Ahsoka is Trying — And Failing — to Fix Modern Star Wars’ Biggest Problem

We’re finally learning about the origins of the First Order, but the results are underwhelming.

Originally Published: 

General Hera Syndulla may look unassuming, but she has the heart of a zealot.

In Episode 3 of Ahsoka, Hera takes Chancellor Mothma and a hodgepodge of senators to task for tolerating the employment of ex-Imperials in the New Republic’s ranks. She’s irate about being attacked by extremists at the Corellian shipyards in Episode 2, but the senators write it off as an isolated incident, noting the ex-Imperials employed by the Republic are all mid-level bureaucrats who have sworn loyalty oaths. But Hera is convinced a deeper plot to return Grand Admiral Thrawn to power is afoot.

We’re clearly meant to take Hera’s side because we know those ignorant senators are wrong to dismiss Thrawn. An episode of The Mandalorian Season 3 also featured scheming ex-Imperials, so we’re aware this isn’t an isolated problem. But Hera is wrong about how to stop them. She’s so wrong she wants to repeat one of the greatest political blunders of the 21st century, which illustrates a deeper problem about how politics are crammed into Star Wars.

Forget the Force; General Hera needs a little realpolitik.


It’s implied that, if Hera had her way, the ranks of the New Republic would be completely purged of ex-Imperials. That’s exactly what the United States did upon occupying Iraq in 2003, purging not only top members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party but 30,000 lower-level government workers, right down to schoolteachers who only joined the party to secure employment. The result was a lot of unemployed citizens angry at an incompetent government run by neophytes. A 2016 inquiry concluded the decision “had a significant and lasting negative impact on Iraq” and “laid the groundwork for the deadly sectarian conflict ravaging the country today.”

General Hera would do better to study post-World War II West Germany. The Allies put top officials on trial while purging Nazi ideology, but allowed swaths of mid-level workers who just wanted a paycheck to stick around and keep the state running. The process (to cram decades’ worth of history into a single sentence) had serious flaws, but West Germany emerged as a flourishing democracy and staunch Cold War ally with strong anti-neo-Nazi laws. On the plus side, at least the New Republic didn’t copy Reconstruction, because then Emperor Palpatine would have been allowed to retire and write stern op-eds about why working with aliens is an affront to the Force.

The Mandalorian Season 3 revealed an ex-Imperial amnesty program, with some serious flaws.


We’ll be generous and conclude that Dave Filoni probably isn’t trying to sneakily revise Iraq War historiography. The real problem here is that the Mando-verse has been saddled with the unenviable task of trying to explain the First Order’s sudden rise to power. When The Force Awakens was released, the biggest question fans had was, “Where did these guys come from, and how are they suddenly a powerhouse?” Ahsoka and The Mandalorian are trying to finally provide more context, but they’ve only raised further questions about the New Republic.

How much power does Chancellor Mothma have? What are her goals? How did some senators get key positions despite contributing nothing to the Rebellion? Why is General Hera allowed to gallivant around the galaxy by herself to help Ahsoka out, yet has to beg a senate committee for a few ships?

Did Ahsoka testify at the Coruscant Trials? Dave Filoni refuses to tell us.


It would be nice to get some answers because a side story about plucky rebels learning to beat their lightsabers into plowshares could be interesting. Instead, we’re just getting a subplot about a bunch of stuffy politicians too stupid to realize that everyone who ever worked for the Empire, right down to the shmucks who ran the garbage scows, is simply evil to the core. The historical complexities of disassembling dictatorships aside, that’s just not very compelling.

With apologies to everyone who loves trade embargo talk, politics have never been Star Wars’ strong suit. The original trilogy works because you don’t need to know the details of the evil Empire and the spirited Rebellion to appreciate the adventures that spawn from their conflict. But the rebels are in charge now, and Ahsoka needs to give their reign some nuance to make us care. At the very least, General Hera needs to lay off the politicians. Like it or not, history says they’ve made the right call.

This article was originally published on

Related Tags