"Too Short a Season" politics and thoughts

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Charles Phipps, Oct 1, 2021.

  1. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 17, 2011
    No, I don't mean about the horrible makeup. That's the only thing that anyone remembers about this episode. I kind of wish they'd removed that plot point and actually stuck to the strictly political angle of it IN SPACE.

    The essential heart of the story is Karnas was once a terrorist leader before he became a politician, kidnapped a bunch of Federation citizens, demanded weapons in exchange for the hostages, got them, and then Jameson gave the exact amount of weapons to the other side in order to balance the scales. Karnas is thus infuriated that the short but victorious war (to quote David Weber and Russia) he expected became a long drawn out slog. This kicks off the modern plot as Karnas, now dictator of his planet, lures Jameson back to the world in order to punish him.

    Okay, how is Karnas not a complete monster and the villain of this story? He obviously was planning to launch an attack against his enemies with Federation weapons and only found out that they weren't pushovers after it happened. He engaged a third party (presumably neutral), attacked civilians, and is infuriated that they acted in a way (post-facto) that was hostile to his nation--assuming he had a nation to begin with.

    Everyone acts like Jameson did wrong but it seems like keeping a wannabe Gul Dukat like Karnas from sweeping over the Bajorans is an inherently good thing. Certainly, he plans another act of aggression against the Federation and Starfleet in particular. Why are we meant to think there's anything redeemable about this guy and the guilt is on Jameson?

    I get there was meant to be criticisms of "A Private Little War" but both criticisms require you to ignore letting the Klingons/Morden IV dictators off scott free.
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Dunno about redeemable, but as long as these human-looking people aren't actually Feds, Starfleet should be expected to wear a chastity belt in its dealings with them. That's standard Federation policy, of not interfering. And when Picard gets talked into ever-so-slightly interfering with armed recce and whatnot, and learns he has been played, it's pretty natural for him to default to PD sentiments and refrain from faulting the locals much.

    Where in the plot would the idea of "not a complete monster" emerge? In the fact that Picard doesn't decapitate him in the final act? Why should he have that authority?

    In comparison, the final revelations about Jameson do paint him as particularly represensible. His specific motivation for giving the guns was to allow Karnas to avenge his father's death. Why would he do that? I mean, he might feel sympathy to the cause, but the means he chooses are pretty stupid: instead of arming half the planet to slaughter the other half (and then having second thoughts and arming the other half, too), why not provide nice and clean assassination services to Karnas? He could personally beam down to Sain's bedchamber and kill the man if it came to that: deniability for Starfleet would be more easily arranged in that scenario than in the arms-dealing one.

    The alternative there is that Jameson deliberately arranges for the devastating war, perhaps because he (correctly?) judges everybody on that planet to be deserving nothing but a painful and protracted death. There's no scenario where his motivations could be construed as benign - at best, we may claim that he was being blackmailed, but this would take some doing and his unwillingness to turn the tables in the upcoming decades again paints him as the monster of the piece.

    Timo Saloniemi
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2021
    Charles Phipps likes this.
  3. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 17, 2011
    Eh, I took it to be a somewhat more Kirk-ish response. Karnas, who had already murdered two Federation negotiators and taken a passenger liner hostage, wanted guns to avenge his dead father. As the third negotiator, Jameson agreed to give Karnas the weapons he wanted in exchange for the hostages that Karnas said.

    However, Jameson admits to Picard that after he gave up the guns to Karnas and got the hostages, he immediately armed the opposing side in the civil war to enforce parity. The problem was that Karnas still attacked his enemies and they had a 40 year war that resulted that Karnas blames Jameson for.

    Jameson even says, "It was my interpretation of the Prime Directive." Which is probably a reference to "A Private Little War."

    Picard (rightfully) points out that Karnas does bear some blame for all of this and that he not only attacked but continued to prosecute the war versus seeking peace for all those forty years. Still, it seems like Jameson is getting a bit more blame than he deserves for a situation of Karnas' making.

    There's also a subtext related to the aging drug that both Karnas and Jameson are attempting to make up for the catastrophic failures of their youth. Jameson feels horrific guilt for the fact the war lasted 40 years and blames himself for it breaking out. Karnas seems to have mellowed in his old age while simultaneously dodging responsibility for his part in the war.

    He doesn't want to kill Jameson so much as shame him and show him all of the horrible damage done to the world (though he's promised his people he will punish him--presumably blaming him for the war).
  4. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

    Nov 20, 2012
    Karnas is a villain too, he's a military strongman. But if Jameson hadn't given up those weapons their war would have been a lot less bloody.
    suarezguy likes this.