Friday, February 19, 2016

On Military Responsibilities (Star Wars Thoughts: Part Three)

I try not to get political on this blog, but there are certain issues that cannot easily be ignored, ones that need to be addressed, and immediately, because ignoring them would prove so toxic, both to ourselves on an individual level and to society as a whole, that the damage to our collective societal psyche should we put off dealing with them might well prove to be irreparable.

A society, after all, is judged upon what priorities it chooses, what it elects to deem important. And if we, as a civilization, wish truly to be the sort of bastion of hope, reason and order that we believe ourselves to be, then we must look with frankness upon our own priorities, see what matters to us and ask ourselves, honestly and unflinchingly, what they say about us as a people…

Bearing this in mind: Are you seriously trying to tell me we have money for three different Death Stars but not to get Darth Vader a halfway decent respirator? Are you fucking kidding me?

The man is a fucking veteran! He fought in the Clone Wars and was an invaluable ally when the Jedi Order turned against the Empire. He fought against his own people in Emperor Palpetine’s name, lost multiple limbs in the fight against his treasonous former master, and then continued to serve the Empire with honor and dignity, asking for nothing but the opportunity to contribute, in whatever way he was able, to Palpetine’s grand dream of unlimited power.

And yet, when the time comes to get him a respirator, we go with the huge, clunky model that not only covers the whole of his face but also leaves him wheezing so loudly that you can hear his labored breath before he even enters a room? This is actually what we’ve chosen to do for him?

This is how little we think of him?

And don’t even try to tell me it’s the best respirator we could get given the circumstances, you know in your heart that that’s a damn lie. I have it on good authority that when Rebel pilots lose hands in laser-sword fights they’re given replacements that are essentially indistinguishable from the limb they’ve lost, both in terms of form and function. The technology exists, it’s simply that the Empire either can’t or won’t pay for it; they haven’t deemed it a priority.

They had Death Stars to build, after all.

And don’t you try to tell me that my questioning the importance of Death Stars to our Empire’s security is in any way disloyal or na├»ve, either. I get it, a strong military makes for a strong Empire, and I’m as much a patriot as anyone, I’m just saying that once our warriors, from Vader himself all the way down to the front-line Stormtroopers cleaning up rebel bases, are done waging our wars for us we owe them. We owe them a damn sight more than what we’re giving them now and the way we’re treating them is fucking shameful.

And also, keeping it real, you name me one military problem the Empire has actually managed to solve by throwing Death Stars at it. Just one.

Alderaan? Please. Alderaan was destroyed in an attempt to pressure Princess Organa into revealing the location of the Rebellion’s secret base of operations and, last I checked, she hadn’t done so. Instead, she was rescued by the Rebel Alliance because a moon-sized mobile starbase is too much territory to properly staff and secure, flown back to wherever their base was and, returning with a fleet of fighters, led a mission that wound up proving once again that small, mobile forces tend to triumph over large, unwieldy ones! The Death Star was destroyed, our Grand Moff was killed and so was the whole of the staff of the base! That’s what you’d call a victory?

Because it is, you know, that’s as close to a victory as Death Stars come. The second wasn’t even completed before the Rebellion blew it up and the third we fired exactly once before the Resistance destroyed it too.

But maybe I’m mistaken; maybe Death Stars really DO act as an effective deterrent against resistance to the Empire. Maybe I just can’t hear the Rebels surrendering over the sound of exploding Death Stars. Or: Maybe blowing up Death Stars is just the Rebels’ way of saying “I surrender.”

But maybe, just maybe, the construction and deployment of increasingly large, increasingly expensive planet-destroying superweapons is a costly, pointless boondoggle upon which we spend both blood and treasure that could more effectively be deployed at home, on domestic priorities. Priorities like interplanetary infrastructure maintenance, education, taking care of our wounded Stormtroopers and buying Lord Vader a decent, silent, unobtrusive respirator. How many respirators could we buy with the price of a single Death Star? How many schools? Hell, how many conventional Star Destroyers could this enormous waste of money finance?

And how long before we as a people stand up and demand that it stop? I love the Empire as much as its next citizen, but it’s not unpatriotic to point out when your Empire has gone off track, and Death Stars, while an interesting idea in theory, in practice have been an unmitigated disaster for Emperor Palpetine, for the Empire and for each and every one of us who’s taxes have gone toward their construction. Building a fourth would be shortsighted, irresponsible and wrong, and so long as Lord Vader is still breathing so loudly that he can be heard from across the deck of a battlecruiser we cannot afford to pursue this irresponsible military strategy one moment longer.

This isn’t a popular position right now, I know, especially with the resistance creating discord at every turn, but it’s one that needs to be expressed, because search your heart, you know it’s true, these are turbulent times in which tough decisions must be made, but in spite of this we can’t lose sight of our values as an Empire, peace, order, structure, none of these are served by the endless construction of Death Stars that have been proven, time and time again, not to keep us safe.

Death Stars: Wrong for the Emperor, wrong for the Empire, and wrong for its citizens…

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