The Cardassian Union are a group of planets under a highly centralised government centered in the capital of Cardassia Prime. The Union is considered to be highly expansive, largely due to the resource intensive nature of their society and this has lead to a significant number of conflicts with bordering powers, including the Federation and Klingon Empires. The Union is also a former member of the Dominion
Main Article: Cardassian History
Cardassian history is perhaps one of the most brutal history of any inhabiting the Alpha Quadrant. Originally, the Cardassian homeworld was that of a deeply spiritual and artistic people, which soon fell into decay when famine and plague struck their civilization. Over the years, Cardassian society evolved to adopt a philosophy that sacrificed their individual freedoms for the greater good of the state and their society. For over five centuries, the iron fisted Cardassian Central Command sought to solve Cardassia's problems through the conquest of numerous worlds and species throughout the galaxy, leading to an era of expansion and conflict. This ultimately left Cardassian civilization in ruins once again after suffering the staggering losses of two major wars.
The ancient Hebitians were a spiritual and peaceful civilization which thrived on Cardassia Prime, centuries prior to the formation of the Cardassian Union. The Hebitian burial vaults were said to be magnificent and filled with many jeweled artifacts made of jevonite. Due to the planet's scarcity in natural resources, the impoverished society suffered from famine and disease, leading to millions of deaths. The frail population then turned to a militaristic ideology, thus ending the Hebitian way of life.
First contact between the Cardassians and Bajorans occurred as early as the 16th century. Using their lightships, Bajoran explorers traversed the space around Bajor and stumbled upon tachyon eddies, which took them all the way to Cardassia Prime. Centuries later, any proof of such contact was lost and the Cardassian government officially denied the story's plausibility. Benjamin Sisko and his son, Jake, proved the Cardassians wrong in late 2371, when Sisko constructed a lightship and stumbled upon the same eddies the ancient Bajorans had. Coincidentally, around this time, evidence had been discovered on Cardassia corroborating the Bajorans' story. The military welcomed the Siskos to Cardassian space with open arms, describing the journey as "a testament to the spirit of the ancient Bajorans who first ventured out into space"
The Cardassian First Republic was established in the late-21st century and featured an era of excellent literature such as the works of Iloja of Prim. ] By the mid-22nd century, Cardassians have begun to explore space and by the 23rd century have a small but rapidly growing area of influence.
Having assumed a militaristic philosophy after the Hebitian society perished, Cardassians relied heavily on the military's expansion into the galaxy to obtain the natural resources which were scarce on their homeworld. The military colonized numerous worlds to obtain the resources for their population and in return had almost complete power over the people. This arrangement satisfied both the military and the civilian population for many years. However, as the Cardassian Union continued to expand over the decades, so did the military's requirements. Eventually the military was consuming the majority of the obtained resources and leaving only scant remnants to Cardassian citizenry. This led to a period of social discontent, as famine and disease once again struck Cardassia, as it had with its ancient civilization. To compensate, the military conquered neighboring planets and forced their native people to work as forced laborers. The most well known of these occupations was that of Bajor in 2328. The Occupation effectively ended in 2369 due to political pressure from the Federation on top of the constant terrorism and guerrilla warfare from the Bajoran Resistance.
Eventually their expansion brought them into conflict with the Klingon Empire causing the Betreka Nebula Incident. Their expansion also caused them to clash with the Federation, resulting in the Cardassian Wars, eventually ending with the signing of a peace treaty in 2368 and the creation of a Demilitarized Zone two years later. This was a perturbed peace and minor conflicts continued between both sides from time to time, including the Cardassians attempt to take Minos Korva by negotiating the release of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The layout of the DMZ also contributed to the tensions. Due to the change in borders some Federation worlds became Cardassian territories and vice versa. Many of the people, whose worlds were turned over to the Cardassians, did not wish to leave and were granted permission to remain on their worlds. Disgruntled by the treatment they received from the Cardassians some of the citizens decided to revolt. This gave birth to the Maquis.
Between the Wars
After exhausting much of their resources during the Federation-Cardassian War the Cardassian Union was in no shape for renewed conflict with the Federation so soon after the peace treaty. To make matters worse the Maquis were located in the Demilitarized Zone, preventing the Cardassian Guard from launching a full-scale invasion to wipe them out. This enabled the Maquis to carry out numerous acts of sabotage and small military engagements against the Union. As the Maquis grew in size and strength tensions grew higher between the Federation and the Cardassian Union with neither side having a concrete solution to the problem. Instead, the Central Command secretly armed their citizens in the DMZ to combat the Maquis while the Maquis procured weapons by raiding various vessels as well as receiving materials from the Klingon Empire in later years.
Attempting to re-establish relations with Bajor after the end of the occupation the Cardassians secretly worked out a treaty with the Bajorans. With Legate Turrel representing the Cardassian Union and Vedek Bareil initiating the talks and working out the details. Five months of secret discussions began between the two, from war reparations to an official apology from the Cardassians. However, Bareil was injured on his way to Deep Space 9 to finalize the treaty so Kai Winn completed the negotiations, thus creating the Bajoran-Cardassian Treaty.
The discovery of a large, hostile empire in the Gamma Quadrant in 2370 proved to be one of the most devastating events for the Cardassian Empire. By 2371, no major Alpha Quadrant power was willing to commit to a firm solution to the threat of a Dominion invasion. Enabran Tain, the retired leader of the Obsidian Order, took it upon himself to see Cardassia's involvement in preventing a major war. With the help of the Tal Shiar, Tain was able to develop his own small fleet in the Orias system which he would use later that year in an attempt to wipe out the Dominion's rulers; the Founders. His plan was ultimately foiled by a Changeling infiltrator, resulting in the disastrous Battle of the Omarion Nebula. The battle caused the Obsidian Order to completely collapse, allowing for the Cardassian dissident movement to overthrow the Central Command's authority the following year. The movement saw the restoration of the Detapa Council and civilian rule.
Having been suppressed for so long, the civilian population's ability to restore the Detapa Council was believed to be influenced by the Founders in the eyes of the Klingon Empire. Because of this, as well as Chancellor Gowron being influenced by an actual Changeling, the Klingon Empire launched an unprovoked and abrupt invasion of the Cardassian Union, thus beginning the Klingon-Cardassian War. The war devastated Cardassian infrastructure and crippled a large portion of their fleets. The Detapa Council, with the help of Gul Dukat and the Federation, was able to obtain asylum aboard Deep Space 9. After the Klingons were successfully driven away the war became a stalemate, with Klingon ships able to roam freely throughout Cardassian territory.
In 2373, the Dominion suddenly invaded the Alpha Quadrant with dozens of ships coming through the Bajoran wormhole. The Federation was preparing for the worst assuming the fleet was going to begin an interstellar war by attacking Deep Space 9. However, the fleet immediately changed course and headed directly for Cardassian space. Shortly thereafter, Dukat revealed that he had secretly negotiated an alliance with the Dominion over the past few months and made Cardassia an official member, only weeks prior to the Dominion's entry of the Alpha Quadrant. The Detapa Council became completely powerless with Cardassia formally annexed and Dukat as the designated leader of the Cardassian people. Dukat later "justified" his actions by saying the alliance with the Dominion would restore Cardassia to its former glory, promising to push every Klingon ship from Cardassian territory and wipe out every Maquis colony in the DMZ. Dukat made good on his promise, for within three days every Maquis colony was destroyed, with only a few members able to evade capture or death, and the entire Klingon invasion force was in full retreat.
With the Cardassian Union's borders returned to their pre-war state, Dukat had successfully raised the Union to be a first-rate power in the Alpha Quadrant. However, Dukat's personal ambitions, combined with the Founders' desire to bring order to the galaxy, meant that an interstellar war was inevitable. Since the Dominion required constant reinforcements of ships, supplies, troops and ketracel-white from the Gamma Quadrant to be able to conquer the entire Alpha Quadrant, the Federation decided to mine the entrance of the wormhole to prevent the strength of the Dominion from growing. This move was the provocation the Dominion needed to start a full-scale war against the Federation without coming across as the aggressors. The Dominion then sent a fleet of ships to capture Deep Space 9 and to prevent the minefield from completion which resulted in Dukat retaking the station. Thus, the Dominion War began.
For the first few months of the war Cardassia and the Dominion were unmatched on all fronts, constantly forcing the Federation and Klingon Empire to retreat. The utter failure of the Federation's Seventh Fleet at Tyra was one of the many engagements resulting in complete success for the Dominion. At the current rate of success it was only a matter of time before Earth and the rest of the Federation became completely conquered by the Dominion. However, a bold attack lead by Captain Benjamin Sisko saw the first engagement of the war where the allies were successful. Conversely, this was only due to the help of the Bajoran Prophets which destroyed all 2,800 Dominion ships inside the wormhole before they could enter the Alpha Quadrant. The sudden turn of events, combined with the death of his daughter Tora Ziyal, caused Dukat to have a mental breakdown. It was after this that Cardassians began to lose their status as equals with the Vorta and Jem'Hadar in the Dominion.
After Dukat's subsequent capture earlier that year, Damar was placed as the new leader of the Cardassian people. However, Damar's position gradually became nothing more than a simple formality, with the Female Changeling and Weyoun running a de facto government. Shortly after Deep Space 9 was lost to the Federation, Damar was forced to call for peace by Weyoun, despite his personal objections. Over time, Damar was forced to obey Weyoun on almost all political and military decisions, including the order to reinforce the Son'a outpost on Devos II as opposed to pursuing the Defiant, as Damar had initially ordered.
Damar gradually realized that he was simply running a puppet government under Dominion regime and that Cardassians were becoming second-class citizens within their own territory. When the Female Changeling negotiated with the Breen to join the Dominion in 2375, she made territorial concessions on behalf of Cardassia. Damar, forced to sign the negotiations as the designated leader of Cardassia, realized his power had been completely usurped. It was then that Damar began his rebellion against the Dominion oppressors.
His military rebellion was destroyed when Gul Revok betrayed it and provided the Dominion with the information necessary to locate their bases. However, Damar learned upon arriving back on Cardassia Prime that he had more of an impact on all Cardassians than he thought. The entire civilian population eventually joined Damar's rebellion and was able to cause a planet-wide blackout during the Battle of Cardassia. The confusion and lack of communication with their main headquarters enabled the allies to defeat the Dominion forces, forcing them to retreat to Cardassia Prime for one final stand. When the Dominion destroyed Lakarian City in retaliation for the blackout, the remaining military forces switched sides, helping the Federation Alliance defeat the Dominion once and for all.
By the end of the Dominion War, Cardassia Prime was devastated by orbital bombardment and Jem'Hadar raids by the Dominion, who wished to wipe out the Cardassian species for their betrayal. Over eight hundred million men, women and children were slaughtered in the planet-wide genocide. The Cardassian military was reduced greatly from two years of total war with the Federation Alliance, an entire Order was wiped out from a single engagement, and their economy was crippled. Cardassia Prime had once again become a planet plagued with famine, death, disease and destruction, leaving the remaining Cardassians to rebuild.
It was formed in the 19th Century by treaty between a number of previously independent factions on Cardassia, which resulted in the formation of both the Obsidian Order and Cardassian Central Command and largely secured the key role they would play in Cardassian Politics for the next several hundred years. Theoretically the Cardassian Union is a highly structured Constitutional Democracy to be governed by the entirely civilian Detapa Council, headed by a Chairman, who also fills the role of the Executive Branch of the Government, but in practice it was never so and the Detapa Council has had relatively little ability to curtail the influence of the Central Command and Obsidian Order, largely in part to the Militaristic and State-centric nature of Cardassian society.
In the 24th Century the military seeing the lack of resources formally took control from the civilian government, with many of the upper command of the Cardassian Guards being integrated into the Detapa Council. Since the Dominion War however, the Detapa Council has restablished its control over the state and a new constitution has been drawn up, specifically preventing the Cardassian Guards from involving themselves in Politics. Whilst it has not been entirely successful, the Detapa Council now has much more control over Cardassia than at any time previously in her history.
Main Article: Detapa Council
The Executive Branch of the Cardassian Government is headed by the Chairman of the Detapa Council, who is elected by its members. He is responsible for appointing the various heads of Agencies, managing the Civil Service and performing the role of Head of State for the Union. The Chairman is also the nominal Head of the Cardassian Military and as such, he carries the honorary rank of Legate.
Main Article: Detapa Council
The Detapa Council is the legislative branch of the Cardassian Union. The Council is a unicameral instituion, which features representatives from every Cardassian world. Each Cardassian Member World elects two representatives to the Detapa Council, who are all elected for a three year term, with a maximum of three consecutive terms that they are able to sit for. They can return to the Council after a minimum of one term out of politics.
The Detapa Council is therefore composed of 366 members, two for each of the Unions 183 planets and jurisdictions which have a population greater than 500 million citizens. Any colonies who have less than this number are represented by their nearest council member,
The unique justice system is meted out by the Cardassian Supreme Tribunal. Under Cardassian law prisoners are assumed guilty and trials are given to prove that. The justice is said to be a great source of comfort for the people. In fact family members are often on hand to witness the final sentencing and praise the court for their actions. Whilst Cardassian Jurisprudence has traditionally imposed exceptionally harsh punishments, within recent years an amelioration of the Mandatory minimum sentences held within the Judicial Code and the expansion of Judicial discretion have enabled the Courts to have an unprecedented level of flexibility in sentencing, although sentences for crime are significantly stricter than any other Alpha Quadrant powers, in addition the Union still executes the largest number of its own citizens of any power in the Alpha Quadrant and has the largest prison population, which thanks to problems in the Cardassian economy are utilised extensively as effective indentured labour to rebuild Cardassia in the aftermath of her wars.
Main Article: Cardassian Guard
The Cardassian Guards is the Military Arm of the Cardassian State is run by Central Command and is split into two Primary Elements, the "Orders", which consist of 12 combined arms Corps sized elements combining both Space and Ground based forces for a holistic approach to warfare. Each order is around 500,000 personnel strong, with a varying number of combat vessels. The Orders are a Volunteer only force, which accepts all Cardassian citizens regardless of Gender and advancement is solely on merit, aptitude tests determine those best suited for Officer, NCO and enlisted candidacy and they are then trained in those roles.
The second element is the Militia, which serve as both a reservist force for the Guard and as a planetary defence force. Every Cardassian planet or station has its own Militia contingent, which is formed from any citizen deemed fit for service. Membership is compulsory for all Cardassians aged 18 to 40, some full time personnel to serve as a rapid reaction and maintenance force but most as reservists, called up in times of war or emergency to either replace casualties within the orders or to defend their homes, of both genders and refusal to serve in the Militia carries the Death Penalty. The Militia is a highly trained and disciplined force and is highly competent at combat, proving itself in Cardassia's regular wars. The Militia, like the Orders operates a holistic approach to Combined Arms with each planetary defence force maintaining both a Naval and a Ground element and usually a planetary defence capability and a small shipyard.
The Guard is commanded by the Central Command, which is responsible for the defence of the Union and has wide ranging powers, which have in the past been used to involve themselves in politics.
Until the Battle of the Omarion Nebula, the Obsidian Order was in charge of intelligence and ruthlessly used its power to contol the populace. Because Central Command and the Obsidian Order maintained such great power there was often a struggle between the two which resulted in a great rivalry. After the Orders collapse, it was replaced by a new Intelligence Organisation, the Cardassian Intelligence Bureau.
In the aftermath of the Dominion War, the CIB was split in half to form two new organisations, under the control of the Central Intelligence Committee, a civilian oversight body appointed by the Detapa Council, the Civil Intelligence Bureau and the Foreign Intelligence Bureau, to minimise the ability of the Order to control the government, the CIB was limited to investigating only criminal elements or those deemed a threat to the state by the Detapa Council. The CIB's heritage to the Obsidian Order is clear however and it remains just as efficient as ever.
During the 24th century, the Cardassians maintained trade alliances with the Valerians and Klaestrons. They also were known to use the Xepolit]s and Lissepians as trade intermediaries in arrangements that may otherwise have been considered illegal outside of the Union.
Many of the primary worlds in the Cardassian Union lacked an abundance of natural resources. For this reason, the Union relied heavily on strip mining resources from neighboring planets which were not part of other Alpha Quadrant powers, such as Bajor. As opposed to making trade alliances with them, the Cardassian Central Command would often occupy worlds and use the populations as forced laborers.