Scotty and his military comment

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies XI+' started by Charles Phipps, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    On other, other hand, I'm not entirely sure why some fans are so allergic to the M-word that they seem to recoil from the very idea that (gasp!) Starfleet might be quasi-military in nature, as though such a label has cooties or something.

    Is it because, in their view, it's not "evolved" enough, or sends the wrong message, or just doesn't fit their own cherished notion of what Starfleet ought to be?

    On a practical level, I'm not sure it matters. Speaking from personal experience, I've managed to write close to two dozen Trek books and stories without ever having to make a big deal over just how "military" Starfleet is or isn't. Why do we HAVE to define it one way or another? Just to make some sort of Statement?

    Sometimes the Enterprise is defending the Federation from hostile forces. Sometimes its missions are scientific, humanitarian, diplomatic, or personal. It all depends on the story.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2013
  2. solariabsg25

    solariabsg25 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    To be fair, we know little about Cartwright apart from the fact that he is one of the few Admirals we have ever met more than once.

    His racism could well stem from field experience as a starship commander, dealing with Klingons first-hand. Kirk almost appeared as racist himself after the meeting (thankfully Shatner was given that slight beat after his "Let them die!" outburst to show that I think Kirk realised that his comment went too far, an angry outburst rather than a genuine wish for the whole Klingon Race to die out).

    Also remember that it seems in Trek that most Admirals have to attend a special class in douchebaggery! ;)

    Picard is an idealist. But, in the era he lives and serves in, this isn't naive, as the Federation does work to try to achieve a higher ideal, although sometimes they falter (usually because of those damned Admirals again!).
     
  3. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    Unsubstantiated opinion.

    Don't you know it's bad form to turn someone's arguments around rather than address it ?

    I don't care one way or another about the military status of Starfleet, but the evidence is that there is no other such organisation within the Federation, outside of the MACO from Enterprise, and therefore, with the rest of the evidence presented, I have no choice but accept that it is the truth, in-universe. That you see this as some sort of dogma when it's the polar opposite is sad, but I can't help you with that.

    First, I don't know why you're trying to pit one against the other since they lived in different eras, and the statements we're talking about weren't uttered by Cartwright. Second, they are both Starfleet officers, and I'd wager that the admiral has more experience and knowledge of the inner workings of Starfleet than a captain. You simply _agree_ with Picard, which doesn't make him right. Third, Picard isn't implying that Starfleet's only founding principle was finding new life; he was making a point about Data's status as such a life.
     
  4. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    In the alternate timeline of "Yesterday's Enterprise", the Federation was six months away from defeat. In another timeline, seen in "Parallels", the Federation had been overrun by the Borg.

    I don't think it's possible to get an accurate understanding of the issues we are discussing, because our focus is always on one ship or station. Rarely, as audience members, do we see the world outside that ship or station.
     
  5. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've heard alot of people claiming this is the case, but I've never seen anyone actually DO that. Not that I'm disputing that anti-militarism is a real thing, it's just that in all the years I've been on this board and in all the years I've been following Star Trek (pretty much my entire life) I've never encountered anyone who actually viewed Star Trek through an anti-military lens.

    In fact, considering the widespread prevalence of "space navy/space trooper" tropes in science fiction -- and particularly in space opera -- that would be a very unusual position for someone to hold. They would, in essence, be fans of Star Trek while hating just about everything else in the entire genre.

    As I mentioned earlier, the primary advantage of not defining Starfleet -- or, if you must, defining it as a non-military organization -- is because it makes those kinds of stories easier to tell. The writer doesn't have to actually know anything about standard military procedures or the reasons behind them, and even if he does, wouldn't have to consult an expert on anything he doesn't. When the question comes up "How would Stafleet Command react to this?" you don't have to respect the real-world parameters of military discipline any more than you want to; you can discard what is inconvenient and invent what seems more interesting.

    Hence the reason nobody thinks there's anything wrong with Spock and Uhura having a romantic relationship on the Enterprise. Very few military organizations would have such a blasé attitude towards fraternization, but with Starfleet, why not?
     
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Well,I think the fact that we're in space in the 23rd century gives writers a certain amount of wiggle room. Nobody expects Starfleet to have precisely the same protocols or regulations as, say, the U.S. Navy. It's not like you're writing a Tom Clancy book or something. Plus, of course, you've got nearly fifty years of movies and scripts to emulate if you want to get the tone and the jargon right . . . .
     
  7. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Don't you know it's bad form for the pot to call the kettle black?

    Even assuming the Federation even NEEDS an official military organization -- an assumption that is far from justified -- your argument roughly boils down to "Starfleet is the closest thing we've seen to it."

    As if "Starfleet is the closest thing we've seen to a military organization" was ever in dispute...

    It's an attempt to handwave out of existence a stated fact that clashes with your personal preconceptions. Put simply, the main characters in TNG said "Starfleet is not a military organization," a sentiment which was recently echoed in STID. You, for whatever reason, found these references disturbing, and you are performing an impressive bit of mental gymnastics to circumvent these references altogether.

    So you appear to be demonstrating a strong bias. I call it like I see it.

    Cartwright: "I must protest! To offer Klingons safe haven within Federation space is suicide, Klingons would become the alien trash of the galaxy. And if we dismantle the fleet, we'll be defenseless before an aggressive species with a foothold on our territory. The opportunity here is to bring them to their knees. Then we'll be in a far better position to dictate terms."

    The first officer was presenting a strawman argument in the form of a loaded question. Cartwright was the only one who suggested -- not ASKED -- that it was even a possibility. You may have also noticed the "offering Klingons safe haven" is likewise a strawman; nobody was proposing THAT either.

    It's not his knowledge that's at issue here. A man who is literally just a couple of days away from committing high treason against his own government probably isn't in a very rational state of mind. If his rant against the Klingons is any indication, he's already coming unglued before the meeting even starts.

    More importantly, I BELIEVE Picard, because he is known to be truthful and sincere, and because he has been entrusted to command the most powerful starship in the Federation, a responsibility that implies a very high level of competence.

    I don't believe Cartwright, because in addition to the obvious fact that "dismantle the fleet" is a strawman against disarmament, Cartwright turned out to be a treasonous backstabber directly responsible for a series of murders, mostly of his own people.

    Basically, in a disagreement between "Decorated officer with impeccable reputation" and "Incompetent traitor" I feel more confident siding with the former, not the latter.

    If Starfleet had OTHER founding principles, now is your chance to cite them.
     
  8. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    Cut it out, both of you.
     
  9. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    Ok back to disspassionate debating.

    Well it needs armed forces for sure. It has hostile Romulans and Cardassians and Sheliak and Tzenkethi and Tholians and so on, all around it, and even the Klingons wouldn't mind breaking their alliance if they could just nab the Federation, I think.

    Slight correction: it's the only thing we've seen that corresponds to the definition of military. We seem to be in agreement on this:

    ...so I don't understand why we're still arguing.

    Not disturbing. I found them in contradiction with a larger body of evidence.

    So in other words it wasn't a strawman and they are actually discussing dismantling the fleet. I believe that makes my point.

    It's not a matter of believing the character's sincerity. People can be sincere and yet still wrong.

    I have done so already. We've mentioned the line from The Doomstay Machine, by Decker Sr.
     
  10. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Obviously Starfleet is a military organisation.

    Its organisational structure mimics (if not exactly copies) Earth military structures. It has
    officers, enlisted people, uniforms, people say yes sir and no sir to each other and salute.

    If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck is it not a duck?

    What I believe Scotty is saying (while knowing he is in the military) is are they going to go on military missions from now on, is the war (presumably with the Klingons) about to start? He's hoping or been led to believe that they'll be going on missions of discovery, or rescue, and so on, not ones with secret missions with illegal weapons on board.

    If Picard said Starfleet is not a miltary operation then I think military means something different in the 24th century. He's in charge of a vessel that can destroy or save planets at the whim of an admiral.
     
  11. solariabsg25

    solariabsg25 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Whichever side of the argument though, we have conclusive proof on screen and in dialogue that BOTH viewpoints are correct!

    Starfleet could well be "military", but the definition is completely different to what we, in 2013, would recognise.

    The Royal Navy of the 1700s was both a military organisation, responsible for the defending of the British Empire and war/conquest if required, but also for exploration. Captain Cook, the HMS Bounty and even the later voyages of the HMS Beagle attest to that. This is the closest HISTORICAL equivalent we have to Starfleet, but depending on the era (and the episode/movie plot) the priority, either military or exploration/scientific, flip/flops as required.
     
  12. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No their argument was about Reliant coming to seize Genesis and whether Starfleet was using them to build a weapon of mass destruction or not.

    Last time I checked biological warfare was still a military thing and this was carried out by a terrorist organization, and all the virus did was end the war without the Dominion going out in the blaze of glory.

    Seriously what is it about people not getting that Starfleet was at the freaking doorstep. The war was pretty much over at that point the virus just made the Founders decide on fighting to the last man instead of just giving up.

    And Starfleet got to that point through military tactics not using fancy science equipment.
     
  13. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And some massive intervention from the Prophets. :techman:
     
  14. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Two different present-day real world examples have already been provided for organizations that are militarily structured and/or serve some military purposes without themselves being militaries: NOAA and Japan's Self Defense Forces. This is not to suggest that Starfleet is necessarily the same as either of these organizations (though there may be similarities) but it demonstrates that the premise "it looks and acts like a military, ergo it is one" is readily falsifiable.

    And by the way, apropos of both your comment and those of others with reference to how SF was envisioned during the production of TOS, this is what the series guide for writers and directors said as of April 1967:

    So yes, it is more or less correct to say that SF was "in the beginning" envisioned as military, but not without caveats. (I am leaving aside the fact that they didn't really decide right from the beginning what organization our heroes worked for, it being called various names in early episodes, including one that at least sounds distinctly civilian: the United Earth Space Probe Agency.)

    In the movies, beginning with TWOK, creative control and production changed over into new hands, Meyer's and Bennett's, and a conscious choice was made to portray SF as more martial. When TNG began, Roddenberry and others went the opposite direction, partly to directly contrast with the choices made by Meyer and Bennett, which Roddenberry felt to be too militaristic. TUC, made after TNG had already been on for several years and gained wide popularity and cultural currency, was in many respects designed to "connect the dots" and show people how the world of the 23rd century morphed into the world of the 24th. Thus, we see Kirk and company struggling to adapt to a changing political situation with the Klingons and a corresponding shift in Starfleet's roles, and ultimately bowing out to pass the torch to the next generation.

    After Roddenberry's departure, his hand-picked successor Berman continued at the reins, for his part mainly holding to Roddenberry's directives, but allowing DS9 and VGR to break out of the box because they dealt with main characters of mixed affiliations in remote settings and under unique pressures that made such deviations from "the vision" plausible and sensible. Later still, we got ENT, which elaborated on the early days of Starfleet (early being a relative term, as it was also indicated that SF had already been around for two decades prior to the time frame of the show) and the events that led to the founding of the UFP. Now, Abrams and his writers are at the helm and they obviously are walking a fine line between going their own direction and staying generally consistent with what's come before.

    You are of course right that I am to a degree speculating in interpreting the evidence, which is at times contradictory, and my conclusions are not the only possible or plausible ones. I said as much upthread and really, I thought that to be understood in the context of discussing a fictional TV/film franchise that someone comes along and to one extent or another remakes in his own image every decade or so. Any attempt to fit it all together requires some amount of conjecture.

    No, this thread was not started to ask or answer this question and the original poster said this explicitly in his initial post. Nevertheless, it obviously has become the dominant area of discussion, apparently because it's a topic that lends itself to philosophical rumination and to debate, at times provoking marked contention and circular argument, which seems to be where we are at this point.

    Anyone's supposition of what a character was going to say but didn't is of course pure speculation, but I suggest you revisit the film and reexamine its plot and theme to see if you really think the concerns of those characters were supposed to be seen as warranted, because when put in context of the story and the ultimate outcome, it's clear to me that they were not. Why you would view the alarmists and conspirators who are the villains in this film (or the jaded whelp who spews hostility toward SF in TWOK) as being more trustworthy than the respected protagonists of TNG and ENT, I do not understand.

    In any case, while recognizing that this constitutes a tu quoque, you are doing the same thing of which you are accusing others by ignoring the multiple statements made by Picard, Forrest, et al, that indicate SF is not a military organization. If you want to just dismiss them and say they were wrong, I think you need to offer some kind of evidence that comes from within and is supported by the relevant story.

    Saying Picard is an idealist is not good enough; he certainly is, but this alone does not mean we shouldn't believe him when he states a fact. (Besides, Kirk is an idealist too, or have you forgotten how every other episode of TOS featured him making a paternalistic speech about the morality of that week's antagonist or alien culture?) If Picard had been in denial of reality don't you think someone would have challenged him on his statements, like maybe the master military strategist he was talking to, or the lawyer whose very job it was to argue against him in court, no less? And how about Forrest, two hundred years earlier? Was just a crazy idealist too? And Hernandez? And now Scotty? They all directly or indirectly said SF was not military. That's how I "know" that.

    My speculation that Starfleet militarizes and demilitarizes as required by circumstance, or that its non-military status may rest on some technicality, legal or otherwise, to which characters of differing viewpoints attach varying levels of philosophical significance, contradicts no onscreen evidence of which I am aware, and is supported by a substantial amount of it. (I earnestly welcome being reminded of datapoints I have overlooked.) The idea that SF is military, full stop, period, move along home, may be supported by some evidence but is also contradicted by multiple statements on multiple shows from 1987 to today, and even (to a lesser extent) the TOS writer/director's guide. I disagree with the idea on that basis, acknowledging that mine are not necessarily the only alternatives.

    And phew, long post! Done now.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013
  15. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It WAS a strawman, because Catwright was OBJECTING to the dismantling of the fleet, which was never proposed in the first place.

    That's how the strawman argument works. When someone comes up with an idea you don't like, you construct an absurd version of that idea that's much easier to protest and argue against THAT instead. That's what Cartwright was doing, specifically because he doesn't like Klingons and thinks the Federation ought to be kicking the shit out of them instead of trying to make peace.

    And yet a man who is highly competent AND sincere probably isn't wrong.

    Cartwright was neither.

    ... is not a reference to Starfleet's founding principles. For all you know, Decker's referencing one of Starfleet's general orders on the response to extraordinary natural disasters or artificial hazards.

    As monkey already pointed out, so do NOAA and the JMSDF.

    No they don't.

    Actually, reviewing the progress of DS9 it seems to me that Starfleet got their asses kicked almost every time they had to rely on military tactics alone. They were, for example, unable to hold DS9 from a Dominion attack, unable to get more than a single ship to DS9 in time to stop them opening the wormhole, unable to defend Chin'toka from the Breen. They were facing overwhelming losses in almost every battle, in some engagements loosing hundreds of ships.

    But what about their victories?

    At Chin'toka, they overcame the Cardassian defenses -- that were, incidentally, tearing them apart -- by locating the power source for the entire network and using a technobabble deflector pulse to trick the defense satellites into targeting it. Despite loosing DS9 at the outbreak of the war, they were able to stop the flow of Dominion reinforcements using self-replicating mines that they had only just invented a couple of days earlier (and when THAT stopped working, Sisko called in a favor from a group of incorporeal aliens that were living in the wormhole). When the Klingons were unable to take out the Monac Shipyard, Worf and Martok use a technobabble energy pulse to trigger a solar flare that destroys the whole thing. When the Breen rolled out a new energy dampening weapon, Starfleet quickly devised a technical countermeasure and fitted it on all of their new ships. The conclusion of the war was ultimately brought about by offering the cure to the female changeling, a cure which was obtained in the first place through a telepathic adventure by Doctor Bashir and Chief O'Brian.

    Starfleet's battle record does not appear to contain a single victory that wasn't achieved through superior technology or ingenuity; even a hundred years earlier, we see Spock and McCoy hastily constructing a wake-homing sensor to shoot down Chang's ship instead of simply finding one in their arsenal that had been configured ahead of time. Starfleet relies so heavily on science that a galaxy class starship cannot shoot down a 40 year old Klingon bird of prey without using a technobabble energy pulse to first disable its shields.:vulcan:

    The pattern I see is that Starfleet isn't being sent to defend the Federation because they're a strong military force. They're being sent to defend the Federation because they can use science to solve ANY problem, military or otherwise.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013
  16. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    Two officers started to discuss exactly that before he objected. I don't know what else you want.

    Well in that case your opinion doesn't trump mine, and I think we are at an impasse.
     
  17. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I agree that there are other organisations that conduct themselves in a military type fashion like the coastguard and probably the 23rd Chapter of the StarTrek fanclub, Las Vegas division, the police, even the TrekBBS gives its members honorary ranks.

    However the difference between 'pretend' military organisations and real ones is that real ones have great big guns to back them up. If the Coast Guard or the 23rd Chapter used or had access to heavy or nuclear weapons then not only would I consider them military but would hope they would have a strict military structure under the control of the government.

    I thought they saluted in STID, maybe I'll just have to see it again. LOL.
    I know they didn't salute in TOS but Kirk dressed his people down just like they were in the military.

    I've had a tiny bit of experience working with the military in a civilian capacity. When in an office type situation everyone called each other by their first names not by rank - sort of like in Star Trek. That may not be the case universally though.
    And that scene in TUC where the waiter guy is setting the table, I've seen that take place in an officers mess a couple of times.

    There's military and military though. I don't think Spock or Troi or Janeway or Crusher for example would join an organisation whose sole purpose was to battle Klingons or Romulans. I believe Starfleet was like someone has mentioned before, like the time of Captain Cooks voyage. He had scientists and map makers aboard.

    In TOS they spent some of the time exploring, some of their time mapping the galaxy, some time supporting colonies and transferring grain/medical supplies, sometimes making first contacts and sometime making military patrols.

    They even had an episode where they played wargames.
     
  18. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    One officer brought it up as a loaded question to which the CinC was in the process of (very diplomatically) answering. I'll again remind you that the people running this briefing were Spock and the Commander in Chief; if decommissioning actual starships was even being considered, THEY would be the ones to mention it.

    Picard's opinion does.
     
  19. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    No offense to Jean-Luc, but Picard isn't the Pope. What about that excerpt Monkey posted earlier, from the original TOS writer's bible, that explicitly described the Enterprise as "a military vessel" with "semi-military" trappings?

    And, again, I'm not sure Kirk would necessarily agree with Picard on this point . . . .

    (Heck, Picard considered Kirk a "cowboy," so I'm not sure that makes him the final authority on all things Starfleet. Pike, in the new movies, seems to think that Starfleet could use a few more mavericks like Kirk.)
     
  20. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think 'Commander-in-Chief' pretty much says it all. :techman: