Space Diplomacy Part 2: Lessons From Star Trek and Battlefield Earth

Guest blogger Dr. Lee Carroll (AKA EL Whitehorse)

In Part 1 of this series, we explored Earth’s history of diplomatic dealings and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs proactively establishing space governance, with treaties spanning from moon exploration to weapons testing since 1967.

Now, in Part 2, we’ll glean lessons on cosmic diplomacy from legendary sci-fi explorers, like Star Trek’s intrepid Captain Picard and Battlefield Earth’s hero Jonnie Goodboy Tyler. By speculating how these characters might broker understandings with alien species, we gain valuable perspectives applicable to future extraterrestrial outreach.

When the long-awaited first contact arrives, may empathy and communication resound louder than suspicion in the void between us!

Section 1: Star Trek

Star Trek exudes optimism—a vision where unity and collaboration enable a thriving federation amidst wildly diverse races. Watching Captain Picard broker alliances between once-warring species, we yearn for such harmony!

Yet, gazing at present-day tensions, harmony can feel an arduous ascent.

Consider Captain Kirk’s delicate diplomacy balancing might and understanding when confronting a strange silicon creature murdering miners on desolate Janus VI. Rather than blast the rock-skinned “Horta” into rubble, Kirk’s patience prevailed until communication enabled a tense yet mutual understanding. The miners received safety, and the Horta gained a reprieve from destruction—illustrating on a micro scale the macro possibilities awaiting us out there!

Space guidelines modeled on UN treaties provide a unified blueprint. But will these technical accords suffice when facing sentient beings of different thought patterns, biologies, or motives?

History warns that misunderstandings between factions spiral quickly out of control. The Cold War’s hair-trigger era taught us that. Also, consider the Crusades’ centuries-long bloodshed from religious and cultural polarization. Even during colonialism, the inability to grasp indigenous peoples’ values bred violent resistance.

We must reflect deeply on how to translate Earth’s still-shaky cooperation principles to the interstellar stage. When hampered by past hatreds and power imbalances, the fragility of diplomacy cracks all too easily.

We saw this in Picard’s profound decision to show mercy toward a stranded Borg drone. Rather than blast the cyborg or dissect it for military gain, Picard extended patient empathy until “Hugh” unveiled hopes of reunifying with the Collective. By treating Hugh as a frightened individual rather than a mere apparatus, Picard gained invaluable cultural insights—and opened narrow pathways toward future Borg reconciliation.

To be cosmic ambassadors ushering peace amid unknown stars, we need broadened empathy and an endless wellspring of patience. The Federation modeled positive paths—it can be done!

Section 2: Battlefield Earth—by L. Ron Hubbard

As Battlefield Earth’s hero, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, discovered, traversing the intricacies of interspecies diplomacy requires weapons quite different from dynamite and rifles. Though brute force propelled his revolt against the Psychlo oppressors, Jonnie entered an entirely foreign battlefield once alien delegations came to Earth.

His mentor, Mr. Tsung, knew better, schooling the mountain freedom fighter in diplomatic etiquette and manners overnight.

“There was an art to this thing. It was like hunting game, but a different kind of game. It was like a battle but a different kind of battle,” Jonnie realized.

Within the realm of space diplomacy, no longer could you blast through misunderstandings with guns or your hands wrapped around someone’s throat. Failing to comprehend an alien envoy’s subtle expectations could detonate mutual destruction.

Jonnie preparing for battle in the conference Room

Jonnie preparing for battle in the conference Room

So if the alien reception had witnessed this human upstart draped in uncured buckskins instead of formal attire, dangerous whispers might have stirred misconception. Jonnie might have believed his broad shoulders and commanding presence spoke enough authority. Yet first-contact situations overflow with perilous assumptions.

We witnessed as much when early American explorers met natives adorned with feathers and face paint. Who holds the power? Who sets terms? False moves then breed calamities.

In the Psychlos’ ruinous wake, humans presumed silence signaled Psychlo’s submission. Thus, years of domination seeded explosive tensions that devastated both worlds. As survivors crawl from radioactive wreckage, how can we ensure history stops repeating across the cosmos?

We know well the consequences of failed communication unraveled in humanity’s endless conflicts—the Versailles Treaty’s sowing conditions for WWII, and Rwandan bloodshed disrupting gorilla conservation. Building trust demands navigating complex viewpoints, however alien.

No immunity shields us from disaster when misunderstandings multiply past the tipping point.

So out there between the stars, failure to embrace unknown perspectives promises dire outcomes too grievous to fathom. May our destined emissaries take Jonnie Goodboy Tyler’s lesson as gospel—first seek understanding lest you bring about doomsday unawares.

Conclusion: Navigating the Starlit Frontier

Our voyage through chasms of culture reveals space diplomacy’s essence—profoundly understanding perspectives to transform suspicion into solidarity. Whether breaching cold wars or extending compassion towards stranded cyborgs, communication fuels comprehension.

Captain Kirk’s style illustrates how resolving conflicts requires seeing all sides and embracing empathy, empowering even enemy alliances. Picard teaches the potent lesson that by embracing dignity, we can uncover common ground.

And Jonnie Goodboy Tyler’s story warns of catastrophes looming when civilizations let assumptions prevail over understanding. Conflicts spawn when long-entrenched perceptions dismiss building genuine rapport across epochs of time.

The lessons shine clearly for pioneering space diplomats poised to greet extraterrestrial envoys. As cosmic technology propels our star-bound ships ever further, courage must steer—courage to disorder old hatreds calcified by time yet yielding so little. To behold alien ways while shedding the scales from our eyes, to carve unforeseen inroads toward concord rather than instinctively grasping for the warrior’s sword.

At the crucial moment when hands first clasp across light years amid permanent night, destiny shall record whether emissaries arrived bathed in light or shadow. Either trust prevails, or we vanish back into the dark between galaxies.

Diplomacy’s forgotten secrets may come as thunder to rouse slumbering giants on voyages destined to shape interstellar relations for millennia rippling outward.

Dr. Lee Carroll (AKA EL Whitehorse)

Working abroad in 10 countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, both as a doctor and teacher, has shown me life through a prism of viewpoints. That experience has enriched my writing to the point where I enjoy showcasing the admiration I feel for varied cultures.

For example, my WOTF Semi-finalist entry is published for Kindle as Death Clearinghouse: The Novelette, featuring Apache ingenuity.

When I’m not writing, I’m yanking swords out of stones around the world.

(Amazon author page:


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Hubbard, L. R. (1982). Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000. Bridge Publications.

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United Nations. (1967). Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. 

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. (2022). Space Law Treaties and Principles.

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