One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek
(any show) is the first season classic Trek
episode "A Taste of Armageddon."
In the episode, the Enterprise
is sent to Eminiar VII to investigate the disappearance of a ship several years before. Reports from the time indicate the planet was at war with its closest neighbor Vendikar. Despite being warned not to visit the planet, Kirk is forced to take the Enterprise
there under the orders of ambassador Robert Fox. Upon arrival, Kirk, Spock and a team of red-shirts (who don't die!) beam down to the planet and meet the leaders of Eminiar VII. They learn the two planets are still at war and experience an attack during their time on the planet. But this is not an ordinary war. This is a war fought entirely by computers. Attacks are carried out via computer and then casualties are tallied up for the area. Lists of names of the victims are created and the victims have 24 hours to report to a disintegration chamber or risk violating the rules of war as established by the societies. The people die, but the civilization and culture lives on.
In case you can't see it coming, the Enterprise
is a target and the crew is declared a casualty. This, of course, doesn't sit well with Kirk who refuses to allow his crew to be killed and takes matters into his own hands to show the people the true horrors of war and why it's not just a game to be played by computer.
Captain Future (aka William Koninski) over at Soul of Star Trek
has a long series of posts
about how this episode was particularily reflective of events occurring in the real world when the show first aired in 1967. And how it has some reflections of the war going on today in Iraq. It's an interesting piece (and a long one. It includes a detailed synopsis of the episode before Captain Future begins to examine the real world implications the episode had then and now. It's definitely worth reading and considering. It also re-inforces how relevant Star Trek
can still be as a social commentary on the world today.
If anything, the war fought by computers is even more relevant today than it was in the 60s. I know Star Trek
is credited with predicting a lot of the technological innovations we have today. This is one I kind of wish they'd not been so accurate about.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/14/2006 09:17:00 AM