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August 31, 2009


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For the first time in my life, I wish I'd cared enough about the soap opera Star Wars universe to have studied it. Then I could join in this conversation.

Really though...on a limb here...didn't the Rebel Alliance choose a Global Guerrilla strategy? Athough I'd suppose it would have to be a Galaxy Guerrilla strategy...


My comment on Abu M is here:

"First, if you're familiar with the Star Wars Expanded Universe (as opposed to just the movies) you'll see that the Alliance built up to the conventional stage through a combination of insurgency and direct action. Insurgency on the tactical level was also seen in the Star Wars films, most dramatically with the defeat of the Imperial garrison on Endor--the Dien Bien Phu of Star Wars.

The reason for the Alliance's conventional strategy lies in the political will of the imperial elites. Given that the Empire was willing to destroy entire planets to get at the Rebels, it is obvious that an incrementalist approach (insurgency) would be be met with a campaign of extermination. The Empire's elites have little goal other than their own survival. Holding together an integalactic imperium through absolute force is a precarious thing. Waver on one planet and you'll be challenged everywhere. Even with limitless stormtroopers they would find themselves in trouble if the entire Galactic Empire rose up at once.

The Death Star was the solution to this problem. It could destroy a planet instantly. And there was every indication that the Empire was planning on building more. Time and resources were on their side. Most insurgencies have the advantage of time, and the Alliance did not. The Empire's regime elites were willing to pay any price and bear any burden to survive as a political entity. And they had a limitless set of resources to expend in such a task and the willingness to exterminate their adversaries.

Their chief weakness, however, lies in the extreme centralization of the leadership and the need to constantly assert power to lesser regime elites. The decisionmaking power of the Empire's elites as well as the locus of its political legitimacy lies in the body of the Emperor and his retainers. The symbol of the Emperor's power is the Death Star. When the Emperor's power is broken, the other regime elites will either attempt to seize power for themselves or cut their own deals with local power brokers.. This is what happened in the Expanded Universe after Return of the Jedi--quite realistically the New Republic emerged having to make deals with various imperial remnants and fought off two Imperial revivalist movements composed of disaffected regime elites.

Yes, the Alliance might have been able to "turn" some wavering lesser regime elites---it is likely that the local governors on planets might have different agendas and priorities than the elites concentrated around the Emperor and his retainers, but in the series it ultimately took a demonstration of the Alliance's power and the destruction of the Empire's central regime elites to construct a new political order. Additionally, gaining wider support for the Alliance would have been impossible without some demonstration of power. As another poster pointed out, the size of the Alliance dramatically increased after the destruction of the first Death Star.

So the Alliance was right to pour all of their resources into destroying the Death Star twice, even if it meant risking their own destruction. As along as the Empire remained a politically coherent entity, the Alliance would be at constant risk of destruction. The Empire's C4ISR capabilities were extremely advanced, rendering even the nominal safe haven of Hoth a death trap. They could gain support covertly, but after Alderaan it is unlikely that they would be granted another inhabited safe haven."


I don't really know what it is about defense debates that make them so prone to geekery. But I guess that policy stuff in general is on the same wavelength as sci-fi geekery--not really all that socially valued.

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It's all beginning to make sense now!


Never read the books, and never really enjoyed the movies except at first viewing when very young.

For me: destroying Death Star = GG systems disruption or major perturbation. I mean, yes, going on a limb and looking for the closest parallel to general framework.

What "G", if any, would you call your work-up? 3GW? That seems most likely, then, in the sense that the Death Star was a 2GWish concentration of fire power and the tiny little fighter could maneuver in to destroy it.


I think the term "center of gravity" probably most sums the whole thing up.

It's also worth noting how the example casts into relief how fantastic the idea of systems disruption on the campaign to strategic levels is. We will rarely have such a center of power that can disrupt a system in the manner of the Death Star.

Duncan Kinder

The Empire was so highly centralized that if fell to a simple decapitation attack when, in the end, Darth Vadar turned against the Emperor and killed him.

Global guerrilla theory is interesting, but you are better off in this context studying Italian Renaissance palace politics. Star Wars is best understood as a successful intrigue by the Skywalker family to oust the emperor.

Darth Vadar is fully aware of this intrigue. He urges Luke to join him because it is their destiny to overthrow the Emperor. He intervenes with the Emperor on Luke's behalf.

No clear eyed Machiavellian would be misled by Star Wars' twaddle about the "Dark Side" and such. He would grasp instantly that the core issue is a variation of the Pazzi Conspiracy, or other plots involving the Borgias, the Sforzas, or their peers.


That's the best take on it I've read, Duncan.

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