QotD 2016-1105 - Nuke the Bastards

"[L]et's remember we've actually seen a starfleet captain, on his own initiative, bomb a planet to drive out the population, and relieve no censure for it from Starfleet. We've seen no such thing in canonical star wars {...} two out of the four main Starfleet captains have given, in earnest, the order to destroy planets."

- NecronLord, 2016-0614, "Have Trekkies used these arguments?", bbs.stardestroyer.net

That is an impressive point when put that way.  Of course, using statistics ("two out of the four main") is a bit wrong-headed since we were shown rather more interesting characters than mere bog-standard Starfleet captains.  I rather doubt Captain Isao Telaka had a log entry more interesting than a complaint about someone's manners, for instance.

And indeed, all four Federation Starfleet captains we followed made some rather hardcore choices.

Sisko bombed Maquis colonies to render them uninhabitable, Kirk fully intended to kill off one side in a war that he was only tangentially dragged into . . . yes, both of those are true.  But let us also remember that Janeway and Picard had their moments, too.

Starfleet itself showed some of the same tendencies.  One recalls the plan to destroy the Borg Collective via the geometric malware that was to be delivered via Hugh, as well as Picard later being dressed down for *not* using it.  And that was with a Starfleet barely removed from the era of the Space Hippies, meaning that's impressive indeed.


Greg said...

The Maquis used a biogenic weapon that only worked on Cardassians, IIRC. Sisko used a substance in reply that only worked on non-Cardassians.

SISKO: Report.
KIRA: Eddington just upped the ante. He attacked the Cardassian colony on Veloz Prime with a biogenic weapon.
SISKO: What?
WORF: He launched three stratospheric torpedoes at the planet and spread cobalt diselenide throughout the biosphere.
DAX: A nerve agent that is harmless to most humanoids but it is deadly to Cardassians.

and later

SISKO: Major, I want you to send the following message on all Maquis frequencies. To all the members of the Maquis resistance. This is Captain Sisko of the USS Defiant. In response to the Maquis's use of biogenic weapons in their recent attacks, I am about to take the following action. In exactly one hour, I will detonate two quantum torpedoes that will scatter trilithium resin in the atmosphere of Solosos Three. I thereby will make the planet uninhabitable to all human life for the next fifty years. I suggest evacuation plans begin immediately.

followed by

Captain's log, supplemental. Resettlement efforts in the DMZ are underway. The Cardassian and Maquis colonists who were forced to abandon their homes will make new lives for themselves on the planets their counterparts evacuated. The balance in the region will be restored, though the situation remains far from stable.

So, not the same thing at all. And the Warsies have no room to talk *cough*Death Star*cough*

Ilithi Dragon said...

Starfleet definitely went through a period of being controlled by what I like to call "peacehawks," or "militant pacifists," though the indications are that Starfleet itself wasn't dominated by naive, militant pacifists. Rather, the government that Starfleet served had become dominated by peacehawk factions, and it was the policy-makers who legislated Starfleet's policies that were the naive, sometimes militant pacifists.

The dominance of the peacehawk factions in the first half or so of the 24th Century actually makes sense, given the events at the end of the 23rd and early 24th. The Cold War ended. It was over. The need for a strong military presence on the Federation-Klingon border was over. The need to focus much of Starfleet's budget and resources on defending against the real and present danger of a full-blown Klingon invasion, and what many likely saw as an inevitable war, went away. Not only did it go away, prominent members of Starfleet were found to be complicit in a plot to INCITE THAT VERY WAR, after the need for it had ended. The political backlash from that, alone, would have severely undermined any political capital/position of hardliner, and even moderate-pragmatic political factions, while being a huge political windfall for any pacifist/peacehawk factions.

Then, on top of that, with the peace booming in the aftermath of the Khitomer Accords, Starfleet dun screwed the pooch. The Tomed Incident happened. We don't know much about this incident, but we have enough details to peace together the most likely scenario. A Starfleet ship (probably the USS Tomed) was caught, with a cloaking device, in Romulan space. They were doing what submarines do, but unlike the US vs the USSR in the 20th Century Cold War, the Federation did not have the tech advantage, at least in the specific area of cloaking tech (the Romulans had definitely mastered the technology, powering cloaking devices effectively with fusion reactors alone in a time when the M/AM-reactor-equipped Federation didn't think anything short of a Starbase could generate the power necessary to operate one).

So the Tomed got caught. And a battle ensued. Not just a minor skirmish, with a ship getting chased away and a few shots exchanged. No. A full-fledged battle, that cost "thousands of lives" on BOTH sides. Given Starfleet crew compliments, that's multiple ships lost, and probably several more damaged to some degree, and any number of other ships invovled that did not suffer casualties, on the Federation side, alone. The Tomed Incident precipitated a full-fledged fleet engagement, with heavy losses on both sides, that probably nearly precipitated an all-out interstellar war between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire.

Now, given the general technological advantage the Federation has maintained over the Romulans (the Romulans have a couple things they hold the advantage in, but overall have notably inferior technology), coupled with what seems to be superior industrial and economic strength, the Federation very likely would have won that war, but it would have been a very costly war, and the Romulans would have undoubtedly been able to inflict devastating damage to the Federation, making it a Pyrrhic victory, that was the Federation's own, damn fault.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Desperate to stave off a devastating, all-out war with the Romulans, and totally at fault for the whole incident, the Federation bent over backwards at the Treaty of Algerion, making substantial territorial concessions to the RSE, and agreeing to never again use or develop cloaking technology. Agreeing to bind themselves to such an incredible and painful strategic disadvantage only makes sense if the Federation was literally on the verge of war, and desperate to prevent it.

Chock up another political windfall for the militant peacehawks, and political devastation for the hardliners and moderate-pragmatic political factions in the Federation.

Then you have the whole mis-management of the Cardassian conflict, which just smacks of Vietnam-style political meddling. Starfleet had every advantage against the Cardassians, numerical, technological, and industrial superiority, but never pressed that advantage, limiting themselves exclusively to a defensive conflict - something you'd expect of peacehawks who suddenly find themselves in a war caused by their own Neville Chamberlain-esque appeasement policies, and desperately doubling-down on those policies to try and abate a war with an enemy who sees that appeasement and refusal to take the offensive as signs of weakness. Just look at the whole DMZ mess. The Federation had won the war! The new cruisers Starfleet started rolling out in the 2350s, replacing the aging Excelsior as the mainstay/workhorse cruiser of the fleet, put ships in the field that the Cardassians couldn't hope to match, and when the Nebula and Galaxy launched circa 2360 and 2363, the war was effectively over. The most advanced variant of Galor class battlecruiser (at the time) couldn't inflict significant damage to a Galaxy class starship even with a surprise attack that caught the Enterprise-D with her shields down, and the E-D turned around and disabled the Galor (through her shields) with a couple, mid-power, back-handed slaps from her main phaser arrays. A single Galaxy or Nebula could easily take on a small fleet of Cardassian ships and win (and even with the Phoenix's prefix codes, a Cardassian warship was easily dispatched by the Phoenix with no contest). Yet the Federation bent over backwards to appease the Cardassians, WHO HAD CRASHED THEIR ECONOMY FOR A SECOND TIME LOSING TO THE FEDERATION.

By the 2360s, the Federation had been at war with the Cardassians for nearly 20 years, they had fought a war with the Tzenkethi, a major war with the Talarians (who sacked several Federation colonies before being properly dealt with), and apparently a brief war with the Tholians (the Tholians destroyed an entire Federation starbase, and in the 2350s, the Federation ran training simulations with the Tholians as the enemy, which seemed to no longer be a thing in the 2360s). Then there was the Borg in the 2360s, and the utter disaster that was the DMZ and the Maquis. Coupled together, it should be no surprise to see major policy shifts by the late 2360s and into the 2370s, as the political clout and influence of the peacehawk factions would likely have been in the midst of utter collapse.

Fortunately, despite all of this, Starfleet and the Federation have both managed to generally maintain a sense of realistic pragmatism when it comes to important decisions and critical moments, and even President Garesh Inyo, the pacifist who nearly had Earth coup de'tat'ed out from under him, managed to steel up and make a pragmatic, aggressive move and score a major victory against the Dominion at the start of the Dominion War (DS9 was left defenseless save for the Defiant, her minefield, and a single BoP because nearly the entirety of Starfleet had been dispatched in a PREEMPTIVE STRIKE against the primary Dominion shipyards, destroying them in their entirety and neutralizing a major strategic advantage the Dominion had held).

And now the hotel's hottub is calling me... Damn, I've missed rambling about this shit.

1701EarlGrey said...

But Star Wars ships have 200 gigatons canons - see:
Evidently this planetary bombardment was so much bigger than orbital strike seen in Star Trek:
Oh, no what we poor Trekkies can we do! ;)