A Private Little War - What was the right decision?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Charles Phipps, May 12, 2022.

  1. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It’s interesting how present day geopolitical structure can certainly change the interpretation of an event. Taken as a metaphor for Vietnam at the time period, Kirk’s actions were something the audience was meant to have ambivalent feelings about. By the time the plot was meant to be revisited in “Too Short A Season”, the TNG staff looked at the actions of Kirk with disgust and considered it akin to Iran-Contra and something that made a mockery of the ideals of the Federation.

    Now? Well, I won't comment on present day geopolitics but right now a smaller country is being armed by a bunch of other ones to repulse an invasion and I doubt it will be considered the same.

    So, what was the RIGHT decision?

    If any?
     
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  2. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think there's any question that, in the context of the situation as it was in the episode, Kirk made the right decision. It was either that or let the benevolent Hill People be wiped out and allow the planet to be absorbed by the Klingon Empire.

    However, the situation as it was in the episode doesn't work as a metaphor for the Vietnam War. Metaphorically, the episode aligns with typical western propaganda, but it does not account for how the nation was partitioned to begin with, for the role that multiple foreign powers played in setting the stage for the war (during the periods before, during, and after World War II), for the undemocratic and corrupt nature of the government "we" were backing which therefore did not represent the will of the people. And that's just for starters.

    The point is, although Kirk's decision was right for the episode, it doesn't translate into the correct decision relating to the Vietnam War.
     
  3. Trekker09

    Trekker09 Captain Captain

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    That episode had some great drama, but yeah, the end was disappointing--one of the few that seemed to condone involvement with the Viet Nam war. However it was outnumbered by the episodes that showed hope for peaceful resolutions-- Day of the Dove, Omega Glory, Taste of Armageddon, Patterns of Force, Friday’s Child, Spectre of the gun, Mirror, Mirror, etc.
     
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  4. Foxhot

    Foxhot Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There was no right decision.

    It's not the only sad ending to a TOS episode, though as the sadness may spread across the entire planet, the ending music is uniquely melancholy.
     
  5. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Screenwriter | Award-Winning Journalist Premium Member

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    Which was the entire point.
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There was no ideal answer.
     
  7. Jedi Marso

    Jedi Marso Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Sometimes there is no good solution, so you go with the lesser of the evil choices presented.
     
  8. dupersuper

    dupersuper Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Scan for Klingons on the planet and beam them to the brig? Set up a multi-ship perimeter around the planet to keep them away? Even then the tech they gave them is still there: the cat's out of the bag.
     
  9. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That would have violated the treaty with the Klingons, potentially leading to interstellar war. It's a very Cold War-type situation.
     
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  10. Foxhot

    Foxhot Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And it gives us the finest single Kirk/McCoy clash ever with memorable oomph.
     
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  11. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There was no right decision but I would now still say Kirk shouldn't have done the arming and doing it was, and something like that was, and at least generally is, making a bad situation worse.
     
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  12. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    How do you save the Hill People? How do you keep the planet from falling into Klingon hands?
     
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  13. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Neither tribe has dominion over the whole planet. Are the Klingons arming tribes all over?
     
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  14. GNDN18

    GNDN18 270 Rear Admiral

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    The aptly named “Captain Playoff No. 3 (Sad and Alone)” by Alexander Courage. It was a second season library cue used only once. It truly sums up the ambiguity of the end of that episode.
     
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  15. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Dealing with a planet in only a small area, the "city-sized planet" shall we say, is a problem many episodes have, to varying degrees. In any case....

    The Klingon Krell promises the villager Apella he can rule the whole planet. Assuming he's telling Apella the truth (granted, a big if), then the Klingons intend to subjugate the entire planet within a single generation.

    Assuming that the "treaty" mentioned is the same one that Chekov describes in "The Trouble with Tribbles" (a fair assumption, but not necessarily so), then it's still the Organian Peace Treaty, under which, for one side to hold claim to a disputed planet, they most prove they "can develop the planet most efficiently." So, if that holds, the Klingon plan is likely a planet-wide affair.
     
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  16. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    "Too Short a Season" basically said that they should have just left the situation alone as it was written with the idea of William Shatner revisiting "A Private War." However, I should point out that I was never convinced by "Too Short A Season"'s argument that the planet falling under the dominion of the show's villain was a "lesser" evil. It seemed that it fell into decades of civil war because the villain's side was a bunch of conquest minded terrorists and people resisted them tooth and nail.

    They just lost.
     
  17. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    One could say the Hill folks are the Ukrainians and to phaser the Klingons and their stooges into dust but that’s one answer…
     
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  18. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The best Vietnam parallel about the whole thing is that Neural probably would have been better off if both powers had avoided the place.
     
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  19. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    The Federation’s approach to Neural was essentially hands-off as recommended by a younger Kirk when the planet was first surveyed. The Klingon’s approach was hands-on interference to eventually subjugate the entire planet. Their intent was to make it look like one faction of the inhabitants had developed superior weaponry and chose to eliminate the other faction. It’s quite likely the Klingons could have used this ploy all over the planet setting the inhabitants against each before they eventually stepped in openly to “pacify” the entire planet.

    It was pure chance the Enterprise was there to catch the Klingons in the act. Perhaps the most measured approach would have been to either challenge the Klingons openly or sneak away and alert the Federation, and the Organians, about the Klingons’ actions and let the higher ups sort it out.

    Everyone is assuming the arms race would continue, but that might not necessarily be so. The Klingons would quickly realize the Federation was on to them—so would the Klingons continue with the plan after being busted?

    Whats interesting is the Organians stepped in to stop an interstellar war between the Federation and the Empire, but they seemed to have no issue with the Klingons subjugating lesser races. The Organians seemed to be much like the Metrons in interfering between warring factions mainly because the fight was brought to their front yard. Otherwise they don’t really give a damn.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2022
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  20. Poltargyst

    Poltargyst Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It is a little galling having the Organians equating the Klingons and the Federation as if there's no difference in how each side uses violence.
     
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