Hello and welcome to the first episode of Truth or Myth, a web series, produced by TriAngulum Studios Audio Comics and sponsored by Treksphere.com, where we take a look at in-universeTV show explanations for behaviour, tech and other things and ask ourselves, does that really make sense? We start off today with newest Star Trek series Star Trek Discovery and try to answer a question that’s been burning in my mind since it’s premiere.
Love it or leave it, Star Trek Discovery is definitely a conversation piece. Set 10 years before Captain Kirks historic Journey aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise as depicted in the Original Series, Star Trek Discovery follows Michael Burnham and her journey from fall to redemption.
One of Season 1’s biggest plot points is the Federations first war with the Klingon Empire. The biggest question I have about it though is, were the Klingons justified in starting that war?
My short answer, YES, but here’s why…
Who are the Klingons?
At first glance, they’re a warrior race. One which prides itself on honour and Strength. But when you dig deeper, you find a very complex race with its own set of laws and rules. Killing and deaths are a standard part of Klingon culture. Become cowardly or infirm and it’s you’re time to go, and Klingon law and society supports this. In contrast, The Federation is an amalgamation of different like-minded cultures. Exploration and generally being helpful is their motto. Let’s work together to make the galaxy better. This in itself is a problem when it comes to getting these two diametrically opposed races together as allies, but that’s not really the larger problem.
We know that in the TNG Era the Federation is at peace and completely an ally to Klingon Empire. The two powers tend to generally work well together, so what changed? How did this become possible?
The federation has high ideals and if we analyze how these ideals most likely came to be we can see a HUGE problem with the Federation. I’ve always pictured all the founding races of the Federation in a room together laying out the rules and regulations that all the member worlds would have to live by. And given that all those races are culturally similar those rules work well. Even the creation of the Prime Directive, most likely proposed by the Vulcans, makes it seem like the federation is the good guys. But it’s my opinion that in Discoveries and TOS’s ERA they’re not. The federation is suffering from a belief in its own propaganda and good wishes.
T’Kuvma is very clear in his opinion of the federation and their lies. When Captain Georgiou says, “We come in Peace,” He goes off on an angry tirade about how that actually means the destruction of the Klingons sense of individuality and their culture, a feeling held by Klingons into the events of star trek 6 the undiscovered country.
Nicholas Myer, who wrote Star Trek 6, has said we’ve seen the ending, now let’s see the beginning. In that movie, we hear a line that seems to the basis for season 1 of Star Trek Discovery.
And she’s right. Human rights, that is a racist term. Especially when you consider that humanity is but a mere fraction of all the races in Star Trek Universe. It shows that although the Federation is supposed to respect and value other cultures they mistakenly believe that their way is the right and only way…
Imagine if the Klingons were to become part of the federation in this era, what would happen? Many times in TOS we see Captain Kirk bestow the virtues of the federation and the prime directive but does the federation actually follow the Prime Directive?
In the TOS episode A Taste of Armageddon we can clearly see they do not. Eminiar 7 is a world that has been at war for centuries, but instead of using bombs and guns against their neighbouring planet Vendicar, they use computers to calculate casualties and then those individuals are sent to disintegration chambers to meet their fate. In warps the Enterprise with orders from Starfleet to make contact with the Eminians and the Eminians immediately say they don’t want to have contact, then an ambassador orders the Enterprise to the planet anyhow. That’s the first violation of the prime directive right there. Don’t alien races have the right to govern their own space and have a say as to who is allowed to enter it? Shouldn’t Kirk have been able to say no to the ambassador, that approaching Eminiar would be violating general order 1 and that be that?
Continuing on, the enterprise crew is calculated as a casualty in the computer war, so what does Kirk do? Does he find a way to beam up and get the Enterprise out of there? Does he beam down his crew to support general order 1 and atone for the first violation? No instead he goes on to destroy one of the death chambers and threaten the planet with real annihilation from the Enterprise’s weapons. In the end, Kirk and Spock destroy the war computer and it is implied that the ambassador is going to help establish diplomatic relations with the Vendikans in order to hammer out a peace.
Now I’m not saying that this isn’t morally correct from a human standpoint, but what I am saying is what right did the federation, specifically, Kirk have to do what he did. It was an alien planet with their own customs and laws that the federation then swooped in and said, we don’t like this and we’re going to change it. Doesn’t the Prime Directive protect other races from exactly this type of interference? And that’s only one example, there are many from TOS.
So that just goes to show that though the federation loves to say the prime directive and bestow its virtues on the universe the reality is that the federation only approves of races that conform to its own ideals. And before you say that’s not true, think about it, Kirk disobeyed the prime directive and was never punished for that. From that, We can infer that the federations supported his actions.
Now back to the Klingons. The idea of peace would be great but what would the federation do the moment the Klingons conquered another race? Would this ERA federation say that’s ok, remember we have general order 1? As desperate calls for help come from the conquered race? As the Klingons begin killing that races leaders would the federation of this ERA turn a blind eye? Or would they bring sanctions against the Klingon Empire for behaving exactly as it always had? How can you have peace that way?
The answer, you cant. In order for the Klingon Empire to be at peace in this Era with the federation would mean that one side would have to give up a lot of its values and morals. That means it’s more likely that the Klingon Empire, one race would have to give up its values to conform the federation, many races, norms. Is that fair?
Of course to the Klingons this would look like the federation was a disease spreading across the quadrant assimilating species after species and making them conform to their way. And of course, they’d want to fight back and stop that. Imagine if someone came to you and said you want to be a citizen in this country you have to live by the following rules, anyone over 50 is to be killed and you must open every dialogue with a knife fight, would you fight against that to preserve your humanity?
We see the federation and its values as correct and decent but what we tend to forget is that there are always other viewpoints and the Klingons are no less correct than us. There really is no impartial person that can go ahead and examine both cultures and decide who’s way to live is better. We just believe our moral compass is correct because it’s been ingrained in our brains as far back as we can remember.
By the TNG ERA, it seems the federation has changed a lot. The prime directive is adhered to almost painful results sometimes. And I imagine that came from the Khitomer accord with the Klingons. When a dialogue was established and peace treated was hammered out the federation realized that they had to change how they did things. That they had to truly abide by the meaning of their words. They might not always like it, but it had to be done.
But T’kuvma was right. The federation would have either expected the Klingons to confirm to federation ideals or they would have ended up going to war anyhow. Those were really the only 2 options, so the Klingons made a choice to draw a line in the sand, that they would fight to keep their culture and their identity. And to me, they made the right choice…
Watch episode 1