The idea introduced by Star Trek that one civilization has no business of interfering in the affairs of another, even if what the other civilization is doing is perceived as outright wrong or evil.

The idea presently remains the domain of science fiction, as AFAIK no country has made it its foreign policy at this time.

Historically, the idea did exist and was practiced by India in the time of King Asoka after his conversion to Buddhism. He decided not to interfere in the affairs of any country, but to live in peace and harmony with all. Did it work? Yes: None of the neighboring countries viewed it as a weakness or as an excuse to attack India which would have been an easy prey at the time.

The idea can also be seen in Thomas More's Utopia.

If I were the President or King of a country, I would make the Prime Directive into a fundamental rule of my foreign policy. Those who disagree, don't worry, I have no intention of becoming a President (or King).


It may seem a bad idea at times. Suppose some evil dictator rules some country. Is it right for me to sit idly by? Good question. But I am a strong believer of not imposing my beliefs on others. Who am I to decide who is good and who is evil? For example, I am a vegetarian. Does that mean (if I were President) that I should ban meat? Certainly not!

When it comes to affairs of other countries, the situation gets even more complex. People in different countries have different sets of values. Should I impose democracy on Iraq, for example? Isn't that up to the people of Iraq to decide?

Now, you may say, how are the people of Iraq supposed to decide it when they do not have free elections. Well, I believe such an argument understimates the power of human will. I grew up in a country that had a strong tradition of democracy (Czechoslovakia) but which was not a democracy at the time I grew up in it (which, by the way, was the case because some other country decided what was right for us!). We all hated it! We despised Communism. And we did all we could to get rid of it. And we did get rid of it. It may have taken us thirty years, but we did it. Yes, WE did it, and because of that the freedom we regained is ours. Not a "gift" from some superpower.

If the people of Iraq (just using Iraq as an example, I don't mean to pick on them!) want democracy, they will have it. If they don't want it, well, that is their choice. Maybe it's a wrong choice, but whoever said people only have the right to make correct choices?

That is why I am a great admirer of the Prime Directive.

What you've described is not the Prime Directive. In the Star Trek world, the Federation commonly interferes with the actions of other civilizations--many of the episodes of both the old and new shows deal with the efforts of the Enterprise crew to influence or control the actions of other groups.

What the Prime Directive really says is that the Federation should not interfere with cultures who are so technologically behind their own that the culture shock would necessarily damage the other.

This results in a very different set of philosophical conclusions than you've drawn. The Prime Directive is not an endorsement of moral relativism at all--if the Federation decides that another group is doing something bad, they don't hesitate to get involved.

The Prime Directive is based in the notion that when two cultures of widely different technological levels meet, the weaker culture is likely to be completely overwhelmed by the stronger, resulting in a sort of cultural genocide. The evils of war, disease, and so on are indeed real, but they're lesser evils than the cultural annihilation that would result if the Federation intervened.

I wonder about the historical analysis you provide. In the case of Czechoslovakia, after all, the people made a pretty vocal protest against the occupying Soviet troops in 1968--and they got rolled over by tanks (see Tiananmen Square for a similar situation). If Gorbachev had decided to send out the tanks again, then the Velvet Revolution would have ended in failure as well. Free people really do get oppressed by minorities who use violence to get their way, and the "collapse" of the Soviet Union doesn't disprove that.

I'm sorry, but you're wrong.

Picard's actions were often guided by the prime directive, even when dealing with an equally advanced race, like the klingons. When the Klingons were having their own internal civil war, between the faction that Worf's family backed and a less honorable, corrupt Duras faction, the Federation refused to help either side, relying on the prime directive, even though the other faction would have been descidedly less friendly to starfleet, and would likely have allowed the Romulans to invade the Federation, if not helped them. The only role the Federation took in this conflict was to enforce the border, to stop the romulans from supplying the Duras faction.

Also, on numerous other occaisions, the prime directive stopped a federation starship from acting to save a species from annihilation. They just sat up in orbit and watched. You cannot defend that as "protecting" the people involved.

In fact, every defense ever given for the prime directive in the show hinges on the unknown future, that if you give aid to a culture, they might rise to form a conquering empire. It is a way to negate any responsibility for the consequences of your actions. Apparently, Starfleet does not believe that inaction is a type of action.

Ultimately, I feel that the prime directive is a form of moral cowardice, so institutionalized and justified throughout the ages that it is mutually accepted by starship captains.

Classic Series, Prime Directive was non-interference in Pre-warp Cultures. Planet of the Nazis and Planet of the Gangsters showed the dire consequences of disobeying the directive.

TNG, Prime Directive had grown and grown.  Non-interference in Pre-warp Cultures was replaced with non-interference at all evah. Federation surrendered many planets to Cardassia rather than interfere with Cardassi invasion plans. Star Fleet had to remain motionless when Romulus and the Duras sisters invaded Klingon. Pen-pals, Riker made a big speech about the Cosmic Plan require the death of children and it would be the height of hubris to rescue that child.

Fortunately,  Prime Directive had grown and grown. Naomi Wildman boasted that she had learnt all 97 sub-clauses. Sometimes, Picard would find a sub-clause and rescue the people whom the Directive had condemned. But by the time of Voyager, all those loop-holes had been plugged and Janeway was thoroughly committed to the "Kill them All" philosophy of Prime Directive.

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