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Allan B Fogul
Fri, May 22, 2020, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Rules of Engagement

I think the problem in this episode is somewhat identified by Dusty in a comment from years ago:

>We all know Worf is not an indiscriminate killer, and a civilian ship that suddenly decloaks in the middle of a space battle does so under its own peril.

There is a line in the final scene of the episode where Sisko says that Starfleet is NOT military and basically you ALWAYS identify a target before firing even if it means you lose the battle and your crew dies.

To me this seems like the distinction between a military decision and a police decision.

This comes in the last minute of the show. Up to this point, in both the episode and even in Trek in general, Starfleet is portrayed as having quasi-military structure and protocols. They even use naval ranks.

Up to this point, the logic of "99% chance this is an enemy ship, that seems like the right thing to do in the heat of battle" seems like a decision that would not be unreasonable. It's only AFTER the trial that we find out that Sisko's view is you do NOT fire until you've IDed the ship.

But if that IS Starfleet protocol - a police-style protocol, why ISN'T Worf negligent? He did NOT identify his target. If it's just Sisko's personal philosophy or rule, that's not how it seems to be presented. But then Sisko just as quickly says "but you'll make a great Captain anyway.

I know this episode aired years before the major focus on unjustified police shootings, but if the message is "don't shoot something unless you know what it is", it's undercut by the message that it won't hinder Worf's career that he did it, even if it was a Klingon trick.

Would we want a police officer promoted to Captain who was tailing a gang in a car, lost sight of them at a corner, then shot blindly at a similar car that pulled around another corner just because it was the same model? Would it really make it OK if the gang had planted that car to set the cop up? I would like to think not.

But back to the underlying issue, the "don't shoot something you can't ID" seems fo fly in the face of other successful tactics we've seen used before. Maybe this is specifically different because it was in a civilian traffic lane, but that seems like a contrivance.
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