Starship of the Federation President

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Dingo, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I said that Federation Member States are never referred to as sovereign. I did not say there is no evidence for the view of the Federation as an alliance; the latter implies the former but does not state it explicitly.

    No, she did not. She cited evidence for a different (albeit related) claim.

    This has been done in this thread, and it's been done countless times before on the BBS. But the most basic traits of statehood are possessing your own territory, possessing your own military, conducting foreign policy with other sovereign states, possessing your own constitution that enumerates and protects certain rights for all persons within your territory, and having a government capable of making binding statutory law. The Federation has been shown to possess all these traits.

    Actually, while the idea of democratic referenda allowing worlds to freely leave the Federation has appeared in several different novels, I'm not aware of any canonical reference to member worlds having the legal right to secede from the UFP. Please correct me if I'm forgetting such a reference.

    This really doesn't help either side of the debate, since federal sovereign states can also have a system where member polities have distinct laws and judicial systems. For instance, use and possession of marijuana is now perfectly legal in the State of Colorado, but remains illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and those caught using it will be put on trial under the laws and jurisdiction of Virginia.

    Again, possessing your own military is one of the defining traits of a sovereign state. Alliances don't get to have their own militaries; they may coordinate their members' military actions with the permission of their members' governments, but those militaries always remain separate and answerable first and foremost to their own government.

    What Starfleet does goes way beyond the kind of coordination we see in something like NATO. Starfleet is a single service -- period. Alliances don't get that.

    Says basic political science. No sovereign state would allow an alliance to usurp their authority like that. That's just reality. The Secretary-General of NATO wouldn't be allowed to declare a State of Emergency in New York City and land NATO-flagged German troops on the streets of Manhattan, for instance; it would be a direct attack on the authority of the United States government.

    I am not aware of and can find no reference to the United Nations ever declaring a State of Emergency, nor, having read the U.N. Charter some years back, do I recall any indication that the U.N. has the right to do so. A declaration of a State of Emergency is a specific legal declaration from a government that allows it to alter the normal functioning of the executive or other branches of government.

    Perhaps you're confusing a rhetorical device -- declaring that a specific situation is an emergency -- with the legal declaration of a State of Emergency.

    I take it you are referring to the Korean War, and specifically to United Nations Security Council Resolutions 83, 84, and 85.

    It is important to understand something about those resolutions: The U.N. itself did not intervene militarily in the Korean conflict. Rather, its Security Council adopted resolutions recommending that its member states intervene militarily and that they place their forces in Korea a unified command structure using the Flag of the United Nations with the U.S. in control of the United Nations Command.

    The Security Council was only capable of passing these resolutions because the Soviet Union, which of course had veto power over UNSC resolutions, was boycotting the UNSC at the time.

    It may seem like legalese, but it is actually a very important distinction. Recommending that its members intervene militarily in Korea under the direction of the United States forces in Korea, is a very different thing from, say, the Secretary-General directly raising a U.N. Army and ordering them in himself.

    A Star Trek equivalent would be if, for instance, the Federation Council requested all Federation Members to intervene militarily in the war against the Dominion and to place their forces in the Bajor Sector under the command of the Andorian Imperial Guard.

    Alliances cannot claim territory. It is that simple, and it is basic political science; territories are claimed by states, not alliances. If Picard is defending territorial boundaries, he would need to cite the name of the actual claimer of the territory.

    Picard and other Star Trek captains have never given any indication that they are holding a territory in the interest of an alliance; they have always directly named the Federation itself as claiming the territory. The one time we have seen a Starfleet captain holding a territory that was not claimed by the Federation.... it was Sisko and company on DS9, directly claiming the Wormhole in the name of Bajor rather than of the Bajoran-Federation alliance! (Meaning, again, they cited the claimer of the territory, the sovereign state that is Bajor.)

    To say, "They mean this territory is held by a sovereign state in an alliance with other sovereign states called the Federation" is to literally just be making stuff up to justify a pre-existing conclusion that violates the preponderance of evidence.

    Further note:

    We hear often of the alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. This also goes against the Federation-as-alliance hypothesis because alliances cannot conduct alliances! NATO cannot sign a peace treaty with Russia and then become an ally of Russia -- only the NATO members can do that. A alliance called the Federation could not conduct a peace treat with Qo'noS and then enter into an alliance with it -- only a sovereign Federation could do that.

    No, they cannot. To do so would be to usurp the legitimate powers and authorities of their member states, which would be viewed by those members as a threat to their sovereignty and national security.

    An alliance has no more authority to claim its members' territory as their own than does your Rotary Club have the authority to claim your house as its own.

    Alliances cannot confer citizenship. And while, say, NATO recognizes certain rights of individuals as a general principle (what with it being made up of liberal democracies), it can't confer those rights to me. And if I'm captured by North Korean troops and sentenced to death in a show trial in Pyongyang, it would be ludicrous for me to say, "I am a NATO citizen!" NATO does not have a constitution that enumerates and confers upon me specific individual rights -- only the sovereign state of which I am a citizen can do that.

    Nor do I. "Canon" means "the works of art other works of art are based on." Obviously the novels are not canonical, as they are based on the TV shows and films.

    But most of the books for the past 15 years have been better than the ST canon anyway, so who cares?
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Not the risk, but the fallout. The US could afford to lose four Presidents to crime without descending to chaos or tyranny, which is more than can be said of most nations but probably indicative of how things would play out in the UFP as well. Overreaction would have been the real danger and downside there - losing a few working years out of a maximum career of eight would hardly matter.

    Except to the late politician him/her/itself, of course. But if said politician insists on a private army for protection, saying "no" is probably only prudent.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. YARN

    YARN Fleet Captain

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    OK, you win. I concede.

    I would, however, suggest that it is plausible that the UFP really was an alliance in TOS, hardening into your de facto sovereign by TNG.
     
  4. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You are entirely correct in one thing: that DOES seem like an archaic and barbaric notion.

    It is never "good to know" that the President, or any politician for that matter, can be "taken out" by a "determined group of citizens". That's mob rule and anarchy. Everyone who holds office is entitled to the basic protections that the law allows. Nobody should ever be forced to be vulnerable to attack.

    There are already checks and balances in place to ensure that the President (whether it be ours or the Federation's) doesn't become a tyrant. That should be all we need. I mean, come on, as unpopular as some Presidents have been lately, nobody with any shred of human decency should ever want them to be assassinated. That's barbaric and inhuman.
     
  5. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Look up "intergalactic", then look up "interstellar". Then come back and use the right word.
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Isn't that rather the point, though? When those checks and balances do fail, things have already gone so far that death is likely to be too good for the President...

    How so? They are directly responsible for thousands of deaths - surely their own life has no real moral basis for being more sacrosanct than that of their victims. The real issue is whether the killers would arise from the ranks of those who factually benefited from the thousands of deaths, no doubt resulting in moral outrage of some sort, or from the ranks of those the Presidents wanted dead, resulting in a few shrugs.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Jaresh-Inyos line about having run for President doesn't automatically mean a General Election amongest the populance. It's just as feasible that the Federation Council elects the President from amongest it's members, but they first have to choose to run for the position.

    In a democracy you don't need to take the Head of Government out to enforce a change. In this year alone we have seen a revolution in the Ukraine were some of the populance caused the President to resign, because they were unhappy with the direction he was taking the country.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    And in many a case, violence against the leadership strengthens the position of the leadership, by giving at least some popular support to the harsh punitive measures that follow...

    That's the essence of democracy, really: it's no better than other types of governance in getting the right people to positions of power, but it's the only one with a built-in mechanism for getting the wrong ones out of such positions without the need for violence. If that mechanism fails, then it's really back to basics, and murdering of government officials is actually a significant pro-democracy move: "See, rotation of people in political positions is the only thing we want, and now you have taken from us all but this one way to accomplish it!".

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    well to quote Churchill

    "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time"
     
  10. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Two clear and unambiguous lines of dialog.

    Because people never in fact run for the president of councils, where the decision between multiple candidates is made by other council members voting? City councils do this all the time.

    Nothing in the terminology Jaresh-Inyo used precludes this.

    Earth is the only world in the Federation to have a state of emergency declared on it, and it's the world that holds the council.

    From 1775 through 1785 there existed the Continental Navy, this military force was collectively possessed by the (then) thirteen separate countries that formed the united States of America.

    Multiple nations, joined in an alliance, with a single Navy.

    That one's easy.

    The Undiscovered Country, where the Planet Vulcan instructed the Federation Council to opened a dialogue and negotiate with the Klingon High Council.

    Another would be Journey to Babel where the Federation Members made the decision as to whether a new Member would be added to the Federation. The decision wasn't made by the Council.

    That how Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.

    Murder most foul to be sure, but who can deny that India was better off without her "guidance."


    :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
  11. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    And I would grant that to you if it weren't for the possession of a single Federation military plus all the other traits of statehood possessed by the Federation.

    Any one of these traits might not be determinative of statehood. But when all of them combine, the preponderance of evidence just doesn't support the idea of Federation-as-alliance.

    This is never stated in the film.

    This one I'll concede; it's pretty obvious that Sarek is taking instructions from the Vulcan government, not the Federation government. But the episode also seems to be saying that Coridan's admission is causing a constitutional crisis, what with the reference to delegates being at each other's throats and with the conflicting economic interests the Tellarites have in continuing to exploit the Coridanites vs. the Vulcans' desire to see Coridanite wealth administered for the general welfare under UFP law.

    The Babel conference in "Journey to Babel" seems to have been an example of the Ministerial Conferences that Enterprise: Rise of the Federation establishes to have been one of the organs of Federation governance early in its history. These conferences seem to have disappeared as an instrument of UFP governance by the 24th century, however.

    Re: the idea that it's good for your head of government to be vulnerable to assassination.

    I really don't see how democracy can function if no one who runs for office can be confident that they and their loved ones won't be subject to murder if they make a decision someone doesn't like.
     
  12. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    To carry this ball further... During this time period and after, the US Constitution was crafted to limit the concept of a standing army. The government could not, constitutionally, form a standing army for longer than two years and was not able to appropriate money for army use. The idea of a standing army was a source of constitutional debate.

    The original intent of the United States, as envisioned by the founders between 1775 and 1787 was for a collection of independent states that formed a united alliance. The central government was intended to be weaker than the individual state governments. When the constitution was created in 1787, the power shifted more toward a stronger central or federal government.

    The tension between federal and state power grew until the 1850s and 1860s when a tipping point was reached. Between December 1860 and April 1861, 11 states seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. Their goal was to form a governmental structure that more closely matched what they felt the founders intended - a weak federal government with stronger state governments. A state's law would supersede any law the federal government would pass. 2 states, Kentucky and Missouri, declared neutrality in the American Civil War. The fact that these states could declare neutrality in a civil war further illustrates that the United States at this time was viewed and operated under the concept of smaller, independent governments banned together in a common union.

    By the end of the Civil War in 1865, any notions of independent states or that the states had more authority than the federal government were done away with. The United States changed from a collection of states into one body, one federal organized government. Before the Civil War the United States was referred to as a plural. "The United States are doing this or that..." After the Civil War, the United States became a singular. "The United States is doing this or that..." This is reflected in documents and newspaper reports from before and after the war.

    When the United States was formed it was governed by the Articles of Confederation (proposed in 1776, agreed upon by Congress in 1777 and enacted 1781). Between 1718 and 1787, 8 men served as president of the United States, all appointed by Congress, not elected by the people.

    Jefferson Davis was the first and only president of the Confederate States of America established in 1861. The CSA constitution, modeled after the US Constitution, allowed for a president to be elected by popular vote.

    So, it's possible to have a federal government that views and treats it's individual member states as superior or more powerful than the whole. It's possible for such a federal government to have a president. That president can either be appointed by congress or elected in a popular election of the people.

    It's also possible that, in 100 years or so, such a loose confederation of independent states can transform into a unified body where the federal government is more powerful than the member states. Perhaps the Federation of Kirk's days worked much differently than the Federation of Picard's days.
     
  13. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Which brings me back to an earlier point the EU might be a better example to use. It started out as a trade alliance before becomming more of a political alliance. The questions is will it become a Federation of States?
     
  14. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That does not follow.

    All life is sacred. All life must be protected. All human beings must be given due process at all times. The simple fact is, nobody deserves to be killed - not ever.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    But by such token, the job of President cannot even exist, as it so regularly involves taking lives.

    No culture known to history has categorically condemned the taking of life against the victim's will. No culture believes or has believed in the sanctity of human life, not in the level of legislation, nor in the level of customs and mores. Individuals may follow such ideals, sometimes even when challenged, but nobody has managed to build a society on such.

    And other individuals may see killing the President as a necessary step in preserving lives, overcoming their sanctity beliefs this once for the greater good. But if the President believes his/her/its own death should be wrong on some fundamental level relating to the sanctity of life, then he/she/it is not entitled to take lethal measures to protect his/her/its life, either... Which means the measures taken will be ineffective for the most part. If the President OTOH believes he/she/it should not die violently simply because Presidents shouldn't, then there's a reason to kill the bastard already...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Hmmm, and if the EU basically "falls apart" will it still be a good example of the Federation?

    :)
     
  17. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    But the EU isn't a Federation. Some might like it to be, but at the moment it isn't. At the moment it's a collection of Nation States who have an ecomic allinace, A monetary alliance (in parts), Laws passed by the EU Parliament supercede national laws. But as a comparrison against say the UFP which is an alliance of planets, surely the EU as an allaince of Nations is a reasonable analogy.

    But this forum or more accurately this thread is not the place for a debate on the relative pro and cons of the EU.
     
  18. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    And there are sovereign states today that do not maintain a standing army -- the Republic of Costa Rica, for instance. This doesn't mean that possession of a military is not a trait of statehood.

    Well, that was the intent behind the Articles of Confederation. But it's important to remember that the "Founding Fathers" were not a politically united group with a common agenda. Some wanted the newly-independent states to be a single sovereign state; some others even wanted to sunder the Articles and have them be completely independent, with no alliance whatsoever.

    Yes -- because they discovered that trying to give state-like authorities to an alliance ultimately doesn't work. Either the alliance will evolve into a sovereign state -- which is what happened to the American Confederation with the adoption of the Constitution -- or it will collapse.

    Revisionist nonsense. Those same southern states, when they had control of the federal government, were perfectly willing to come down hard on the side of federal power instead of states rights when it was a case of free states trying to resist enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act, or to grant freedom to slaves who stepped foot in free state soil. The armed raids Southern slavers led into free state territory puts lie to the notion that they actually believed in states' rights.

    And those same state leaders, upon seceding from the Union, literally issued declarations of the causes of secession, explicitly saying that they seceded from the union because of their belief that the new Lincoln administration was a threat to the institution of slavery. Hell, the Confederate States Vice President gave a big speech about how white supremacy and black slavery were the cornerstones of Confederate society.

    The South did not secede because of "states' rights." It seceded because its governments were controlled by slave lords who profited from the forced labor of a third of the South's population.

    No, it proves that there was a civil war going on and that some state governments tried to avoid taking a side.

    1718? I hope you mean 1778.

    And, no, nobody served as President of the United States between 1778 and 1787. Those men were serving as President of the United States in Congress Assembled. "The United States in Congress Assembled" being the full formal name of the Congress under the Articles of Confederation.

    In other words -- these men were serving as Presidents of the Congress. They were the Congress's presiding officers, the equivalent of our modern Speaker of the House or President Pro Tempore of the Senate. They were not the Presidents of the United States of America, and they were not the heads of state or government. No such office exist; they were just the presiding officers of the legislature.

    Don't be absurd. Jefferson Davis wasn't elected by popular vote, because one-third of the Confederacy's population (the one-third held in chains) was not allowed to vote.

    (ETA #2: And that is to say nothing of the fact that fully half of both the Confederate States's and the United States's populations were not allowed to vote, being women. Neither government was an actual democracy in the 1860s; both were explicitly built on an anti-democratic patriarchy, and the Confederate States was explicitly built on an anti-democratic white supremacy. End edit #2.)

    If you're looking for an example of a President who serves as both head of state and head of government but who is elected by the legislature rather than by popular vote, your best bet would be to look at the post-Apartheid Republic of South Africa. The President of the Republic of South Africa, starting with Nelson Mandela, definitely serves as both head of state and head of government, but is elected by the National Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament. However, in citing South Africa's example, it is important to understand that this is a historical anomaly arising from the modern presidency having evolved out of the office of prime minister during the Apartheid era.

    I think the European Union is a good example in cultural terms, but not in political terms. Partially this is because I think the E.U. is going through a protracted crisis as a result of it and its peoples not being willing to decide if it should be a sovereign state or a mere alliance. They have delegated to it some of the powers of a sovereign state and undermined their own nations' sovereignties in the process -- and this has led to a huge democratic deficit. To wit:

    Greece being unable to meet its debts by devaluing its currency and just biting the bullet and printing more money before then building its economy back up, because they don't have control of their own monetary policy. This has resulted in the regional hegemon, Germany, being able to essentially dictate policy to the Greek government if they want to continue to have access to E.U. loans -- violating the democratic will of the Greek people and forcing the Greek government to essentially make policy with a German gun to its head.

    So you have an institution with very little democratic input in its own constitutional arrangements, dictating policy in violation of the democratic will of one of its constituent polities, when that constituent polity has nominally not surrendered its sovereignty. It's a anti-democratic nightmare.

    This whole problem could have been avoided if the E.U. were either clearly an alliance to whom sovereign powers had not been delegated -- allowing Greece to devalue its currency and start paying off its debts -- or if the E.U. were clearly its own sovereign state with its own democratic legislature and executive -- giving Greece and other E.U. polities in similar situations access to the full resources of the E.U. the same way Mississippi has access to the full resources of the United States.

    So, no, I don't think the E.U. has it currently stands is a good model. Not only are the most powerful E.U. institutions themselves unelected, but the E.U. is essentially acting right now to subvert the democratic process in its member states. It's become a tool of German hegemony rather than an embodiment of European unity.

    (ETA: I hasten to add that I am not "anti-Europe" per se. Rather, I am anti-current E.U. arrangement. I would tend to prefer to see the E.U. evolve into its own sovereign, democratic, federal state, with its own elected Parliament, its own elected President, its own elected Prime Minister, its own Supreme Court, its own Constitution, its own military, etc.)
     
  19. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    However, this sounds like the perfect description of Klingon politics. Or Mirror Earth.
     
  20. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I point out previously that city councils elect their own presidents.

    A larger scale precedent of how the Federation Council would elect Jaresh-Inyo as their presiding officer would be the example of President of the Continental Congress, he was the presiding officer of the Continental Congress, a member of Congress elected by the other delegates to serve as the moderator during meetings of Congress.

    (Imagine that, the President being elected by the members of the body he presided over)

    The Continental Congress met from 1774 to 1789, first with the representatives of the thirteen colonies, later representatives of the thirteen separate nations.

    Fourteen men served as the President of Congress.

    :)
     

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