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Malcor III is about to run a first Warp flight. But before that, Picard and Troi meet their chief scientist and Prime Minister and introduce themselves.

To me that sounds imposing, like "We are your friends, meet (and join) us first before reaching out to others". Why does the Federation introduce themselves at all to aliens that are about to become Warp capable? Why don't they let them to find them themselves? Picard said it's a usual practice to introduce themselves to scientists first, because they're easier to reach out.

Prime Minister of Malcor said it nicely for such an situation and is acting wisely:

My world's history has recorded that conquerors often arrived with the words, "we are your friends."

  • Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before. – Zoredache Apr 11 '17 at 19:47
  • One thing is too seek out new lifeforms. The other thing is to impose yourself to them. I'm talking about making contact before making the flight (flight may not succeed) and not allowing the alien race to wonder around themselves and choose with whom they want to have contact with. The same thing is that a stranger comes to me on the street stating that he wants to be my friend because he makes model ships far better than I and wants to show me the way of making model ships. – civan Apr 11 '17 at 19:59
  • Not sure you are looking at it the right way. Vulcan was ~16 ly from Earth. The Vulcan's knew once Humans were warp capable they might go visit their neighbors, and Vulcan was close. Maybe Malcor was close to other Federation members, so why not meet at their home instead of waiting for them to visit you? – Zoredache Apr 11 '17 at 20:13
  • have you watched the episode? It's made fairly clear why iirc – NKCampbell Apr 11 '17 at 20:14
  • It's possible that the planet was located in an area that had a number of close warp-capable societies. If they were likely to run into "aliens" their first time out, the Fed may have decided to rush the introductions. – Joe L. Apr 11 '17 at 22:17
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Picard states in the same episode that Starfleet believes their procedure is better than accidentally running into each other in space.

We prefer meeting like this, rather than a random confrontation in deep space.

The use of "confrontation" is the key: deep space encounters with unknown species tend to be fraught with misunderstanding and mistrust. Imagine if it also happens to be the first alien contact you ever make!

Picard admits that it's a controversial practice, but seems to insist that it's better than the alternative.

Centuries ago, a disastrous contact with the Klingon Empire led to decades of war. It was decided then we would do surveillance before making contact. It was a controversial decision. I believe it prevented more problems than it created.

(Putting two and two together, I wonder if the disastrous first contact with Klingons was originally supposed to be in deep space? This episode was written before their first contact was depicted in Star Trek: Enterprise.)

This is also speculative, but I wonder if Federation first contact procedures are influenced by the first contact between two of its founding species. Humans invented the warp drive and made its first alien contact on the same day, as seen in First Contact. Also in that instance, the Vulcans chose to land and make contact with Zephron Cochran's science team rather than political authorities.

As to whether the Federation is "imposing" themselves, it's worth noting:

a. re-reading the script, Picard never actually offers/suggests Federation membership. He only offers friendship and mutual cooperation.

b. the episode establishes that the procedure works quite well: if the aliens feel threatened by the Federation and ask them to leave, they will.

  • nin'jd! just barely beat me to the answer – NKCampbell Apr 11 '17 at 20:16
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    The Malcorians are very far from being ready for Federation membership. There's good evidence that their society is deeply anti-science and would implode if their first contact isn't handled correctly. – Valorum Apr 11 '17 at 20:17

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