- "Control is the only thing that matters, methods are not important. Efficiency is what counts in the end. Exploit what you conquer for in the struggle for survival, every resource is critical. History is written by the victors." - Narrator of Cardassian Intro in Birth of the Federation.
The Cardassian Union, also referred to as the Cardassian Empire, is an interstellar political entity in the Alpha Quadrant. Until the 2370s, it was run by the civilian Detapa Council, a powerless entity which approved the demands of the military Central Command. In 2373, the rogue military commander Skrain Dukat seized power and allied the state with the Dominion. Following the Dominion War and the period known as "the Fire", in which eight-hundred million cardassians were slaughtered and numerous more died, the Union developed under Alon Ghemor and his successors into a representative democracy led by a castellan with a parliamentary Assembly. The union was based on planet Cardassia Prime, with the centre of the union Cardassia City.
- The name Cardassian Empire is first used in the episode "Ensign Ro"; the term Cardassian Union is introduced in "Chain of Command", and the two seem to be used interchangeably.
- See main article: Cardassian history.
The balance of political power between the Detapa Council and Central Command has shifted numerous time through history, influenced at times by the Obsidian Order, Cardassia's secretive intelligence organization, and the third pillar of its government.
In 2371, the Order was led to disaster by its former head, Enabrain Tain, who attempted to commit genocide against the Founders, the leaders of the Gamma Quadrant superpower, the Dominion. Leading to a massacre of much of the order, this created a power vacuum on Prime in which dissident members of the civilian Detapa Council took control of the government, under the leadership of Chief Executor Meya Rejal, and supported by Gul Skrain Dukat's Second Order. (DS9 novel: The Never-Ending Sacrifice)
The civilian takeover of a noted military dictatorship was followed by a closure of the borders, and sparked suspicions of a Dominion-influenced coup and led to a Klingon invasion, with Cardassia receiving support from the Federation and seeing the temporary dissolution of the Khitomer Accords. (DS9 episode: "The Way of the Warrior")
Subsequently Dukat was disgraced by the revelations of his half-Bajoran daughter, and forced into a belittleing military command. In 2373, Dukat secretly negotiated an alliance with the Dominion, making himself the head of the Cardassian Union. He purged the state of his enemies, including ordering Rejal and other members of the civilian government shot, and reneacted an effective military dictatorship. (DS9 episode: "By Inferno's Light")
Although for a while a willing ally of the Dominion, its next head, Corat Damar, grew disenchanted with the sacrifices the Founders demanded of Cardassian soldiers. In 2375, Damar declared rebellion, ultimately contributing to the Federation, Klingon Empire and Romulan Star Empire's success over the Dominion. Damar, however, died in the war's final days, and became a martyr for new, progressive approaches. (DS9 novel: A Stitch in Time)
In the aftermath of the Dominion War and the period known as "the Fire", a democratic government was established, first headed by Alon Ghemor before his assassination. (DS9 novels: A Stitch in Time, Cardassia: The Lotus Flower, The Fall novel: The Crimson Shadow)
A major aid effort was enacted to reconstruct the union, named Allied Reconstruction Forces (sometimes HARF), and it supported the new progressive democracy. By 2385, HARF left Cardassia in the face of positive reconstruction. That year, in the face, however, of potential backsliding to militaristic governance, the former protege of Enabrain Tain, war hero and ally of both Corot Damar and Alon Ghemor, Elim Garak, was elected castellan. (DS9 novel: The Never-Ending Sacrifice, The Fall novel: The Crimson Shadow)
Government and PoliticsEdit
Through their entire expansionist period, the Cardassian government was a military dictatorship called the Central Command. Although traditionally under the control of the Detapa Council, the civilian ruling body, both the Central Command and the Obsidian Order intelligence agency often operated with virtual autonomy. The two agencies often vied with each other over governmental control and policies. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens) A special military liaison office was present that served to link the Central Command to that of the Obsidian Order. It was effectively considered a neutral position though it had little power over the direction of the Order. (TLE novel: Dawn of the Eagles)
A civilian uprising to overthrow the Central Command restored power to the Detapa Council, but it remained influential in politics and society. When the Cardassians concluded their alliance with the Dominion, Cardassia became a virtual dictatorship, with Gul Dukat in command. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens) Following the Dominion War the Cardassian Union became a representative democracy. However, previously (2375) it was a military dictatorship. The Detapa Council acts as the legislature of the Union.
There were a number of different political factions within the government which included the Directorate that sought to maintain the power of the military and the democratic Reunion Project. In addition, there were the Revanche that sought to control the wormhole in the Bajor system and Dja Bajora Karass which aimed for the reconquest of Bajor itself.
- Cardassian Assembly
- Detapa Council (dissolved)
- Cardassian Central Command (dissolved)
- Obsidian Order (dissolved)
- Cardassian Intelligence Bureau
- Cardassian dissident movement
- Cardassian Guard
- Cardassian Finance Ministry
- Cardassian Ministry of Trade
- Cardassian Science Ministry
- Cardassian Ministry of Justice
- Cardassian Supreme Tribunal
- Cardassian Bureau of Identification
- Loyalty Investigation Board
- Oralian Way
- Revanche Party
- True Way
In 2381 following the creation of the Typhon Pact the Cardassian Union received an invitation to attend a summit to discuss an expansion of the Khitomer Accords.
- "Those who fail the Union aren't demoted - they are eliminated." - Olij Merant
The primary space force of the Cardassian Union is the Cardassian Guard, which is administrated by Central Command. The Obsidian Order served as the primary intelligence organization for the Union, but no longer. A common award given by the Cardassian Union is the Legate's Crest of Valor. (VOY episode: "Nothing Human") Though the Proficient Service Medallion was also a prestigious award. (DS9 episode: "Duet") The head of the military and of Central Command was a Cardassian who held the rank of Gul-Tar. (DS9 novel: Objective: Bajor)
In 2367, the military made use of transporters with active feed pattern buffers, despite the Federation having more advanced transporter technology. The Guard also made use of high-energy subspace fields on ships to jam enemy sensors. The Cardassian Union also possessed inferior replicator technology to that of the Federation, as of 2369. (TNG episode: "The Wounded"; DS9 episode: "Emissary")
- The CDS Trager may be the flagship of the Cardassian Guard in 2375.
Cardassian colonies tend to have a Re-education Center present on the planet in order to ensure the loyalty of the population. (TNG video game: Birth of the Federation) The Oralian Way is a repressed religious group in the Cardassian Union. (DS9 novel: A Stitch in Time) The Lek was the unit of currency present within the Union.
The Union Territories were noted to have borders with the Talarian Republic, Breen Confederacy and the Tzenkethi Coalition. (TLE novel: Day of the Vipers) In addition the Ferengi Alliance and the United Federation of Planets shared a border with the Cardassian Union, including the human colony world of Iadara, which resulted in a number of border tensions as far back as the 2280s. In the 2330s, the Union was also adjacent to territory belonging to the Ubarrak Primacy; the two powers both maintained a presence in the "Oblivion" sector. (TOS novel: Unspoken Truth; STA novel: Oblivion)
In 2368, territories near the borders of the Union included the Federation worlds Minos Korva and Solarion IV, the neutral planets Torman V and Tohvun III, and the Valo system, located approximately 13,000 kilometers from the border in neutral territory. Federation facilities near the border at this time included Starbase 211, Lya Station Alpha, and the Argus Array. (TNG episodes: "The Wounded", "Ensign Ro", "Chain of Command", "Parallels")
Cardassian territory was at least partially re-defined in 2369, as the Cardassians withdrew from Bajor. In 2371, Prophet's Landing was the Bajoran colony closest to the new Cardassian border. (DS9 episodes: "Emissary", "Heart of Stone")
- Amleth Prime
- Cardassia III (DS9 episode: "Prophet Motive")
- Cardassia IV (DS9 episode: "The Homecoming")
- Celtris III (TNG episode: "Chain of Command")
- Lazon II (DS9 episode: "Defiant")
- Omekla III (DS9 episode: "Defiant")
- Orias III (DS9 episode: "Defiant")
- Sunzek (ST novella: The Slow Knife)
- Ventani II (DS9 episode: "Tears of the Prophets")
- Chin'toka system (DS9 episode: "Tears of the Prophets")
- Cuellar system (TNG episode: "The Wounded")
- Dameron system (DS9 episode: "Defiant")
- Davon system (DS9 novel: Devil in the Sky)
- Hurik system
- Kelrabi system (TNG episode: "The Wounded")
- Ketch'Tor asteroid belt
- Orias system (DS9 episode: "Defiant")
- Pentath system
- Torg'Q system (DS9 episode: "Tears of the Prophets")
- Ventani system (DS9 episode: "Tears of the Prophets")
- Almatha sector (DS9 episode: "Defiant")
- Farside Station (DS9 novel: Betrayal)
- McAllister C-Five Nebula (TNG episode: "Chain of Command")
- Outpost 47 (DS9 episode: "Defiant")
- Rokat colony (DS9 episode: "Defiant")
- Sector 21505 (TNG episode: "The Wounded")
- Lissepian Campaign
- Ubarrack Conflict
- Betreka Nebula Incident
- First Klingon-Cardassian War
- Klingon-Cardassian War of 2377
Alternate realities and timelinesEdit
In the Kelvin timeline created by Nero's destruction of the USS Kelvin in the year 2233, the Federation's expansion unfolded differently, and contact had been made with the Cardassian Union by the 2250s. In this reality, the Cardassians had military confrontations with Starfleet starships in that era. (TOS video game: The Mobile Game)
In an alternate reality visited by Lieutenant Worf in 2370, the Cardassian Union had been overthrown by the Bajorans. In this reality, the flight controller of the USS Enterprise-D was a Cardassian ensign. (TNG episode: "Parallels")
In an alternate timeline in which Captain Benjamin Sisko became trapped in a subspace field in 2372, the Cardassians entered into a mutual defense pact with the Bajorans, allying themselves against the Klingon Empire. (DS9 episode: "The Visitor")
In another alternate timeline created by the formation of the red wormhole and the start of the War of the Prophets, the Cardassian Union, its people, the Hub worlds and the Union Territories were destroyed by the Grigari and the Bajoran Ascendancy. By 2400, there was nothing left of the Union beyond scattered groups of mercenaries, refugees and madmen. (DS9 - Millennium novel: The War of the Prophets)