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Should the Federation have declared war on the Klingon Empire?

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At the beginning of ST IV, we see the Federation Council debating with the Klingon ambassador about the Klingons' destruction of USS Grissom and the killing of the crew and Dr Marcus, which the Klingons freely admit to. Wouldn't such a brazen act of aggression, coupled with the Klingons' utter lack of remorse afterward, have been a legitimate reason for the Federation to declare war? Yet nothing is done . Why?

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At the beginning of ST IV, we see the Federation Council debating with the Klingon ambassador about the Klingons' destruction of USS Grissom and the killing of the crew and Dr Marcus, which the Klingons freely admit to. Wouldn't such a brazen act of aggression, coupled with the Klingons' utter lack of remorse afterward, have been a legitimate reason for the Federation to declare war? Yet nothing is done . Why?

The Klingons could've always argued that Kruge and his crew were not operating on behalf of the Empire; that they'd gone rogue.   The Klingon Ambassador also made a claim that the Empire saw Project Genesis as a direct threat and that Kruge and his men (though acting rogue) were preserving their right to exist ("we have the right to preserve our race," he says).   Arguably, there's wrong on both sides.  

One assumes that the Treaty of Organia would've had some wording towards preventing an arms race between the two sides.  The Klingons saw Genesis as a abrogation of the treaty (even though its prime purpose was terraforming, we see in TWOK it could easily be perverted from its true use). 

IMO, "the Genesis incident" was a tragic happening; but not worth risking trillions of citizens over.   Especially considering that Kirk and crew did kill that crew and apprehend their vessel.  And as we see in "Yesterday's Enterprise" an ongoing war with the Klingons was futile and fruitless; and even potentially fatal to the UFP.   True, the Federation could've let the Klingons die after Praxis but later on (as the Organians predicted) the UFP needed the Klingons many times; in skirmishes with the Romulans ("The Defector") and even to help win the Dominion War ("What We Leave Behind").   Short-term aggression vs. long term sustainability. 

I say all-out war was not mandated. 

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Because the probe intervened.  A more pressing crisis.  Even in the real world, you have had instances where the destruction of aircraft have not led to war.  Russia, either in its days as the USSR or the Russian Federation of today, being responsible for or shooting down several airliners in places like Korea and Ukraine comes to mind.  Despite the deaths of the civilians it didn't lead to war.  The Grissom was a quasi-military ship so even less incentive.

Edited by kc1966

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At the beginning of ST IV, we see the Federation Council debating with the Klingon ambassador about the Klingons' destruction of USS Grissom and the killing of the crew and Dr Marcus, which the Klingons freely admit to. Wouldn't such a brazen act of aggression, coupled with the Klingons' utter lack of remorse afterward, have been a legitimate reason for the Federation to declare war? Yet nothing is done . Why?

Well, we didn't knew what the Empire done after that. It is actually possible that Empire may apologize and compensate.

Before anybody exclaimed that "this isn't the Klingon way, to apologize!", may I remind, that - from the Empire point of view - the Federation dealed with not only one, but actually two of super-powerfull giant alien probes in just a few years. Both of them - V'Ger and Whale Probe - quite effortlessly dealed with a few Klingon warships before. And both of them, from Klingon point of view, were defeated by Federation with little efforts.

The Klingons were probably scared out of their lives. "What incredible power the Federation possessed, that allow them to dealt with such enemies?!" And the whole Genesis story... basically, for the Klingons it's just confirmed that the Federation possessed the incredibly powerfull superweapon, against which the Klingon Empire could do nothing.

So, it's quite possible that the Klingon Empire adopted the position "my Federal friends, this was clearly the terrible mistake! The Kruge was rogue agent, undoubtedly bribed by Romulans, and we deny any ties with him! In view of well-known Klingon mercifullness and understanding of justice, the Empire gallantly decided to compensate for this terrible accident - to which we, of course, have nothing to do at all!")

   

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At the beginning of ST IV, we see the Federation Council debating with the Klingon ambassador about the Klingons' destruction of USS Grissom and the killing of the crew and Dr Marcus, which the Klingons freely admit to. Wouldn't such a brazen act of aggression, coupled with the Klingons' utter lack of remorse afterward, have been a legitimate reason for the Federation to declare war? Yet nothing is done . Why?

Well, we didn't knew what the Empire done after that. It is actually possible that Empire may apologize and compensate.

Before anybody exclaimed that "this isn't the Klingon way, to apologize!", may I remind, that - from the Empire point of view - the Federation dealed with not only one, but actually two of super-powerfull giant alien probes in just a few years. Both of them - V'Ger and Whale Probe - quite effortlessly dealed with a few Klingon warships before. And both of them, from Klingon point of view, were defeated by Federation with little efforts.

The Klingons were probably scared out of their lives. "What incredible power the Federation possessed, that allow them to dealt with such enemies?!" And the whole Genesis story... basically, for the Klingons it's just confirmed that the Federation possessed the incredibly powerfull superweapon, against which the Klingon Empire could do nothing.

So, it's quite possible that the Klingon Empire adopted the position "my Federal friends, this was clearly the terrible mistake! The Kruge was rogue agent, undoubtedly bribed by Romulans, and we deny any ties with him! In view of well-known Klingon mercifullness and understanding of justice, the Empire gallantly decided to compensate for this terrible accident - to which we, of course, have nothing to do at all!")

   

^
Good point!

And we did see Klingons apologize for 'unauthorized actions' against Kirk and the Enterprise in Star Trek V.  

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Good point!

And we did see Klingons apologize for 'unauthorized actions' against Kirk and the Enterprise in Star Trek V.  

Exactly) And pre-TNG Klingons were usually shown as war-like, but pretty calculative: if they saw no ability to seize the fast victory, they prefer not to try at all.

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Also, there is the fact of simple cultural differences. A klingon would hardly regreat the death of their own. The ambassador was most likely proud to give the humans a chance to die in battle, not rotting on a bed. And respected them for doing so. Showing regreat would be clearly disrespectful in a klingon way of life. As only the cowards that didn't fight to the death go to the hell of Gre'thor. The ones that did are welcome to Stovo'kor as great warriors for the afterlife. 

Edited by Garak the spy

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Also, there is the fact of simple cultural differences. A klingon would hardly regreat the death of their own. The ambassador was most likely proud to give the humans a chance to die in battle, not rotting on a bed. And respected them for doing so. Showing regreat would be clearly disrespectful in a klingon way of life. As only the cowards that didn't fight to the death go to the hell of Gre'thor. The ones that did are welcome to Stovo'kor as great warriors for the afterlife. 

Good points.  I remember a TNG episode (don't remember the name but Riker was involved in an officer exchange program on a Klingon ship) where one scene had the Klingons talking about one of their fathers being an old man, waiting to die, and was ashamed.

Edited by kc1966

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Also, there is the fact of simple cultural differences. A klingon would hardly regreat the death of their own. The ambassador was most likely proud to give the humans a chance to die in battle, not rotting on a bed. And respected them for doing so. Showing regreat would be clearly disrespectful in a klingon way of life. As only the cowards that didn't fight to the death go to the hell of Gre'thor. The ones that did are welcome to Stovo'kor as great warriors for the afterlife. 

Good points.  I remember a TNG episode (don't remember the name but Riker was involved in an officer exchange program on a Klingon ship) where one scene had the Klingons talking about one of their fathers being an old man, waiting to die, and was ashamed.

"A Matter of Honor" Season 2 episode 8. It's still one of my favourites. :thumbup:

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Yes, it's a great episode! Love the idea of "officer exchange" with the Klingons! :D

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The Federation might not have foolproof intelligence on the Klingon Empire's strength.  Around Star Trek III, a war with the Klingons could have devastating consequences and uncertain results.  Intergalactic war is RISKY business.  I would avoid war with a warrior race if at all possible.  "In space all warriors are cold warriors."

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The Federation might not have foolproof intelligence on the Klingon Empire's strength.  Around Star Trek III, a war with the Klingons could have devastating consequences and uncertain results.  Intergalactic war is RISKY business.  I would avoid war with a warrior race if at all possible.  "In space all warriors are cold warriors."

Well, the Federation was clearly superior in technological and industrial therms. I.e. in prolonged conflict, Klingons would eventualy lose... but this would took a lot of time. And the war would be pretty devastative - due to General Order 24, the Starfleet definitedly not above indiscriminate bombardment, if they have no choise.

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The Federation might not have foolproof intelligence on the Klingon Empire's strength.  Around Star Trek III, a war with the Klingons could have devastating consequences and uncertain results.  Intergalactic war is RISKY business.  I would avoid war with a warrior race if at all possible.  "In space all warriors are cold warriors."

Well, the Federation was clearly superior in technological and industrial therms. I.e. in prolonged conflict, Klingons would eventualy lose... but this would took a lot of time. And the war would be pretty devastative - due to General Order 24, the Starfleet definitedly not above indiscriminate bombardment, if they have no choise.

I'm also reminded of a statement Kang's wife Mara made in TOS' Day of the Dove, "There are poor planets in the Klingon systems.  We must push outward if we are to survive."   This implies that the Klingons are resource-poor and wouldn't be able to sustain a prolonged conflict materials-wise.   That said?  Apparently something changes between TOS and TNG, because in TNG's Yesterday's Enterprise, an alternate Klingon Empire is dangerously close to defeating the Federation "within 6 months" (by that Starfleet command's estimate).  

Maybe during conflict with the Federation (even a hypothetical one) the Klingons would assume a 'wounded animal' posture and become that much more aggressive?  Who knows... 

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I'm also reminded of a statement Kang's wife Mara made in TOS' Day of the Dove, "There are poor planets in the Klingon systems.  We must push outward if we are to survive."   This implies that the Klingons are resource-poor and wouldn't be able to sustain a prolonged conflict materials-wise.   That said?  Apparently something changes between TOS and TNG, because in TNG's Yesterday's Enterprise, an alternate Klingon Empire is dangerously close to defeating the Federation "within 6 months" (by that Starfleet command's estimate).  

Maybe during conflict with the Federation (even a hypothetical one) the Klingons would assume a 'wounded animal' posture and become that much more aggressive?  Who knows... 

Well, by this time the Empire clearly grew more powerfull. The prolonged peace with Federation allowed Klingons to solve their economical problems, and probably push the expansion on other fronts.

It's also possible that 2300s Federation were reluctant to escalate war on the total level - i.e. start to destroy the Klingon's industry and civilian population. The General Order 24 weren't even mentioned in TNG; it seems that the right to initate indiscriminate bombardments were taken from the Starfleet captains. So, it is possible that one of the factors that restrained Klingon agression in 2200s - the threat of retaliatory countervalue strikes - were not present by 2300s.

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Was Gorkon Chancellor during the events of the early TOS movies? If so - I could totally see him apologizing or at least doing what he could to deescalate hostilities between the two powers.

In terms of politics with the Klingon Empire - I am more concerned that the "noble" Federation is allied to an expansionist imperial power that no doubts has "conquered" species. I get that during the Dominion War, they had to put that aside to survive. But I wonder if "renewed" relations between the two will ever lead to the UFP challenging the Klingons and their dominion over other aliens they've conquered.

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Was Gorkon Chancellor during the events of the early TOS movies? If so - I could totally see him apologizing or at least doing what he could to deescalate hostilities between the two powers.

In terms of politics with the Klingon Empire - I am more concerned that the "noble" Federation is allied to an expansionist imperial power that no doubts has "conquered" species. I get that during the Dominion War, they had to put that aside to survive. But I wonder if "renewed" relations between the two will ever lead to the UFP challenging the Klingons and their dominion over other aliens they've conquered.

It really depend of how influentual would be the radical Prime Directive proponents in Federation. Basically, by the 2300s, the Prime Directive turned into quite idiotic mess, that basically allow Klingons to invade any non-affilated civilization under the pretex that it is their natural historical way to invade, and the civilizaion invaded may be "historically destined" to be invaded. And Federation could do nothing.

Of course, it quite possible that after the destruction and chaos of Dominion war, the Prime Directive would be reverted once more to original meaning, and would affect only pre-warp civilizations. In that case, Klingons would be in trouble...

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The Klingons could win with a massive first strike. Destroy most or all of the Federations space ship building and repair facilities in the first few days of the war.  Its risky. If they miss a few bases, the Federation could strike back. 

Its not in the Federations nature to start a war over one incident or one ship. The Klingons would need to attack a member planet to start a war. 

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The Klingons could win with a massive first strike. Destroy most or all of the Federations space ship building and repair facilities in the first few days of the war.  Its risky. If they miss a few bases, the Federation could strike back. 

Its not in the Federations nature to start a war over one incident or one ship. The Klingons would need to attack a member planet to start a war. 

A question: could Federation carry a counter-raid? I.e. penetrate Klingon space and blow several warships in retaliation, without declaring a full-scale war? After all, Klingons pretty often used raid tactics against their opponents without official state of war.

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The Klingons could win with a massive first strike. Destroy most or all of the Federations space ship building and repair facilities in the first few days of the war.  Its risky. If they miss a few bases, the Federation could strike back. 

Its not in the Federations nature to start a war over one incident or one ship. The Klingons would need to attack a member planet to start a war. 

A question: could Federation carry a counter-raid? I.e. penetrate Klingon space and blow several warships in retaliation, without declaring a full-scale war? After all, Klingons pretty often used raid tactics against their opponents without official state of war.

Not really the Federation's style though is it? 

I for one, think declaring war seems like a pretty counter intuitive move...their citizens created the Genesis device, and the Enterprise was stolen and acted rogue on an unauthorized mission...and the Klingon crew could've easily been declared as acting rogue as well. So two rogue groups meet up and fight, one ship is totally destroyed, and the other's crew is totally destroyed...before the offending planet dies with a main scientist of Genesis on it...why would either want to declare a war for this?

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Was Gorkon Chancellor during the events of the early TOS movies? If so - I could totally see him apologizing or at least doing what he could to deescalate hostilities between the two powers.

In terms of politics with the Klingon Empire - I am more concerned that the "noble" Federation is allied to an expansionist imperial power that no doubts has "conquered" species. I get that during the Dominion War, they had to put that aside to survive. But I wonder if "renewed" relations between the two will ever lead to the UFP challenging the Klingons and their dominion over other aliens they've conquered.

It really depend of how influentual would be the radical Prime Directive proponents in Federation. Basically, by the 2300s, the Prime Directive turned into quite idiotic mess, that basically allow Klingons to invade any non-affilated civilization under the pretex that it is their natural historical way to invade, and the civilizaion invaded may be "historically destined" to be invaded. And Federation could do nothing.

Of course, it quite possible that after the destruction and chaos of Dominion war, the Prime Directive would be reverted once more to original meaning, and would affect only pre-warp civilizations. In that case, Klingons would be in trouble...

Hah, I agree with you about your comment on the Prime Directive. It completely became this catch all on how Starfleet officers can interact with any and all alien species.

On the other hand, I can understand why the Federation doesn't engage in various wars with any of its neighbors due to their own politics. It would essentially plunge them into constant warfare against all empires. The Cardassians, the Romulans, the Klingons, etc. They would literally do nothing except fight. Plus, it would send a signal to alien governments that the Federation imposes its political will/might if they don't agree with your politics.

On the flip side to that, it puts the Federation in awkward place. It talks about peace, diplomacy, freedom for all, etc. But it makes alliances with colonial powers...

We know the Romulan Star Empire is probably doomed by now. The Dominion War weakened them militarily (their flagship destroyed in the finale of DS9), Shinzon wiped out their leadership, Spock was leading (an albeit peaceful) revolution, and Romulus was wiped out in ST09.

The Klingon Empire is in the weakest position per Section 31 (Sloan told Bashir this). Their military had been locked in a war with Cardassia, a short war with the Federation, and finally the Dominion. Plus, Enterprise confirmed that the Klingons would one day join the UFP. Which means their empire is destined to be dismantled.

I wonder if all those decolonized planets are going to be looking for blood against the Federation for not doing a damn thing while they were subjugated. But instead were sipping Romulan Ale with the Chancellor ....

 

Edited by The Founder

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I wonder if all those decolonized planets are going to be looking for blood against the Federation for not doing a damn thing while they were subjugated. But instead were sipping Romulan Ale with the Chancellor ....

 

The Founder, it's actually quite exellent plot idea - some villain from the conquered planet that hated the Federation because they allowed his homeworld to be conquered. Like "you should fight the Romulans till the end, destroy their empire and free all enslaved worlds... but instead you just declared peace, and let billions of beings suffer for centuries more!"

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I wonder if all those decolonized planets are going to be looking for blood against the Federation for not doing a damn thing while they were subjugated. But instead were sipping Romulan Ale with the Chancellor ....

 

The Founder, it's actually quite exellent plot idea - some villain from the conquered planet that hated the Federation because they allowed his homeworld to be conquered. Like "you should fight the Romulans till the end, destroy their empire and free all enslaved worlds... but instead you just declared peace, and let billions of beings suffer for centuries more!"

^
And sadly this is something that happens very much today; alliances are made with less-than-savory partners that leave human rights activists angry and confused.  In the Federation's case, they can always run and hide behind the Prime directive; much in the same way the Federation was obligated NOT to get involved with the Klingon civil war (until Picard showed proof that the Romulans were backing one faction of it; thus upsetting the balance of power in the quadrant).    

But yeah, I'm sure a lot of inhabitants of those subjugated planets in the Klingon empire would look to the Klingons' new 'allies' with expressions of disdain... 

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The Founder, it's actually quite exellent plot idea - some villain from the conquered planet that hated the Federation because they allowed his homeworld to be conquered. Like "you should fight the Romulans till the end, destroy their empire and free all enslaved worlds... but instead you just declared peace, and let billions of beings suffer for centuries more!"

Yeah, could at least make for a decent novel somewhere. :)

^
And sadly this is something that happens very much today; alliances are made with less-than-savory partners that leave human rights activists angry and confused.  In the Federation's case, they can always run and hide behind the Prime directive; much in the same way the Federation was obligated NOT to get involved with the Klingon civil war (until Picard showed proof that the Romulans were backing one faction of it; thus upsetting the balance of power in the quadrant).    

But yeah, I'm sure a lot of inhabitants of those subjugated planets in the Klingon empire would look to the Klingons' new 'allies' with expressions of disdain... 

That's what I like about it. Very true to life. Seems like an opportunity for a DS9 episode. Although, they had enough wars. :P:P:P

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If the Klingons were a parable of Communist China in the classic show, and the Russians in the movie era, and in TNG they were more like Vikings, it stands to reason war with them would be illogical and costly. (Some Russians are descended from Vikings). Like the Cold War, the US and other nations eventually outspent the Russians and the USSR ceased to be in around 1990-91, when TUC came out soon after. Anyway, it seems that a proxy cold war with the Klingons would have not worked, as the cost would have been too great economically, especially after Praxis exploded in 2290. nee Chernobyl in the late 1980s, and other factors. 

The Klingons were war like, but an all out interstellar conflict could not happen. They were not afraid of Federation weapons. They did not fear anything, even death. That made them a better ally than an enemy.

 

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The Klingons were war like, but an all out interstellar conflict could not happen. They were not afraid of Federation weapons. They did not fear anything, even death. That made them a better ally than an enemy.

 

Let's better say that they proclaimed to fear nothing. As it was often stated, it wasn't true even between warriors. And while they are usually not afraid to die (especially in combat), they clearly prefer to die in battle, not as helpless victims of some superweapon or general bombardment. They clearly considered Romulan attack on Narendra III as dishonorable slaughter of helpless civilians.

If the Klingons were a parable of Communist China in the classic show, and the Russians in the movie era, and in TNG they were more like Vikings, it stands to reason war with them would be illogical and costly. (Some Russians are descended from Vikings).

Really doubt that. But they definitedly influenced Slavic culture a lot.

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