Well, it seems as though I am not the only one who is troubled by the "official" account. This obviously struck a chord with many of you, because the emails have been flooding in ever since. For example, consider the following message – this comes from the VP of Strategy and Business Development at a company specializing in DSP for video, so it's obvious that he must know what he's talking about (he asks to remain nameless for fear of repercussions from the forces of darkness):
Max, I read your column "Was the Death Star attack an inside job?" Although the article referenced by your column is interesting, it does not go far enough and it misses the vile underlying truth.
The article contends that the evidence of improper defenses signals an inside job or incompetence. Nothing could be further from the truth – rather, these improper defenses are a signal of a deeper plan – devised by the Emperor, and executed by Darth Vader to control rogue elements within the Empire itself. The facts are clear.
To establish this case, it must be pointed out that a key technology assertion of the article is false. The technology for the destruction of the Death Star makes sense. The article claims: "No records, anywhere, show that any battle station or capital ship has ever been destroyed by a single missile."
True, but the Death Star generates an unheard of amount of power, giving it the ability to destroy a planet. Ships with smaller weapons systems would rely on self cooling of the weapons systems. However, the power required to destroy an entire planet – with a ray – presupposes that all power originate on the ship itself, and be dissipated by the ship. There are living beings on the ship, and therefore, we can assume that the cooling is not done by using the entire ship as a heat sink. Therefore, the ship must have a massive network of exhaust conduits that force the heat outside of the ship. These pipes cannot be simply turned downward or oddly positioned around the ship – they must emit directly from the heat source and direct the heat away from the ship. This would create the opening for the "one in a million shot". The power generated inside the weapon system is sufficient to destroy a planet with (we would assume) far greater mass than the Death Star. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the energy contained in the weapon, even before reaching capacity, would be enough to destroy the Death Star.
Of far greater importance is another point brought up by the article: why are the guns too slow and impotent to take out a small ship like an X wing fighter? Now, this does raise legitimate concerns.
Politics – a master plan uncovered:
One must wonder – at what point exactly did Lord Vader move from being the second most powerful being in the Universe to the butt of peoples jokes? At what point did the great Death Star move from being his tool for destruction to a tool for others in the Empire?
On the bridge of the Death Star Vader says: "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force."
This is an interesting and revealing choice of words: why is he saying "you've constructed" instead of "we constructed"? The sides seem to be drawn between these men – along religious as well as political lines.
And what about the response from the commander on the bridge? "Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel's hidden fortress. . ."
Why would a commander of the Death Star, in full knowledge that the Emperor of the entire evil Empire is a Sith, insult Vader and the elite religion of the Galaxy? If this was not a common opinion, would not this officer be acting in a treasonous was in front of his "superior"? He could only pull off such an insult if he felt that Vader would not want to kill him openly – i.e. that Lord Tarkin could order Vader to stop – and that he would defer to the commands of this simple Governor of the Imperial Outland Regions?
Something is fundamentally wrong with this picture – or is it that it is simply "too right"? Was the force far more powerful than any material weapon, as Darth Vader asserts? Was Vader intentionally allowing the tapes to be stolen and kept, and did he know the location of the hidden fortress?
With this in mind, let's consider the following hypothesis and assertions – consider that both Vader and the Emperor have come to realize that to manage the empire they must keep the powers aligned in their favor. In this view, the skeletal Grand Moff Tarkin, Governor of the Imperial Outland Regions – whose power-mad goal to dominate every planet within his reach is nearing completion – is a greater threat to the Empire and the Emperor than the rebels themselves.
As a response, the Emperor crafts a plan to hold the following truths in order:
- The Emperor and Vader do not wish to crush the rebellion – it gives them the ability to impose their crushing will upon the empire. All military states require enemies to stay in power – and this is clearly a tactic used by Palpatine to rise to the post of Emperor.
- The Death Star is a Trojan horse gift to a symbolic "outsider" – the Governor of the Imperial Outland regions (clearly a second rate assignment) and a non-believer in the Jedi order. This choice is made very intentionally by the shrewd Emperor, and is a clear signal to other power brokers in the Empire.
- The Emperor and Vader do know the whereabouts of the Rebel base, and intentionally leaked the technology tapes. This equips the rebels AND brings the distain of the "new generation" to the surface – just when the word is getting out that Vader is incompetent – a decisive blow comes to those who have shown such hubris.
- Vader and the Emperor create the Death Star with substandard guns around the exhaust ports in order to *allow* the attack. They must include some guns in order to fool the rebels enough so they do not feel that this "invitation to destroy the Death Star" is too easy (and therefore consider this a trap).
- Vader intentionally creates a plausible chain of events to survive the conflagration AND maintain all appearances required to maintain power over the Empire. His desire to fly his own fighter is by design. He is out of the blast range of the death star by design. He does not kill Luke by design.
Considering the facts in this context:
The question we must put to ourselves is this: given what we know of the crafty Emperor, and given what we know of the skillful Vader, what seems more plausible? Could it be that Vader is the butt of jokes and that he is as he appears prima facie – a "bumbling devotee" with no real knowledge? Or should we believe that Vader has learned from the Emperor and has learned to play his part so will in this escapade?
Consider the short term outcome (i.e. ignore the confrontation between the Emperor and Skywaker) of the Death Star gambit? Vader and the Emperor look like the hero in all ways – spending resources to crush the rebellion, creating a super weapon, defending the weapon. However, on the deeper level, they also get what they want. A stronger rebellion in the eyes of the galaxy, a populace more respectful of the force, a destroyed power monger within the empire, etc.
No, there was no inside job. No, the Empire was not incompetent. Yes, something is wrong with the tale we have been told about the Death Star and the Empire – the deeper truth that we have all been deeply manipulated by a scheming Emperor whom no-one can trust!
Well, this is certainly food for thought, not the least that it tells me that my correspondent has a lot more free time on his hands than do I, which is obviously very unfair!