Help! The Trekkies have put out a fatwa on me! Yesterday I posted a tongue-in-cheek analysis of weapons and tactics of the new Star Trek movie on Wired’s Danger Room. Now I’m afraid to go outside. I’ll get jumped by some 50-year-old guy wearing pointed ears and living in his parents’ basement.
Folks, Star Trek is one of the great influences in my life. But it’s make-believe! Honest!
Instead of a military analysis, let’s look at the implications of torture in the Star Trek movie (WARNING: spoilers ahead). The neo-Goth Romulans stick those brain-penetrating earworms from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan into a prisoner’s ear. Under Bush Department of Justice guidelines, would this be torture? Probably not. DOJ ruled that physical abuse is permitted as long as the intent is not to cause severe pain. Well, the Romulans weren’t torturing Captain Pike for yuks. They only wanted info on Starfleet’s defenses, just like those CIA interrogators only wanted info on Al Qaeda. The Romulans also suspend Pike in what looks like a vat of water. Not exactly waterboarding, but still permitted under DOJ guidelines.
Now, there’s an idea for a Trek sequel. Cheney and Rumsfeld are frozen in 2009, only to be revived in the 23rd century. The liberal, goody-good Federation is no match for their wiles, and soon the neo-cons are running Starfleet. Will they wage regime change upon the Klingons and Romulans? No, they’ll start with the peaceful Vulcans, whose logical, ethical ways are subverting Federation strength in a hostile universe where the strong survive.