The Death Star makes no sense

This has been bothering since I read Matthew Yglesias's post a few days ago.

The Death Star in the Star Wars universe is visually very, very cool, as a weapon is beyond ridiculous. The only thing more stupid was the leadership of the rebel alliance. If Leia had, instead of leading the Empire right to their hidden base, gone into hiding and operated more like guerrilla unit, the Empire in short order would run out of expendable planets worthy of detonating.

First, the Empire: It builds an enormous battlestation capable of moving faster than light and blowing up things the size of planets. It reminds me of an interstellar ICBM (ISBL?), except the cost. I thought our military industrial complex was bad. If any of the supplemental SW reading is even partially canonical, the Death Star is money and man-power sinkhole. After it's built (which we'll say takes anywhere from 5-10 years to build just one "fully operation battlestation" with lightspeed drive and laser), it's maintained at enormous expense. Not that the Empire can't tax the hell out of its citizens, but what's the point of building a ginormous deterrent weapon, and then turn around and destroy one of the largest tax bases in the galaxy, Aldaaran. A couple more demonstrations like that, and there wouldn't be a galaxy left to rule.

But why waste resources like that? In the span of SW to ROTJ (3-5 years depending on what you read), the empire had the man power to mostly rebuilt the Death Star and completely construct 5 Super Star Destroyers (the really really big triangle ship like the one Darth Vader took into the asteroid belt). If the Empire had skipped the second Death Star, it could have built 10s, 100s, Georg-Lucas-only-knows more SSDs. They are far more effect for controlling a galaxy populated by people and planets, ships and freighters. A DS just proves, what, that you're ready to roll the car back up the hill again? How's that work the first time?

Because it's so easy it is to destroy the SSDs and DS. Hit the shield generator (for some reason one wasn't installed on the original DS) then just drop a grenade into an open hole (or crash a small blunt object into the bridge). Poof. Bye-bye DS. Bye-bye SSD. Bye-bye to all the money and men that went into creating them. Even if we presume that the Emperor could just clone more troops (various books and the prequels talk about what an arduous process that can be), he's not cloning engineers, pilots, and construction crews. Twice the Empire failed to defend their flagship battleship. That's a lot of irreplaceable resources. And it was easy. Luke used the Force, but Lando just flew a clunky ship through the superstructure and fired a shot or two. Done. Force be damned. An erector set would have been more stable.

As an aside, it should be noted that shield generators are useless. The Empire made short work of the one on Hoth. I wonder why they put stock in a few guys on motorcycles to defend the one on Endor.

Now the rebels: Their only strategy depends on blowing up the biggest thing the Empire can build. As noted above, why not? It's easy. The rebel's kill ratio dwarfs that of the Empire if we throw all the casualties from the two Death Stars together compared with a few dozen small ships and a couple of larger ones downed in ROTJ. (Aldaaran we will consider collateral damage, as the planet was not in rebellion at the time of it's destruction. Tarkin just wanted to stick it to the girl.)

But there must have been a better use of their time, men, and resources. It's pretty easy to sneak aboard the DS. Once the plans were in their hands (and R2 finds the weakness in a matter a seconds), send a suicide team to the Death Star in disguise as storm troopers. If the trash compactors, detention blocks, spaceship docking bays, and tracker beams are that easily compromised as they were in SW (or Endor in ROTJ), then the three stooges should have no problem dropping a grenade at will anywhere they please.

Leaving the movies aside now, almost every single one of the SW expanded universe books I read had the bad guys building a super weapon like the DS (and I can think of two times where they just rebuilt the DS again. See above), and the good guys find its weakness and blow it up. Lather rinse, repeat.



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