These qualities are defined in both the application you're launching, and the application currently with focus. See, the Finder from which you launch Eclipse is an application too—if Eclipse didn't steal focus from the Finder, it wouldn't look like the application launch did anything. The default, thus, is to steal focus on the application launch. Maybe there's a Firefox plugin that makes it "autocratic?" You could always add a LSUIElement key to the launched application's Info.plist (inside the app bundle) that takes away that entire application's UI elements, but that might diminish its usefulness to you somewhat.
Executing a new app in a different Space and then switching back has not worked for me; the launched app will only bring you back to that Space once it's done loading.
Really, the foolproof method to keep from getting your focus stolen is just to hold your horses and wait for an app to load once you launch it. Most power users will keep all of the apps they use on a regular basis open in the background and only open something new when they need to divert their full attention to it.