(Originally Written for Jedi News)
When we last left our villain, he had just managed to take the top seat in the Republic government, though not quite in the way he expected. He would have to be far more careful as he went on to the grandest scheme of the era...
Phase 2 – Emergency Powers
Pop quiz, hotshots. You’ve just managed to weasel your way into the highest seat in an ostensibly democratic government, and you want to turn it into a tyrannical dictatorship. What do you do? What DO you do?
If you answered “immediately reveal yourself and start barking orders,” you’d be a fool. You’d be arrested and thrown out of office faster than you can say “checks and balances.”
Palpatine was evil and unscrupulous, but he was no fool. His short-term plan worked, if barely, and now it was time for the long con. In order to gain more power with nobody being the wiser, the Senate would have to give it to him willingly. That would mean creating a situation where the want of security outweighed the want of freedom.
He needed a war. The problem is that there hadn’t been a full scale war in centuries, and nobody to war against. But that wasn’t such a problem, was it?
Several systems had grown increasingly disenfranchised by the Republic. Palpatine knew he had to co-opt this. With that in mind, he sent his newly appointed apprentice, Darth Tyrannus, to make contact. Count Dooku had been easily snared by his own disillusionment after the death of his former padawan Qui-Gon Jinn. Dooku was a respected elder, former Jedi, and very persuasive. Not to mention one of the wealthiest beings in the galaxy due to his heritage. He would have no problem convincing systems to threaten separation peacefully – at least at first.
Next he needed two armies, one to threaten the Republic and one to seemingly save it. Palpatine had been gauging the effectiveness of the B1 Battle Droids employed by the Trade Federation, but realized quickly that their only strength was in numbers, as they were fragile and dim-witted for droids. However, they could seem a decent threat as the Republic still didn’t have an army yet. So the Trade Federation was recruited once more, along with other various commerce guilds for additional funds.
These Guilds, Federations, and Unions are of course all run by aliens. It’s easy to forget that Palpatine’s vision for the future has no room for non-humanoids, whom he considers lesser (“Don’t think the Empire had Wookiees in mind when they designed her”). Although being on both sides of the conflict allows him to succeed no matter which side “wins,” the Separatists and their greedy alien leaders are clearly set up as the bad guys in this little farce.
As for creating an army of the Republic, well that was a little tougher a chestnut. Fortunately, Palpatine had knowledge of the secretive cloners of Kamino. Where Palpatine heard of Kamino is hard to say; he may have heard of it in his back-alley dealings, while the novel “Darth Plagueis” suggests that his master visited there during his research into the midi-chlorians and everlasting life. In either case, he had an army.
But he had to be cautious. He couldn’t have it traced back to him. But the sly old fox knew just who to use: The Jedi. Dooku would place the order under the alias of the recently deceased Jedi master Syfo-Dias. That way, when the Clones were eventually discovered (most likely by the Jedi themselves thanks to a few choice clues set up by Dooku) and used, it would be the Jedi’s fault if public opinion suddenly went negative.
It would take no less than a decade to move the pieces in place, but that was fine with Palpatine. He needed time to incorporate the little thorns that nearly decimated his last scheme.
The first was obviously Anakin Skywalker. Now here was an emotional being thrust into a society that shunned emotion. He never had a father or real father figure, so who better than the kindly old Chancellor? All the better to sow the seeds and establish trust so that when the chips eventually came down, Anakin would go where Palpatine wanted him.
The second was Amidala. Taking Palpatine’s place as Senator, Padmé had earned a reputation for actually trying to get things done. I doubt he was surprised when, years later, she was one of the staunch opponents of creating a Republic military as the topic was eventually brought up (naturally with none of the Senators knowing that they were getting one anyway). Luckily, he knew two people who had become obsessed with the young lady of late for different reasons. Nute Gunray, unable to take out his frustrations on the Sith who were still backing them, decided to focus his petulance on the former Queen and demanded that she be assassinated. Having her in this level of danger would not only be an excuse to get her out of the way (and begin leading the Jedi towards the Clones), but assign as her protector young Skywalker. Skywalker obviously harbored feelings for Amidala, even if he didn’t outright admit it. Aside from jamming and additional wedge between Anakin and the Jedi, it would distract both parties from the larger implications of world events (unfortunately for Palpatine, this also would lead to his eventual downfall, as while he’s adept at using people’s love against them, he fails to recognize its true power ).
Finally, Jar Jar Binks. Jar Jar’s good-natured bumbling had a way of getting the heroes what they wanted, so it was time for Palpatine to get in on that. As a representative for Naboo, Binks would be Amidala’s first choice to take over in the Senate while she was in hiding. Once the Jedi found the Clones and the Separatists were revealed as a true threat, the army would need to be approved quickly, and that would take emergency powers from the Chancellor. Powers that Palpatine would never relinquish once he had them. It would take a Senator like Amidala, who had opposed the bill to this point, suggesting it to make it seem legitimate and not a power grab. Not only was Representative Binks supposed to follow Amidala’s voting plan, but he was also far more gullible than she. All it took was loudly discussing how brave and noble anyone proposing such a radical amendment would be while Jar Jar was in earshot. In Binks’ defense, he thought he was doing the right thing. All our heroes thought they were doing the right thing.
That’s exactly what Palpatine wanted.
Phase 3 – Profit (Through the Destruction of your Enemies)
The main purpose of the Clone Wars was to create a credible enough threat so that Palpatine would be given more and more power and eventually destroy the Republic from within. But it has a second purpose.
For in a galaxy ruled by the Sith, there is no place for their sworn enemies in the Jedi Order.
With their focus on the unifying Force, Palpatine was able to cloak himself and his schemes when he started. But the Jedi quickly realized that the Dark Side was clouding everything, though they couldn’t pinpoint it. They very well might have, if the Republic hadn’t suddenly gone to war requiring the Jedi to become military leaders.
The battles were picking the Jedi off slowly, one by one, their reputation dwindling, until the Order was a shadow of itself, ready to be broken in one fell swoop. And who better than the Chosen One himself, whom Palpatine had been subtly molding for years? For the Jedi had not taken time to understand Anakin, as Palpatine had. Anakin was more loyal to people than ideas, and the further the Order pushed him away, the more he was in Palpatine’s grasp. Anakin’s timely premonition of Padmé’s death was all he needed to work with.
If you’ve seen Revenge of the Sith, then you know the endgame from here. Anakin falls, Palpatine declares himself Emperor and accuses the Jedi of attempting a coup. The Order is decimated, whoever wasn’t killed by Anakin were destroyed by their own Clone Troopers. The Dark Times have begun.
Yet even as Palpatine won the day, his flaws are evident, and we see how he is set up for disaster.
For it was a scrappy band of Rebels made up of all races who would undermine his Empire at every turn.
It was primitive natives who would turn the tide in the Battle of Endor.