Going to the mailbags. Ryan wanted to know:
What if the Romulans had somehow successfully invaded Vulcan in early 2368 during the TNG episodes Unification I and II? While war between the Federation and the Romulans would have almost certainly occured, what would have happened next?
I think the Romulans erred badly, in mistaking the Vulcans’ famed pacifism with passivity. Had the Romulans landed three ships on Vulcan and attempted to overthrow the Vulcan government, I harbor no doubts that the Vulcans would have given the Romulan invaders a fight like they could not have imagined. Three ships against an entire planet. It doesn’t make sense.
I suspect that the Romulans also assumed, incorrectly, that the Federation would have not intervened, seeing the Romulan takeover as an internal Vulcan matter, much as the Federation had viewed the Klingon Civil War as an internal matter the year before. The major differences between the two events are these:
- The Romulans were supplying war materiel to the Duras faction, but they hadn’t actually invaded the Klingon Empire to secure their victory. Supplying ships and weapons isn’t an act of war. Invading a sovereign planet is. Invading a sovereign planet within the sphere of influence of another power definitely is an act of war.
- The Klingon Empire isn’t a Federation member, but rather a Federation ally. Vulcan, by contrast, is one of the founding members of the Federation, going back to 2161. A Romulan invasion of Vulcan would be seen the same way the United States would view an invasion of Idaho, while Romulan supplies of weapons to the Klingons would be seen the same way supplying Basque separatists in Spain would be seen by the United States, an internal affair.
So, even if the Romulans landed their ships on Vulcan, even if they managed to depose the Vulcan government in Shi’Kahr and declare that Vulcan was now a part of the Romulan Star Empire and subject to the Praetor’s jurisdiction, they still would have had armed resistance by the Vulcans and as many Starfleet ships as could be mustered over their heads. War would be likely, if not inevitable.
Joe Manno once said, “The Federation doesn’t start wars. The Federation finishes them.” The Romulans would be in a very bad position–they wouldn’t be able to supply their forces on Vulcan, and they would have light-years between the Neutral Zone and Vulcan securely in Federation hands. Unless the Romulans wanted to risk all-out war to hold Vulcan at all costs, I don’t imagine that the Romulan occupation of Vulcan would last very long at all.
Come of think of it, if the Vulcans provided any resistance at all and the Federation viewed the invasion as an act of war and mobilized for such, it could topple the Romulan government, if faced with the prospect of fighting a war they couldn’t win. I feel confident the Klingons would have come into the conflict on the Federation side. It was the Romulans’ aggressive actions that lead to this course of events and destabilized the galactic balance of power.
I don’t think the Romulans had any realistic chance of holding Vulcan. They could have given the Federation and the Klingons a bloody nose trying to do so. In the end, however, the Romulans would have lost, and lost badly.