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Context: At the end of DS9 season 2, a Jem'Hadar directly tell Sisko - "The Dominion will no longer stand by and allow ships from your side to violate our territory."

Question: Isn't the Dominion's complaint totally valid - that Starfleet ships are invading their territory? Shouldn't the Federation have replied that it was sorry for its screw up?

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The Federation may take the same position with respect to space that the US (and international law) takes to the oceans on Earth, that they may be freely used for passage by anyone except within tightly defined territorial limits. –  Mike Scott Aug 28 at 18:39
    
@MikeScott: except that that's not at all how the Federation treats, say Romulan space. Of course, this is also belied by how obviously expansionist the Dominion later becomes. –  Jerry Schirmer Aug 28 at 18:46
    
If I recall, didn't the Federation for a long time afterwards consider making peace with the Dominion, rather than directly challenging them on this very ground? Regardless, whether their claim is 'valid' seems really subjective. –  Zibbobz Aug 28 at 18:49

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

It is a little fuzzy what, if any, diplomatic channels were opened between the Federation and the Dominion prior to the outbreak of the war. If the Dominion never established exactly what was their territory (rather than perhaps generally claiming the entire quadrant), then the Federation may have felt justified continuing to explore.

The few times that we did see anyone from the Federation trying to find someone from the Dominion to negotiate with it usually ended in a skirmish at best, or the death of many people at worst.

Referencing the same episode you quote in the question, the first official contact between the Federation and the Dominion resulted in the unprovoked loss of a Galaxy-class starship with all hands. Follow that up with "The Search" Part 1 and Part 2 when the Dominion captured the crew of the Defiant and conducted a interactive physiological experiment on the command crew.

Per the female Founder at the end of Part 2, the Dominion is about control and order. They judge solid-form races as threats, regardless of anything else, and to protect themselves they will go to any length to try to control them.

FEMALE: Ironic, isn't it? The hunted now control the destinies of hundreds of other races.
ODO: But why control anyone?
FEMALE: Because what you control can't hurt you. So, many years ago we set ourselves the task of imposing order on a chaotic universe.
KIRA: Is that what you call it? Imposing order? I call it murder.
FEMALE: What you call it is no concern of ours.
ODO: How do you justify the deaths of so many people?
FEMALE: The Solids have always been a threat to us. That's the only the justification we need.
ODO: But these Solids have never harmed you. They travel the galaxy in order to expand their knowledge, just as you once did.
FEMALE: The Solids are nothing like us.
emphasis mine

So while the Federation may have been guilty of violating Dominion space (this is unclear), the Dominion itself hardly gave the Federation any opportunity to apologize for that or broker any sort of right-of-way.

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Fair point. Any thoughts as to why the Dominion doesn't just destroy the wormhole completely (say before season 3)? While humans might eventually reach them, they'd presumably be on the edge of their territory and thus have less support. –  Craig Aug 28 at 21:38
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@Craig I forget the exact quote and episode, but I am pretty sure that the founders see it as their mission to bring order to the alpha quadrant, pointing out the conflict between all the factions. They didn't want to isolate themselves from the alpha-quadrant because they were on a mission. –  Xantec Aug 28 at 21:50
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Not to mention, the wormhole is home to a highly advanced near-Q-level species that would probably object to a lesser species trying to destroy their home. –  Joe L. Aug 28 at 23:48
    
@JoeL. Yes, if IIRC the wormhole aliens also on multiple occasions destroyed ships attempting to pass through the wormhole, including a Jem'Hadar fleet. I believe the episode is Sacrifice of Angels. –  mludd Aug 29 at 8:21
    
@mludd, IIRC, the Jem'Hadar fleet in question wasn't destroyed... it was just moved to a different (possibly extremely distant) point in time. The wormhole aliens, after all, get most of their knowledge and power from perceiving and existing across the entire timeline at once. –  Brian S Aug 29 at 13:58

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