Power of the Federation

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by EmperorTiberius, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2009
    For years I watched and read Star Trek and always imagined from what I've seen that semi-military Starfleet is about equal in military power to Romulans, and slightly weaker than the on-perpetual-war-footing Klingons. They're obviously slightly stronger than Cardassians. Balance of power is kept by careful diplomacy, aliances, etc.

    Then, when I started visiting Trek forums, I noticed fans talk about "Super Power" Federation as the only true power in the Alpha Quadrant (most often it's compared to the U.S.). I also noticed that people think Romulans are supposed to be a small empire like the Klingons; and Cardassians are considered insignificant ants that Starfleet can brush aside at any time.

    Where is this fans' impression coming from?
     
  2. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    Location:
    Shangri-La
    The impression that the Cardassians weren't a major power comes from how easily the Klingons beat them in DS9 season 4. One assumes the Federation would be able to do this too. That they had to join the Dominion to be taken seriously militarily also lends weight to this. The Border War that look place before TNG grays things a bit but I like to think the Federation just didn't put all their effort into it and settled for a doctrine of containment rather than defeating them. Though their losses during the Dominion War clearly leave them as a second rate power and a dependency of the Federation after the war.

    I was always under the impression that the Klingon/Federation alliance presented a super power that no one empire in the quadrant would be able to contend with. The impression that the Klingons are weaker than the Federation can be had easy enough from DS9's seasons 4 and 5 where the Federation was pretty much able to check them. Couple that with their losses during the Civil War that took place in TNG. Sloan also mentions that the rate of Klingon casualties during the Dominion War would leave them a second rate power.

    The Romulans by there very nature were a vague thing. They'd skirmish regularly with both the Klingons and the Federation but wouldn't push it to all out war. So that would imply that they're either on equal footing or somewhat stronger than the Federation, but not powerful enough to confront both them and the Klingons. Sloan stated in the series that the struggle for local dominance after the Dominion War would be between the Federation and Romulans, which I think is credible. They probably look lower casualties during the war too being it wasn't fought in their space and they didn't join it until later. The only hint of weakness comes after it. One assumes they took a lot of military casualties during the Reman Insurrection and the whole Hobus Supernova is bound to ruin their long term power projection ability.

    I really never got the impression that the Federation was pulling way ahead of the pack until the late movie era and novelizations that follow them.
     
  3. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2006
    Location:
    Star Trekkin Across the universe.
    Plus there's one federation starship beating the snot out of them in the Wounded and Jellico believing the Enterprise could take on 12 Galors in Chain of Command.
     
  4. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    Well after the Tal'Shiar/Obsidian Orders failed attack on the Founder world in DSN, the Founders didn't consider those two Empire's to be a threat to them any longer.

    If the Federation is the largest in terms of volume of space (some 8000ly span) that might require a high number of ships to support it. So it is possible in terms of raw strength of ships the Federation is the most powerful.

    But a larger area of space can be harder to defend, who knows what other agressive powers are lurking around the Federation large borders?
     
  5. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    Location:
    Shangri-La
    There were 20 ships in the Tal'Shiar/Obsidian Order attack. So roughly half and half or maybe a 5/15 ratio respectively since the Cardassian Keldon class was smaller. That's hardly going to cripple an entire empire.

    So the fleets were manned by renegade intelligence agents mostly. Those two intelligence agencies were definitely crippled for awhile, the Obsidian Order having been said to have "fallen" in Season 4 of DS9 but the Tal'Shiar was a going concern again by season 7.

    As for the Federation being 8000 LY across, while this could be true, you could say the USA is 9500 miles across(the distance from Guam to Puerto Rico) but that doesn't quite paint an accurate impression.
     
  6. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    #istandwithcbs
    The Romulans were originally a minor power, behind the Federation's advances since being defeated and isolated after the Romulan war. In their first appearence ("Balance of Terror"), they had a ripped-off Starfleet ship with a bird painted on it and no warp drive. It was only their new cloaking device and plasma torpedo weapon that made them formiddable. Later they got better, Klingon-designed ships.

    Later Treks, most notably Enterprise, would retcon Romulans into a big galactic power in the 22nd and 24th centuries, with warp drive and cloaking devices, holographic starships and a vampiric slave race.

    As for the Klingons, they were originally the Soviet Union to the Federation's USA. Other Treks would turn them into an almost technologically stagnant society, using the same ships in Enterprise as they do in DS9, 225 years later. On par with the Federation in TOS, far above them in ENT and lagging behind in DS9. Since reading the novel Ishmael years ago, I like to think Klingon technology is inhereted from their former slave masters (the Karsid Empire), who mysteriously vanished 600 years prior to TOS. It explains why all their ships are old rustbuckets.
     
  7. The Green Mushroom

    The Green Mushroom Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2001
    Location:
    United States
    I agree. I have always gotten the impression from the series, especially the large number of pre-warp civilizations and otherwise one star system races, that the Federation's 8000 light-years either includes a lot of non-Federation world within it or is a very irregular shape due to the number of "borders" with non-Fed members.
     
  8. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2009
    Meh, fascist founders were a bit diluded in many things and got a lot of stuff wrong. Romulans sure proved it when they joined the war. Besides, I think that might have referred to the cream of the crop of those intelligence agencies being wiped out, which would weaken them significantly.

    What is this about the ripped-off ship? Is this from the novels?

    And no way did they have no warp drive. It might have been impusle power, but capable of generating warp fields, otherwise, they could never sustain a star empire.


    You're probably right about Cardassians, but I disagree about Klingons.

    They were a superpower in TOS as Daniel indicated, and I think they were a superpower in TNG and DS9 all the way until the end of the war, where they'll need 10 years to get their fleet back on par. Think about what they went through in less than 7 years:

    1. Civil war with Duras
    2. War with Cardaissians
    3. War with Federation
    4. War with Dominion
    5. Held the line alone against Dominion/Cardassians/Breen
    6. We also see Klingon Borg drones, so they must have had some contact with them too.

    In all this time, Federation had two encounters with Borg and Dominion. Of course, they'll have supremacy for about a decade or so.

    I think it's worth mentioning Yesterday's Enterprise, where Klingons were on the verge of defeating Starfleet. Even though it was an alternate timeline, it was a perfectly valid one.

    Then you see All Good Things, and Klingons conquered Romulans. Even though it's just an illusion by Q, I don't think he pulled it out of his bum, he must have based it in reality.
     
  9. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    Location:
    Shangri-La
    It should be noted that a lot can happen in twenty years which was the time gap of Yesterday's Enterprise. Like as you mention, a full civil war, contact with the Borg among other things. 20 years earlier, the Klingons and Federation WERE on a more level playing field, enough so that a surprise attack could have seized much Federation territory before Starfleet could fully mobilize. From then it's just a matter of them leaning on the Federation until they collapse. They were fighting near the Archer system so the front lines were quite close to Earth. The Federation considerably buffed up post Wolf 359 when they seemed to start taking their military seriously.

    As for the All Good Things bit? I can't say I take that very seriously given it was an illusionary timeline. Too much unexplained to just write it off to brute Klingon strength. The Hobus Supernova could have happened there too, the Borg could have attack them, the Federation/Klingon alliance could have taken them down and things soured when the Klingons occupied then, etc.

    The balance of power in the TNG era wasn't so radical that either side would attack the other. It's not like there's no love lost between the Romulans and Klingons so if one side or the other had a decisive advantage, especially the Klingons since the Federation would probably stay neutral, they'd attack.
     
  10. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    #istandwithcbs
    From a bit cut from the "Balance of Terror" script (and ignored by later Treks):

    INSERT - SHIP'S VIEWING SCREEN
    The attacking vessel can now be seen definitely to be some modified version of a starship saucer main section... but with the dark markings on its underside which suggests a bird-of-prey with half-spread wings. And centered there is a threatening-looking "weapon tube" device. We see it in full size only momentarily... then it launches a torpedo-like bolt of blinding energy from the weapons tube.

    HANSON'S VOICE
    You see it, Enterprise?! Starship design. Warn Earth...
    (STATIC CRACKLE)
    ... espionage, stolen our designs... traitors...

    http://www.fastcopyinc.com/orionpress/articles/balanceofterror.htm

    As for the warp drive, that's I think more of Trek's bad science. Insurrection had the line "Warp drive turned a bunch of Romulan thugs into an empire... a century ago..."
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    Which might mean Romulans got warp drive a century before the movie, that is, around TOS (and thus perhaps didn't have it in "Balance of Terror" yet, even though their plasma cloud weapon effortlessly moved apace with the hero starship that flew at "emergency warp"). Or just that warp drive was the decisive factor in turning Romulans into a credible empire in the 2260s, when the species first challenged the RNZ and was offered the two paths of development - but that warp drive as such was old news.

    In any case, both Romulans and Cardassians were introduced as "old and neglected" enemies, presumably not powerful enough to warrant constant attention. Klingons in turn were introduced as an "ongoing" foe.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    Location:
    Shangri-La
    They had warp drives that worked just fine in Enterprise.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    And nobody ever said they lacked warp drives in "Balance of Terror" as a species. Scotty may or may not have believed that this particular ship lacked warp drive, but there was absolutely no mention of the Romulans being ignorant of the secret of the warp drive.

    Of course, just like the status of the Romulans can change from "enemy to be feared" to "forgotten enemy who has fallen behind times and no longer is a credible threat", the status of Romulan technology could change from "can warp and cloak" to "no longer knows how to build warp drives or cloaks". It just takes some heavy-duty believing to accept that this sort of amnesia could strike in just a single century. And there's no particular need for it, as Romulan warp drive in the 2150s is in no way contradicted by "Balance of Terror".

    ...Now, the idea that the Federation forgot that the Romulans already had invisibility down pat in the 2150s is a bit harder to cope with. But perhaps Romulans went from major 22nd century foe to pitiful 23rd century nuisance specifically because they forgot how to cloak?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. pimp

    pimp Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Location:
    United Kingdom, London
    Well after the Dominion War the cardies are kinda weak broken race with not much of an empire. So basically after the big war the powers changed and cardies are no longer a force to be reckoned with (I would imagine). Again Klingons took a big blow, not entirely sure but maybe they lost most of their ships. So I would assume the big parties left would either be Feds or Romulans.
     
  15. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Location:
    Go ahead, caller. I'm listening...
    My OPINION is that Enterprise represents a divergent timeline that started with the events of First Contact and runs through Enterprise and on up to Star Trek 2009 - Nero and Spock Prime didn't actually branch the timeline, they just ended up in the one that was already branched in First Contact.

    So, Romulans ended up with warp and cloaking earlier, somehow. In the Prime timeline, the Romulans stole warp from the first Earth ships that surveyed their star system. (Yes, I know - not canon, from the novels, but I like it.)
     
  16. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2006
    Location:
    Star Trekkin Across the universe.
    In DS9 it pretty much said that while the Klingons were winning against the federation during their brief war at first that it was only a matter of time until they got their heads together and kicked the Klingon's asses, plus I believe it was said that the Klingons were contained.

    Yes, but that leaves them with more territory to protect and possibly fewer ships since I figure taking down the Romulan Empire would be pretty costly. So the Federation might have had an advantage on them.
     
  17. neozeks

    neozeks Captain Captain

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    In one episode, Worf outright says to his brother that the Empire has no chance of winning a war against the Federation. The whole theme of the Klingon arc through TNG and DS9 has been of an empire in decline, an empire dying from within due to corruption and rigid traditionalism. They were on par with the Federation during TOS but the strain of the cold war with the Feds eventually caused them to start crumbling and then the Praxis incident forced them to outright seek help from the Federation and eventually enter into an alliance with it. Their situation seems to have improved by the time of TNG but I don't think they can still be at the same strength as the Federation which has enjoyed near continuous expansion and progress for two centuries.

    As for the Romulans, during TOS they always seemed like a power that was substantial but weaker than the top two powers (I think people often compare them to China, like they compare the Federation to the USA and the Klingons to the Soviets). Seeing how they entered a long period of isolation before TNG, I don't think they really expanded their power too much by the TNG times. They probably matched the Klingons, though.

    I think the cloaking device is an important factor in my impression that the Federation is a stronger power than the Klingons and Romulans. I think the only way the Federation would be comfortable with not having cloak while its enemies and uneasy allies have it is if it knew it could nulify that advantage through sheer strength and numbers. And inversely, if the Romulans or the Klingons were as strong as the Federation while also having the cloak, they would have steamrolled the Federation a long time ago. All IMO, of course.
     
  18. timmy84

    timmy84 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Washington
    One problem I've always had is that the Federation is suppose to consist of 150 member worlds (at the moment I'm running on the assumption that these are 150 different aliens). This always made me wonder how then a single alien empire can even match the power of the Federation. Even if we assume that the Federation has 20 billion human citizens and the Romulans and Klingons have similar populations, what about the billions of Vulcans, Androians, or Tellarites. The combined power of four worlds can't stand up against the Romulans or Klingons?

    Enterprise helped clear that up a bit (by making Earth, Andoria, Vulcan, and Tellar minor powers), its still obvious that when we reach the 24th century that the Federation is a super power (if not the super power of that region of space). At least technologically and economically.

    The Federation seems very dedicated to peaceful pursuits, and just may not have the stomach for large scale war. Even when we get to the Dominion War the Federation has developed a policy of rotating ground forces off the front after only 3 months (while for example with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan today, rotation is a year. And World War 2 was the duration, with some people being in war for years). This policy is obviously not shared with the other major powers, with each power having dedicated military forces while the Federation has elements of Starfleet fully dedicated to military pursuits.

    The thing I always wanted expanded on in the show, and I don't even feel the books have done a decent job of that either, are the "members" of the Romulans and Klingon empires. It was sorta referenced with the Cardassians (I find it hard to believe that Bajor is the only planet they ever conquered). Obviously these planets aren't partners like within the Federation, but a single species cannot muster the resources to take on the combined resources of 150 worlds. Even if the Romulans controlled 150 worlds, spreading even 50 billion Romulans still wouldn't match up to the populations of 150 individually growing alien species.

    But then again this is a TV show. We are suppose to believe that a plasma torpedo fired at the Enterprise can accelerate to Warp 8 and not have hit the Enterprise instantly after being fired.

    :borg:
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    Hmm, DS9 AFAIK speaks of rotation from the actual fighting in front lines. Which in WWII might have been in the order of two weeks or so on the average, three months being quite an exception... Doesn't mean these folks would have gone back home; they'd just become fighting reserves instead of fighting frontline units.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Hando

    Hando Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011
    The problem with the size of Starfleet is that it roughly equivalent to the other major Alpha quadrant powers. UFP herself is responsible, if the Starfleet were to have the same ship per sector ratio as other powers it would have ?4-5 as many ships as the other powers. A military buildup of that size would provoke the other powers and could lead to war.

    Another thing is that from my point of view all the powers are using pre-WWI military policy. Only/mostly using professional armies, that means there is no draft, the standard of living doesn't change until you are conquered ...

    On the Cloaking device:
    It is an advantage to have one, but it also brings disadvantages. I think that when at Warp under Cloak, the faster the speed the higher the emissions the higher is the chance the ship is detected. On the other hand the lower the speed the longer it takes to get somewhere and you can get detected. Also if a lot ships travel under cloak - of course someone would investigate all those anomalies.
    This ought to be possible only if you know how a Cloaking device works - which UFP does, they obtained one and even built one superior to the Romulan one - and have good sensors.

    This explains why the Klingons were able to conquer Cardassia - Bajor and Cardassia are neighbors and the Cardassians don't have as good sensors as UFP.
    Klingons conquering Romulans could be explained in a similar way, after all no one Romulus detected a cloaked Klingon bird-of-prey.

    Also imagine if during a battle more ships were to use the Cloaking device, the chance that two friendly cloaked ships were to collide would increase and what about a cloaked fleet travelling, a small drift and the formation is lost.
     

Share This Page