Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies XI+' started by Charles Phipps, Jun 24, 2013.
Which, of course, is just as much a part of STAR TREK as any other movie or episode or regime.
Thanks, Greg. I was about to say something along those lines.
I've always felt like it's both military and scientific exploration equally.
Maybe Starfleet should use the slogan from my daughters Disney Jr show The Octonauts (which reminds me a bit of Star Trek btw): "Explore, Rescue, Protect"
Because her comment had nothing whatsoever to do with what was actually being discussed. It was just a reactionary way of derailing the entire debate without seriously discussing it on its merits.
Incorrect. The SDF's naval vessels are equipped with Harpoon antiship missiles and anti-submarine weapons. It operates 16 diesel-electric attack submarines and several guided missile cruisers that are closely based on the Arleigh Burke class Aegis destroyer.
To the extent that those weapon systems are incapable of launching attack and/or supporting ground operations on foreign soil, they are indeed "defensive" weapons.
Only when the civilian courts aren't available. In contrast: for stealing and blowing up the Enterprise among other violations of Starfleet regulations, Kirk stood before a civilian assembly -- overseen by the President -- to answer for those crimes.
It's a straw man very simply because at no point was anyone proposing that be done. The answer to the question "are we talking about mothballing the Starfleet" was clearly "no." And that's the purpose it was supposed to serve in the script, at least one draft of which simply called the character "A MILITARY MAN." Remember that the debate was supposed to mirror that over changing relations between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. in the real world, and the conflict in the film was between those who felt there could only ever be a military solution and those who realized (initially in Spock's case and ultimately in Kirk's and others') that Starfleet's mission had "always been one of peace."
Regarding offensive vs defensive capabilities, can't the same equipment basically be used for either? It's how it's used that makes the difference. And I don't think SF has ever been portrayed as being particularly oriented towards taking the offensive. (Section 31 and overzealous rogues aside.) Almost all of the combat scenarios we saw involved an outside aggressor who started the conflict. Yes, once the tides of battle in the Dominion War turned in their favor they went on the offensive, but this was still in response to the threat the Dominion posed and the fight they started, and moreover was done in coordination with Klingon and Romulan forces. It never seemed like a situation SF sought or were particularly suited to. And really, more often than not, when SF comes up against a powerful enemy in open combat they get their asses handed to them, or are saved only by a last-ditch effort.
What I meant was the SDF itself isn't capable of attacking another nation. In fact, if Japan were attacked, there's only so much the SDF could do and in a worse case scenario, Japan would have to rely on defense treaties it has with other nations.
Or so I think. Admittedly everything I know about Japan's defense comes from what I read in a Robert J Sawyer novel. But assuming I'm essentially correct, then Starfleet is indeed capable of launching an attack on another power, though they tend not to. And Starfleet can probably defend the Federation on its own.
Which of course are extenuating circumstances. Since Kirk and crew saved Earth from a probe that was tearing the planet apart, the President decided to personally step in and issue a pardon. Had there not been any space probe looking for whales, I'm sure Kirk and crew would have been court-martialed by Starfleet.
That is also incorrect. They're fully CAPABLE of doing so if they so choose; the fact that their ships aren't designed or chartered for that is what makes them "defensive" weapons.
If one day the SDF decided they were really pissed off at China and decided to pound Hong Kong with artillery fire, they could easily do so. That they probably wouldn't survive the Chinese counter-attack is the main reason why that will never happen (well, never again).
Starfleet barely manages to defend EARTH most of the time. I think defending the entire Federation is probably asking a bit much.
I'm also reminded that Sisko tells Leyton in "Paradise Lost" that the other Federation worlds probably wouldn't take too kindly to Starfleet overthrowing the President and creating, effectively, a "military dictatorship." Assuming I'm essentially right about Federation laws vis a vis military buildup, then Leyton is making essentially the same calculation as Marcus -- his "strengthening Earth" is his belief that Starfleet must become a full military force to counter an alien threat -- and realizes that the current government is in no way prepared to allow this. Sisko explicitly mentions civil war (which is probably what the Founders were hoping for too) which suggests that the other Federation members have their own space forces that could, either individually or collectively, give Starfleet a run for its money.
Which still doesn't explain why he was presiding over their trial, nor does it explain how the President manages to simply sidestep the Starfleet legal system for that one charge he DIDN'T pardon, thereby both demoting him and giving him command of a starship by Presidential fiat.
The more likely explanation is that the Starfleet judicial system is only relevant within Starfleet and only practiced on an ad hoc basis; it furthermore can be overruled at will by the civilian government, which is basically what happens to Kirk and McCoy in TUC.
So you think that she doesn't know what she's talking about. It's amazing how peopel can dismiss the movie's script just because they have a predetermined conclusion.
Again: dismissing the script because you disagree. As if canon bowed to our collective wills.
It's NOT a "straw man " argument!
Again from the SCRIPT AND ONSCREEN DIALOGUE:-
MILITARY AIDE: Bill, are we talking about mothballing the Starfleet?
C in C: I'm sure that our exploration and scientific programs would be unaffected, Captain, but...
The answer is CLEARLY not NO, but is a MAYBE!
Not so clearly, or why else would he make the distinction about scientific/exploratory programs remaining unaffected and say "but..." before being cut off by Cartwright?
To me that implies that the more combat oriented vessels in the fleet were facing getting mothballed, with the more scientific and exploratory oriented vessels remaining viable in the planned peacetime reorganization.
I doubt Starfleet was considering mothballing ALL the military starships, after all, the Klingons weren't the only threat in town (unless the implication of the fact that the Romulan Ambassador of all people was sitting in on a STARFLEET BRIEFING implied that at the time of TUC relations with the Star Empire were far more cordial).
Starfleet has always been shown to be extremely short-sighted in their policies though. Putting families on starships due to their planned extended exploratory missions may have seemed a good idea at the time, but as the fate of the Saratoga at Wolf 359 showed us, that policy did indeed return to bite them on the ass. From the Enterprise-E and Dominion War, that policy seems to have been largely abandoned. The introduction of the Intrepid and Nova classes would also seem to indicate that Starfleet was moving away from the idea of long-term exploratory missions, preferring many smaller ships undertaking shorter tours, than a few large ones conducting long-range missions. Even the Galaxy class starships, despite being designed from the the outset for twenty-year+ exploratory missions and the flagships of the families aboard policy, never seemed to have strayed much from the Federation borders.
That is funny that one of the key planets in the Federation seems to be facing invasion or destruction every few years from "insert threat here". No wonder there is so much colonization in the future. The earth just isn't a safe place to live!!!
This is just speculation and not necessarily true. In the US Civil War a great number of high ranking federal officers resigned and fought for the sessecionists. In a coup situation you would likely have various commanders or perhaps entire commands, army groups, corps, brigades, military installations, etc, who could choose to side with one side or the other.
Instead of "regional local defense fleets" battling Starfleet forces you would just as easily have Starfleet Force A battling Starfleet Force B. Especially if many of these installations fall within and are maintained/supported by local races or governments who withdraw from the Federation after the coup.
Not really, because again, at its foundation Starfleet is a scientific and exploratory program. His reply is a sideways way of saying they were going to get back to what they were really supposed to be doing and shed the excess built up in response to a threat that would no longer be posed by the Klingons.
At no point was there any reason to think that SF would go away, except in the minds of the characters who can't imagine it as anything but a military force and can't see themselves as anything but warriors. This was the whole source of conflict and development for Kirk and company in the film! While initially sympathetic, by the end of it our heroes see the wrongness of this and work to thwart the efforts of those so obsessed with war that they'd join their own enemies to slaughter their own leaders in order to preserve that way of life. The view that "SF is the military, its officers are soldiers, and that's just the way it is and must always be" is held by the VILLAINS in this movie.
To me it seemed Leyton seemed frustrated with a President who he felt wasn't taking the Dominion threat seriously enough and decided to take matters into his own hands. That's a bit different from Marcus who felt Starfleet isn't strong enough to take on the Klingons. Although there are similarities, the two seem to have different goals for their endgames. Marcus seemed to be trying to actually start a war with the Klingons, I don't think Leyton was trying to start war with the Dominion.
There never has been any evidence that Federation member worlds have their own military forces. Indeed, it is mentioned on DS9 that when Bajor was admitted into the Federation the Bajoran Militia would be absorbed into Starfleet. Of course in the novels, we do see Federation member worlds do have their own militaries and even the Bajoran Militia continues after Bajor's admittance into the Federation.
Just one of those contrived things we see all the time in movies. And truth of the matter is, it makes more sense to me for the Federation President to be assigning starship commands than it does for Starfleet Academy's disciplinary board.
Wait, how the hell do you know that ? Isn't that the whole question of the thread ?
She knows what she's talking about, and she knows good and damn well that "mothballing Starfleet" is not something that is even remotely being discussed.
Spock doesn't mention decommissioning starships in the script either, thus it REMAINS a strawman for the reasons already mentioned.
Changes nothing. Spock mentioned negotiations for "the dismantling of our space stations and starbases along the neutral zone. There's no discussion whatsoever about "mothballing the fleet." Cartwright even takes it a step further, calling the neutral zone disarmament an offer of "safe haven."
Neither of them are actually raising valid concerns, they're mainly just being dicks.
But again, nobody was talking about vessels. Spock mentions outposts and space stations, which means the fleet would be REDEPLOYED to other duties, not decommissioned as such.
Which is probably what the "but" was leading to. "I'm sure our exploration and scientific programs would be unaffected, but we can definitely afford to ease the schedule on our border patrol units."
Which they were only able to do because prior to the civil war the States maintained more direct control over their militaries than they do now, nor was there a great deal of mixing of out-of-state soldiers across state lines. When a state seceded from the union, the military resources it controlled seceded with it. The presence of the few Federal garrisons that WEREN'T loyal to state governments (e.g. Fort Sumter) were what ultimately triggered the war in the first place.
Although that's a possibility, the fact remains that we have rarely actually seen a Starfleet vessel run by a non-human crew. Quite a few on these boards have tried to claim that these ships (or the alternate space forces of other Federation members) do not exist purely because we've never seen them. I for one refuse to believe that the Andorians and the Tellarites have somehow gone extinct since the 23rd century and I find it VERY difficult to believe that their respective fleets are not at least as large as the Earth branch of Starfleet.
And given all that, we have no reason to expect the Andorians OR the Tellarites would use the same types of starships as the Earth fleet branch. In point of fact, it's entirely possible that the Norway and Steamrunner classes that appeared for the first time in First Contact really ARE native Andorian designs and may not even be their newest ships (Steamrunner might be Andor's equivalent of the Miranda class).
As I said, I just don't see the Andorians putting their security in the hands of a bunch of pinkskins. Although not quite as warlike as the Klingons, their space force predates Starfleet by nearly a century and is UNDENIABLY continuous with their past military tradition.
There are really only two ways to explain the absence of Andorian military forces in Trek.
1) They were there all along, but everyone takes them for granted and nobody goes out of their way to mention them.
2) Federation law prohibits any member to have a spaceborne military and the Andorians -- like everyone else -- was forced to disarm or use similar "it's not really a military" loopholes to get around it.
The second explanation makes the most sense to me, since it would explain why Starfleet doesn't consider itself to be a military organization: the Federation isn't ALLOWED to have a military organization because people like the Andorians or the Tellarites or even the Vulcans have a nasty habit of starting wars with their neighbors and then dragging the rest of the Federation into it with them. Starfleet is allowed to act as a de facto military because it's founding mission is peaceful exploration, and because the pinkskins haven't been in space long enough to really form political ties with anyone other than the existing Federation members.
Picard's line in "The Measure of a Man."
"Starfleet was created to seek out new life."
That was, incidentally, also the entire premise of Star Trek: Enterprise.
Furthermore, despite various allusions to military imagery, there is ZERO dialog that suggests that Starfleet was founded for the purpose of defense or combat. Thus the question of this thread is not whether or not Starfleet IS a military, but whether or not it BECAME a military, and if so, when?
Crazy Eddie: Multi-Quote ( ) - please make use of it more regularly than you have been.
I will fix your quintuple(!) post... this time.
Well, after lots of posts on the subject, you and I have finally reached a concencus!
Enterprise would appear to show that, from the inception, Starfleet WAS supposed to be merely a scientific/exploration organization. Seeking out new life and new civilizations.
Unfortunately, the NX01 discovered that a fair number of these new civilizations wanted to actually kill us!
Out of necessity then, Starfleet (from the Romulan War up to say TUC?) became a military organization, with science and exploration as a secondary concern to the security of the Federation's borders. This would explain all the trappings, the military form of organisation and nomenclature, and Kirk's comments during TOS, along with the disagreements between Carol and David Marcus and the discussion at the briefing in TUC.
What then happened between TUC and Encounter at Farpoint? The Klingons had been allies since the Khitomer Accords, the Romulans had gone into self-imposed isolation for decades, and it seems apparent that any conflicts the Federation did get involved in were merely border skirmishes, and small-scale wars.
This could explain the Galaxy Class, a return to the founding ideals, a perceived golden age of exploration, getting back to studying the mysteries of the galaxy, with military matters becoming secondary, but of course never forgotten!
Unfortunately, just as Starfleet had gotten used to this new golden age, the Borg and Dominion came calling! It could also explain the Cardassians flexing their muscles in The Wounded and Chain of Command, they perhaps perceived Starfleet changing their priorities as weakness?
The thing is, I'm not so certain that there is a need to distinguish between military and non-military fighting forces in the Trek universe. To allude to NX-01 again, it wasn't exactly that a lot of aliens in the universe wanted to kill us, it was that alot of them wanted to EAT us and didn't seem to understand why we would find that so objectionable. Even the Xindi threat, ironically, turned out to be little more than a huge misunderstanding and didn't even shape up to be an actual war as such.
My view is that the majority of the things that threaten the Federation aren't categorized as military threats. Starfleet has to deal with sociopathic demigods, uncontrollable ancient technology, cosmic nambla, inexplicably powerful omnicidal robots, temporal anomalies, transporter duplicates, Carmen Sandiego, actual honest-to-god space monsters (including giant amoebas), predatory creatures with crazy superpowers, Reginald Barclay, Space Nazis, space gangsters, and whatever the hell this is. And this for the missions of TWO starships that just happen to share the same name. It makes you think that if Starfleet has hundreds of ships exploring deep space, all of whom are encountering similar phenomenon with their regular missions, the universe must be positively teeming with totally weird shit, most of which is incredibly dangerous.
We like to focus on the occasional skirmish with the Romulans or Klngons over a disputed planet somewhere; we talk about the Hostile Aliens Out of Fucking Nowhere attacks that happen two or three times a year. But that's just a small portion of what Starfleet has to deal with in order to keep the Federation safe, and most of the hazards facing the Federation come in the form of things that are dangerous just by virtue of their existing at all.
I've said before that Starfleet is basically patterned after and otherwise behaves like NOAA with weapons. If you consider that Starfleet operates in a universe that is essentially populated by sentient hurricanes, it's no wonder that the Federation's scientific exploration service is also the best equipped and most heavily armed organization they have; when a pissed off storm cloud declares war on you, you send scientists not soldiers.
Separate names with a comma.