Spoilers Section 31: Control by David Mack Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Defcon, Mar 17, 2017.

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Rate Section 31: Control

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  1. JWolf

    JWolf Commodore Commodore

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    Just treat that book like it never happened. It makes life so much easier to deal with.
     
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  2. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Whoops. Thanks for catching that!

    Oh, I dunno. For all we know, maybe the Prime Timeline's Enterprise did discover the USS Franklin, and that was the incident that ended Kirk's five-year mission and led to the Enterprise needing a refit that turned it into an almost entirely new ship.

    And I am not convinced that David hasn't been born in the Kelvin Timeline. By the end of Into Darkness, Kirk and Carol were clearly flirting with each other when she joined the crew. Into Darkness was set in 2259, and Beyond was set in 2263 -- and Carol is missing from the Enterprise crew. Four years is plenty of time for Kirk and Carol to become a couple, her to become pregnant, and then for them to break up and Carol to leave the ship. None of that is mentioned in Star Trek Beyond (any more than Kirk and Carol's relationship is ever mentioned in TOS), but nothing in Star Trek Beyond precludes this possibility either (certainly no more than anything in TOS precludes the possibility that Kirk is a father the entire time).

    Besides -- we know from Star Trek: Vanguard that Project Genesis was a direct outgrowth of the Federation's attempts to learn how to control the Shedai Meta-Genome in the Taurus Reach. And there's no reason to think construction of Starbase Vanguard isn't already underway in the Kelvin Timeline by 2263... ;)

    In 2379, Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise discovered evidence that they had been ordered by Federation President Min Zife of Bolarus to invade and occupy the planet Tezwa to thwart a Klingon attempt to do the same, in order to facilitate a cover up of evidence that the nadion-pulse cannon the Tezwans fired at a small Klingon fleet had been constructed by the Federation and transported to Tezwa in violation of the Khitomer Accords during the Dominion War. Picard conferred with Starfleet Admirals Alynna Nechayev, Owen Paris, Edward Jellico, and Mamoru Nakamura, and with Federation Ambassador to Tezwa Lagan Serra of Bajor, on the matter. They agreed that the millions of deaths in the Klingon fleet and on Tezwa during the occupation, and the thousands of Federation deaths, were on Zife's hands, and that he could not be allowed to stay in office. However, they feared that public exposure of his crimes would lead to war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. To that end, they agreed to secretly force President Zife out of office. Zife, his chief of staff Koll Azernal of Zakdorn, and his Secretary of Military Intelligence Nelino Quafina of Antede, who had all been part of the conspiracy, agreed to resign when they realized Ross was backing up his blackmail threat at gunpoint.

    Unbeknownst to the others, Ross was conferring with Section 31 Director L'Haan, who piggybacked on the Starfleeters' coup to undertake her own agenda against Zife. She wrote Zife's resignation speech, in which he claimed that he had realized new leadership was needed for the post-Dominion War age. After he delivered the resignation speech on Floor Fifteen of the Palais de la Concorde, she and her agents escorted Zife, Quafina, and Azernal down to the Monet Room (the Federation's equivalent of the White House Situation Room). There, she and her agents vaporized Zife, Azernal, and Quafina, and wiped any evidence of their actions.

    Section 31's involvement and their decision to assassinate Zife and company was not shared with Picard, Lagan, or any of the other Starfleet admirals except Ross. It was never made clear if Ross knew L'Haan intended to kill Zife before it happened, or if he consented to their actions.

    The 2379 special election that followed Zife's resignation led to the election of Nan Bacco as president. During the campaign, then-Governor Bacco discovered that Ross had forced Zife out at gunpoint but decided to keep both that fact, and her awareness of it, a secret. A year later, Bacco discovered through Ozla Graniv (who in turn had discovered this through her contacts in the Orion Syndicate) that Zife had been assassinated. President Bacco erroneously believed Ross had done it unilaterally. She made a deal with Graniv that Graniv would refrain from publishing that story if Ross agreed to retire from Starfleet and to never become active in public life again. Ross took the deal, and kept the secret of Section 31's existence and actions from President Bacco.

    All this had been secret, but it's all now out in the open with Section 1: Control. So one of the open questions is, what happens to the surviving Starfleet conspirators -- Picard, Ross, Jellico, Nechayev, and Nakamura, along with Lagan (Paris died during the Borg Invasion) -- now that their decision to force Zife out at gunpoint is public? What happens to Federation-Klingon relations now that the fact President Zife armed the Tezwans in violation of the Khitomer Accords and then tried to cover it up after the Tezwans killed hundreds of Klingon warriors is public (and that Starfleet tried to keep that secret from the Klingons even after discovering it)?

    Oh, I dunno. I think they warmed up to each other in the course of the film. There was definitely a spark between them at the end when Carol was being welcomed aboard as a regular crew member.

    To be honest, if there was no Uraei in A Less Perfect Union's timeline, I kind of doubt that United Earth would have been consolidated enough to launch the NX-01 in 2151, or to have enough credibility as the legitimate representative of the entire planet Earth in the eyes of alien worlds to be negotiating for the creation of the Coalition of Planets by 2155. So I think it's more plausible that there was an Uraei, and that it had been successful manipulating events so as to unify the human race by 2150, in that timeline.
     
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  3. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Did they address where she went in the comics? I was kind of surprised she wasn't in Beyond given her sticking around at the end of Into Darkness.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I wasn't too surprised at Carol's absence. STID's dependence on elements from TWOK wasn't that well-received, and its treatment of Carol in particular was seen as problematical. And Beyond was from a largely different set of filmmakers, so whatever their predecessors may have intended for a third film wouldn't be binding on them. I think Lin and Pegg wanted to make a fresh start free of the previous films' baggage, and they did that by jumping forward two and a half years in-story. Which is plenty of time for Carol to have served for a while and then transferred off.

    I don't recall what the comics did with her, though.
     
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  5. stardream

    stardream Commodore Commodore

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    I saw a LOT more chemistry between Carol and McCoy which is why I'm a McMarcus shipper. :D I do however understand that chemistry between actors is in the eye of the viewer.

    The dangling plot threat in Fallen Gods bothers me but only because I read it so recently. If I had read it when the book was first published I probably would have forgotten about it by now.
     
  6. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    McMarcus... :lol: Good one! :techman:
     
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  7. flandry84

    flandry84 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So Lin & Pegg wanted to make a fresh start and ignore what had gone on in previous movies??
    Meanwhile Treklit is still snookered vis a vis the Hobus thing?
    **runs away**:devil:
     
  8. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's all about the FL's, dude. Just the FL's. :sigh:
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That comparison makes no sense. For one thing, obviously tie-ins are not on a par with canon. Pocket is a contractor licensed by CBS, and it's bound by the terms of its licensing deal, while the creators of canon are free to do whatever they want. For another, nobody said they "ignored" anything, just that it's unsurprising that a different set of filmmakers would have different story objectives. As I said, there's a 2.5-year gap between movies, so it's hardly a contradiction that Carol isn't still aboard.
     
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  10. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Thanks, "Sci," for the summary. Much more detailed about the relevant events than what little I'd picked up from Memory Beta. All I remember about Bacco's election was that she'd succeeded someone who'd been drummed out of office in disgrace, and all I remember of the "A Time To . . ." miniseries was the Ecclesiastes-inspired titles.

    But acting to quietly put away an incompetent President when the very circumstances of his actions, were they to be made public at the time, would have endangered the Federation as much as his continued presence in office, hardly constitutes a treasonous conspiracy. Zife was the only one who could be justly called a traitor.
     
  11. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    I understand, I was just kind of surprised is all.
     
  12. Paris

    Paris Commodore Commodore

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    Finished it off yesterday and absolutely loved it! Just read through the thread finally. 5/5 (outstanding) for me. Way to go Mr. Mack :techman:
     
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  13. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    You are very welcome!

    Well, that's the question, isn't it?

    I mean, we're not talking about agents of the state pursuing a legal process that results in the President being impeached, or arrested, or due process of law. We're not even talking about them pursuing a course of action that renders him a political lame duck, or puts political pressure on him to resign to avoid negative legal or political consequences.

    We're talking about members of the military forcing the legitimate, democratically-elected President to resign or else they'll shoot him.

    The term for that is coup d'├ętat.

    And meanwhile -- with Zife, it's a little bit more complicated than to say he's a traitor. After all, President Zife ordered the nadion pulse cannon to be hidden on Tezwa as part of a fallback strategy to help defend the Federation against the Dominion. And he ordered the occupation of Tezwa to preserve the Federation's alliance with the Klingon Empire, knowing that if the cannon's origins were revealed, it would mean a disastrous war with Qo'noS. In both instances, he undertook his actions with a genuine desire to serve the best interests of the United Federation of Planets. (And, yes, to avoid culpability for his criminal actions. The two motivations are both genuine and do not negate each other.)

    If I'm a Federation Councillor, or a Federation voter? I'm gonna be pretty damn disturbed by the whole thing. I'm going to be disturbed that President Zife committed such horrific crimes and then allowed so many Federates to die to keep his reputation clean, and angry that Zife is not alive any longer to be subjected to the Federation justice system. I'm going to be outraged, but not surprised, that Section 31 had him assassinated -- but at least I'll have L'Haan and the other Section 31 directors and agents in custody and be able to subject them to Federation justice.

    But most of all, I am going to want the Starfleet conspirator's heads on a platter (figuratively speaking). I'm going to be demanding that Starfleet convene courts-martial for Nechayev, Nakamura, Ross, Jellico, and Picard, and that if they be found guilty, they be given a dishonorable discharge and imprisonment in a Starfleet penal colony. And I'm going to demand that a Federation prosecutor convene a grand jury to determine if there is sufficient evidence to indict Ambassador Lagan, and demand that if she be found guilty, she be given the maximum possible prison sentence.

    Because in a constitutional liberal democracy, the military should never, ever think it is entitled to make policy for the state as a whole, or to grant itself veto power over who gets to be the head of state or head of government. Their duty is to serve and obey the legitimately-elected civilian government, not to decide who does or doesn't get to be President or what the state's foreign policy is going to be.

    I would probably also be demanding a complete review of all the evidence against former President Pro Tempore Baras Rodiyra (alias Ishan Anjar), to determine whether or not Picard or Starfleet's role in his removal from office or uncovering his alleged crimes was legitimate, and the accuracy of evidence used against him in light of the revelations of Uraei's capacity to manufacture evidence.

    I, as an audience member, have an ability that nobody in the Federation has: to see into Picard's heart and know that his choice re: Zife was a choice made in an extraordinary circumstance with the purest of intentions and the fairest of justifications, and that he would never seek to deliberately undermine Federation democracy. But if I'm someone in-universe? I don't know that, and I have to have institutional checks in place to prevent exactly what Picard did in case someone far less benevolent tries the same thing one day.

    ETA:

    To put it another way: What if the Joint Chiefs of Staff in collusion with the Director of the United States Secret Service, had walked into the Oval Office one day in mid-2006 and told President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, "We have evidence you ordered the invasion of Iraq based upon falsified intelligence. You lied to Congress and the American people for your political agenda, and your actions resulted in the deaths of 4,497 Americans, 179 Britons, 139 Coalition service members, and so many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians that we don't even know how to count them. We demand that you resign now, or we will assassinate both of you immediately,"?

    Would that be an acceptable scenario to you?
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
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  14. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Commodore Commodore

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    I have not read Articles of the Federation or A Time to.... series but it seems the Federation political system is heavily Western Terran based but if it incorporates political systems from other Federation cultures (which it should) who are not human, perhaps what happened to Zife is totally legit in the Federation universe (minus his murder).

    As for the Bajoran President Pro Tempere he was a fraud and had commited Bajoran war crimes, so even if he did not act like a despotic meglomaniac, he needed to be gone. He was not who he claimed to be.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
  15. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Very well argued, "Sci," and even though Trump is a mamzer (and worse, one who even revels in being a mamzer), who by comparison makes George W. Bush seem like a man of peace and a paragon of social justice, I would not advocate a coup (much less an assassination) against him, much less against George W. Bush during his administration. (And indeed, under present circumstances, I even oppose impeachment of Trump, given that he, at least, is a self-defeating, self-discrediting, and therefore self-limiting buffoon, and to put Pence or Ryan in the White House would be a case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.)

    But then again, returning to the fictional scenario, how would one deal with the Tezwa situation in any other way that would not result in immediate war with the Klingons?
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I would think that being honest with them up front and making it clear that it was the action of a rogue leader who'd now been removed from power should've been enough. I never bought the logic that the Klingon leaders were so mindlessly berserk and politically stupid that they'd abandon their strongest alliance and launch a war that nobody would win just because of bruised pride, especially when the culprit had already been dealt with. And as is usually the case in politics, the cover-up is potentially far more damaging than the crime itself. I think hiding the truth about Zife and Tezwa could make things much worse in the long run. If Zife were treacherous and his successors/deposers were honest and responsible about their nation's mistakes, I think the Klingons would respect that honesty and the courage it took to confess those mistakes. But if the successors are themselves deceitful and treacherous, that would give the Klingons more to be angry about, more grounds for mistrusting the Federation.

    In the interim, though, so much has happened -- the Borg Invasion, the Typhon Pact, etc. -- that Tezwa and Zife hardly seem relevant anymore. The events pre-Borg are practically a different era.
     
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  17. Mage

    Mage Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't know....

    At the time, Martok was still trying to keep the Empire together, it was an unstable time for the Klingons. It would not surprise me if he would advocate restraint, but others would cry blood and murder and war with the Federation. Perhaps not out of honor, but simply to rally an empire against Martok.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, that's a fair point, but I'd think that Martok's success in defending the Empire in the Borg Invasion -- and the destruction of a lot of his rivals -- would've solidified his control enough that it wouldn't be a factor anymore. That's part of what I meant when I said the invasion changed everything.
     
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  19. Mage

    Mage Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well yes, but the Borg Invasion happened AFTER the Tezwa situation. Also.... Considering the events of Prey, where the situation escalated to a point where the relationship between the Klingons and the UFP was also not doing so well, I'm not so sure that the even bigger scandal of the Tezwa situation being revealed (even 7 years after the fact) would be settled very easily. Immidiate war.... Perhaps, perhaps not. But a withdrawing from the Khitomer Accords and ending of diplomatic relations, very likely.
     
  20. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Sort-of. Keith R.A. DeCandido designed an interesting system of government for the Federation in Articles. It's not exactly the U.S presidential system or the Westminster parliamentary system or a French-style semi-presidential system. Rather, it's a bit of a hybrid of all three: the President is popularly elected to a four-year term separate from the Council; the President presides over full sessions of the Council but is not always the Council's presiding officer; the President appoints Councillors to the various sub-councils (committees) with the full Council's ratification; the President may preside over the sub-councils but does not always do so; the President includes the relevant sub-council members in all of their deliberations just like they would any senior adviser; and the President retains veto power over Acts of Council.

    I'm not sure how a system like that, where the legislature's committee members are appointed by the head of government with full legislature ratification, would work. But it's a system that doesn't exist in the real world; we can probably assume that that aspect of Federation governance was taken from Tellarite or Vulcan practices. (The Andorian system of government has been fairly well-established to be virtually identical to a Westminster parliamentary system.)

    ... no. First off, you're talking about the idea that the rule of law and civilian control over the military are negotiable, and they're not. These are basic principles the Federation would never allow a member in if they didn't already have, and which no sensible United Earth would have compromised on when founding the Federation.

    Secondly, the Starfleet conspirators, in the scene where they planned to force Zife to resign, explicitly admit amongst themselves that their actions are patently illegal.

    Thirdly, when Admiral Leyton tried to do the exact same thing against President Jaresh-Inyo in the DS9 episodes "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost," his actions were explicitly described as illegal.

    Of course! But if I'm, say, the Federation Councillor for the People's Republic of Coridan, I'm going to be deeply concerned about the fact that Jean-Luc Picard has now been responsible for removing two Presidents from power; I'm going to be concerned that elements within Starfleet tried to overthrow President Jaresh-Inyo and successfully overthrew Min Zife before Baras; and I'm going to be deeply concerned about whether or not the evidence against Baras was reliable, given what had been revealed about Uraei's ability to falsify digital evidence.

    If I'm a Federation Councillor, it's not that I'm saying Baras shouldn't have been impeached or that I want him back in power. It's that I want a complete review of the evidence against him, to be sure that the right decisions were made in light of the newly-revealed possibility of falsified digital evidence and of the danger Picard and Starfleet may represent to civilian control of the military.

    Thanks!

    1. I did not know what a mamzer was until I just looked it up. Nice one!

    2. I was deliberately trying to stay away from Trump because we're basically all living through a long-term, slow-moving constitutional crisis as long as he's in power. (I also, in my fictional scenario, deliberately picked a point in Bush's second term because I wanted to avoid the question of whether or not he was legitimately-elected in 2000.) The only thing I'll say about Trump is this: He may be self-defeating in a lot of ways on the domestic front, but he is badly, badly damaging the United States's relationships with our key allies as long as he is in power, and he has badly hurt American prestige and leadership by withdrawing from the Paris Accords. The longer he is in power, the greater the danger he will turn the United States into an international pariah and use up all of the United States's political capital with the nations of the world. And all that is to say nothing of the possibility that he will irrationally provoke, or involve the United States into, a major war. So I'm not convinced yet that letting him self-destruct in power is the safest course.

    Well, I don't know. I'm not looking at it from the perspective of, "What would you have done in 2379 if you had the evidence of Zife's crimes but were afraid that exposing them would provoke a war?" I'm looking at it from the perspective of, "I'm a Federation Councillor in 2386. I have just discovered that Starfleet forced the legitimately-elected President out of office at gunpoint in 2379, eight years after elements within Starfleet already almost overthrew his predecessor. Some of those same Starfleet officers also forced a President Pro Tempore out of office just a year ago -- oh, and there was a sentient A.I. capable of falsifying all sorts of digital evidence. Why should I trust Starfleet today?"

    At the very least, though, I would suggest that Picard, Ross, Nechayev, Nakamura, Jellico, Paris, and Lagan could have spoken privately with a senior Federation Councillor -- the Speaker of the Federation Council, perhaps, or the members of the Federation Security Council, or even just Federation Councillor T'Latrek, who was almost universally respected on the Council -- and provided them with the evidence of Zife's crimes. The Council then could have convened a classified session away from Zife and made the determination whether to remove him from office. I find the fact that nobody seems to have considered that possibility distressing.

    Another possibility, mind, would also have been to publicly expose Zife for his crimes, at which point the Council would have impeached him, the Federation Security Agency would have arrested him, and then the Federation Secretary of the Exterior could have negotiated to extradite him to the Klingon Empire for trial. This possibility was not seriously considered -- it was dismissed out of hand as a threat to Federation sovereignty, instead of being acknowledged as a valid option that would have placated Klingon anger while preserving the integrity of Federation democracy.

    I mean, I used to agree. But... you have just described the current inhabitant of the White House. So I think we need to consider the possibility that maybe powerful factions in Klingon politics really could be that self-destructively irrational.

    Ours is.

    I'm forced to agree with this assessment. Picard and co. did terrible damage to Federation democracy by overthrowing the legitimately-elected President and thinking they could keep that a secret.

    Which is the good news. Post-Borg, post-Typhon, and with Zife and his co-conspirators dead at the hands of Federation citizens, there's a strong possibility that even the nationalist factions of Klingon politics will consider the matter satisfactorily closed on their end.

    Maybe, maybe not. From a Klingon POV, maybe Section 31's decision to assassinate Zife will be taken as sufficient vengeance for the Klingons to be satisfied.
     
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