Was the Cardassian peace treaty a mistake?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by Citiprime, May 28, 2022.

  1. Citiprime

    Citiprime Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Knowing what eventually happens, was the Federation-Cardassian treaty a mistake on the part of the Federation Council and laid the groundwork for Cardassia becoming the Dominion's beachhead in the Alpha Quadrant? Or was it just a reflection of the Federation's ideals to pursue peace and something that was subsumed by the Dominion's plans?

    I believe on more than one occasion in season 2 it's called a mistake (e.g., even the Jem'Hadar taunt Sisko with the idea that it's a "tactical mistake" during first contact with the Dominion). And I always thought of the plot point as being more about setting up the Maquis for Voyager, but after re-watching the series, the peace treaty arguably plays a very important background role for setting up the conditions for the Dominion War.

    -The planetary concessions to the Cardassians creates a crisis within Starfleet, to the point that veteran officers were deserting or resigning their commissions to join the Maquis. And if that's happening within Starfleet, there's probably a significant division of opinion among civilians as well.

    -To the extent the peace treaty created the Maquis and the Maquis destabilized the Cardassian Central Command after the fall of the Obsidian Order, the effect was to create an insurgency on Cardassia's border that A) made the Cardassians look weakened, B) set up the invasion by the Klingons (via some Changeling influence), and C) made the Cardassians more receptive to Dominion membership as a way to claw back influence and stability.​

    And to add to the mistake of it all, across both TNG and DS9, the Cardassians are never really shown to be living up to the treaty. They attack DS9 and try to take it right after Starfleet takes control, and they're caught smuggling weapons to the Cardassian colonies in the DMZ.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2022
  2. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Federation/Cardassian conflict was always about border disputes, the peace treaty merely altered the specifics of how that played as time went on. It's hard to imagine how temporary peace could be worse than ongoing warfare, but who knows? I'd argue the treaty itself was good, the blame for the eventual formation of the Maquis falls on whoever agreed to the final shape of the border three years after the treaty was first put into effect.
     
  3. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    I certainly wouldn't trust the Jem'Hadar to be well-informed, unbiased observers of Alpha Quadrant politics.

    Without the peace treaty, the Federation and Cardassia would have continued a series of battles right up until the Dominion came in. Both parties would be weaker. I can't see that being a good thing.
     
  4. Dee1891

    Dee1891 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I think it was a mistake.
     
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  5. Legate Duhmar

    Legate Duhmar Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Hard to judge the Cardassian peace treaty on the events that came after it, especially as the Dominion was such an unexpected player in the quadrant. From the Federation's perspective, they have a moderately sized power totally mobilized towards war and expansion abutting the edge of their space. The Cardassians aren't able to challenge the Federation entirely but can easily pose a threat to a large swath of Federation space and the Cardassian ideology is not easily drawn into compromise or fair dealing. The war lasted a long time and caused a lot of civilian casualties and began to shift politics in the Federation towards a more militaristic outlook, which was resisted by the majority of leadership per TNG, leading to internal disagreements and a bit of a crisis of purpose for Starfleet, between being primarily exploratory or primarily military in disposition.

    With all this in the background, being able to make peace with Cardassia was likely considered a political win as far as the Federation was concerned. Although they had to conceded a certain amount of territory leading to the formation of the Maquis, it was more than worth the cost to secure the borders, end a military conflict a pre-Dominion war Starfleet was not equipped to continue, and absorb Bajor as a prospective new member world. The Federation likely hoped to settle borders with Cardassia and try to work towards something at least as stable as relations with the Romulans and maybe even a Klingon style rapprochment in the longer term. There was no way to predict a force like the Dominion from arriving and like others have mentioned, if the Federation and Cardassia were in active conflict at the start of the Dominion war there were be at least an equal chance of the Founders allying with Cardassia anyways and teaming up to defeat a common foe in the Federation.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2022
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  6. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Commodore Commodore

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    Regarding Federation expectations about the treaty, they probably thought the Cardassian democracy movement would gain strength if the military government had no war to fight. Obviously, Central Command went on to create conflicts to help keep itself in power, but when Starfleet was giving Cardassia industrial replicators during the Klingon invasion, it was said that it might be an overture to eventually bring Cardassia into the Federation. So, logically, those disputed planets would become part of the Federation anyway if Cardassia had accepted. (Instead it ran into the hands of the Dominion, of course.)
     
  7. Legate Duhmar

    Legate Duhmar Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Good point, The Federation would likely welcome Cardassia as a prospective member but it would take a lot more than a few replicators and embassy dinners dripping with canar and yamuck sauce to achieve such a coup. Even Bajor took nearly a decade to enter the alliance and they did not have a history of brutal conflict with Starfleet and a long rich history of being deceitful and chauvinistic. Noting that, one could only assume absorbing Cardassia and its colonies would take a least as long if not longer than Bajor to fulfill the criteria of membership, maybe 10-30 years depending on the level of cooperation and mutual exchange.
     
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  8. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    I would be thinking more like 50 to 100 years. Generational change.
     
  9. DGCatAniSiri

    DGCatAniSiri Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Strictly speaking... Yes, the treaty was a mistake that just caused things to dissolve further, just like the Maquis said. The Cardassians were never honoring it anyway, and the Federation would have known this (Picard made an intentional choice not to investigate in The Wounded, years before the treaty was finalized, BECAUSE he knew he'd find the Cardassians were violating the terms of the peace they had arranged to that point, why would further time change that disregard?). The Federation has the blood of anyone on those colonies who were killed by the Cardassians - they may have chosen to surrender their citizenship in the Federation, but that was after the Federation backed them into a corner in the name of solidifying a peace treaty those same people would have told anyone and everyone involved would never be adhered to on the Cardassian side, but the Federation intentionally locked them out of the conversation.

    That being said, I'm also not sure if there was a GOOD choice for the Federation in this scenario - had they not put the peace treaty together, the Cardassians could well have pushed to resume open warfare, in which case, the Alpha Quadrant would have been embroiled in a war before the Dominion even revealed itself. Call the Cardassians out for their failure to follow the treaty, it ends up being tossed aside and the worst case scenario happens anyway.

    But what I ultimately believe is, less than the treaty being a good or bad thing, the Federation was NAIVE. They refused to entertain the idea that a) the Cardassians were negotiating in good faith and intended to abide by the terms of the treaty once it was ratified, and b) that the people on the colonies they surrendered would just walk away without being listened to or even consulted and accept it as "the price of peace." Ultimately, it comes across as the Federation simply signing a treaty negotiated by the Cardassians in bad faith and assumed that the good faith effort they showed would eventually pay off down the line. It didn't.
     
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  10. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I wonder if the withdrawal of Cardassia from Bajor was influenced by the treaty. After all, the borders shifted tremendously as a result.
     
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  11. MarkusTay

    MarkusTay Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    It wasn't a mistake. The Federation has always operated a 'kill them with kindness' approach to other species, which works in most cases. Just keep being nice, no matter what, and you wear them down. We've seen it happen numerous times with the Klingons (whom I've grown to hate, the way they waffle on their relationship with the UFP), and its working with the Romulans. Many species who were at first belligerent to the Federation are now part of it. In fact, the Federation should steal the Borg's tagline - "We are the humans, resistance is futile {big smile}, prepare to be assimilated."

    And it appears to be working on the Cardassians. Sure, the Federation gets many setbacks (once again, the Rom. & Kling.), but eventually, much like Donkey in Shrek, we wear them down and force them to be our friends. The Dominion were just a temporary setback is all. In fact, in ST:online, there is a scenario where the Alpha/Beta powers need to all ally to fight some unstoppable threat, and Odo shows up with a Dominion fleet to help! See? It even works on the Founders! Aren't humans just swell? We're like big, giant, cuddly space-puppies...

    With an agenda. Any one see the 'cats' episode of Futurama? Yeah... JUST like that. :devil:
     
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  12. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

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    If the Federation were really nothing but nice, no matter what, what are their ships doing with all those phasers and quantum torpedoes?
     
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  13. McCoy's Disco Collar

    McCoy's Disco Collar Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That's certainly an interesting possibility. It would certainly color the way the Maquis was regarded on Bajor.
     
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  14. McCoy's Disco Collar

    McCoy's Disco Collar Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    But it did pay off. It ended the armed conflict, which is exactly what it was supposed to do.
     
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  15. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    While leading to a much larger conflict down the road. Which is pretty much how the Treaty of Versailles is viewed today.
     
  16. McCoy's Disco Collar

    McCoy's Disco Collar Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Not with the Cardassians.
     
  17. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes, with the Cardassians. The Cardassians were the vast majority of who the Federation fought because the Dominion couldn't get their forces through the Wormhole.
     
  18. McCoy's Disco Collar

    McCoy's Disco Collar Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    But that was a war with the Dominion. Had nothing to do with the specifics of the treaty the Federation signed. Had the Cardassians started a war all on their own, that would have been analogous to the Treaty of Versailles. But they didn't; the treaty held until the powers were swept up in a larger conflict with worlds not party to it. I don't know, was there a treaty between Italy and Belgium that WWII put an end to?
     
  19. DGCatAniSiri

    DGCatAniSiri Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This is arguing semantics, seeing as how the Cardassians JOINED the Dominion - Dukat didn’t agree to some kind of joint power agreement, he made Cardassia a member among the Dominion, citing various “defeats” as his motivation. So Cardassia was as much why the Dominion War happened as the Dominion, at the very least WHEN it happened - even if the Dominion’s invasion was inevitable, it was spurred on by Cardassian involvement.
     
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  20. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The treaty with the Cardassians and withdrawl from Bajor destabilized the Cardassian military government. Enabran Tain cites both the treaty with the Federation and the Bajorans as reasons they didn't see the Dominion's movements coming (leading to the purge of the Obsidian Order as well as Tal Shiar). In the end, it was also the Maqis' success against the Cardassian military that gave Dukat the political pull to bring them into the Dominion. Well, that and the Klingon invasion.

    It was a long trail of dominos but the Federation treaty did a lot of it.