission and was going to complete that mission if at all possible. Kirk is chastised by the Organians and seems repentant to a degree at the end of the episode.

    If a character is perfect from the get-go then there's nothing for them to learn during the course of the story and it can get dull pretty quick. I call it "Jean-Luc Picard Syndrome". :p
     
  3. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    That Kirk was a flawed, passionate being, charged with defending the Federation, not an enlightened paragon of evolved humanity who never wrestled with issues of conscience, duty, command, etcetera?

    Works for me.
     
  4. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination

    er, the Klingons were an expansive and oppressive imperial power who were enslaving planets full of neutrals. Kirk's attitude makes perfect sense here, including his initial frustration and then contempt for the pacifism of the Organians.
     
  5. mach7

    mach7 Commander Red Shirt

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    Kirk was doing what every competent military commander would do in such a situation.

    The Klingons were at war with the Federation. Kirk had a duty to impede their war fighting ability.

    It's basic military training.

    And what would be the cost of not acting? Unchallenged klingon control of Organia?
    That would be out of character for both Kirk and Spock. They would, and did, fight the war until they were pulled out, dead, or it was no longer necessary.
     
  6. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    TOS was inconsistent on many levels, more than most of the new shows in fact. I prefer to think of Kirk the one-dimensional military man to be a product of the same effort to establish the show as UESPA and the like. If Kirk was always written like this he'd be a distasteful character. Compare to Picard...prepared to fight a war in Redemption, but very reluctant to do so.

    RAMA
     
  7. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    I don't think "one-dimensional military man" was ever intended to be Kirk's characterization, so it isn't the same thing as abandoned concepts like UESPA.
     
  8. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Kirk was a complicated guy, trying to do his duty out on the final frontier. And sometimes that duty brought him into conflict with the Klingons.

    Didn't mean he eagerly sought out conflict.

    In fact, I believe "Errand" starts out with Kirk saying something like "Well, we didn't want war, but here it is . . . ."

    That doesn't strike me as particularly gung-ho or militaristic.
     
  9. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The irony (and point) of the episode was that Kirk said that he didn't want to fight a war at the start, but during the course of the episode he becomes so determined to fight against the Klingons he is disgusted with himself when the Organians make him realize he actually ended up arguing in favor of a war that would've killed billions.

    Then at the end, he himself managed to joke about the irony of how he was angry over being kept from fighting a war he didn't want in the first place.
     
  10. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    It amazes me how all the posters saw the same episode and took so many different opinions away from it.

    Time for mine.

    Kirk was not so much angry at them preventing the war as they were interfering with his ability to accomplish his mission. He didn't want the war, but his mission was to win it. It could not be prevented, as when an enemy sends a fleet of warships into your space and attacks your ships and colonies, it's war. Unless you roll over and surrender and learn to speak Klingonese.

    There's only one thing worse than a war, losing a war, and the Klingons aren't the type to do that whole "we'll help you rebuild" thing after they've won.

    What are you trying to say? Kirk was not gungho at all, as others have pointed out.

    How can you tell if he's conservative, politics are not mentioned, unless democracy is "conservative" compared to the Klingon dictatorship.

    Put phasers on stun is savage? They killed no one. (on an aside, ever wonder when they stun someone and then they fall down a flight of stone steps? Oh, he'll be alright, he's just stunned. Reminds me of what happend to Ricardo Montalbaun in the end of The Naked Gun)

    And again, he's determined to win, not fight. If he could win by talking, he would, but two sentences into his speech the Klingons would shoot him. This is one of Kirk's most defining characteristics, the need to triumph, it's very in character and they are not "inconsistent" with that.

    Gene Roddenberry or Gene Coon?
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013
  11. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    But his character was inconsistent because they were still establishing that world.

    I'd also note Kirk never made an attempt a diplomacy before the war started. He DOES in most episodes. He simply seemed far to eager to jump into the fray.

    RAMA
     
  12. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    Would that be during the Klingon ship hitting the Enterprise with magnetic pulses or when the later 8 vessels invade Orgainia? When is this "before" you speak of?
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Thankfully, the episode steered clear of Kirk single-handedly deciding the course of a war with a rival culture. He was, after all, not a diplomat but a soldier. It would be a sorry Federation indeed where one person would be burdened with all the tasks currently split across tens of thousands of professionals of various fields!

    Also, I definitely think "We have the right to wage war!" is part of the hard, solid core of the person called James T. Kirk. We never got a reason to think differently. If Kirk negotiates, it is not for avoiding conflict - it is for gaining the upper hand. Kirk decides who his enemies are, and then defeats those; there is no attempt at making friends out of enemies in any of the episodes or movies.

    That doesn't mean Kirk wouldn't be a compassionate, moderate and lenient man by our standards. When he gets angry at a species, he goes to war against Klingons - with phasers on stun. When he gets really mad at a person, he blasts Khan's starship to bits - and then offers to beam him to safety. When his very son is murdered, he mows down all the murderer's henchmen - and then offers a helping hand to the chief villain. But that's merely the new definition of a hardass conservative for the 23rd century.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. diankra

    diankra Commodore Commodore

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    I'd compare it to the way the NASA astronauts behaved across Apollo: they were dedicated to achieving the mission, and the more successful ones were the ones who realised the mission had changed once the initial goal had been achieved.
    The 'old heads' tended to see the mission as being test pilotry: flying a new flying machine in a new environment, with science an unnecessary distraction which could get in the way of achieving that. In the very early days, when everything was an unknown and a potential danger, that could be the right approach (like for Wally Schirra in MA8), but later on 'getting there' was no longer the point (as, to an extent, Al Shepherd failed to realise on Apollo 14), it was what you did there that mattered and justified flying more missions, as newer recruits like Dave Scott realised (even though they were sometimes more straight-backed militaristic than their predecessors).
    In Errand of Mercy, Kirk's accepted that the mission has changed: in the current circumstances, he is a soldier, and his feelings about it don't matter; his mission is now to thwart the Klingon intrusion on Organia by any means.
     
  15. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Well, in the case of "Errand of Mercy," that isn't Kirk's call. This wasn't a first-contact scenario where Kirk is in the position of representing the Federation to a brand-new alien species. The Organia incident is just one front on a larger conflict between the UFP and the Klingons that has been apparently been building for some time.

    As the ep begins, Kirk receives word that negotiations have broken down and a state of war now exists. Presumably the diplomats have been working overtime to avert this situation, but to no avail. The decision to go to war has been made at level far above Kirk's pay scale--and not just concerning Organia.

    Was he supposed to try to negotiate a separate peace with the Klingons on Organia after the Federation's top leaders and diplomats failed? That would be like an individual submarine commander deciding to take it upon himself to negotiate a peace treaty with the Japanese during World War II or whatever . . . .
     
  16. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Don't mind RAMA, he sees every captain through Picard-tinted glasses. :lol:
     
  17. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    Nobody does pompous, you should be ashamed of waging war better than Picard.
     
  18. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Exactly, in the episode the Organia situation starts out as a minor sidebar to what is apparently a much larger... "urano-political"? conflict. Presumably, Kirk has orders on what to do in the event of war and probably has very little leeway about what he can do on his own authority.

    As to the larger questions of how Kirk and Starfleet are presented, you have to keep in mind that, in the '50s and '60s especially, big fictional enemies like the Klingons were seen through the Cold War perspective. From that perspective, they could be seen not as just some other people you had some disagreements with, but a completely ruthless and implacable foe whose values are utterly opposed to your own and who want not just to win in war, but to wipe out your whole way of life. Opposing that kind of threat with any and all means would be a very popular message with a good portion of the audience of that day.
     
  19. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Indeed, and the ultimate message of the ep, that the "inevitable" war can be avoided (thanks, okay, to some god-like aliens) and that someday the Federation and the Klingon Empire would be allies was pretty optimistic in its time.

    Imagine a comparable story in which well-meaning aliens tell the USA and the Russians to play nice and make friends--or else! (Which, come to think of it, is basically THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.)

    But, yeah, this wasn't one of those eps where Kirk encounters some strange new alien beings and has to decide on his own whether diplomacy or force is the appropriate response. This was Kirk as a Starfleet captain following orders during a time of war--and seeing himself as the only person standing between the defenseless Organians and a brutal Klingon invasion.

    I mean, it wasn't like the Klingons' intentions for Organia were ever in doubt . . . .
     
  20. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Wasn't that kind of Captain Tracy's motivation (in part) too?

    :)