During the course of Deep Space 9, Sisko directly causes two wars- both the result of direct orders that he knowingly violated.

In The Die Is Cast (Season 3, Episode 21), Odo is being held against his will onboard a Cardassian ship controlled by the Obsidian Order; part of a secret Cardassian/Romulan fleet on a mission to destroy the Founder's Homeworld. At this point in the show, the Federation is more or less at a truce with the Dominion, their last encounter having been when Odo petitioned for the crew's safe release from the Founders.

Sisko expresses a desire to go and rescue Odo, but Admiral Toddman explicitly forbids it, not wanting to draw the Federation into open conflict with the Dominion (or Cardassia/Romulus). Sisko ignores this order, goes to the Gamma Quadrant, joins the battle (if only to rescue Odo), and destroys several Dominion ships. This directly results in escalation of their conflict with the Dominion to open warfare.

In The Way of the Warrior (Season 4, Episodes 1&2), the Klingons have decided to take advantage of the weakened Cardassia and launch a full scale invasion. The Federation Council explicitly votes not to get involved, and Sisko is ordered not to interfere. He once again ignores direct orders and choose to secretly leak the Klingon battle plan to the Cardassians, and even worse, later takes the Defiant to rescue the Cardassian government (and Gul Dukat), directly engaging with the Klingons and destroying a ship.

Over the course of this two part episode Sisko's actions directly result in the collapse of the alliance between the Federation and Klingons, and then cause a war between them in which thousands die. It also directly lays the groundwork for the future Cardassia/Dominion alliance (and subsequent war which costs millions of lives). Furthermore, it represents the will of a single out-of-control Captain overriding the decision of a democratically-elected body.

The show never depicts Sisko suffering any consequences for his actions. On the contrary, in between the two events described above he is actually promoted. Have the show's writers or the books ever touched on the complete lack of accountability for Sisko?

  • Because he's popular with the Admirals and his actions are rarely causative.
    – Valorum
    Feb 14, 2021 at 20:16
  • 3
    You don't get more causative than disobeying direct orders and then killing people as a result. A famous real-world analog would be when when General MacArthur attacked North Korea and attempted to provoke China into the war during the Korean War. It led to MacArthur's dismissal and retirement in disgrace.
    – MgSam
    Feb 14, 2021 at 20:22

1 Answer 1


Sisko isn't court martialed in DS9: The Die is Cast because he had a thin sliver of plausible deniability. His log reflected that the Admiral's order were garbled and unclear. Presumably the Admiral, unwilling to lose a good officer over a fairly minor "stunt" that resulted in good intel being received, the recovery of a Bajoran officer under Starfleet command and no Starfleet casualties, decided not to press the point by asking him about it, forcing him into a lie (or more likely to tell the truth) and implicate himself as a mutineer.

TODDMAN: You may be interested to know, I've decided not to file charges against anyone on the Defiant.

SISKO: Thank you, sir.

TODDMAN: (tough) But if you pull a stunt like that again, I'll court martial you... or promote you. Either way, you'll be in a lot of trouble.

A beat, and we can see just a hint of amusement in Toddman's gruff exterior.

DS9: The Die is Cast: Screenplay

Sisko being popular with the higher-ups is a pretty common theme throughout the show. He spent a fair amount of time at Starfleet HQ and Utopia Planetia and is generally regarded as a good egg.

As to his actions in DS9: Way of the Warrior, although he could be censured for speaking indiscreetly in front of the station's tailor, he could hardly be expected to know that the man who hems his trousers has a direct line to the Cardassian High Command. Similarly, it's not Sisko's actions that result in the Federation and the Klingon Empire breaking off relations, but rather the actions of the Federation Council condemning Gowron, giving him an excuse to withdraw from the Khitomer Accords.

O'BRIEN: Well, what did the Federation Council say?

SISKO: They've decided to condemn the Klingon invasion.

Everyone reacts. They're not surprised, but they know this may mean trouble.

SISKO: In response, Gowron has expelled all Federation citizens from the Klingon Empire and recalled his ambassadors from the Federation.

KIRA: You're saying he's cut off diplomatic relations?

SISKO: He's done more than that. The Klingons have withdrawn from the Khitomer Accords. The peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire... has ended.

DS9: Way of the Warrior: Screenplay

It's not even particularly clear what Sisko's orders are and whether they would prevent him from aiding a ship that's broadcasting a distress signal that whoops, happens to contain the Cardassian High Command.

Again, he's walking a very thin line but he can always say that he was just in the area when he simply stumbled across a battle between the Cardassians and a Klingon ship, noting that at this point they still have a peace treaty with Cardassians and no treaty with the Klingons.

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