How "Prime" is that Directive?


USS Shenzhou Ship's Lawyer's log, stardate 1207.3:

     So, Captain Georgiou and Commander Burnham went down to rescue the Crepusculans. Apparently, if they do not shift the water table, the local civilization will die out from lack of water. I advised the Captain that she's dangerously close to violating the General Order No. 1. But, she seemed resolved to go no matter what. I can't really say that I blame her, no one likes to see a civilization die out. But, we have our orders for a reason.

     Generally, we are ordered not to interfere. It seems that Captain Archer's example is being followed almost to an absurd extreme. On Earth's first interstellar voyage, he had the opportunity to help a species avoid possible extinction, but didn't because it might interfere with another species development. And both of these species were sentient and knew he was there!1

     Anyway, I dug pretty deep into the historical and legal records to make sure that she was legally justified to help the civilization. Earth law started to finally coalesce in the 19th century, and apparently, the States of the time started to follow a doctrine (albeit very selectively) called the "responsibility to protect." Though no States ever really used it to render environmental aid, it was originally postulated that it could be used that way. Since the Crepusculans were supposedly hibernating and were "unable to cope, or call for assistance" to help with this "overwhelming natural or environmental catastrophe," I gave the Captain the go-ahead on the condition that she not get seen!2

     The whole reasoning behind the Prime Directive is to avoid changing a civilization's progress, but we're kind of "flying" by the seat of our pants out here. Starfleet Command probably won't mind helping ensure a species doesn't go extinct. But they probably would mind if we were seen by the locals, thereby creating some kind of diety-worship thing on the planet. Cmdr. Burnham even admitted that what they're doing might violate General Order No 1. if they are seen. In the end, erring on the side of helping people is probably better. But, in the past, that excuse has been used to terrible ends. I'm sending a memo outlining my arguments above to Starfleet Legal HQ, so that next time we can act more appropriately. 




1 See Captain and Chief Medical Officer logs from NX-01 Enterprise "Dear Doctor."
2 ICISS, "The Responsibility to Protect: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty p.49 (December 2001).

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