I know it’s against the very concept of the Federation as a peaceful state, but laying that aside what if the Federation and its members decided to become militarized to about the same extent as the Romulan or Klingon Empires?
The shows don’t portray either Romulans or Klingons as being particulary interested in exploration or scientific advancement. Just war and expansion. But, it’s always seemed odd that given that the Federation is made up of hundreds of worlds and star systems with comparatively huge resources and manpower that the Klingons and Romulans, Cardassians etc. are still a military threat to varying degrees. The Klingon and Romulan empires would be made up of only the homeworlds, colonies and whatever subject worlds and races they currently dominate.
Now turn that assumption on its head. The Federation will largely forgo exploration and science in favor of military buildup. Assume that the other local powers are reluctant to launch a first strike and wipe out the military buildup in its infancy. What would the disparity in power be like? Would the Federation be able to simply run roughshod over everyone else? Or would the other powers band together?
The Romulans and Klingon are presumably as interested in research and exploration as the Federation, otherwise they would be a threat to the Federation. We just don’t see it as much because our viewpoint is a Federation ship and crew, who are mostly only going to encounter Romulans or Klingons when they’re being hostile and expansionistic. They probably get all the same “Investigate special anomaly in sector 22,” or “Research outpost mysteriously stopped communicating,” missions the Enterprise has, we just don’t see them because they’re resolved internally without involving the Federation.
The Federation is pretty damn militarised. Their protestations notwithstanding. One thing the Cardassian POV episodes in TNG and alien centered episodes in DS9 show that the Federation Starfleet is seen a military power first and foremost by its enemies and its allies. In TNG the proto-Dukat says outright that a Cardassian vessel is no match for a StarShip. When at war in DS9, Kilingon vessels are said to be distinctly inferior to Federation ones.
No. Effective militaries don’t work like the Terran Empire’s. The Terran Empire’s military is a grossly inefficient den of infighting and insubordination which could never work as a tactical unit.
A militarized Starfleet would be highly automated and built around secure, compartmentalized computers which were no more intelligent than they had to be. Generalist AI would be rare, highly protected, and under constant supervision, both for basic security and safety reasons and because it’s equivalent to an intelligent living being in every important respect. Weapons systems would be built around extremely specialized AI with no capacity for self-improvement and tampering safeguards which amount to “if you detect anything unusual, turn everything into plasma”.
Replicators make drones cheap, and masses of cheap drones are the foundation of the combat arm of Starfleet. That, and dumb physics packages, like big rocks accelerated to near-light speeds and flung at annoying Borg cubes. Yes, Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest motherfucker in space. If the Borg get stroppy, make the rocks out of antimatter; their only warning will be a gamma ray glow so blue-shifted it’s nearly undetectable and then they cease to exist. Done and done, and with no human casualties or potential for assimilation. (And if the Borg can “adapt to” that, they’re not Borg, they’re Q in disguise. You don’t “adapt to” being turned into plasma and hard radiation. Not if you’re bound by the same laws of physics as the rest of us.)
Oh, and the drones are for when you want to convince people of something without turning part of their planet into a crater. They can have as much honor or tactical prowess or whatever as they want, if they don’t fall to the first million drones they’ll fall to the next billion.
Yes, yes, transporters and cloaking devices and warp drives have useful combat roles, but when you have a big stick the size of Ceres accelerated to 0.99c, you can solve a lot of problems the foolproof way.
I still want to see what Starfleet does after Voyager. If memory serves, the show ends with the Voyager returning to Earth decked out in tech from several centuries in their future, thanks to time travel shenanigans. Starfleet should let its engineers loose on the ship, reverse-engineer what they can, and refit their other starships. Beat up the Borg. Then maybe decide that they’re tired to putting up with the Romulans’ bullshit.
Read some of the post-Voyager novels, such as the Star Trek: Destiny books, in which the Borg does, in fact, attack. But in full force this time.
Anyway, to answer the OP’s question: We’d probably see a Federation not too dissimilar from the one in the alternate universe (called the Kelvin timeline) of Star Trek XI, Into Darkness, and Beyond. The Enterprise sure was a lot more powerful than the one in the prime universe.
This is exactly what I was coming in to post. No matter how much Rodenberry tried to say the Federation was peaceful and StarFleet was not a military operation, the armaments of the StarShips showed that was just so much propaganda.
According to Keiko O’Brien’s research the Ferengi educational system is based around apprenticeships. I think Nog was exceptionally ill-educated because his Rom wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool (at least regarding formal learning) and Uncle Quark simply didn’t care.
Memory Alpha link for “Yesterday’s Engerprise”. It’s an alternate timeline, so besides being a warrior race the Klingons could have had a thousand year head start on colonization and control thousands of worlds, or invented a super weapon. This episode also contains my favorite Worf quote (“A warrior’s drink.”)
The extent of the Klingon, Cardassian, and Romulan empires was always left vague enough that they always seemed like credible threats to me. In particular the Federation would not want to fight a multi front war with them, or the Borg or Dominion at the same time. When Star Trek covered galactic politics, the impression I always had was that the Federation was more than a match for most individual empires, but if more than one attacked at once they would be in trouble. Hence the need to bring the Romulans in on the side of the Federation during the Dominion War in “In the Pale Moonlight”.
Also presumably since ANY interstellar war involving warships armed with anti-matter bombs would cause massive causalities.
Not to mention that Starfleet ships include complements of armed red-shirted Starfleet Security personal who act in a role both on and off shit that is indistinguishable from Marines.
And Starfleet personal appear to be highly trained to successfully execute “away missions” involving hostage rescue, insurgency and counter insurgency, reconnaissance and surveillance, espionage, sabotage, destabilizing governments and societies, search and rescue, combat engineering, “snatch & grab” raids, pretty much your usual special operations type stuff.
Yeah, I thought of “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” too. Remember that the Federation was very hard-pressed and, in Picard’s opinion, likely to soon be defeated. A militarized Federation would probably lead to an alliance of some combination of other major powers - Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Breen, etc. - to keep it from overwhelming them.