TP: Rough Beasts of Empire by DRGIII Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Thrawn, Dec 22, 2010.

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Rate Rough Beasts Of Empire

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  1. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Then can I assume you don't buy one of the premises of "The Event", where for 66 years a "secret society" that transcends the authority of the US government had been holding aliens in a mega-secret prison facility and only now a President stumbles across it and decides to undo the damage so to speak?

    Yes, Section 31 has been overused in that all the series ensembles know of it according to the crossover novel series. In fact, the Hidden Frontier movie Operation Beta Shield talks of Section 31 like everyone knows about it, but not even the UFP president himself can put a stop to its illegal activities.

    I'll certainly buy that the cloaking device Kirk stole in "The Enterprise Incident" was Section 31's template for the phasing cloak, but not that Section 31 ordered the mission. In Cloak, Kirk suspects that Cartwright had his own hidden agenda, but nothing more. But if Section 31 was willing to help Archer and company undermine the activities of Terra Prime, I doubt they were masterminds behind the Khitomer conspiracy.

    Rush does make a good point that the organization is de-centralized, so they couldn't be entirely weeded out in one fell swoop. The Bajoran Underground was able to walk amongst the general public for fifty years without being completely eradicated. And 31 has managed to stay in hiding for three centuries within a society more technologically advanced than that of the present day with their biggest secrets passed on from one generation to the next. But who is say they would remain as powerful and influential between the 25th century events of The Good That Men Do and the 31st century?
     
  2. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I actually agree, Chris.

    "Starfleet doesn't sneak around! It's immoral!"
    But Kirk and Spock snuck around in "The Enterprise Incident".
    "Section 31!"

    "Starfleet wouldn't conspire to assasinate people! It's immoral!"
    Cartwright did, in The Undiscovered Country.
    "Section 31!"

    "Starfleet wouldn't secretly do expiriments which break a treaty! It's immoral!"
    Admiral Pressmen did, in "The Pegasus".
    "Section 31!"

    And my all-time favorite:
    "Starfleet wouldn't forcibly relocate an entire people! The Federation Council would NEVER give such an order! It's immoral!"
    What about Insurrection?
    "Section 31!"

    I could take the others, to an extent...but when I read that "reveal" in Abyss...I gave a considerable mental groan and eye-roll.
     
  3. Bishop76

    Bishop76 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Out of curiosity, has there been a novel written yet where Section 31 was doing the right thing? It's always bothered me that they seem to exist only to be dastardly. As an ultra-secret organization concerned with the security of the Federation, shouldn't they have maybe done something right once or twice in their existence?
     
  4. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Novels...not to my knowledge--but sometimes, it depends on one's definition of "right". Still, I agree--for all the talk about the DS9 writers intending them to force fans to do some soul-searching, a la "In The Pale Moonlight"...they tend to be painted as clear-cut bad guys, and every time we almost have a legit debate in the novels--it gets shoved aside by our "heroes".

    As for episodes...well, they help out Archer and Co. in "Demons/Terra Prime". Other than that...well, I could defend other actions of theirs, but...little or nothing clear-cut "moral".
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Never seen that show, and as should be clear, I'm not a fan of conspiracy stories.


    But again, it's inconsistent to argue both that they're so decentralized and that they could somehow retain a continuous identity and influence for generations as their membership changes. If they're that decentralized, then what was left after the big "weeding out" would just be a few malcontents here and there, nothing big enough, organized enough, or influential enough to have any major influence on events. I can marginally buy Section 31 managing to infiltrate its way into positions of influence once, particularly during the Dominion War when Federation and Starfleet officials were desperate and willing to compromise their principles for expediency. But it must've taken time to build up such a network in secret. If their role as an active manipulator of the government and the military were exposed, if their agents in those organizations were weeded out, then those organizations and the public would be on the alert against them from then on, and it would be hard for the few lingering remnants to gain any influence. So even if there were still a few scattered S31 loyalists here and there, the organization would still be effectively gone as a relevant force in the Federation. And those few lingering fragments would probably just die out or change focus eventually.


    That's because the general public wanted them there. Study your history. Terrorist and dissident groups are only able to function within a society if they have the cooperation of the general populace. Lots of people know about them, even provide them with resources and shelter, but they choose not to reveal what they know to the authorities, because they agree with what the group is doing, or at least see them as a necessary evil.

    There is no way that the rank-and-file populace of the Federation would approve of Section 31, so they wouldn't give them succor or help them elude the authorities. It's simply not a viable analogy.

    That's the allegation. But the fact that something is asserted in fiction is not evidence that it's reasonable. The question is, how have they allegedly done that? Assertion isn't explanation.
     
  6. Bishop76

    Bishop76 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Yeah, I failed to use quotes around "right" in my last post. Obviously anything they do is questionable just by their very existence. I just would love to see someone write something where S31's actions aren't so rigidly defined as "bad" like they generally seem to be. I just don't see the entire organization being as completely morally bankrupt as they're consistently portrayed.

    Though I did forget about that little bit in Demons/TP.
     
  7. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

     
  8. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Although admittedly such a radically decentralized conspiracy could "mutate" easily. The Triads founded to oppose one Chinese dynasty or another became organized crime networks, for instance. There may be descendants of Section 31, somewhere, with very different aims.

    In he examples I mentioned earlier, the conspiracies survived only because they had broad support. In the case of the Organisation de l'Armée Sécrète, the OAS people were fighting to retain an Algeria that was an integral territory of France and home to more than a million French citizens, part of a broader effort to keep France relevant as a major power. In the case of the Turkish deep state, the belief that Ataturk's secularization and republican reforms saved Turkey from annihilation post-WW1--not indefensible, actually; separate issue--inspired generations of people working for the Turkish state to believe that whatever it took to keep the republic as it was was a justified act.
     
  9. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    The evidence seems to suggest that even at their peak Cardassians were only a small minority of the Bajoran planetary population (millions, versus billions).

    It also doesn't speak to Christopher's point: the Bajoran Resistance survived only because very large numbers of Bajorans were willing to cover for them. DS9 featured at least one instance when Resistance fighters were betrayed by a single person--Opaka, anyone? If Bajorans had been willing to tolerate their Cardassian protectorate, then the Resistance wouldn't have lasted.

    Section 31 just isn't in a comparable position.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    In the 22nd century, they seemed to be well-intentioned. But by the 24th century, they've been dedicated to preserving their own secrecy and impunity for so long that those have become their overriding priorities and national defense is simply their excuse. Remember, they're an illegal organization, answerable to no one, willing to do anything to conceal their existence or fulfill their agendas. Would you have trouble seeing the Mafia as morally bankrupt? S31, the 24th-century version, is more of a criminal cabal than a security agency.


    There is absolutely no basis for that hypothetical. It's like saying "If Robert Picard were in fact part of the 24th-century version of the French East India Company." It's a totally random suggestion.


    I don't know what episode you're referring to, but either way, it's not a valid analogy, because the existence of the Bajoran Resistance was not remotely secret. On the contrary, they asserted themselves quite publicly. Let's be clear: the issue on the table here is not about how long an organization can endure; it's about how long a secret can endure. What I'm saying is that the larger a secret is, the shorter its life expectancy as a secret. The more people that are involved, the more opportunities there are for the secret to be exposed. What's implausible, what's self-contradictory, is the premise that Section 31 could be a huge, powerful, pervasive organization for centuries yet still be unknown to the authorities and the public. Either they're big or they're secret -- it's not plausible for them to be both.


    Indeed, I'd argue that the S31 of the 24th century must be a largely different organization from the one operating in the 22nd. As I've said, the earlier organization seemed much more benevolent. The modern S31 essentially is an organized-crime network.

    But the postulate on the table is that S31 could be largely exposed and dismantled, but it would be decentralized enough that a few isolated cells would survive. It seems those cells would have to be fairly small and not have much influence. Whatever they evolved into, it would probably be something relatively petty on the interstellar scale. And Section 31 as a secret power within the Federation government and military would still have effectively ceased to exist, so what remained would no longer be relevant. (In the same way that there are still fringe groups within the American South that consider themselves loyal to the Confederacy, but that doesn't change the fact that the Confederate States of America no longer exists.)
     
  11. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    For the same reason any intelligence organization would continue to support a bad source: Pride. Refusal to admit mistakes.

    After all, the only person who knew that Koval had screwed Section 31 over with a bad list was Corwin. And Corwin wasn't very well about to admit that he'd been had to his superiors in Section 31.

    Oh, bullshit. If they were serious about helping the Klingons, they would have just had someone at United Earth Starfleet Command order the NX-01 to proceed to the Klingon border and have Phlox provide assistance.

    Which also has plenty of precedent in Romulan history. There is, again, no reason to think, from the POV of any non-Tzenkethi, that the Tzenkethi had a covert operation going on in Ki Baratan.

    That's my point -- the leaders of the Typhon Pact may well get together and decide to deliberately cultivate a close relationship like what the U.S. and U.K. enjoy in order to remove from their governments the very desire to spy on one-another.

    Same reason the Tholians waited until tensions between the Federation government and Andorian government were at their high point before revealing what they knew about the UFP's classified data: Because sometimes it's a better idea to wait until the opportune moment to reveal a trump card.

    Nope. I think it's a problem that can only ever be managed, not solved. It's not like the UFP can credibly claim that it's goal is not to unite the galaxy under the Federation banner; all they can reasonably do is try to not to be assholes until they can convince those critics to come around and join the party.

    Well, that's the good news: There aren't that many of them.

    The Romulan border is already heavily militarized and has been for two centuries. I don't think that new measures need to be taken there.

    There are large regions of unclaimed space between the Tholian Assembly, Breen Confederacy, Tzenkethi Coalition, and Federation. The only Member States I can find near a border with a Pact state are Pacifica and Cestus (though that's from looking up scans from Star Trek: Star Charts, since I can't find my copy right now). The rest seem to be minor, possibly uninhabited star systems, and starbases.

    I think that's getting into more detail than is reasonable for an Internet bulletin board discussion.

    That's going to depend on their own levels of resources, actually.

    Well, no, their express intent was to destroy the Federation. That included Humanity, obviously, but it also included Vulcanity and Andorianity and Tellaritity and Risianity and Coridanitity and Gnalishity and Sulamidity and Antedeanity and Alonisity and Benzitity and Bolianity and Damianity and Denobulanity and Efrosianity and Grazeritity and Hermatity and Huannity and Hortanity and Ktarianity and Nasatity and Ramatianity and Rigelianity and Saurianity and Trillity and Zaldanity and Zakdornity... ;)

    (Yes, I only brought that up so I could add "-ity" to all those Federation species. Yes, I'm a smart-ass. ;) )

    More seriously, the Borg were actively trying to exterminate, at the very least, the entire Federation, Klingon Empire, and Romulan Star Empire. That's why Lost Souls established that there was a 100-light-year dead zone around the Azure Nebula. So while it's fair to say that the Gorn, Tzenkethi, Breen, Tholians, and Kinshaya space escaped the brunt of the Borg Invasion, Romulan space did not, and NONE of their militaries escaped serious losses.

    One of the things I liked about the fact that Section 31 assassinated Min Zife was that it was completely understandable why they would do it. No, it wasn't the right thing to assassinate a Federation President -- but, by the same token, he had just gotten thousands of Federates Klingons and millions of Tezwans killed to cover up his criminal activities. It's clearly wrong, but it's also clearly motivated by a sense of right and wrong, and it wasn't an operation that directly benefited either Federation security or themselves.
     
  12. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    So 31's not "worse" than other intelligence agencies, as far as efficiency is concerned....

    Except neglect in that regart would make him a liability--and as far as 31 is concerned, a threat to the Federation. You sure Corwin was the only one aware of this?

    And their reasons were...?

    Well, time will tell if the UFP intel forces were up on this, then--i.e., if any agents were on Romulus, or Tzenkethi.

    Except they haven't formed such a friendship yet.

    I see. Good point on that...but it's often difficult to determine when the opportune moment is.

    "Try"?

    The Cardassians are pretty close to the Tholians and the Breen, however. Bajor also comes to mind. So...supplies to the Union, on defense and so on, could be construed as "imperialism" and "aggresive postures", could it not?

    Perhaps. And that actually leads me to my point: It's very relative. Which is why the Pact has a considerable ammount of leeway in determining what they can deem to be "aggresive"--thereby justifying buil-ups of their own.

    Which actually helps my point, as well: The Borg were selective in their quest, as far as the Alpha/Beta quadrant powers are concerned.

    You? Impossible.

    The RSE is merely one power. The fact that the vast majority of the Pact escaped the bunt of the attact nonetheless gives them something of an advantage.

    (whistle) Well! I seem to recall you not being so understanding when we discussed that issue--in fact, you used it as an example of why the Bureau should be abolished....
     
  13. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Small cells can grow, Chris. Over time, one can easily argue they'll be back to specs.
     
  14. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Who said that it was? All we're saying is that it's not as preternaturally capable and resilient as you suggest.

    But first among equals, as Rough Beasts of Empire pointed out, with a larger economy and population and more advanced technological base that could have transformed the pact into a Romulan-led coalition. Hence the Tzenkethi

     
  15. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Of course it is. Simply noting that legitimate agencies can fall prey to some of its vices as well does not mean that Section 31 is not worse. By way of analogy, Mafia bosses can drink too much, but that does not mean that they are not worse people than honest men who happen to be alcoholics.

    So what? Section 31 is an organization that operates without accountability. It doesn't have any mechanism for detecting when its own agents lie to it, nor does it have any process to deal with it. It's an organization that relies upon the assumption that everyone who joins is going to be honest and trustworthy and would never betray them or manipulate them. It is, in other words, inherently corrupt and unreliable.

    Yep.

    Section 31 in "Divergence"/"Affliction" justified allowing the Klingons to kidnap Phlox by claiming that it was in United Earth's interest for the Klingon Empire to remain stable.

    Which is silly -- if that's the case, why not just have United Earth do it in the open instead of allowing a foreign national to be kidnapped from Earth itself? (Which is to say nothing of what kinds of national security damage they could have done by allowing agents of the Klingon Empire to undermine planetary defenses.)

    Of course they haven't. That's why I said "may well decide" -- I'm describing one possible future option, not asserting that that option has been undertaken.

    Yes, try. After all, the Federation is not immune to political corruption and crimes against sentience -- witness Min Zife on Tezwa.

    Could, maybe, possibly, hypothetically, in theory, etc. Doesn't mean it would. Cardassia and Bajor are both far enough away from Ab-Tzenketh and Breen that it's not inevitable.

    Yep. Like I said, this is the sort of problem that can only be managed. But, again, it's also important not to assume that they will take the worst possible option.

    Depends on what you mean by "brunt of the attack." If the majority of the smaller powers' militaries were part of the expeditionary force at the Azure Nebula, then none of them can be said to have "escaped the brunt of the attack." Their civilian populations might be okay but their militaries might have suffered 40% losses just like Starfleet.

    It is a reason the bureau should be abolished! It was an absolutely horrific, unjustifiable act, completely corrupt and immoral.

    But that doesn't mean that it wasn't motivated by a sense of empathy, either. Section 31 was clearly furious at Zife for getting thousands of Federates killed -- given that they were getting ready to glass Tezwa, I doubt they cared that he'd gotten millions of Tezwans killed -- and decided to get revenge upon him for it.

    That doesn't make it right, and it doesn't make the organization not hopelessly corrupt. But it does mean that they aren't pure mustache-twirlers, either. They're people -- people who are doing things that are profoundly evil, but still people.

    Are you saying we should fight harder to abolish any small organization that professes loyalty to the Confederate States? ;)
     
  16. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Having agents on Romulus or Tzenkethi alone is one thing. Having them properly positioned to capture usable intelligence is another. And having them successfully transmit it back, yet another.

    But they're forming it: that's what the Typhon Pact is about. The various powers aren't resting their faith in blind belief in the good will of their partners, but rather on testable and verifiable results. Will this technology get shared? Will those trade goods be delivered? Will these maneuvers be coordinated? So far, it seems to be working out.

    The Borg seem to have prioritized--in the region of the Azure Nebula came the Federation first, then their Klingon allies, then the Romulans--but they weren't selective. Their end goal seems to have been to destroy all the independent civilizations, the ones to be included in the Typhon Pact, too, within reach of the Azure Nebula.
     
  17. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    That actually prompts an interesting question: When would the Borg have stopped? They apparently weren't bother to assimilate much of anything, be it people, ships, or planets, even when they were winning. They were just destroying everything in their path as they come across it, so they weren't discriminating and just attacking the Federation, but they had to stop at some point. Would they have targeted anyone that had that the Federation knew about and then just stopped and resumed their more leisurely pace of galactic assimilation once the last person who'd ever heard of Earth had been killed?
     
  18. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    As far as alcoholism is concerned, a comparison is warranted--not in other matters.

    In the same way, being prone to deception was the issue in which I was comparing them.

    As far as you know.

    Again--how do you know this?

    Picard and the others were not aware of this?

    If it's really so stupid--frankly, that is often an indication that there was something else going on. (Observe all the attempts by Trek authors to give more "reasonable" explanations for events than that which we saw on screen--which, as you know, was the purpose behind The Good That Men Do. Such authors make that same creative assumption.)

    Okay.

    Even Min Zife was not arrogant enough to behave in the "a--hole" maneer you describe, towards foreign powers.

    I was simply raising the possibility, as you did concerning the Typhon Pact leaders "getting together and deciding...", etc.

    Assume, no. Prepare for, yes. Getting caught with one's britches down is never a good idea--particularly in matters of politics.

    Noted. But what of the massacre of worlds like Deneva, Risa, etc?

    Well, if they were so infuriated by that, driving them to come out of the shadows and take that kind of risk with no benefit to them or (alleged) Federation security...perhaps they're not as "hopelessly corrupt" as you would believe.

    Cute.

    In all seriousness, those orginizations are hardly hidden, Sci. If they were to organize into a vast behind-the-scenes conspiracy...perhaps.
     
  19. rfmcdpei

    rfmcdpei Captain Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Admiral Ross was, but not Picard and Janeway so far as I know.

    Suggestions?

    The Borg never made it beyond Federation, Klingon, and Romulan space (and independent worlds in the area). The Romulan worlds outside of the dead zone--the large majority of pre-2381 settled Romulan worlds--and the entirety of the Typhon Pact was intact.

    Dealing with Min Zife's sins by killing everyone on Tezwa doesn't speak well of Section 31's methods, or its subtlety.

    ... eventually encountering failure given how much the South has changed in the century and a half since the end of the US Civil War.

    Basically, suggesting that Section 31 that persists for extended periods of time as a very active security agency that operates outside of regulation implies things about the Federation and Federation citizens, and the durability of conspiracies, et cetera, which don't fit with what we do know. The Federation is a democracy, with an active civil society with well-established freedoms of the press and so on, and reluctance to engage in the sorts of dirty intelligence operations. There are limits.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011
  20. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I write ST fan fiction with a group of others and we have differed from the books in several major ways, with a major plot in several stories being the war between Section 31 and its numerous pawns and counter-31 cabals, and TBH it quite often just devolves into screw ups on all sides. We have devised a plan to cut the head off the S31's snake which will come to fruition if we get that far ahead in our stories, but I for one am fed up of them in the stories we're writing. Like David Mack is writing the denouement of the MU saga, I would like to see someone write the denouement of Section 31.

    I agree that no secret organization can exist forever, and ordinary fiction is replete with examples of said organizations being ousted. An upcoming one is from Robert Ludlum's estate with his Covert One series. While the characters are trying to stop the latest biological atrocity from taking place, they're distracted by a Washington beltway group trying to discover the truth behind Covert One and destroy it, presumably in an effort to bring down the President, who is the only person that Covert One answer to.

    In this instance, Covert One is an agency comprised of individuals who do not know each other but each answer to the head of the agency who then answers to the President, though several operatives may work on the same mission from different angles. They're not out to protect themselves, but to protect the American people from biological warfare.

    I have no doubt that there are such groups out there, in addition to the alphabet soup of law enforcement agencies, because sometimes you need to fight dirty and if you have complete oversight you can't do that. But I'm not a conspiracy nut like Ludlum was in his later years, or like Clive Cussler seems to be in his books, with Dirk Pitt uncovering a single person at the head of a conspiracy in every novel.