With the recent events occupying the news, I recently was thinking of the past. With the 20th anniversary of the Dominion War rapidly approaching, I feel that now would be a good time to revisit the original Maquis.
A Brief History
The roots of the Maquis began with the treaty negotiations in 2366. From the start, the Federation chose a policy of appeasement. For interesting reading, I advise you to find and read Ka’zhchi Afrnia’s The Phoenix Incident: Roots of Appeasement and Betrayal, published in 2381 that reveals that even as far back as 2367 the Federation was aware the Cardassians were bargaining in bad faith.
And the Cardassians being Cardassians, took advantage of the Federation’s weak posture. In 2370, when they signed the treaty establishing the Demilitarized Zone aka the “DMZ,” the Cardassians took the chance to start a reign of terror through intimidation. The Federation Council stood idly by, betraying its core principles as it so often does when they prove inconvenient. The Council chose appeasement over truth, and appeasement over doing what is right.
Now, to be fair, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and converse with many Starfleet officers, and I honestly think that many of them were also outraged at this cowardly action. And in some fairness, I suppose, to that body, they had to worry about the entire Federation and not just those colonies. While I find the Vulcan philosophy rather devoid of life, there is merit to the typically Vulcan phrase “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” But as the Dominion War ultimately showed, it is sometimes necessary to fight for those Federation ideals rather than preserve a tenuous peace with a devious people.
Had it ended there, I think the Maquis movement might have been more muted. The issue with the treaty is that it didn’t care about where people were living, and when Starfleet tried to forcibly relocate colonists to other planets, they ended up having to leave them there. While at the time the Cardassian Central Command acquiesced, it didn’t take a Daystrom scholar to see that they didn’t want Federation citizens on their property. A campaign of oppression and harassment soon began, with the Central Command smuggling in weapons.
The Rise of the MaquisAt this point, the first Starfleet officers defected, and several more continued until they began what is widely considered their first open attack: the bombing of the Cardassian freighter Bok’Nor at Deep Space Nine, which killed all 78 crew members aboard. The attack rapidly spiraled into a shooting war between the two sides as both opened fire on each other, on Cardassian assets, and on Starfleet. They believed, and with good reason, that they had been abandoned by the Federation and started to fend for themselves.
I will take a moment here to paraphrase the Emissary – it is easy to be perfect in an idealized paradise. But in the DMZ, there are just people. Angry, scared and determined people who will take any action they need, regardless of what the Federation dictates.
With some attempts by the Cardassian government to smear the Federation, the war began to rumble on. In many cases, Federation officers who saw their true higher duty joined them, causing a constant stream of qualified officers to join, which gave them an edge over the Cardassian and Federation military forces.
With the collapse of the Cardassian Central Command and the start of the Klingon Invasion, the Maquis rapidly became a power in its own right in the areas they controlled with the added support from the Klingons. (For those interested who can read Klingon, you may be able to find a copy of The Klingon-Maquis Connection by K’krih.)
Bolstered by their successes, the Maquis launched an aggressive campaign employing the use of biogenic weapons to drive Cardassians out, which was only halted after Starfleet and the Emissary used biogenic weapons themselves in order to catch Maquis leader Michael Eddington. Do as I say, not as I do?
…And the Fall
It seemed as if the Maquis were on a roll and were posed to declare themselves an independent nation.
And then the Dominion hit. The story from this point is fairly well-known to everyone. There is a bit of an interesting coda to the story though.
In 2378, the USS Voyager returned from the Delta Quadrant via a Borg transwarp conduit. The Maquis on board were all pardoned. Starfleet, perhaps quite reasonably, may have decided that seven years stranded on the other side of the galaxy was punishment enough.
The remaining Maquis prisoners in various Federation prisoners were not. Indeed, to this day they are still there in a move that is frankly baffling given the Dominion War. See, one thing about the Federation is that no one leaves the Federation. No one. Among many in the Federation, there was a sense of betrayal, and this perceived most heinous of acts has kept the former Maquis locked in their cells.
From the Ashes
Now, the Maquis Reborn have risen from the ashes like a phoenix. With the attacks on Deep Space 10 and Deep Space 285, the Maquis are back in the news again. The original had a cause, a reason, whereas the reborn group appears to mainly be the gripes of people who just generally dislike Starfleet.
But is this phoenix one the Federation needs for its rebirth as it debates its course at the turn of the century? Now, the Federation continues to walk the path between a military force and an armada of explorers, and it’s signs like this that show that the Federation has many temptations to fall off the path.