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Prisoner881
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 12:26pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

On a side note, I think DS9 is the best example of Trek puncturing Roddenberry's Utopian 24th-century fantasy. TOS and, to a large extent, TNG gave us a Federation than rarely had to make hard choices. However, whenever the Federation is pushed into a corner, their precious moralizing gets thrown away in favor of brute survival.

I don't see a problem with this so much as I see the fault in Roddenberry's vision in the first place. A species that isn't willing to do all it can to defend itself cannot survive.
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Prisoner881
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 12:20pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

@Prisoner882 - "While that may all may be true from your experience, the episode makes it clear that Bashir *chose* not to bring Miles up on charges, even after Miles suggested it."

True, but it begs the question why. Friendship with O'Brien? That's the obvious -- and most likely correct -- answer given the thematic arc of the show. However, a more cynical appraisal shows the most likely outcome of any such charges would be exoneration of O'Brien and perhaps even charges against Bashir for "aiding or conspiring with the enemy during a time of war."

There's a word for that: treason. I don't know offhand what the Federation penalty is for treason but nowadays, during wartime, being convicted of such is a capital crime.

Remember, we're talking about a Federation that passively endorsed Tain's plan involving covert genocide of the Founder's homeworld. If they're willing to go along with genocide they clearly see the Dominion as a mortal threat worth throwing away their lofty principles. Do you think for a moment they'd give Bashir's "humanitarian" argument much credence in a time where Jem'Hadar are slaughtering Starfleet officers by the thousands?
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Prisoner881
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 12:13pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

I don't know why this didn't occur to me earlier but there's another excellent example of a very similar situation in BSG, namely the "Fragged" episode. If you're not familiar with the episode I urge you to see Jammer's review of it: https://www.jammersreviews.com/bsg/s2/fragged.php

To recap, you have a combat-inexperienced officer suddenly placed in command of a combat op during war. His command includes enlisted members with superior experience. His inexperience and inability to listen to those under him leads to the deaths of several members of his command and, if it had been allowed to continue, would've resulted in the deaths of everyone.

In such a case the correct course of action would be for the commander to be removed from command. Peacefully if possible, violently if necessary. It's only by trick of fate the final blow was struck by a civilian. Had Baltar not pulled the trigger, Tyrol would have and I doubt any court of inquiry would've faulted him for it.

Obviously the above represents a much more extreme *tactical* situation than Bashir and O'Brien were in. However, the *strategic* implications of Bashir's chosen course had the potential to be far more catastrophic. Crashdown's command would've destroyed the squad but it wouldn't have altered the course of the human/Cylon war. Bashir's could've endangered the entire galaxy and in fact had a very real chance of doing so based on everything we know about the Jem'Hadar. We have *never* seen a Jem'Hadar with a "peaceful co-existence" mindset or anything remotely resembling one. Bashir's plan hinges on such a thing existing, and the lack of it almost guarantees unleashing a bloodthirsty, amoral, conquering-obsessed race of super-soldiers on the galaxy.

Perhaps the Jem'Hadar have the capability to transcend their nature and it's always been suppressed by the Founders. Perhaps. It's a supposition based on no factual evidence and borrowing heavily from Bashir's feeling all people are inherently good somewhere in their core being. It's idealism, and idealism in a war tends to get you and a lot of other people killed. It's ugly but it's been proven true far more often than not.
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Prisoner881
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 11:32am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

@Chrome - "I do agree that Bashir’s point about the chain of command is dismissed too easily"

Allow me to give you a military perspective based on my service experience.

That Bashir outranks O'Brien is undeniable but there's more to command than just pulling rank (indeed, pulling rank is one of the least-effective leadership traits). One thing a lot of civilians never understand is how the most senior enlisted ranks with decades of service are subordinate to a freshly-minted 2nd Lieutenant with no experience whatsoever. While true in a technical sense, in practice a low-ranking, non-command-track officer would be an idiot to ignore the advice of a senior non-commissioned rank such as the Chief. O'Brien is exactly that and with combat experience as well. You can make the argument Bashir "listens" to O'Brien and disregards his advice but I don't see it that way. Bashir, IMO, dismisses O'Brien's concerns without even considering them based on Bashir's humanitarian impetus. Bashir is, IMO, a poor officer because of this although he can be forgiven much since he's a science-track (blue) officer and not a command-track (red) officer. Making tough strategic decisions is not his forte, whereas O'Brien, even though he is subordinate in rank structure, has superior experience.

I say all this as a former Marine who takes the chain of command very, very seriously. But one must consider that rank doesn't automatically imply rightness or competence in every situation. A wise officer/noncom relationship depends on the officer respecting existing experience in his/her subordinates. Respect for such experience *should* be automatic, whereas respect for leadership by the subordinate is *earned*. It's a complicated dance and much more nuanced than "Bashir outranks O'Brien, therefore O'Brien's actions are cowardly." On the contrary, bucking leadership takes guts; on the offhand chance the subordinate is proven wrong, the penalties are quite severe. In wartime it can even be a capital offense.
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Prisoner881
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 10:38am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S7: Take Me Out to the Holosuite

To address earlier comments, if there is another all-Vulcan *Federation* starship (*not* Vulcan starship) in existence please let me know what it is. I'm unaware of it. Not saying it doesn't exist. Merely saying I'd like to research it to understand how such a thing came into being.

My core objection to such a crew is it flies in the face of everything the Federation and Starfleet claims to stand for. If there's one thing Roddenberry was fond of sledgehammering into our psyche, it's that Starfleet was a completely egalitarian meritocracy where diversity was a foregone conclusion. TOS showed us a multiracial, multi-sex, nationally-diverse bridge crew, a first for American TV. This was absolutely intentional, a way of showing that petty divisions along said lines were a thing of the past. It was the ultimate expression of diversity and it was presented as a core strength of the Federation compared to the homogeneous Klingons and Romulans.

Viewed in that context, how could Starfleet possibly rationalize a racist captain -- for he clearly is based on his predilection for writing scientific papers saying exactly that -- being put in charge of a ship crewed by his handpicked "superior race"? It's like putting a white supremacist in charge of an aircraft carrier and allowing him to exclude black crewmen because they're inferior. We wouldn't put up with it today in our "backwards" 21st century so why would they in the 24th? The answer is they wouldn't.

Some arguments were made saying a racially homogeneous crew is desirable due to environmental preferences (atmosphere, temperature, gravity, etc.). While certainly possible, we see exactly the opposite in nearly every example shown to us throughout every series. While I'm sure some races find Earth-like conditions not as pleasant as their native ones, none are ever shown being overly inconvenienced by it. I, for one, have always found this a little too convenient but I'm sticking with series canon and saying it's never been shown, therefore it cannot be a significant problem.

Vulcan pride and condescension have also been mentioned as rationales but I find this disingenuous. While the series has used this facet as a source of humor or drama, the simple fact is these traits are not logical. Vulcans come off as abrasive precisely because they are emotionally detached. Solok is *clearly* pursuing an immature -- dare I say *emotional* -- vendetta against Sisko and taking pleasure from rubbing Sisko's defeats in his face. *None* of this behavior is appropriate for a Vulcan no matter how fun it is to see it on the screen.
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Prisoner881
Sun, Nov 11, 2018, 12:04pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S7: Take Me Out to the Holosuite

Continuing my nostalgic re-watching of all seven seasons. I remembers this comedic gem fondly and I am glad to say it's only improved with time. Worf's "FIND HIM AND KILL HIM!" still elicits uncontrollable laughter to this day!

Addressing the "inappropriate during wartime" comments:

Having spent time in the Marines I can confidently state you cannot stay in "war mode" 24x7x365 without burning out. Downtime such as this is essential for physical and psychological reasons (at least for humans) as well as offering team bonding opportunities. While it is intimated the Niners spend two weeks training for the game, one should not assume this means they spent two weeks doing nothing but practice. This would be impossible as there is a station to run and a war going on. It only takes a minor suspension of disbelief to assume they practiced outside of their normal duties, perhaps with delegating some of the less critical duties to allow sufficient play time. It happened off-camera.

To the comments on holodeck physics and a ball field not fitting into the holodeck:

My post-military career is an engineer. As such I've always approached Star Trek tech by saying "if I had their technology, how would I suspect it should work?" Any competent holodeck designer/programmer would have to handle cases where multiple occupants could wander physical distances apart that cannot be contained in the holodeck, so how would they achieve if? Well, you have near-perfect holograms, replicated matter, and "treadmill" forcefields. So long as occupants are within the boundaries of the holodeck, they see other occupants at actual distances. However, if they start to wander beyond the physical limits of the room, the holodeck would put them on a virtual, invisible "treadmill" of a forcefield (to stop them from walking into the walls), "encapsulate" them into their own holodeck perspective so the illusion of motion and distance is maintained, and then do the same to all other occupants to maintain *their* respective illusions of other occupants. What you end up with is each occupant being in their own personalized holo-simulation within the holodeck. The concept isn't complicated or far-fetched if you consider what 24th-century technology has demonstrated it can do. Ultimately, Star Trek tech has only to remain internally self-consistent in order to remain believable, and there's nothing on display in this episode that breaks the concept.

Regarding the "all-Vulcan crew":

I caught the racist (speciesist?) overtones on this immediately and, like others, found it to be glossed over a little too easily. I can't see how the Federation, with all its egalitarian and "everyone is equal" ideals, would ever allow such a thing without raising questions, especially if it involves a captain who's written multiple papers purporting Vulcan racial superiority. Put another way, would Starfleet allow a white captain to exclude all non-whites from his/her crew? A male to exclude all non-males? No Star Trek fan would buy that for a moment, nor should we buy the all-Vulcan angle. However, there is a reasonable explanation.

A Nebula-class starship has a crew of 750 (according to Memory Alpha). Sisko states the crew is all-Vulcan, but let's be generous and say Sisko is only referring to the *command crew* of the USS T'Kumbra. We never see 750 Vulcans on the ship so it's a conceivable fudge we could attribute to Sisko using generalities. The command crew would be only a few tens of officers, perhaps even 100 of the total 750 onboard, plenty to make a baseball team from.

This might explain Sisko's comments but it makes the racial angle perhaps even uglier: a ship commanded by a handpicked, "racially superior" officer group with all "inferiors" relegated to lower positions with no chance of promotion. It makes for an entertaining episode but I wish the writers had come up with a better scenario to pit Sisko against Solok. A Klingon ship populated exclusively by Klingons is expected because they're *allied* with the Federation, not *part* of the Federation. But a Federation ship that's purposefully racially homogeneous? Tough pill to swallow.
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Prisoner881
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 3:05pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

Just in case you didn't get the B5 reference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnR3Tyrg_10
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Prisoner881
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 3:03pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

@Chrome

"Right, and my argument has been that even in that scenario the Federation benefits from slowing down the Dominion’s incursions for a time."

I'm forced to quote a very cynical but lovable character from a different (yet eerily similar) sci-fi franchise: "No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow. What? Look, somebody's got to have some damn perspective around here!" Delay in genocidal conquest still ends up with genocidal conquest. The Federation doesn't have the belly, the spine, or the numbers to fight the kind of war needed to successfully defeat the Dominion. It's only the artificial constriction of the wormhole (and the aliens living in it) which prevented them from subjugating the entire Alpha Quadrant on a whim.

Am I a heretic for bringing a Babylon 5 quote into this? ;^)
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Prisoner881
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 2:52pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

Sorry! These ideas just keep coming to me!

The irony (and lesson) here is that by defeating the Dominion, the Jem'Hadar get their best chance at the freedom Bashir hoped for. A peaceful Dominion could assist Bashir in removing the White addiction whilst simultaneously using their genetic "obey the Founders" imperative to order them to change their ways. The latter may or may not be very successful given Odo's lack of success in "The Abandoned" but one might suspect the Founders have a better understanding of how their creations tick and can thus do a better job.

This raises yet another question though, one Bashir doesn't seem to have even remotely considered: how would a free, peaceful Jem'Hadar go on? They are, after all, a *created* race. They do not breed and seem biologically incapable of doing so. Without the cloning technology of the Founders, there would be no new Jem'Hadar and within a few centuries -- assuming they have a fixed life span and aren't biologically immortal -- there would be no more Jem'Hadar. This paints an interesting scenario of mass suicide by the Jem'Hadar if they ever overthrew and destroyed the Founders!
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Prisoner881
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 2:31pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

One last salient point: let us assume there is a magical way Bashir could instantly and completely convert all Jem'Hadar in the galaxy into those who think like Goran'Agar. That is, after all, what Bashir is trying to do, right?

Don't forget Goran'Agar's initial reaction to finding Bashir and O'Brien: he ordered their immediate execution. The only thing that stopped him was finding out Bashir was a doctor. In other words, Goran'Agar was perfectly willing to murder anyone he came across who was not immediately useful to his goals. This is not even remotely a live-and-let-live philosophy. It's just a slightly more reserved form of genocide made palatable by casting Goran'Agar as a sympathetic character. Suppose a colony ship carrying hundreds or thousands of civilians had crashed there instead of Bashir and O'Brien? What do you suppose Goran'Agar would've done with them? It shouldn't take long to arrive at an answer, and that answer would tell you all you need to know about whether O'Brien made the right choice or not.
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Prisoner881
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 2:18pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

@Chrome the most likely scenario for a Jem'Hadar revolt would not be an instantaneous quadrant-wide revolt but one that spreads over time. I agree, presumably such a revolt would pit loyalists versus rebels for at least a short period of time and perhaps even for an extended time. In that scenario it would definitely impede the Founder's strategy for dominating the Alpha Quadrant.

However, what comes next is of prime importance: who wins such a revolt? I will make the argument that no matter who wins, the Alpha Quadrant loses.

Suppose the Founders prevail? They would ruthlessly eliminate any vestiges of rebels -- as they did to the Maquis -- and we'd be right back to where we started: a unified Dominion with plans to dominate the galaxy. And you can bet they'd remedy any deficiencies in controlling the Jem'Hadar the second time around. There would be no second rebellion. Perhaps the Federation could use this interval to strengthen their defenses or even mount a counter-offensive, but I've always felt the Federation was no match militarily for the Dominion no matter how much preparation they made. The Jem'Hadar are simply too numerous, easily bred, requiring no training, and too effective for the Federation to ever counter, period.

Suppose the rebels win and destroy the Founders? Then we're left with another bad outcome. Based upon the behavior we see in "The Abandoned" and other glimpses we get into Jem'Hadar psychology, the Jem'Hadar *like* war, killing, and destruction. They have no sense of self-preservation either, being perfectly willing to die en masse if it serves the mission or even to make a point (as they did against the USS Odyssey). Having them freely roaming the Gamma and Alpha Quadrants is a terrifying prospect. Honestly I think they'd be more fearsome than the Borg.

The *only* case where Bashir's efforts are preferable is if he can rid the Jem'Hadar of their White addiction (which seems possible) *and* they develop and spread a psychological framework that is diametrically opposed to everything we know about them. It's the latter that trips the idea up. You'd have a better chance at convincing a virus not to kill its host.
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Prisoner881
Thu, Oct 25, 2018, 7:46pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

@Chrome how would the Dominion have its hands full when their entire army is gone? The only armed force the Founders in the Gamma Quadrant have is the Jem'Hadar. "Hippocratic Oath" takes place long before the Founders form any alliances in the Alpha Quadrant. A Jem'Hadar revolt would immediately reduce the founders to powerlessness. Far from having their hands full, they'd be the first to fall.

The Romans faced the same issues for the same reasons: they were outnumbered by their slaves. The Third Servile Revolt led by Spartacus terrified the Romans in ways no military force ever did for that reason. No wonder the Founders took such drastic steps to enforce Jem'Hadar obedience. If the Founders are terrified of a free Jem'Hadar, don't you think it's logical for the Federation to be at least as afraid? The alternative is to bet on the kindness, generosity, and mercy of the Jem'Hadar and that's lunacy given what we know about them.
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Prisoner881
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 12:09pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

@Chrome I'm not missing that at all. What you (and Bashir) seem to overlook is the "might be willing" part and how that relates to an actual probability of happening. Let's examine it, shall we?

What do we *know* for sure thus far? That the Jem'Hadar are ruthless warriors bred, conditioned, and completely controlled by the Founders. We have a few -- a *very* few -- examples of them taking honorable stances ("Rocks and Shoals") but even these are tinged with their apparent utter servitude. This is not to imply the bulk of them are dishonorable, merely to say we have very few examples of the Jem'Hadar being anything but living weapons of the Founders. Outside of Goran'Agar, we have precisely *zero* examples of any Jem'Hadar wanting to give up their "lifestyle." And there are a *lot* of Jem'Hadar.

Could they have some desire to be free, a desire that could manifest into overthrowing the Founders and becoming their own people living peacefully with their neighbors? Perhaps, but the Federation has no data whatsoever to back this up.

It comes down to brutal probabilities and risk assessment, something a good officer and Marine must constantly engage in when deciding what to do. Bashir, the idealist, either didn't do this or vastly overestimated the chances of success based on a single test case (Goran'Agar). O'Brien, the realist, objectively evaluated the risk/reward scenario and realized Bashir's plans, while laudable, had a low chance of succeeding and huge associated risk of unleashing the Jem'Hadar.

The episode brilliantly showcased the concept of "there is no perfect solution, only varying degrees of imprefect solutions." Star Trek, under Roddenberry, hewed close to the utopia vision which, I think, is almost childishly simplistic. There are rare occasions where you can make a difficult decision that has no downsides and wraps everything up in a pretty bow. This is not one of them. By forcing Bashir and O'Brien into this situation we see the moral complexity inherent in most facets of life instead of the idealistic paradise earlier shows presented.
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Prisoner881
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 3:01pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

@ Peter G.

Thank you for the kind comments.

The Jem'Hadar are essentially sentient biological weapons, created by the Founders for the sole purpose of fighting and dying for the Founders. Their sentience exists only to make them more effective at that purpose and is in all other ways suppressed through genetic conditioning and controlled via Ketracel White. These latter attributes are analogous to the safety interlocks on a nuclear weapon. Remove the safeties and you still have a deadly weapon whose purpose has not changed, only now it is less easily controlled and more easily perverted.

Were the Jem'Hadar a race with millions of years of evolution, a culture, a history, politics, a true *civilization* instead of genetically engineered bipedal tanks then reforming them might be possible. Even the Borg can occasionally be reasoned with. The Jem'Hadar cannot. Their mission is war and conquest and they have no other purpose because they were *designed* that way, just as a nuclear weapon is *designed* to destroy a target. Bashir lost sight of this. Idealism does that and Bashir is (was?) the consummate idealist. O'Brien, the realist (perhaps even the cynic) rightly saw Bashir's actions as potentially devastating to all life in the galaxy. The small chance of success and its attendant rewards were vastly overshadowed by the large chance of unleashing a vicious, capable, uncontrollable force on all other life.
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Prisoner881
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 11:08am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

Oh one more thought: O'Brien makes a parting comment on how Bashir could bring him up on charges. While true, does anyone realistically believe Starfleet would punish O'Brien? Especially after the loss of the Odyssey and the tens of thousands of deaths caused by the Jem'Hadar? The more likely outcome would be *Bashir* being brought up on charges of conspiring with the enemy!
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Prisoner881
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 11:04am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S4: Hippocratic Oath

Going back through all seven seasons, I relished revisiting this underrated gem of an episode. While the B plot keeps it from being a four-star outing, 3.5 stars is definitely warranted.

I won't rehash the entire A plot but, being a former Marine, I want to weigh in on the O'Brien insubordination aspect. The chain of command is a strict one but it has limits. Subordinates need not follow orders from a superior if they feel the order is morally wrong or, for lack of a better phrase, dangerous to the overall mission. What is the overall mission? To protect the Federation from the Dominion. Morally there's nothing wrong with Bashir's orders; quite the contrary, it is the humanitarian thing to do. What Bashir fails to adequately consider is the consequences of freeing the Jem'Hadar from their addiction. He's simply too caught up in doing what doctor's do to see the bigger picture.

For the sake of argument, let's transpose Klingons in the place of the Jem'Hadar. Arguably the two races are very alike: violent, warlike, duty-bound, the very essence of a stereotypical warrior. This appears to be a racial trait of Klingons, something most likely genetically hardwired into them. Suppose a peace-loving, pacifist, non-violent Klingon was born due to genetic mutation. Do you think for a moment other Klingons, given the choice of adopting the mutation, would do so? Of course not! And the Jem'Hadar are even more hard-line than the Klingons in this respect.

I must admit I was rooting for Bashir despite this, which speaks to the effectiveness of the episode. I felt empathy for the Jem'Hadar, being engineered for a single, disposable purpose by the Founders. But the bigger picture cannot be ignored. Their very engineering almost certainly precludes reform. Their entire existence is based not just on obedience but war. I doubt any reasonable number of them could even conceive of existing any other way. Absent the Founders, they would likely engage in homicidal raids just to have something to do. They have no culture, no civilization. They are unfortunate tools of the Founders. A tool cannot transcend its purpose no matter how hard Bashir wishes it to be so.

In the end, I think O'Brien did the right thing. While it's possible his actions passed up a chance at galactic peace, the risk of galactic Armageddon was simply too much. I wonder if Bashir's decision would've been very different had this episode taken place after something like "The Siege of AR-558". O'Brien has been through something like that; Bashir hasn't. Experiences like that tend to beat the idealism out of you (trust me, I know).
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