Category Archives: Politics

Honor and Sacrifice

It’s sad sometimes that in a fair plurality of the conversations I have with friends and acquaintances how often the subject of honor and integrity pops up, the tenets and personal code that people possess and are guided by. What’s sad is how many of these same people I talk to have to sacrifice their honor and integrity to keep their jobs. Oftentimes they feel they cannot say what they truly think or feel. 

The Knights of Solamnia are a fictional organization in the fantasy world of Dragonlance whose motto is: My Honor is my Life. Perhaps it’s only in fantasy worlds where one can say and do what’s true in your heart and mind. Perhaps it’s just a sad statement of the current trends in societal interaction. Perhaps I’ve not had my cup of coffee yet and am just rambling. 

May we all be like the Knights of Solamnia!

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The Fall of the Federation, the Fall of America?

The 2nd Deep Space Nine

The 2nd Deep Space Nine

WARNING: Book Spoilers Ahead!

One thing I’ve always loved about Star Trek is its contemporary social commentary, and that is as true with most of the novels I’ve read as it is with most of the T.V. series and movies.

Revelation and Dust is the first book in a new series of novels titled “The Fall”, where a singular event signals the possible downfall of the Federation and its Khitomer Accords allies with the opposing Typhon Pact, a fall into war, a fall from grace.

The novel starts with the dedication of the 2nd Deep Space Nine (a Starfleet Frontier-class station), some two years after a terrorist attack by rogue members of the Typhon Pact destroyed the original, killing some 2,000 Federation citizens. Members of the Khitomer Accords alliance, such as the Klingons (whose Klingon Qang-class warships have been in conflicts with the Typhon Pact), Ferengi, and Cardassians arrive on the station. Surprisingly, even members of the Typhon Pact, the Romulans and Gorn, arrive for the dedication as well. Just before the dedication of the new station can be completed, the Federation president is assassinated, and evidence eventually implicates the Typhon Pact as the perpetrators.

The storyline, in some ways, vary obviously parallels the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. In a previous post, I commented on some of the moral and ethical struggles the United States and Federation have faced and continue to face in light of these attacks.

The Federation now faces a choice, will it fall from grace and declare war on the Typhon Pact, when never in its history has it ever declared war first? Will doing so make a mockery of the peace and principles that the Federation so espouses, the very reason for its creation in the first place? By the same vein, the United States faces similar moral, ethical, and even legal questions, such as: What actions are justifiable to protect itself? Spying on one’s allies (even though those same allies spy on it as well)? Violating the Geneva conventions when it interrogates captured suspected terrorists? Spying on one’s own people, in violation of its own laws?

At what point do our actions to protect ourselves lead to the destruction, the fall, of our core principles, those tenets that we value above all else, those virtues that make us who we are? John F. Kennedy once said, “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” Is America at the edge of its “fall”, or are we merely at a “stumble” in the continuing road that is history? I had a long talk with a fellow lover of history the other week, in which we both discussed how our very conversation on this and other matters may have been paralleled over a century ago by two British gentlemen in the years before the Great War, when the British Empire reined supreme over the world, unsurpassed by any other contemporary nation …

London, the bridge is falling!

F Transport II

London-class transport

 

With the recent hubbub of American spying on their allies, it seems as though the United States is meandering along a path where it is becoming increasingly estranged from once close allies. While it may not be quite to the point where it is burning down those metaphorical bridges, it’s certainly scorched them.

What’s interesting is that the Federation, for all intents and purposes a utopian society, does indeed do the same thing and spy on its allies, the Klingons. The Federation doubtless justifies its spying as necessary for its internal security, as I am sure the United States does here on Earth. At what point though does spying to protect oneself cross the bounds and move into something more sinister?

In hopes of a decided dearth of bridge-burning, here’s an updated version of my previously posted: Starfleet London-class transport. Enjoy!

 

Star Trek Online: Drozana Station

Drozana_Station_2265

Drozana Station in 2265

I do not play Star Trek Online, but I do lurk on their site and forums, mainly for inspiration for new starship and station designs. A friend of mine, Geoffrey, actually pointed me out to the Drozana Station featured in the game. I had just recently finished reading a TOS novel, the Shocks of Adversity, and was totally in the mood for creating stats for something related to the TOS.

I don’t want to spoil too much about the novel, but it takes place in the TOS prime timeline. The Enterprise under Kirk runs into a seemingly Federation-like civilization, at least on its surface. Sadly, the alien civilization is more like the Dominion from DS9 than it is the Federation. Our world seems to be moving more towards Democracy than any other form of government, but yet the rise of China seems to point to the ability of other forms of government to not only succeed in the world stage, but excel. I suppose time will tell which form of government will come to be the most successful at the world stage.

Without further ado, below are the CODA game statistics for the Drozana station:

Starfleet Drozana-class

The Cardassians: Resource Scarcity and War

Hutet_prototype

The Hutet-class Battleship

The Cardassian Hutet-class starship was a powerful battleship designed by the Cardassians around the time of the Dominion War. The Cardassians were a resource-poor polity that was ever-expanding its empire to remedy that lack of resources. Ironically, this expansion meant a further drain on their empire’s resources, thus fueling further expansion.

How many times have we seen the same vicious cycle at work here on Earth? Resource scarcity begets war begets resource scarcity begets war. Perhaps the only way to truly reduce or eliminate this vicious cycle here on Earth is to expand out into space and acquire resources from other worlds in our own solar system. The cynic in me, though, would only surmise that we would just expand our wars into space. The optimist in me, however, would hope that we could spin the exploration of space as a conquest requiring the unity of all humanity to succeed.

 

Aggressive Vulcans

Administrator V’Las of the Vulcan High Command.

The Vulcans in Star Trek have always been known for their peaceable natures and their commitment to logic and a philosophy of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC), which advocated for tolerance and even acceptance of differing belief systems and practices. It came as somewhat of a shock to many Star Trek fans when the Enterprise series portrayed Vulcans as being far more militant than they’ve ever been shown before. The Vulcan government in the series was shown fielding starships designated as Vulcan D’Kyr-class combat cruisers, engaged in covert spying of nearby species (Andorians) as well as acting as Big Brother to humanity. Most shocking of all was the Vulcan governing body known as the High Command was willing to fire upon and kill those that disagreed with its policies, actions hardly congruent with the traditional Vulcan philosophy of IDIC. The Vulcans were justifying these actions using logic, but logic without reference to the morality of their founder, Surak.

We later discover that the Vulcans had strayed from their society’s founder’s core tenets and beliefs and eventually the Vulcans of the Enterprise series (22nd century) would morph into the peacenik Vulcans we know and love of later Star Trek series (23rd and 24th centuries).

It’s an object lesson to us that all societies change, but that we must be careful to look to the intentions, to the morality behind our laws when we go about changing them or creating new laws. Sometimes we get lost in the wording of our laws and lose sight of the intent behind them, and inevitably we marginalize viewpoints and perspectives that are abhorrent to the majority but sacrosanct to the minority.  Even scarier is when we adopt the language of a law whose intent was to marginalize the minority (whether racial, religious, ethnic, or other) and apply it to our entire society, without realizing that discriminating intent. We must be ever mindful of the intent behind our laws, for we are all affected by them whether we realize it or not.

Cardassians and Police States

The Cardassians are another somewhat tragic object lesson in Star Trek. Prior to expanding out into space, the Cardassian people were renowned for their art and sophisticated culture. Through mismanagement of their own planet, their resources dwindled to almost nothing and they were forced to look beyond their planet for the resources they needed. Ironically, they ended up subjugating another artistic culture, the Bajorans, for their resources. Still, for decades after they were resource poor and looked on enviously at the neighboring Federation and Klingons, to the point that wars were fought with both powers. This of course led to even more resource depletion in an already resource poor political state. By this point in time Cardassian culture was very clearly no longer focused on the arts, they had morphed into a police state where enemies of the state were considered guilty before their trial even began.

In a final bid for power, the Cardassians joined the biggest police state known in the galaxy, the Dominion. Through the course of the Dominion War between the Dominion and the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans, the Cardassians would come to taste what it was like to live in a police state (with the Jem’Hadar as the policemen) and not be the one in charge. Inevitably, the Cardassians rebelled, but tragically this would result in over 800 million Cardassians dead at the conclusion of the Dominion War.

It’s an interesting object lesson for us, the people of Earth, for we now fight over the limited resources of our own world, with equally tragic results.

So here are some starships for the Cardassians and some of their allies and foes: