(from the FASA: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Sourcebook)
As the United Federation of Planets moves towards the midpoint of its second century, its members can look back on a past of harrowing near-disaster and hard-won but lasting success. It is difficult to imagine that the founding members of the Federation were once a squabbling mob of barely civilized, expansionistic races on the brink of war with each other.
The Federation was forged from the most dark and desperate of circunstances. Fate had placed five highly advanced races within 20 parsecs of each other, and all (except the Vulcans) had developed starflight at nearly the same time. They sought new worlds to conquer and colonize, and new peoples and new civilizations whose very differences could teach them new knowledge. Hardly any one of these races expected to find so many others; certainly none welcomed the ideal that all were rivals for the same type of planets. Class M worlds are few and far between, and most were hotly contested by the spacecraft of other races. The agressive and capable Humans had no direction in which they could expand where a prior claim did not exist. Having survived the catastrophic Eugenics Wars, the Earth was better equipped, diplomatically and philosophically, to deal with the naked aggression - even its own. Still, humans realized that they had to expand so that they would not fall behind the other races.
Earth was not alone in its worry about the future; even the Tellarites did not dispute that war would become more likely as expansion tangled the races. The ideal of federation always circulated at conferences of the five major spacefaring worlds. If a peace council were to be exstablished (like Earth's United Nations or the Ruling Mothers of Tellar), then war could be prevented as soon as danger became apparent. Better, if that council could anticipate conflict and defuse it before it even became a danger, war would cease to be the final arbiter of political or racial differences. Even better, if that council had the authority to explore the space surrounding the major races and if the offensive forces of all the races were bound not to a planet, or a race, or even to this hypothetical council, but to the idea of maintaining peace at all costs.
The idea was tantilizing but too futuristic for most. How could any race give up its ability to wage war, even if the othere did so? Who would command these forces or decide how to use them? Who would own the newly discovered worlds, and who would decide who was to live on them? Many alliances proposing less have been broken for their ambition, but the dream of Federation lived because of one immutable truth: The future without a Federation would be bloody and futile. There would be Federation or there would be war; any other out come was highly unlikely.
The memory of their experiences with the Vegan Tyranny hastened the races' efforts towards unity. All realized that beyond their cozy little sphere was an unknown and possibly hostile universe waiting for them. Even so, hammering out the details of the new government took years. When the Articles of Federation were signed on Stardate 0/8706.06, it was with hope and dread for the future, and a universal belief that the future must be made secure for all peoples, present and future.
No one would dispute that the experiment was successful. Peace has been maintained (though occasionally, just barely) among the members of the Federation, and all the races have planted flourishing colonies throughout its space. Peace and prosperity have benefitted all Federation members and helped to accelerate the expansion of Federation space. Most importantly, confidence in and support for Star Fleet and the Federation have grown - which is just as well, because expansion brought with it many more difficulties than anyone had expected.
Star Fleet has managed to cope successfully with every crisis - whether military, as in the Romulan and Four Years Wars; domestic, as in the regulation of trade and the performance of diplomatic missions; and in-between, as with the Orion pirate problem. Not all solutions have been perfect. For instance, though only Star Fleet officially performs surveys and establishes claims to worlds, for many years, private explorers have been licensed or 'deputized' to perform the same work. There are still Orion pirates, and the slave trade has proven very difficult to eradicate. Star Fleet and the Federation have managed to cope by anticipating every reaction - political, economic, social or military.
The Federation's greatest threat comes from the Klingon Empire. The Klingons are so different from Federation races that the layman finds it difficult to comprehend their culture. They are not a multi-racial cooperative but a single, extremely determined race. They do not settle new worlds through peaceful means, but rather conquer and subjugate entire races for slavery. While the Federation Prime Directive forbids inteference with the natural development of a world's civilization, the Klingon Empire is bent on domination, power, and galactic supremacy. An average Federation citizen might think the Klingons a lesser power because of their lack of compassion, their pursuit of power for its own end, or simply because they are only one race, but they are dangerous foes. An aggressive race dedicated to armed struggle, Klingons believe only in the right of the sword. Only Star Fleets armed might has kept this powerful enemy from expanding into Federation space.
On Stardate 1/5105, armed vessels from the Federation and the Klingon Empire first met and exchanged fire. The Federation soon had to face the unpleasent fact that a highly advanced and warlike power was expanding in their direction. Star Fleet was slow to react, its vessels were soon reporting the presence of Klingons from the galactic southern edge of the Romulan Neutral Zone to the western boundary of known space. The horror of invasion, dormand since the Romulan War, raised its head. The Federation was threatened and must respond.
The Federation Council might have been willing to concede to the Klingons the `dead zone' of the Orion Arm, where gas clouds and hot suns made an acceptable natural barrier. However, the wealth of Rigel did not tempt the Klingons; to them, the Orions were Khesterex a dead culture, not worth the blood - even to a race that prized the spilling of blood. In addition, it was not possible to halt the Federation's own expansion toward Rigel, into the Arm, and perhaps beyond. The Council feared, and rightly, that when Klingons confronted a race with some fight in them, they would turn their full attention toward that race. And so they did.
To the Klingons, it seems only natural and right that the Federation, as a `living creature', would want to conquer worlds. They did not quarrel with such an ethic, as it was one of their own. They were happy to fight, but soon discovered that the Federationers came to trade or farm, and not make war. The Federation tried to accomodate the Klingons through diplomacy, earning only undying Klingon contempt and confusion. What kind of empire negotiates? They wanted to know. Their culture had only one answer; a weak and querulous one that would have to be eliminated. However, border squabbles had shown that this `decadent' race possessed a first-rate fleet of armed starships, and a surprising ability to fight when pressed. This delighted the Klingons. Races despicable for their weakness still had the ability to make a credible defense! To the Klingon mind, it was the perfect combination of necessity and pleasure. They would rid the galaxy of the Federation and have fun doing it.
The Four Years War utterly invalidated that thinking in the empire. The Federation drove out the Klingon invaders but chose not to penetrate the Empire, even though they might have done so. Klingons reasoned that if a contemptible race chose not to destroy them, it could only be because that race held the Klingons in such low esteem that they could accrue no honor in doing so. Happy disdain thus became unrelenting bloodlust. By neglecting to deliver a crushing defeat on the Klingons, the Federation had presented instead a crushing, unforgivable insult. The Empire would have its revenge.
The years after the Four Years Wars were harrowing ones for the Federation. Colonists scarcely waited for the shooting to stop before they flooded the space gained by the Treaty of Axanar. The tide of Federation settlements moved closer and closer to Klingon space, and there was no place else for colonists to go. Many civilian vessels, explorers, scouts, and colonial transports dared to cross the border to find homes far away from the restrictions and confines of modern life. Quite a few of these efforts were ruthlessly destroyed to the last man, but even the horror stories of the few survivors could not dissuade others from trying. Population pressure was building on the coreward side of the Federation, and it was only a matter of time before something, somewhere gave.
That something proved to be the second Klingon war or the Organian Conflict as it is now known. Paranoid over the number of Federation people poised on the edge of Klingon territory, the Klingons launched their fleets towards the UFP. As both sides jockeyed for position, the planet Organia gained importance as a strategic location for a base of operations. As Federation and Klingon forces clashed for control of Organia, the Organians revealed themselves to be organisms of advanced mental power who had nothing to fear from the Klingons or the Federation, but who had a fundamental dislike of war. Backed up by their psionic abilities, they unilaterally imposed a cease-fire and a peace treaty.
The Organian Peace Treaty is one of the most studied but least understood documents of its kind. The general public understands that it prohibits any kind of armed conflict between the Klingons and the Federation; violators simply find that their weapons do not work any more. It increased the size of both governments (with a corresponding decrease in size of the neutral zone) and declares that planets along the neutral zone will join which ever side develops them most efficiently. However, there are many questions about the treaty that simply cannot be resolved. To do so, one would have to ask the Organians, who refuse to answer. The limits have to be tested, physically, to find what is and what is not permitted.
The prohibition against conflict does not prohibit ships of either side from crossing over into the other, nor does it seem to prohibit armed conflict (even ship-to-ship battles) at any distance from Organia. Is this because the Organians lack the necessary range? The Klingons seem to be free to slaughter innocent settlers who venture into Klingon space, and the Federation can do the same to any Klingons in the UFP. Since the imposition of the Treaty, both sides have been sending forces of varying sizes across the Neutral Zone, testing to see what size force could cross and still be able to use their armaments. The Federation has not revealed the results of these tests, but the consensus is that a single ship, operating alone, can use its weapons freely. This could explain the sudden increase in size of Klingon battleships.
Those Klingons who infiltrate Federation space are bent less on outright destruction or even surprise attacks than on subterfuge, intelligence gathering, contacting malcontent groups, and other such missions. They seem to be attempting to learn more about Federation technology and to come to some sort of Klingonish understanding of the peoples and politics of the Federation. Many of these ships sneak in through Orion free space, and appear 20 parsecs behind the forces that are watching for them. Whether these raids are official imperial policy or just a permissable discretionary action is anybody's guess.
The Klingon policy (or lack of one) may have blown up in their faces with the theft of the supersecret Project Genesis data and the spectacular failure of Captain Kruge's mission to the Genesis Planet. The theft seems to have come from within Star Fleet's own ranks. How deeply the Klingon spy network may run is unknown, but it has become a Federation scandal. Even if Star Fleet manages to catch the Klingon spies, it will still have to explain to the Council how Klingons managed to infiltrate Star Fleet Command so deeply. It hardly helps Star Fleet's case that the Klingons were stopped only by a renegade starship captain in a stolen cruiser.
The future of the Federation is uncertain. Population in the frontiers and the Triangle continues to grow. The Klingons have not renounced war, but there clandestine tactics against the Federation could be worse than open warfare. One of the greater horrors to be avoided is war started by the Federation itself, by action or inaction. The idea is unthinkable but not impossible, at least if present trends continue.