Here’s an excerpt from my favorite episode of Star Trek, “The City on the Edge of Forever”, in which Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
Kirk and Spock have traveled back in time to the year 1930 in order to undo a disastrous change to history that was inadvertently caused by McCoy. After extracting the relevant information from his tricorder, Spock shows Kirk exactly how history diverged:
Spock: “This is how history went after McCoy changed it. Here, in the late 1930’s. A growing pacifist movement whose influence delayed the United States’ entry into the Second World War. While peace negotiations dragged on, Germany had time to complete its heavy-water experiments.”
Kirk: “Germany. Fascism. Hitler. They won the Second World War.”
Spock: “Because all this lets them develop the A-bomb first. There’s no mistake, Captain. Let me run it again. Edith Keeler. Founder of the peace movement.”
Kirk: “But she was right. Peace was the way.”
Spock: “She was right, but at the wrong time. With the A-bomb, and with their V2 rockets to carry them, Germany captured the world.”
In the altered version of history, a peace movement headed by Edith Keeler convinced the US government to enter into peace negotiations with Nazi Germany. Germany took advantage of these negotiations in order to buy time to develop and build nuclear weapons. By the time the US entered the war, it was too late: The Nazis had nuclear weapons, won the war, and conquered the world.
Kirk is startled and disturbed by the implication: By choosing to negotiate peace instead of going to war, the US allowed the world to be swallowed up by Nazism: “But she was right”, he says in his confusion. “Peace was the way.” (Kirk’s naivete is perhaps understandable, coming as it does from someone who grew up on an Earth that had been at peace for centuries.)
Spock, however, corrects Kirk’s misconception: “She was right, but at the wrong time.” Peace is the ultimate goal, but sometimes war is the only logical choice. When one is confronted with evil, it is the wrong time to negotiate peace. One does not appease evil or negotiate with it — one must destroy it, or else the repercussions may be catastrophic. Only when the threat of evil is removed is peace possible.