A Science Enthusiast is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official on the Death Star whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. That is why we have blurred his face.
We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process here.
Darth Vader is facing a test to his reign unlike any faced by any leader across the Empire.
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It’s not just that the Rebel Alliance looms large. Or that The Empire is bitterly divided over Darth Vader’s leadership. Or even that Vader might well lose the Death Star to an opposition hellbent on its downfall.
The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own Empire are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
I would know. I am one of them.
To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the Rebel Alliance. We want The Galactic Empire to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made the galaxy safer and more prosperous.
But we believe our first duty is to The Galactic Empire, and Darth Vader continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of it.
The root of the problem is the Death Star’s design. Anyone who works on the Death Star knows that it has a serious vulnerability with its exhaust ports.
Although the Death Star cost over a trillion credits to construct, Vader shows little affinity for details to design and quality of construction. A single Rebel Alliance fighter, with a well-placed bomb or missile, could easily bring down the entire base if he were to make it through our outer defenses.
What’s more, the conditions we’ve been forced to work in – interplanetary space – have led to countless jobsite accidents that have taken the lives of many of my Stormtrooper brethren.
Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of Darth Vader’s administration fails to capture: a booming galactic economy, historic destruction of Rebel fighters, a more robust galactic fleet, and more.
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But these successes have come despite — not because of — Darth Vader’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.
From the Death Star to Tatooine to the Imperial Star Destroyer, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the dark lord’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.
Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants about “the force” and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.
Those who question him are quickly punished, and punished harshly.
Vader has created a culture of unrealistic expectations, where even the most minor mistakes are disproportionately punished. This has led to many on the construction crew covering up their mistakes rather than reporting them to their superior officer so they can be addressed. While this is also happening with Soyuz capsule construction, The Galactic Republic holds itself to a higher standard than Russia.
“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated after a meeting in the Death Star Conference room with Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, at which Darth Vader flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.
It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but citizens of The Galactic Empire should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Darth Vader won’t.
The result is a two-track dark overlordship.
Take foreign policy: In public and in private, Darth Vader shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as Grand Admiral Thrawn and
Admiral Motti, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded planets.
The bigger concern is not what Darth Vader has done as the Sith Lord but rather what we as an Empire have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.
Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi put it best in his farewell statement: “You cannot win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
All members of the Empire should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values of crushing the Rebel Alliance and love of this great Galactic Empire.
We no longer have to hunt Obi-Wan. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for the Death Star to help restore honor to public life and our Empire. Mr. Vader may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.
There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put Empire first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above galactic politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single cause: crushing the Rebel Alliance.
The writer is a senior official on the Death Star.