Written by robotical712, all views expressed are my own.
In The Rise of Darth Sidious I explored Palpatine’s background and how it made him the perfect Sith Lord. Now I will examine take a look at how he brought about the destruction of the Jedi Order and engineered becoming Emperor.
- The Nature of the Force and Balance
- The Plans of Emperor Palpatine
- A Wound in the Force
- The Dawn, Rise and Fall of the Jedi Order
- Palpatine: The Ultimate Sith Lord
- Downfall of the Jedi and Rise of the Empire <
- The Emperor and the Chosen One
In light of what the Jedi had become – an extension of the Republic and more focused on politics than the Force – the Clone Wars was the perfect trap for the Order. When the Separatist Crisis began, the Jedi were forced to either support the Republic’s war effort or lose all support and be ostracized as traitors. The Jedi should never have taken a side in the Clone Wars, but by the time they began, it was far too late. Palpatine had ensnared them in a game they lost just by playing.
For Palpatine, the Clone Wars served a number of purposes. Just fighting in the war went against everything the Jedi stood for. Participating slowly eroded their integrity and destroyed their image as impartial mediators. It further isolated them from the public (the Coruscant temple was closed off to the public during the war per Catalyst) and dispersed them across the galaxy. The war itself took a heavy toll on their numbers, making their final liquidation that much easier. Of course, the most important objective of the war was to poison Anakin against the Jedi and make him ripe for corruption. Once his goals were met, the Clones could serve their real purpose and destroy the Jedi leaders they had faithfully served.
The other purpose of the Clone Wars was to transform the Republic itself into the Galactic Empire. While Palpatine no doubt took steps towards this before the war, the bulk of it could only happen in a full blown crisis. Thus, the Clone Wars created the necessity for a vast military build up. The disorder and devastation swayed public opinion towards supporting an autocratic regime based on force to maintain order. At the same time, as the war ground on, Palpatine was able to maneuver the Senate into continuously granting him expanded powers and even brought the backbone of the galactic economy – the banking system – under his control. When the declaration of Empire actually came, it was all but a formality.
The clones were the perfect tool to use against the Jedi. As they were produced in a single location, it was possible to ensure every clone’s control chip had a hidden program. Palpatine had but to say the right code phrase and the entire army would turn on their former leaders in an instant. The soldiers would execute the order without malice or any other warning for the Jedi to detect. Jedi across the galaxy were gunned down without ever knowing something was wrong. Once their purpose was served, the clones could be ‘retired’ or disposed of with nary a protest.
The key element in Palpatine’s plan however, was Anakin. Without him, the Jedi temple could have held against the initial assault. Even if it were to eventually fall, a siege would have allowed a large number of Jedi, padawans and initiates to escape and scatter across the galaxy. For Palpatine, this would have been a disaster and drastically slowed his consolidation of power and jeopardized many of his long term plans. Thus, the war could only end with Anakin’s fall.
For the most part, Palpatine only had to wait and allow the war to chip away at the young Jedi’s heroism and faith in the Order. Though, Palpatine did take some direct steps to break the Anakin’s trust. Arranging for his own assassination, Palps managed to manuever the Jedi Council into faking Obi-Wan’s death without Anakin’s knowledge, severely straining his relationship with both. Yet, the greatest betrayal of all was of the Order’s own making. In the course of the war, Jedi Padawan Barriss Offee grew disenchanted with the Jedi Order’s participation in it and bombed its hanger. She framed her friend and Anakin’s padawan, Ahsoka Tano for the bombing. Ahsoka was arrested and despite Anakin and her protestations, the Jedi Council turned her over to the Republic for trial. It was only through Anakin’s investigation and efforts that Barriss was caught and Ahsoka was spared the death sentence. Ahsoka declined to rejoin the Order that had failed to stand by her.
Between the ethically questionable decisions the Council had made throughout the war and the strain of a secret marriage that went against the very rules of the Order, Palpatine had all of the tools needed to turn the young Jedi. He arranged for his own kidnapping and set the plot he had been laying for decades into motion. Within a few days the Republic, Jedi and Anakin had all fallen.
The actual battles and actions during the Clone Wars were ultimately irrelevant as Palpatine ran both sides. The war itself could and would continue as long as it needed to for Palpatine to achieve his goals. It’s probable the balance of power remained largely unchanged throughout. It was only in the final days and weeks, when Palpatine was ready to bring it to a close, that it moved towards a decisive conclusion.
At this point, Dooku and Grievous became expendable. One was used to start Anakin in his descent into the dark side and the other was used to get the man who could stop the descent away from him. This has been remarked on before of course, but it’s also notable Yoda was not present on Coruscant due to a Separatist attack on Kashyyyk. As Yoda would have doubtless gone with the team that confronted Sidious, he too had to be removed from the board. Only Mace, the Master who had distrusted Anakin for years, could be the one to confront Palpatine.
One question that remains open to this day, is how involved Palpatine was in Anakin’s dreams regarding Padme. Did the Sith Lord plant them, or did he merely take advantage of them? The timing is certainly suspect, coming as they did just when Palpatine was ready to execute his plan (though Palpatine did try to seduce Anakin once before in the aforementioned Naboo incident). Further, they became a self-fulfilling prophecy; if Anakin had not had them, Palpatine would not have had the leverage he needed to turn Anakin. The question is a chicken and egg problem, if Anakin had not had the dreams, there would have been no crisis, but if there had been no crisis, he would not have had the dreams. In the end, it doesn’t really matter since the outcome would have been the same.
One of the more unremarked advantages the war conferred on Palpatine lies with the very nature of the Separatists themselves. The Separatists were nominally made of worlds who were dissatisfied with Republic rule. By seceding from the Republic and siding with the Republic’s enemies, these worlds had unwittingly identified themselves as the most likely to resist Palpatine’s incipient regime. Not only had they marked themselves as rebellious, but the destructiveness of the war ensured the brutal repression and retribution that was visited on them by the new Empire was cheered or at least ignored by the galactic populace in the war’s aftermath. (1) While the response was less immediately brutal, the Delegation of 2,000 also handed Palpatine an invaluable list of potential political dissidents to keep an eye on and potentially eliminate. The Clone Wars not only designed to transform the Republic into the Empire, but gave the new Emperor an enormous head start in identifying threats to the early stages of his reign.
The True Purpose of the Inquisitorious
Order 66 was remarkably efficient. There were 10,000 Jedi at the start of the Clone Wars and, while the war surely significantly attrited their numbers, there must still have been thousands left by its end. If we assume 7-8000 Jedi pre-66, even 100 survivors would mean 98-99% efficiency. Accounting for Jedi away on missions unaccompanied by troops, It’s probable the initial number of survivors was somewhat higher, however the fact surprise was as total as it was meant most Jedi archives were captured entirely intact and these stragglers would have been swiftly tracked down and eliminated.
In extermination programs, the last 5% is typically as difficult as the first 95%. Order 66 achieved initial results a bit better than this, but this still left a number of Jedi unaccounted for and they would take years to root out. Even Darth Vader could not hope to track down all of the survivors alone. Thus, the Inquisitorious were conceived and placed under Vader’s command within weeks to months after Order 66. The fact the Inquisitorious was formed so quickly strongly suggests many of its members had already been turned by Palpatine or his allies. It is further probable they were responsible for providing information on the whereabouts of many of their colleagues (some of whom could have been discretely ‘disappeared’ during the war).
The Inquisitors may have been lured with promises of power or revenge, but they were entirely expendable. They were given limited instruction in the dark side and frequently relied on Darth Vader to actually engage any Jedi that were found (Ahsoka herself remarked on how poorly trained Sixth Brother was in her encounter with him in Ahsoka). Inquisitors were a weapon to be used and expended. Once the Jedi were gone, it’s likely any surviving Inquisitors would have been executed. As it were, there were none remaining by the time of the Battle of Yavin.
While the Inquisitorious were nominally intended to hunt down the surviving Jedi, they had a secondary task – find Force Sensitive young children. Unbeknownst to the Inquisitors, finding these children was likely their true purpose. They were collecting their very replacements.
- Though the post-war crackdown was not without consequence as the Berch Teller campaign later showed.
Next: Plans of the Emperor