Scotty and his military comment

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies: Kelvin Universe' started by Charles Phipps, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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  2. LobsterAfternoon

    LobsterAfternoon Commander Red Shirt

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  3. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ah yes, the inevitable "You only think Starfleet isn't a military because you think militaries are evil" canard. If and when I ever find someone to whom that claim applies, I'll be sure to ask them what THEY think Starfleet is.

    OTOH, I could ask the reverse question of you: why do you love the military so much that you are hostile to anyone OTHER than the military being the heroes?

    Read all of the following before commenting, because it is a single point:

    He was not wrong on the fact that Starfleet is not a military organization. Primarily this is because "military" is as much a legal definition as an organizational one; the military is empowered by law to engage in combat operations sanctioned by the state either by direct legislative action, pre-existing treaty obligation, or by executive order (depending on the constitution of the state in question). This, in the context of international law, defines the difference between authorized uniformed combatants and unlawful irregular combatants; the former act on the authority of the government they are sworn to, the latter act on their own behalf and would be considered terrorists and/or criminals.

    Those legal definitions are a relatively recent innovation in human history and would serve to outlaw or otherwise severely restrict things like mercenaries, privateers, letters of marque and other little tricks that governments have historically used to menace their enemies with violence. Current legal conventions aside, it is not and has never been the exclusive province of "the military" to fight wars and defend the homeland, and there's nothing much to suggest that will be the case in the future.

    Having a permanent standing military solves certain problems in the context of Cold War tensions and the current paradigm of military technology. That context is an anachronism in Star Trek's future and hasn't been applicable for centuries. They are, evidently, operating on a paradigm where a permanent military organization is equally anachronistic and politically untenable for reasons WE do not fully understand (not that we can't guess), and that is simply the future we have depicted.

    Apples to oranges; if "next door" is on a ship at sea, then it applies.

    Mine too. That's the way I've always depicted it in fanfiction or short stories: normally Starfleet is administered by the science council, but in wartime the Federation government invokes part of the Federation charter that places Starfleet under the command of the Defense Council.

    As I said before, the specific reason is probably that starships and space stations are very expensive and a large exploration fleet is easier to justify politically and economically than a large military fleet; the exploration fleet has a way of paying for itself during peace time while at the same time being large enough and powerful enough to be effective in war time. More to the point, clearly the Federation is not immune to jingoism, and a permanent military organization would only provide fertile ground for the more hawkish figures in Federation culture to push their agenda.


    First of all, WHAT scientific nature of space? Space is no more "scientific" than the ocean or the air, but we don't have science officers as command-level positions on nuclear submarines do we?

    Second of all, if this were true we would expect to see science officers on the bridge of Romulan, Klingon, Cardassian and Jem'hadar ships as well. The fact is we do not, and on a few occasions we have seen that those services are entirely unfamiliar with the benefits of HAVING a science officer on board. Starfleet is unique for using trickery and innovation to win its battles, especially in situations where firepower alone is insufficient. One of the reasons for this is that Starfleet prefers to win its battles WITHOUT killing their opponents, something that is much more difficult to do than simply blowing their collective heads off with precision gunfire.

    He said humans no longer practiced SUPERSTITIONS. Not exactly the same thing.;)

    I again repeat that it is not ignorance to depict a non-military organization AS a non-military organization. Even less so in the context of depiction of the MACOs, who make Starfleet security look like a boy scout troop and are clearly intended to be a purely military organization in ways that Starfleet never was and never would be again.

    That alone is pretty indicative of what is going on. Starfleet COULD have been depicted as a military organization if someone had wanted to do so (as Nicholas Meyer basically did in TUC). But most trek writers and almost all of its producers have had a different vision in mind for what it is and how it operates.

    Put simply: if the show runners had intended Stafleet to be a military, they wouldn't have included the MACOs; they wouldn't have NEEDED the MACOs; there wouldn't even be a difference between the MACOs and the security teams they already had. The goal of that separate organization was perfectly met: "Starfleet may be tough, but they aint the military."
     
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  4. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    In "We'll Always Have Paris", there was a door sign which read, "Tursiops Crew Facility". Tursiops are commonly called bottlenose dolphins. According to the ST: TNG Manual, dolphins are used as navigators on Galaxy-class starships.
     
  5. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    Did that line make it off the page and onto screen ? I can't remember hearing it.

    Your contention that the presence of civilians make Starfleet officers not military personal is unfounded and ridiculous, and that was my point. What does the presence of civilians have to do with the status of non-civilians and their organisation ?

    Yes, the Enterprise-D has families on board because of the very long nature of its exploration mission. It's also tasked with protecting the assets of the Federation, and to that effect it can send the civilians away in the saucer section when about to engage in battle.

    I seriously don't see why you can't understand that.
     
  6. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

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    It's in the episode but it's really a throwaway line - just some words for Geordi to say as he's steering the Ferengi out of frame and out of the scene.
     
  7. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The presence of civilians ON STARSHIPS does. Especially since these are not civilians attached in a working capacity or as part of a mission requirement (e.g. scientists, reporters, advisors, etc) but are in fact the spouses and children of officers and/or civilians attached to that ship. This for the Enteprise-D, arguably the largest and most powerful starship in the entire fleet, a ship which is regularly assigned to combat missions or missions which potentially carry a very high risk of combat.

    Nor am I claiming that THAT ALONE makes them a non-military organization. Picard's explicit statement does that for me; the fact that the most powerful ship in the fleet carries non-combatants as a matter of course is just the clearest example of the mindset behind that statement.

    Enterprise-D never gets far enough from Federation space for this explanation to be even REMOTELY true. In TNG's first season the Enterprise visits two different starbases and even manages a trip to Earth; throughout its seven years in service, in fact, the Enterprise-D is not more than a few days travel from a starbase or a few weeks' travel from Earth.

    Which reflects the nature of the organization itself: the ship is designed so that it can be rapidly converted into a combat vessel when the need arises, in much the same way a civilian can be trained to drop whatever he's doing, go grab a weapon and report for duty.

    Which, in essence, means that Starfleet is an exploration service that doesn't mind being conscripted. They bring their families along because exploration is their MAIN role; they separate the saucer because combat is an emergency role.
     
  8. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    No, I disagree, quite simply. For the reasons I've already stated. Unless you can make your case better, I find that unconvincing.

    Yeah, blame that on writers making the ship go at the speed of plot. But that was the implication from the pilot, and the "continuing mission".

    Yes. Starfleet is military AND science AND exploration AND relief. Remember that the secondary command center is called the "battle bridge".
     
  9. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    You know, nebulas, wormholes, space anomalies, the occasional time travel incident, and so on.

    But we have seen Klingon science officers. Kang's wife was science officer and XO of his ship. In DS9's Soldiers of the Empire when Dax was serving on Martok's ship, she was assigned to the bridge's science station. Also, in TNG's Redemption Part 2 and DS9's Shadows and Symbols we see Klingons win their battles with scientific solutions. Romulans have science ships which do belong to their military (the crew wears military uniforms).

    I'm not convinced of that. Roddenberry had a "vision" for what Starfleet is and how it operates, but everyone else is just following his edict that Starfleet isn't a military. I do believe they are doing this out of some belief that it has to be done rather than a desire to show Starfleet as non-military. After all, everyone hated the rules imposed by Roddenberry in TNG that there should be no interpersonal conflict among Starfleet officers, and that's adhered to to such an extent that it takes a prequel and a reboot to bring back interpersonal conflict among Starfleet officers. Therefore it's possible that claiming Starfleet isn't a military is just another thing which some folks along the way realized is wrong, but are forced to go along with simply because it's one of Roddenberry's rules and it would appear that even after a reboot it still applies.
     
  10. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And to the extent that any one of those roles could be considered primary, "military" isn't it. It's like saying that a high school teacher is actually a highly versatile janitor because the school requires him to mop the floor of his classroom every day.
     
  11. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And oceans have hurricanes, tidal waves, coral reefs, underwater volcanoes, various species of fish and animals. None of which are particularly "scientific" although they are of great interest to scientists.

    So how many marine biologists are normally assigned to an Ohio class submarine?

    It's not uncertain whether or not Mara was the first officer on that ship, and whether or not she got that position in the first place because she was science officer or simply by virtue of being Kang's wife.

    Interestingly, Mara expresses her fear that the Federation "will torture us for our scientific and military information" which leads us to wonder what Klingon "science" actually is.

    So does the U.S. Navy. In fact it is the military nature of naval vessels that necessitates dedicated science platforms in the first place.

    Were the U.S. Navy to be in any way similar to Starfleet, they would effectively have to outfit ALL of their submarines with equipment similar to Rickover's NR-1 and perform deep water exploration tasks as part of a standard patrol.

    He didn't exactly give an "edict." But if you're being honest with yourself it's clear to see that Starfleet is -- and has always been -- too soft and too touchy-feely for the military interpretation to stick. This is one of the reasons why fans at the time found TWOK and TUC so jarring: Nicholas Meyer DID want to portray Starfleet as a military organization, and his interpretation showed us a different type of organization than we have ever seen before or since. Meyers starfleet uses military terms, military practices, military discipline -- not just the sometimes pretense of it -- and implies their scientific mission to be an important but secondary aspect of their broader mission role.

    If Trek had stuck with Meyers' version, we wouldn't be having this conversation at all; TNG and onwards would have looked like a less gritty version of Battlestar Galactica (or a flashier version of Stargate SG-1). But that's not what happened, and no attempt was made to revive Meyers' "Hornblower in space" interpretation.

    And it's just as possible -- especially since Rodenberry has been dead for over two decades -- that they actually AGREED with it and saw no reason to change it.

    After all, think about what you're implying here. Do you honestly believe that JJ Abrams has THAT much respect for Gene Rodenberry's vision? After all the other changes, everything that's been chucked in the dustbin, all the crazy shit that's been happening in the last two movies, why would Abrams of all people choose to preserve THAT aspect of Starfleet if he didn't really want to?

    It's much more likely that the TPTB simply do not feel the same way you do about the military and do not have any pressing need to militarize their protagonists. Broadly speaking, from a writer's perspective it's simply easier NOT to, since in a non-military organization you don't actually have to know anything about real-world military practices and write the story however you like.
     
  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Or it could just be that TPTB are savvy enough to realize that a certain segment of the fan base is very invested in the idea that Starfleet isn't military, damnit, and don't feel an urgent need to reopen that particular can of worms.

    So, fine, pay lip service to the idea that Starfleet is a "peacekeeping armada" or whatever--and keep on writing Starfleet as the semi-military, semi-scientific, semi-diplomatic outfit it was back in TOS.

    (How exactly it was portrayed on TNG is, arguably, a different topic--which isn't really relevant where the new movies are concerned, since they're based on TOS more than the later shows.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2013
  13. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed.

    But even in the later shows, Starfleet carries out military missions all the time. Would we send NOAA out to stand toe-to-toe with a Russian nuclear submarine, as we've seen the Enterprise do several times with the Romulan warbirds during TNG? Twice in the first season when Roddenberry was running the show.

    I know some people are really invested in the idea that Starfleet isn't the military of the UFP. But the proof is in the pudding.
     
  14. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Heh. This entire debate reminds me of something Mimi Panitch wrote at least a decade ago, that being a Star Trek editor was like being the Pope during a period of extreme doctrinal dispute. Everybody interprets the sacred texts slightly differently--and are convinced that all other interpretations are heresy. :)
     
  15. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure that I see it quite that way. If someone could offer a single shred of evidence that there was another military body in the 23rd/24th century I'd be glad to state that Starfleet is not the military arm of the UFP.

    But minus that evidence and with all the times we see Starfleet carrying out not just military missions, but full-scale wars on behalf of the UFP, I just have a hard time saying that it is not the military.

    But, YMMV. :techman:
     
  16. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    We would if NOAA had effective ASW weapons and the expertise to use them. That's effectively what Starfleet vessels are: take a research vessel, add a pair of torpedo launchers and a couple of dual-purpose guns. If you then modify the ship's mapping sonar to be used as an ASW system, you have an armed research vessel capable of facing down a nuclear submarine.

    In terms of operating procedures and mission roles, the most important difference between NOAA and Starfleet is that NOAA doesn't have weapons. When you remove that difference, there's not much left.

    As I've said many times, the ability to fight in a war is not the defining characteristic of a military organization. The legal mandate that said organization EXISTS to fight wars, is.

    If modern weapons were as widely available and inexpensive to obtain as Trek-style weapons appear to be, we'd probably be back to the paradigm of the 17th century where it was possible to fight entire wars using only privateers.
     
  17. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    TOS Starfleet is clearly military and I believe intended to be. Kirk of course considers himself a soldier, everyone behaves in a militaristic manner. Hell, Kirk's backstory in behind the scenes material said he served on destroyers and frigates, and it's even rumoured Roddenberry originally considered having Marines assigned to the Enterprise. What we saw in TWOK and TUC is very consistent with Starfleet of TOS. The Abrams movies seem to be making Starfleet more in line with what was depicted from TNG onward.
     
  18. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Oh, I largely agree with you on the military thing. I was just commenting on Trekkish doctrinal disputes in general.

    This is, what, page 11 of this thread?
     
  19. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    I disagree, as you well know. Just stating that it isn't something over and over won't convince anyone. I think we've milked this subject for all it's worth, until someone can bring a new argument or evidence to the table.
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Quite a few fans at the time didn't think so; the reaction was quite mixed, and in some ways almost as hostile as the reaction to Abrams trek.

    OTOH, the depiction in TMP is much closer to TOS than any of the sequels, and what we're seeing there doesn't appear to be a military organization either (especially in contrast to TWOK and TUC).

    Actually, they seem more in line with what was seen in Balance of Terror and Corbomite Maneuver; the former of which begins with the Captain presiding over a marriage between two of his officers, effectively blowing traditional military bans on fraternization completely out of the water.

    Corbomite Maneuver has this from Kirk: "What's the mission of this vessel, Doctor? To seek out and contact alien life, and an opportunity to demonstrate what our high-sounding words mean. Any questions?"

    At any rate, you're attempting to demonstrate that JJ Abrams is holding Gene Rodenberry in such high regard that he's going out of his way to depict Starfleet as a non-military organization against an overwhelming volume of evidence to the contrary. I find that to be a very curious thing to claim.