We need to admit Russia won this round
In season one, episode twenty-seven of Star Trek: The Original Series, titled: Errand of Mercy, we see for the very first time an episode of the long, ongoing conflict between the Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. Roddenberry left little to the imagination. The Federation represented NATO, and the Klingons represented the Soviet Union, and the Cold War was adapted to a space drama.
The episode begins with an encrypted directive from Starfleet command that confirms both Kirk and Spock’s premonition that negotiations between the Federation and Klingon empire are on the verge of collapse. They are to set a course for Organia, a planet in disputed territory, that is “ideally located for use by either side.” Their mission is to provide the Organians with weapons, technology, and resources to defend their planet from being used by the Klingons as a military base.
Captain Kirk and Spock arrive on Organia to find that the inhabitants are a primitive and peaceful people, who have advanced very little in more than ten thousand years. They have no weapons or any means at all to protect themselves from a Klingon invasion. Yet, they are impervious to Kirk’s offerings, and eventual demands, and the Klingons soon take over the planet. The Organians insist that Kirk and Spock stay out of their affairs, and not resort to violence, as Commander Kor of the Klingons establishes military control.
Hang with me here, I’m getting to the point. Most of the rest of the episode is just Kor and Kirk attacking each other back-and-forth. Kirk blows up the Klingon’s munitions supply, and Kor responds by killing two hundred Organians. Kirk and Spock overpower Kor’s guards and capture him in his office, but they’re given up by a surveillance device, and more guards come to Kor’s rescue. Meanwhile in space, federation and Klingon starships meet for battle.
What happens next, however, was not inspired by any events of the Cold War. Everyone’s weapons stop working and no one is able to fight. The Organians step in and reveal that they have rendered all instruments of violence useless by heating them to 350 degrees. Klingon starships and The Enterprise report that their weapons controls have become “too hot to handle” as well. The entire battle comes to an existential halt.
The next scene is one of my favorites in the Star Trek canon. Both Captain Kirk and Commander Kor are livid that the Organians have interfered in their dispute, and attempt to justify their use of violence with the following exchange.
KIRK: We have legitimate grievances against the Klingons. They’ve invaded our territory, killed our citizens. They’re openly aggressive. They’ve boasted that they’ll take over half the galaxy.
KOR: Why not? We’re the stronger! You’ve tried to hem us in, cut off vital supplies, strangle our trade! You’ve been asking for war!
KIRK: You’re the ones who issued the ultimatum to withdraw from the disputed areas!
KOR: They are not disputed! They’re clearly ours. And now you step in with some kind of trick.
The Organian leaders claim they are putting an end to the war for good, and there is nothing either side can do about it. Kirk and Kor then direct their rage at the Organians.
KIRK: Even if you have some power that we don’t understand, you have no right to dictate to our Federation …
KOR: Or our Empire!
KIRK: … how to handle their interstellar relations! We have the right …
Ayelborne, one of the Organian leaders, interrupts him.
“… to wage war, Captain? To kill millions of innocent people? To destroy life on a planetary scale? Is that what you’re defending?”
In other words, it’s the same old shit; endless violence, war, and destruction, with no end in sight. Eventually, as predicted by the Organians, the Federation and Klingons would form an alliance. In reality, fifty years have gone by since this episode aired, and it’s still the same old shit.
So why are we having such a hard time coming to terms with the fact that we provoked Russia into a retaliation war, and they seem to have won this round? More importantly, what gives us the moral upper hand?
I’ve seen a lot of punditry lately with some form of a headline that states matter-of-factly that Russia “hacked” our election. The whole argument is based on, at best, flimsy evidence that isn’t even close to as empirical as the evidence those hacks revealed.
It all reeks of the dubious evidence that was used to draw our country into supporting the war in Iraq. We are repeating the same mistakes that got us into this mess in the first place. In the long run, it delegitimizes our claims to self-defense, makes us appear weak, and reveals our hypocrisy.
The CIA intervenes in election quite a bit. In 1953, the CIA participated in a coup orchestrated by the UK, which overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, who was planning to audit AIOC (Now BP) and give control of Iranian oil back to the people. The coup succeeded and returned the monarchy back to their throne. As a part of this deal, AIOC had to give up their monopoly and introduce five US oil companies to the bounty.
In the summer of 1996, the CIA interfered in Russian democratic elections between Independent Boris Yeltsin and the Communist Party’s candidate, Gennady Zyuganov. As this July 15, 1996 cover of Time trumpets, US involvement in the election was no secret, but Russians still believe to this day that the CIA rigged the election in Yeltsin’s favor.
Most recently, in 2009, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton interfered in Haiti’s elections in which parliament voted to raise their minimum wage, which was one of the lowest minimum wages of the entire Western hemisphere. The US acted on behalf of garment brands like Hanes and Levis, who were exploiting Haitians for cheap labor, to ensure that they could continue to make and sell their struggle undies and conflict jeans.
The Reagan years would be defined in many ways by his continuing efforts to defeat communism in Nicaragua. Reagan’s famous “Contra” militias were given US weapons, CIA training, and the president’s personal blessing to use guerilla tactics that bordered on genocide in a proxy war with Russia at the height of the Cold War. It was later found that then classified field manuals given to Contra fighters gave instructions on how to carry out acts of terrorism, and the CIA also later admitted to looking the other way while Nicaraguan drug lords destroyed predominantly black, poor neighborhoods in Southern California with crack cocaine, and funneled those profits to the Contras. But not before driving the journalist who originally broke the story to suicide.
It’s no mystery why Vladimir Putin wished to exact revenge on Barack Obama and the US government. The CIA helped stoke the flames of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, after then President Yanukovych reversed course on his promise to instate Ukraine into the European Union, and instead sold out his country’s oil to Russia. As Ukraine continued to slide into chaos, Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula, resulting in harsh economic sanctions, led by Barack Obama and the UN. The major provisions of those sanctions was the blocking of a $500 billion oil deal in Siberia between the Russian state oil company, and Rex Tillerson-led Exxon Mobil.
While this was a bit more noble a cause than previous interferences in global democracy, Putin wasn’t about to go out with the reputation of being defeated so handily by Obama. We should have seen all of this coming.
The truth is starting to come out about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election, but no matter what we find, there is nothing that Russia is being accused of that we haven’t done, and we’ve often done it to them.
This is real life, and in real life there are no ancient civilizations like the Organians to turn this damned car back around if we don’t stop fighting. Instead, there’s China, with a military larger than both the US and Russia combined, more than twice the amount of reservists, and three times as many citizens eligible for the draft. None of that is necessary though, because if anyone even hints at stepping to them, they’ll drop some nukes off at your doorstep and point them at you.
Some day, the US and Russia will pay the price for mucking about in the world’s affairs, leaving a pile of death everywhere we go. In some ways, we already are.