I never said they forced anybody to join.
and I also said that if the federation expects the member races to share all thier technology unrestricted then yes that makes the federation basically the Borg with a pleasant smile.
It is simply part of the deal of being a member of the Federation. They don't steal technology - they exchange it. Most new members probably don't have developed as much as the Federation pre-existing races have developed together, so they will usually come out far ahead.
In the real world, we have technology deals between companies as well.
Car manufacturing companies or IT companies exchange patents - the overall result is that both can produce better products and make more money than if they simply couldn't do it.
They all belong to one central orginization. That does not mean that the Andorians, Vulcans, Pakleds, Trill, Aliens and the other assorted members run around singingt songs, holding hands with flowers in thier hair.
No. But it can mean that they exchange technological advances between each other.
Gene's, Your view or the view of all the fans does not change the fact that individual races and the goverments they control and the people there-in are not going to just join the federation , share all their technology and drink the cool-aid of cultism becoming loyal and blinded followers to the Federation ideology.
Its Naive and silly.
The Earth may be a Utopian goverment in star trek. Humans may have learned to be peaceful and play well together but that does not mean that all member Races of the federation are so blindingly shackled to that vision and give up thier indentities, culture, technology to run behind the Star Fleet like lost puppies.
They don't ahve to give up their identities, culture or technology tobecome a member of the Federation. They just have to... exchange them. If you're not interested in exchange it and share, there is no reason to join the Federation. You can stay isolated or maybe become a trade partner, whatever. But the Federation is not merely non-aggression treatry or a military alliance. If that's what you want, a Federation membership is not the answer.
That's too idealistic for you? Well, but that's Startrek. It is a big part of the appeal of the setting - that there is a bright future where we have solved problems we believed unsolvable!
I think the Klingons would give the Federation a good run for their money. Although Starfleet is a vast organisation as is the United Federation of Planets, it's mission is one of exploration and scientific discovery. The Klingons however have a fleet designed for just one purpose... war.
Specialisation brings certain advantages to the battlefield, cloaking devices provide the element of surprise and their weaponry is slightly more powerful than their Starfleet counterparts. If you compare a Vor'cha to a Galaxy, the Galaxy is still a formidable ship but it's primary focus isn't combat whereas the Vor'cha is built with only combat in mind. Klingons also have a very rigorous training program and when you look in their past the likes of General Chang make them deadly adversaries.
When you consider the tactical advantages that the Klingons would have over Starfleet I think that the Federation would have a hard time defending against an enemy that is not just better trained in warfare but the fact they can't even monitor their movements due to the cloak. One can not defend against something you can't see!