I am sympathetic to most to all of the 'Relief and Revolt' notes that have been going around on Starfleet law. I have been discussing one other issue with Keras, which I think should be shared.
There is a basic conflict between the Guarantees and the Prime Directive.
The Prime Directive would seem to say that if a local government is violating the rights of individuals, the Federation is forbidden from interfering.
The Guarantees are the equivalent of the Bill of Rights. The Seventh Guarantee, protects Federation citizens from self-incrimination. There are at least six others. We will have to decide what the others are some day. I'd suggest we take them from the US Constitutional amendments, and keep them bland enough that most to all alien civilizations will not object to them. Regardless, when a Federation member local government attempts to violate a Federation citizen's Guaranteed rights, I believe the Federation Charter forces the Federation to intervene.
If Starfleet is bound by the Prime Directive not to intervene in local affairs, the Federation's response must take the form of police action or financial penalties, rather than military force.
How do we explain this conflict between ideals? I propose that early on in the Federation, there was a conflict between some who wished to impose 'universal rights' on everyone, whether they wanted it or not, and those who did not want the Federation imposing by force a standardized culture everywhere. The 'universal rights' people must have had the upper hand during the Charter writing convention, as the Guarantees got into the basic Charter.
However, Starfleet rebelled against the idea of imposing cultural change by force. Thus, Starfleet General Order Number One was a challenge to the Council saying that the military would defend the Federation against external threats, but was not in the business of coercing local governments.
While in a way this is a challenge to the idea of civilian control over the military, I think the Council backed down to Starfleet, and made the appropriate rules or laws to verify Starfleet's Prime Directive, and to apply the non-interference principle to civilians travelling in space, and to non-member planets.
Meanwhile, if we treat the Guarantees seriously, any non-interference directive which binds the council cannot conflict with the Guarantees. This means if we forbid interference with local member societies, we have to add a clause saying 'unless such a society is violating the Guaranteed rights of it's citizens.' If we do not add such a clause, the courts would have to reject the law.
However, I'd say the Charter does not Guarantee the rights of non Federation citizens, certainly not if they are citizens of and residing on a non-member planet. Thus, any non-interference law that applies to non-members does not have to have an exclusion reference to the Guarantees.
Bob / Joy
The ideas you proposed in the referenced mail are excellent and I'm quite interested to see everyone's opinions on them. On only the above one do I have to express reservations.
I think I have to chalk it up to personal style here, because the idea you proposed above is quite logical. However, we're in common agreement that Starfleet is the exploratory, defending, etc. 'arm' of the Federation Council. It's the Council that together make the decisions on how the Federation is to be run. Starfleet's authority is *given* them by the Council.
If, while I'm President, Starfleet were to openly challenge me and this Council on anything in the manner you described, frankly, I'd kick some butt. I know you folks aren't used to my being *really* stubborn on anything, but as far as I'm concerned, this Supreme Council of the United Federation of Planets is the 'boss'. The Ambassadors from all the Member/Associate/Affiliate planets come together from diverse backgrounds and 'try' to set aside personal interests and agree on what's best for the entire Federation. The Ambassadors vote with integrity, believing they've made the most fair and equitable decisions. If any lower arm of the UFP disagrees, they could come formally and request a hearing on their concerns. But I won't have the Council bullied, and I'd never have let the Council cave in to Starfleet's 'challenge'. The challengers would now be guiding cargo carriers somewhere. :) I can only assume that previous Chairs felt as strongly as I do about this.
::chuckles:: Well, nobody thought Christiana was all sweetness and light anyway. : D
And Bob, although I disagree on this one issue, I very much respect the logic in your opinions and value the insights and options you offer the Council for consideration... they're an incredible help in getting our basic structure designed well. :)
See ya later! :)
I think I have to chalk it up to personal style here, because the idea you proposed above is quite logical. However, we're in common agreement that Starfleet is the exploratory, defending, etc. 'arm' of the Federation Council. It's the Council that together make the decisions on how the Federation is to be run. Starfleet's authority is *given* them by the Council. If, while I'm President, Starfleet were to openly challenge me and this Council on anything in the manner you described, frankly, I'd kick some butt.
And you would be quite correct to storm out with intent to kick some butt. As I see it, the Federation's equivalent of Thomas Jefferson tried to kick Starfleet's equivalent of George Washington in the butt, but didn't have the votes in council to succeed. And yes, the idea of civilian control over the military is basic, fundamental and important to any democracy.
However, while the Prime Directive is not and can not be a Guarantee, it is very very important to the Federation as well. That there was a big argument about it in the founding days seems to me right and proper, given the amount of reverence Starfleet gives the Directive. (That much reverence means somebody won a big argument. It could not have happened quietly.)
However, it is, as you say, a matter of personal style. I think we are going to have a bunch of heated discussions in Council chamber. I'd like to think there have been a bunch of heated discussions in the past. While Roddenberry's vision of the future is wonderful in many respects, I do not believe a bunch of alien cultures would come together united in ideals from day one. There would have been very heated arguments. Given the inherent conflict between Starfleet's often mentioned and highly revered Prime Directive and the Federation Constitution's Guarantees mentioned twice in passing in two episodes only, well, I'd like to think there is a story involved back there. I tried to tell that story. (I'm like that. I will try to tell stories.)
But, your call. From the perspective of the 24th century, what happened in the founding days is just a myth, and my story of the Prime Directive's origin is just one writer's opinion. I've told my story now, and shall not mention it again. And regardless of how many people like or dislike the story, I don't think it can be an 'anchor'. We shouldn't make a big deal of it.