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Prime Directive

Data Logan

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 331

Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:31 am

WHAT IS STARFLEET’S PRIME DIRECTIVE?

I’ve argued about the moral choices you make when you choose to interact with races. And I’ve argued that saving lives is more important than not interfering. But to apply these arguments to the Prime Directive, you first have to understand what the PD is.

As lostshaker points out, “No episode contains a legal definition of the Prime Directive; it's always been paraphrased.”

lostshaker goes on to say that only the TOS episode "Bread and Circuses gives a clear definition of what the Prime Directive includes:
Spock: Then the Prime Directive is in full force, Captain?
Kirk: No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet.
McCoy: No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or more advanced civilizations.”

So the PD clearly states something along the lines of “thou shall not interfere with the social development of others,” which includes not revealing the existing of other races to ones (like the race in Bread and Circuses) that still believe they are alone in the universe.
But it does not follow that the PD allows for absolutely no interface with other races. Otherwise Kirk and company wouldn’t be allowed to beam down at all.

Also notice, in that very same episode out-take listed above, Kirk says that the PD is in “full force”. This implies that the PD has many different facets. It is not a clear-cut “never interact with anyone at all” kind of law. Remember that later in Bread and Circuses that Scott uses the might of the Enterprise to knock out power in an entire major city on the planet and his actions are lauded by Kirk as “obeying” the PD. Obviously, the PD allows for a little interaction when necessary.
As subytrek stated, “the Prime Directive cannot be applied the same way every time”
And Narada stated, “Sometimes the Prime Directive is broken to accomplish something which is perceived to be right.”

There’s obviously some line that Starfleet members can cross in order to help protect people and societies. (See my post later on about things that override the PD.)

Perhaps, as SLagonia states, when you get deep enough into trouble we may be able to take actions: “We're not talking about curing a disease that is causing many to die, we're talking about a disease causing all of them to die with no hope of cure. We're not talking about a small meteor that might kill some people when it falls, we're talking about a planet-killing asteroid. We're not talking about a volcanic eruption that might destroy a city, we're talking about a geological event that will wipe all life on the planet out.”

In the TOS episode Return of the Archons, Kirk and Spock talked about the Prime Directive:
Kirk: Laundru must die.
Spock: Captain, our Prime Directive of non-interference.
Kirk: That refers to a living, growing culture.

I don’t agree with tribblenator999 when he says the “prime directive specifically states that starfleet can not interfere with the natural … destruction of a planet of a prewarp civilization. So if an asteroid is going to destroy a pre warp species planet, too bad for those people.” This is a view of the Prime Directive that is too strict and doesn’t allow for our humanity to come out.

I’m more inclined to agree with Narada, who stated the PD “is not a god like entity that is not meant to be questioned but instead it is something that should be questioned. Even as a guiding principal there can still be an exception to the rules. The Prime Directive has been debated on screen in Star Trek many times and sometimes the Captain even breaks this rule.”
Or SLagonia, who stated “the PD was not a suicide pact. When the healthy development of a civilization was threatened, Kirk would act and allow them to develop in a natural and unfettered way. The PD was not designed to hurt the encountered race, it was designed to help them.”

Yes, it’s unclear exactly what the PD rule says for Starfleet members. It’s certainly says to not interfere, but there is room for debate.
In TNG Drumhead it is mentioned that Picard had “violated the Prime Directive a total of nine times since [he] took command.”
OK, so doing things like saving Wesley Crusher’s life in TNG Justice was a “violation” of the PD. Sure. But how much of a violation? It wasn’t enough to put Picard on trial (which Starfleet did earlier just because he’d lost the Stargazer). But it was enough for Admiral Sate to call it a “violation.”

Whatever the exact wording of the PD, there is certainly some room for Starfleet members to operate within. It’s just a matter of what level of scrutiny they get.

Data Logan

Data Logan

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POSTS: 331

Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:32 am

A MATTER OF TIME SCALE:
MrsStarbuck questioned “ what if we were to save a race who then started a war with us and wiped us out? How do we know which races we should and shouldn't save?”
And Narada restated that as: “later the pre warp civilization may become a very big problem all because of Federation involvement.”
And exodus201 stated, “I see problems occurring long term from this short term "solution".”

OK, people; you can go crazy with these speculations. We need to keep the timetable a little more practical.
Remember that the Prime Directive is a tool of the Federation government.
A tool of mortal beings. Beings that all have lifespans no more than a few hundred years.
They need to and do operate on a time scale that’s meaningful to them, their children, and their civilization.
Moral decisions like those of the PD need to be based on the situation as it exists today and worry about the future later. (See more discussion below on Probabilities and Informed Decisions.)
Don’t worry as much about the race that may evolve on that planet, worry more about the sentient species that is already there. All life is precious, but in my opinion real current life is more important than future possible life.

As captbates stated, “through time [our decisions] have an effect on the wider region, but who's to say that won't be a good thing?”

Data Logan

Data Logan

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POSTS: 331

Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:33 am

A MATTER OF RESOURCES:

We must remember that Prime Directive is not just a matter of straight black-and-white moral decisions. There is also the issue of resource availability. Even if the Federation wanted to be “the police of the galaxy” they don’t have enough resources to do so. I think you have to come up with priorities. On the most immediate level is survival, maintaining the resources and trading lanes open that allow the Federation planets to continue to survive and thrive. This includes defending against outside hostile forces bent on taking over Federation planets, etc. During this, you should observe the sovereign rights of independent systems as much as possible.
If you get in situations of moral praiseworthiness such as saving the lives of a doomed prewar civilization, questions of resources may become more difficult. Depending on how plentiful the Federation is at the time, they may or may choose to help. Remember, there is no moral obligation to help, but there is a certain freedom to do so. If it’s as simple as sending one ship to redirect an asteroid’s trajectory a little, that would be easy enough and probably undertaken. But if you have to relocate an entire planet of people because it’s become untenable, that would certainly be more difficult. Especially if you are trying to do so without revealing to them that other races even exist because you don’t want to disturb their unique culture. As lostshaker states, “After making first contact with Earth the Vulcans stayed for the long haul. Would we be prepared to do the same?” For years, or even generations, the displaced people would become dependent on their Federation benefactors. It may take that long for them to become self-sufficient again. Does the Federation have the resources to commit to such a long effort? (Read the TOS anthology Mere Anarchy for a good example of this type of long-term aide project.)
(Which is not to even get into the certain effect it would have on their cultural development, which we’ve discussed earlier.)

Some have argued against this logic because it strains the Federation resources.
Dbear1 stated he was concerned that “it would be an easy trap to fall into, trying to do the right thing for a less advanced race, but picking and choosing who you helped.”
And Narada took this one step further: “How long until the Federation becomes responsible for helping any and every life form?”
lostshaker states, “if the Federation were to intervene … the Federation would be responsible … and have to commit more resources to address the evolving problem. In which case, the Federation is committing its resources towards the needs of the one (the pre-warp planet with maybe billions of people) rather than the needs of the many (allied planets with a potential population numbering in trillions).”
lostshaker also states, “The problem with offering aid under these circumstances is that it sets precedent for the interaction of other species. Too soon a single planet is spreading its resources thin because it's trying to solve the problems of half a dozen worlds. Then who decides what resources are better spent at which place?”
Who decides? Well, the government of the race with the power to help makes those decisions, of course. (See more on this below in the section of Chain of Command.) But to not make the decision is a big cop-out. Indecision is just another way of saying you care more about yourselves than helping others. Selfish, if you ask me. If you have the resources and you care about life (which the Federation does), then make the right moral choice to help out.

In a related topic, even the form that help takes is often determined by resource availability.
As TheRepublic stated in the case of an easily-cured epidemic, “There are many ways the Federation, which is a technologically-advanced society, can [help] without even said species knowing they're being helped by aliens. For example they can put the cure in the people's water supplies. The locals would then just assume that the epidemic is over. Or heck they can surgically make themselves look like the locals and just help with the process in developing a cure. They can do this by making suggestions that would lead their medical experts on the path to discovering the cure themselves. So in this situation, the Federation helped, but didn't straight out give them the cure. All in all what I'm trying to say is that the Federation has the means to help out without the locals even knowing.”
The choice of which method is use in helping will depend on the resources available, especially the resource of time. Just make the best decision you can at the time based on maximizing help while minimizing social contamination.

Data Logan

Data Logan

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POSTS: 331

Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:34 am

PRIME DIRECTIVE APPLIES TO EVERYONE:

I think it’s crazy to think that the Federation would condone (or even allow) a violation of the Prime Directive by anyone just because they are not Starfleet members.

While the PD may be a Starfleet General Order, made to govern how Starfleet personnel interact with other civilizations, that does not mean that other segments of Federation society don’t have laws governing them as well.
Just as the USA’s Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is a conglomeration of civilian laws that came before it, the PD is most likely based on other laws that exist outside the bounds of Starfleet.

Maybe the PD did start within Starfleet. In the early days of space travel (even up to Archer’s time) space exploration was the domain of federal/planetary organizations like the United Earth Space Probe Agency (USPA) and its exploration branch, the Starfleet. They were the only ones with ship’s fast enough to reach races and planets previously unexplored. They would get more training on these issues since they are more likely to encounter them.

But, certainly, the Federation became big enough and civilian space travel fast enough, that laws would have to have been made to govern everyone’s interactions with other races. By the 23rd century there are pre-warp civilizations that exist entirely within the boundaries of the Federation. Civilian freighter pilots would have to follow authorized space lanes that avoid these systems of pre-warp civilizations until such time as Starfleet and the Federation Diplomatic Corps set up relations with them.

To say that someone couldn’t be held responsible for their effects on another race just because they were not members of Starfleet is ludicrous. Regardless of the statements made in TNG Angel One or Homeward or by other posters on this Message Board.

Sometimes we forget that just because all Star Trek shows have centered around a Starfleet crew that does not mean that entire other segments of Federation civilization don’t exist and have their own laws, etc.

And even non-Federation citizens would be held accountable, if possible, for any crimes they commit against the spirit of the PD, even if the law itself does not apply to them. Again, this is similar to our Earth today. We have Geneva Conventions and international laws that we can question people on.

In a related discussion, the PD definitely applies to all societies and races, whether pre-warp or post-warp.
Remember, when MrsStarbuck asked “what should that matter whether they're pre or post warp?”
I agree with lostshaker’s study of this “In regard to pre and post warp civilizations, don't focus so much on the act of 'us' playing god, but consider the abilities (technological, social, political) of the civilization under question. Warp Drive sets a technological bar that shows a race capable of going out into the galaxy and discovering other life - it shows that the planet has socially/politically evolved to where it takes this unified step. The Federation monitors these cultures and chooses this time for introductions so that Contact can be made peacefully under diplomatic terms instead of a chance encounter that may lead to war (which could cause the race in question to possibly become xenophobic). Also, warp drive requires a significant step in the utilization of energy. Generally speaking, if a civilization can provide power for a warp driven vessel, then it can provide and divide the energy and resources for its inhabitants. Warp Capable species also have the means to establish and pursue diplomatic relations. A pre-warp civilization, however, does not. They're planet bound for the time being. This could potentially cause the planet's inhabitants to develop an inferiority complex. They know there are other aliens out in the galaxy, but they don't have the same capabilities. a state of dependency, which is generally not a good way to enter into any relationship. It certainly doesn't represent the beginnings of a healthy relationship. The Prime Directive has many facets, but is principally concerned with giving civilizations the chance to develop on their own terms.”
And exodus201 added to this: “Sticking with civilaztaion that are warp capable, usually means that species has be exposed to other beings and are less likely to have reprecussions due to the fear of the unknown because those beings might not be socially or technologically different.”

“Giving civilizations the chance to develop on their own terms” includes all civilizations, both pre- and post-warp capable. You still need to worry about cultural contamination and trying not to overpower another society with your values just because you like them for yourself.
While lostshaker points out that “interference includes introducing superior knowledge … to a world whose society is incapable of handling such …. That includes the knowledge of life elsewhere. That alone can challenge the fundamental beliefs of a society in way that is not normal and unhealthy. And how do you judge which society can handle what knowledge wisely?”
Once a society has meet other space-faring races their culture has to adapt to the fact that other life exists. So you don’t need to worry, necessarily, about not revealing that other races exist, but you still have to worry about other forms of cultural contamination. But at least you are meeting on a more level playing field. Or trading field.
As MrsStarbuck pointed out, the Prime Directive states to “not to interfere in the internal affairs of another species”. This includes “refusing to interfere in internal matters such as the Klingon Civil War”.
Other examples pointed out by others on this message board:
Dbear1 stated “Sometimes they would cite the PD when dealing with warp capable cultures, example when Voyager in Caretaker was going to destroy the array to avoid it falling into Kazon hands, Tuvok brought up the question of the PD because it could change the balance of power in that region of space.”
ssmukhi points out that in DS9 episode Emissary Picard gives Sisko the direction “to do everything short of violating the Prime Directive” in regards to Bajor.

Again, this does not mean that the Federation cannot interact with these races, or even trade in good conscience.
Take ServalanFan’s example, for instance, “I don't see how the PD applied to warp civilsations. Would the Federation refuse to supply say a cure for a deadly disease on such a planet because it violated the PD?”
I would argue that it does not violate the PD to interact with another race in good faith, a race who comes to the bargaining table as equals. Just because we happen to have a little knowledge they don’t does not mean that we are not allowed to share it with them. Just think of the disease cures we Federation got from others (like the Fabrini in TOS For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky).

ServalanFan also raises the question “Are Federation members exempt from the PD being applied to them?” or “Would they allow slave-owning members in the Federation or human-sacrificers say? I think the Federation must have some standards despite the PD.”
I would say, absolutely yes. Federation members have to agree on certain cultural norms. No slavery. Democratic government. Etc.
You give up a little of your independence when you join a bigger organization like the Federation.
But the benefits outweigh the cost.

The Federation is slow and methodical when dealing with pre-warp civilizations. Even more so as we travel further in the future into Picard’s 24th century vice Archer’s 22nd or Kirk’s 23rd.
Generally, the Federation tries to avoid relations with pre-warp races. Because of all the issues brought up before with balance of power.
I think you just saw more of this later in time because the Federation simply had more resources and time to allow themselves to wait. They had the experience to make better decisions on when to make first contact or interact with other races.

Sometimes, like in ENT Dear Doctor you find a pre-warp civilization that has already had contact with other races. And if the race seems OK with that, then it allows the Federation to open up the possibility of contact with then sooner. And if the contact that the pre-warp race has had with other races has been detrimental, like in TOS A Private Little War, then the Federation may actually choose to help out. This is really just another situation where you’ve happen upon a race that is in a danger not caused by you. Since it was not caused by you, you have no moral obligation to help. But it may still be morally praiseworthy. Then it becomes a question of resources and politics. Do you take the time and energy to help out, or do you avoid the issue because it’s happening in somebody else’s back yard?
As lostshaker stated about the issue in A Private Little War, “So while the ENT flew off in the end, it's my conclusion that "we arm our side with exactly that much more" was a collective 'we', as in Starfleet. I always thought Kirk apprised Starfleet of the situation, and Starfleet sent a team to monitor the situation. I don't think Starfleet would've let the Klingons continue to arm the inhabitants unfairly. The Federation would have worked diplomatically to get the Klingons to withdraw, possibly using the Organian Peace Treaty.”
I do not agree with ServalanFan when he states “I think once the Klingons entered the picture that all bets on the PD were off.” You still have to worry about minimizing the cultural contamination. Even though some contamination has happen and Tyree’s people know of races from other planets, efforts should still be made to try and allow the race to continue on its own. (Just like Picard did in TNG Who Watches the Watchers?.) The PD still applies.

Similar issues were certainly debated on the floor of the Federation Council over the question of the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor.
I don’t think the situation is as straight-forward as Narada states: "The Federation could not intervene in the situation, due to Prime Directive considerations; since Bajor had formally aligned itself with the Cardassians some time before, it was considered an internal matter between the Cardassian Union and a member/subject planet."
The Federation had came to the aide of planets in similar situations before (like TOS A Private Little War, although I do understand the circumstances were different.)
It’s just a matter of resources. Did the Federation have the power to fight another war with the Cardassians over the planet? Or do they just put their efforts into diplomatic attempts. (This was developed more in the DS9 Terok Nor books.) Yes, not the greatest answer; but maybe the most practical the Federation could make under the circumstances.

Questions of whether the Bajorans were warp-capable or not are academic. The PD applies in either case. And the questions of whether or not to assist are still tough to make. Still, to respond to:
exodus201 “I thought the Bajorian weren't warp capable but their society was contaminated already by Cardassian technology.”
ssmukhi argues that they do have warp technology. But that just means that they currently do. They may have gained that information from Cardassians during the Occupation. (That explanation was used in the DS9 Terok Nor novel trilogy.) It was always stated that the Bajorans were pretty technologically stagnant, having remained at very much the same level of technology throughout the entire history of the human race.
Then again, they did have solar sailing ships that went all the way to Cardassia and back (DS9 Explorers). It may not be warp drive, but it’s certainly extra-celestial, which is much the same.

Data Logan

Data Logan

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POSTS: 331

Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:34 am

PROBABLITIES AND INFORMED DECISIONS:
Some arguments have been made against helping other less-developed races just because we may not know exactly what the outcome is.
exodus201 argued, “what if our helping … makes it worse? It's ignorant to believe that what works for us will work for everybody.”
And lostshaker stated, “it's arrogant to believe that the civilization will die because your projections say so”
lostshaker “we don't truly know that the planet is doomed - that is only our assessment, which could be wrong.”
lostshaker “It assumes the civilization will die instead of adapting or finding ways of surviving should they encounter turmoil.”
lostshaker “There are numerous factors to consider. If the planet in question rests deep within the solar system, then it's quite possible that the outer planets or even the 'doomed' planet's moon(s) might block the impact.”
lostshaker “They might use this potential disaster to inaugurate peace and cooperation throughout their world to deal with the event. Spaceflight and advanced weaponry could be devised”
lostshaker “As for which action may do the most harm... that is unforeseeable.”
lostshaker “humans are not clairvoyant and even computer models have proven inaccurate into the 24th Century.”

But I feel more along the lines of the person who said on this message board that “it will be very clear to anyone with a computer what will intersect the course of the asteroid. If there's a 0.0000001% chance they will be saved by an unknown variable, I don't think that would be enough to warrant gambling all of their lives over.”

Nothing is certain in life. We must make the best choice we can based on the information we have.
Nothing is certain, but moral decisions still need to be made.

As Kirk said in TOS Tomorrow is Yesterday:
“The enormous danger potential in any contact with life and intelligence … But I must point out that the possibilities, the potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great. Risk. Risk is our business. That’s what this Starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.”

Still, lostshaker does have a point about the Federation might wanting to hold out its help as long as possible. As lostshaker states “Innovation is spawned by necessity and sometimes it takes the 11th hour for people to realize what needs to be done.” At least in the cases where the race is reasonably capable of reaching that goal. Don’t expect people at the bronze age to suddenly develop space travel or nuclear weapons.

Data Logan

Data Logan

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 331

Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:35 am

THE CHAIN OF COMMAND IN PRIME DIRECTIVE:

There has been a little debate on this message board about who holds the power to make decisions about the PD:
Some argue it’s the Starfleet captain:
Narada “choice is up to the Captain who chooses to help and to do so they must violate the Prime Directive”
And some argue that the authority is held at a higher level:
exodus201 “it isn't up to just one captain of one starship to make this choice. ¿It would be up to the Federation itself, the captain would only be the middle man.”
exodus201 “Sorry but no way is just a captain of a starship alone is responsible for the fate of an entire civilization. Kirk, Picard & Sisko always referred back to Starfleet Command on decisions such as this. This is still the military, there's still a chain of command and diplomatic and political channels to go through. Starfleet & the Federation both are run by people higher than captains.”
I believe the answer is more along the lines of what SLagonia says:
SLagonia “So the solution is to leave it up to the captain, but to educate the captain on proper enforcement,”
SLagonia states a Starfleet captain is “held accountable to their superiors after the fact.”

To add to this:
I think that all Starfleet personnel must get training in the PD. Just so they have some idea what to do in case they find themselves alone having to deal with PD implications. Think about situations where a lowly Starfleet member crashed on a pre-warp planet like in VGR The Muse or TNG Legacy or TNG Thine Own Self or VGR Critical Care. Even Starfleet ensigns and non-comms need training in the PD and may have to make decisions based on it without immediate feedback from their captains, etc.
Certainly those of higher authority require more training. The captain of an exploration ship would probably get the most training. He would also generally be chosen from those with the most experience and history of making right decisions.

PD questions are generally pretty big. Having sweeping repercutions. As SLagonia stated, we are talking about “living, breathing people, not subjects on a slideshow at Starfleet Academy.” These decisions should and would be made at the highest level possible.
Then it comes down to a matter of resources. Do the Starfleet personnel have available communications to talk to Starfleet for support? Is there time to wait so that the decision can be debated by the Admiralty, or even the Federation Council? Or do we have to make a decision right now based on the best information available because lives are at stake?

TOS A Private Little War Kirk had time to talk to Starfleet for a long-term solution. As lostshaker stated “So while the ENT flew off in the end, it's my conclusion that "we arm our side with exactly that much more" was a collective 'we' as in Starfleet. I always thought Kirk apprised Starfleet of the situation, and Starfleet sent a team to monitor the situation. I don't think Starfleet would've let the Klingons continue to arm the inhabitants unfairly. The Federation would have worked diplomatically to get the Klingons to withdraw, possibly using the Organian Peace Treaty”

Side note:
Remember what Worf said in TNG Pen Pals:
“There are no options. The Prime Directive is not a matter of degrees. It is an absolute.”
I think this speaks to two things:
(1) Lower ranking Starfleet officers generally have a more narrow view of the PD. They don’t have the years of experience in dealing with it and its many facets. As Worf said in TNG Lonely Among Us, Starfleet junior officers are there to “learn, learn, learn.”
(2) This says something about Worf himself. I know Worf is a very intelligent man. But he is also a man who “learned” early on that if he lets himself go that bad things can happen. Remember that young boy he killed in the soccer game (mentioned in DS9 Let He Who Is Without Sin…)? Worf, especially at this young age, tends to reach for those black-and-white answers. He sticks to the rigid answer whenever possible. It makes him feel more secure that nothing bad will happen again.

Data Logan

Data Logan

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POSTS: 331

Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:36 am

THINGS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PRIME DIRECTIVE:
The Federation does acknowledge that some things are more important than avoiding cultural contamination at all cost (the Prime Directive).
As kludge77 mentions, the Federations has given Starfleet standing orders to destroy Omega particles, as shown in the VGR episode Omega Directive.

Saving lives is more important than avoiding all interaction with pre-warp civilizations.
Often this takes the form of saving fellow Starfeet crew members even though you have to interact a little with a pre-warp society.

When Kirk talks about Captain Tracey’s violation of the PD in TOS The Omega Glory:
“…interfering with the evolution on this planet. It seems impossible – a star captain’s most solemn oath is that he will give his life, even his entire crew, rather than violate the Prime Directive”
He is not saying that Tracey shouldn’t have ever beamed down to the planet at all. He’s not saying that Tracey shouldn’t have interacted with the native population in order to get food, etc, to stay alive.
The “violation” that Tracey made was far more heiness: he had given the Coms access to advance weaponry (phasers) and was actively encouraging them to destroy the native Yangs, even leading thousands of them to their death.

We have seen many examples of stranded Starfleet personnel interacting with other societies in order to save their own stranded selves (VGR The Muse or TNG Legacy or TNG Thine Own Self, for example). This is alright because each time they are actively trying to minimize cultural contamination.
Saving lives is more important that strictly enforcing the PD by saying you have to die in order to not interact with the native population.

Sometimes, just saving your crew’s lives requires pretty significant interaction with the native population.
In episodes like The Return of the Archons, The Apple, and A Taste of Armageddon, the Enterprise is put under imminent danger by the society. It is because of this that Kirk is forced to fight back against their societal norms. It can certainly be argued that all of these societies were unhealthy. But that alone is not enough to interact with their natural state (at least not without permission from higher authority). If the Enterprise and her people had not been threatened, then Kirk should have just left and reported the issue to the Federation. Then the Federation could consider harsher methods that would change these sovereign societies. Perhaps start with diplomats to try and encourage change, or convince the population that there is a better way. Then, with the people asking for help it would be more appropriate to “send in the guns” and destroy the issue with the society.
As it was, since Enterprise and crew were in danger, I think Kirk should be given more leniency to make the decision more quickly. Starfleet members are allowed to spread cultural contamination to save their own lives, as long as they try and minimize it. (Although it could certainly be argued that Kirk could have minimized his influence a little more and still saved his crew.)

I think we would all agree with SLagonia, who said “It is wrong to destroy an entire culture just to better a few lives.” But saving a few lives is worth a little interaction with the culture; as long as you aren’t detrimental.

What else might be more important than the PD?
ServalanFan seems to feel that “Starfleet didn't seem to be interested in maintaining the PD if a planet had big supplies of dilithium or something else they wanted.”
I don’t think that is generally the case, unless the Federation is in pretty dire straights.
As lostshaker theorizes, “I further speculated that a lot of pre-warp civilizations were contacted during the Romulan Wars, just prior to the formation of the Federation, to acquire these resources for the war. Starfleet Captains had different takes on what would become the non-interference policy, but most decided contacting pre-warp civilizations and bartering for resources would be better than Romulan Rule - which would surely be devastating.”

Remember in Star Trek: Insurrection when the Federation was making planets protectorates even though they were barely warp-capable? This happens during times of hardship (Dominion War was going on). First you lower your standards a little for protectorateship. Then what? Certainly if the war went really bad (like maybe the Romulan war did), you would choose to make first contact with pre-warp societies a little early in order to ask them for their help/resources. You can even argue that it’s the better thing to do. Certainly after the Dominion conquers all the Federation they would move on to conquer the other less-threatening pre-warp civilizations in the area. So these races were threatened by the war too, they just didn’t know it. I think if the war had been bad enough, the Federation probably would have chosen to make contact with races a little earlier than normal. You can consider that that would be “lowering their standards” but I think it’s just a practical and moral decision.
Wouldn’t we, for instance, as a pre-warp civilization, want to be contacted by the Rylan Star League and asked to help fight against the Ko-Dan Armada, vice just sitting here in ignorance waiting to be conquered?

What else is more important than the PD?
Here’s one – how about helping out the Bajorans during the Cardassian Occupation. I think that would have been a better moral decision. (If we had the resources anyway.)

Data Logan

Data Logan

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Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:36 am

THE WAY THE PRIME DIRECTIVE WAS HANDLED BY STARFLEET IN DIFFERENT TIME PERIODS:

Captan_jean_luc_picard_1A: “The prime directive isn't perfect. But it was created in due process.”

lostshaker “the Prime Directive wasn't made law until long after the Federation came into existence. So it wasn't just Earth and Vulcan that decided on this course of action.”
lostshaker “In TOS the PD had just recently been established so there was a lot of visiting worlds and assessing the damage, and some people still disagreed with the PD.”
lostshaker “I always figured these were cultures that had been contacted heavily before the PD became law and relations of sorts had been established with positive results.”
lostshaker “The Prime Directive in TOS was a relatively new law and the civilizations visited had previously been contacted or studied before. The crew was often going to these planets to determine the cultural contamination of earlier starships such as the Horizon in A Piece of the Action”

SLagonia “The PD was an enlightened philosophy. It reminded our crews that we were out there to explore, not colonize.”
SLagonia “The PD as it is applied in the post-TNG years (before that it was an enlightened directive) is nothing but a selfish doctrine designed to protect the Federation from responsibility and extra work.”

Narada “The Prime Directive is designed to protect pre warp civilizations but also the Federation. This is not a selfish law to deny responsibility but it is a very realistic measure which must be taken for many reasons.”

I don’t have much to add to this discussion thread. I agree that Starfleet seemed more reluctant to interact with races in the 24th century than they were in the 23rd or 22nd. I think a lot of this can be chalked up to the Federation having more resources in the later centuries and therefore had more ability to wait out the issue or take the long safe road. But I also feel that they too often used that as a crutch to not get involved in things they really should have.

Data Logan

Data Logan

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Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:37 am

THE WAY THE PRIME DIRECTIVE WAS HANDLED BY THE WRITERS IN DIFFERENT TIME PERIODS:

While the show bibles were very similar in their description of the PD, I do think there have been changes to how the PD was used over the course of the show.

SLagonia quotes from the TOS bible "As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation"

lostshaker quotes from the TNG writers bible "Starfleet General Order Number One says that we do not have the right to interfere with the natural process of evolution on any planet or with the culture there. This is the Prime Directive. Any Captain who does find it necessary to violate the Prime Directive had better be ready to present a sound defense of his actions," (Star Trek: TNG Writers/Directors Guide, pg. 56).

I generally see the point made by
SLagnoia “By the time Gene was kicked upstairs, his successors took all of the superficial aspects of the directive and left the soul behind. No longer was this directive designed to protect the observed, it was now designed to protect the observer. It protected them from liability and responsibility. They didn't need to worry about the life they encountered and could just dismiss them as primitive life forms and move on. If they were wiped out, so be it. Not our problem.”

Dbear1 “I think the PD was always a problem for the different writers of the shows. Sometimes they tried to make it a hard and fast law and other times they portrayed it as a concept.”
Dbear1 “The PD I always thought was not really used in a even handed fashion by the writers for all the different shows. It was fudged a bit when the writers thought it was needed to advance the plot.”

My general feeling on this issue is to remember that it is just a TV show. I’m glad they tried as hard as they did to present our Starfleet characters making the best moral decision. But even when they didn’t (in order to advance some plotline), at least the issues were making it on TV and allowing people to consider. They did a much better job of this on the TV show, I think, than they did in the movies. Picard, for some inexplicable reason, was much more likely to pull the trigger during the movies than he did during the TV show.

Data Logan

Data Logan

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Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:38 am

TEMPORAL PRIME DIRECTIVE

tribblenator999 “the krenim bad guy in the year of hell episode made the best analogy. Everything is linked together. Everything exists in a domino effect. When chakotay ran that simulation of destroying that comet it wiped out life in a 50 light year radius. That comet left alone would've given life to lifeforms for 50 lightyears. Same in this situation with the prime directive. Everything happens with a reason or purpose.”
captbates “if it's history they shouldn't be foolin with it at all”

I would rather just not fool around with time travel at all. But if we must, I think there is a pretty direct parallel between the PD and the Temporal PD.
In the case of the TPD it is the time travelers from further along in the timeline (the players with future knowledge compared to the others) that become the “more advanced” culture that needs to follow the PD.
The future players need to actively work to minimize changes in the timeline, just as the Federation should actively work to minimize cultural contamination.

Data Logan

Data Logan

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Report this Sep. 04 2010, 10:38 am

MY TAKE ON PRIME DIRECTIVE DECISIONS FROM DIFFERENT EPISODES:

Like captbates, I also agree with the "duck blinds" and preventing cultural contamination like in TNG Who Watches the Watchers

Like starbase63, I agree with the attempt by Starfleet to divert an asteroid threatening to strike a planet, while at the same time trying to avoid contact with the native pre-warp civilization, like in TOS The Paradise Syndrome

I agree with what Kirk did in TOS A Private Little War. Although, I agree with lostshaker when he says “I always thought Kirk apprised Starfleet of the situation, and Starfleet sent a team to monitor the situation. I don't think Starfleet would've let the Klingons continue to arm the inhabitants unfairly. The Federation would have worked diplomatically to get the Klingons to withdraw, possibly using the Organian Peace Treaty.”

Even though it never really happen in the episode, I agree with Captan_jean_luc_picard_1A that Janeway should leave the race in VGR Time and Again alone to learn for themselves the hazards of that energy system.

I liked the way Picard handled the situation between Ornarans and Brekkians in TNG Symbyosis. At least it dealt with the immediate problem without getting the Federation too involved in local politics, but while also supporting the idea that the drug addiction should end. Still, I think the Federation should follow up on that, possibly help the Ornarans with their drug withdraw or volunteering as a neutral party between the two planets as they try to develop a more mutually beneficial relationship. Assuming they are both open to the idea, that is.

I agreed with how Kirk handled the situations in Bread and Circuses and Patterns of Force. Federation citizens and Starfleet members had interfered with the natural development of the planets and Kirk did his best to counteract the interaction they had.

In episodes like The Return of the Archons, The Apple, and A Taste of Armageddon, the Enterprise is put under immanent danger by the society. It is because of this that Kirk is forced to fight back against their societal norms. It can certainly be argued that all of these societies were unhealthy. But that alone is not enough to interact with their natural state. If the Enterprise and her people had not been threatened, then Kirk should have just left and reported the issue to the Federation. Then the Federation could consider harsher methods that would change these sovereign societies. Perhaps start with diplomats to try and encourage change, or convince the population that there is a better way. Then, with the people asking for help it would be more appropriate to “send in the guns” and destroy the issue with the society.
As it was, since Enterprise and crew were in danger, I think Kirk should be given more leniency to make the decision more quickly. Starfleet members are allowed to spread cultural contamination to save their own lives, as long as they try and minimize it. (Although it could certainly be argued that Kirk could have minimized his influence a little more and still saved his crew.)

Like SLagonia, I disagree with the decision made by Archer and Phlox to not give the Valakians a cure for their genetic degradation in ENT Dear Doctor
Actually, let me modify that, I don’t think Archer should have given them the cure right away; he should have informed Starfleet of the issue and then let the Chain of Command decide. There was plenty of time to use the Chain of Command in this case. But, ultimately, I think Starfleet should have given the Valakians the cure. This is a matter of timeframe. Don’t kill off an entire race just to allow another race (the Mink) to maybe replace them some unknown number of millions of years later. As whyaduck argues, “Whether the Menk would have evolved if the Valakians were out of the picture was speculation.” Perhaps keep relations with the Valakians and help them see the benefits in letting the Menk develop on their own. Although, as SLagonia argues, “there was no evidence at all that the Menk were … being kept back. The only way to keep them back would be to selectively breed them, which obviously wasn't happening. In fact, the Menk were being treated very well - Far better than humanity has ever treated a lesser species here on Earth.”

Like Camorite, I disagree with the decision of the Federation in TNG Homeward to let the entire race of Boraalans die. I’m not sure what limiting resource made the Federation decide to not help them. Still, once Nikolai forced them into the situation, I think Picard handled it as best as he could to minimize cultural contamination. It’s just that the Federation should have done that in the first place.

Data Logan

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Report this Sep. 12 2010, 9:59 pm

I was just rewatching TOS episode For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky where Kirk says:
"the people of Yonada may be changed by the knowledge, but it's better than exterminating them ... and the three billion on Daran V"
To which Spock agrees "Logical, Captain"

Data Logan

Wildish

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Report this Sep. 13 2010, 5:35 pm

You may not be famillar with the Dr. Who tv series but I've oftain noted that Starfleet's Pime Directive is very similar to the Timelord's  Non-intervention Policy I'd be intressed in comparing


"In the valley of the blind, the one eyed man is king."

Data Logan

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Report this Oct. 14 2010, 6:04 pm

Note this older (but still very relevant) discussion of the Prime Directive as you read the more recent Prime Directive discussion thread. (I don't suppose anyone knows how to combine?) 


This keep showing up again in discussions. Again in Feb 2011, now

yarblis

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Report this Oct. 16 2010, 10:19 pm

I told you the Prime Directive was a tricky bit of business.


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