Lit A Tarkin Coup: Possibility or Pipedream

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Vialco, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. Mechalich Force Ghost

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    I strongly suspect that Tarkin knew full well that to take out Palpatine he would have had to blast Coruscant to little bits. he was also intelligent enough to realize how many problems that would have created.

    I think it is far more likely that Tarkin's long-term goal was considerably less drastic - he didn't want to overthrow Palpatine, he wanted to become his heir. Tarkin had already acted in the role of successor to Imperial control during the Ghost Prison incident. He's roughly twenty years Palpatine's junior and the Force aside, the Emperor was never exactly a glowing vision of good health. This is a generally neglected point of EU speculation, and it seems likely that Palpatine was deliberately extremely vague on this point, but various high-placed IMperial personnel had to have thought about it a lot.

    We should remember that it was Tarkin, more than perhaps any other being in the entire galaxy, who actually believed in the Empire. Even Palpatine himself simply wanted the Empire to serve his own ends, but Tarkin truly thought the Empite was a better means of government. Overthrowing Palpatine would likely have destroyed the Empire, and that was an outcome Tarkin did not desire.

    I view Tarkin's command decision to destroy Alderaan as a declaration of his power and authority - he did something that really, only the Emperor ought to have been able to order. If he'd destroyed the Rebellion shortly thereafter though, he'd have gotten away with it, and Tarkin knew that, and if Palpatine has to allow the man-who-detonates-core-worlds to continue running his mighty battlestation then Tarkin has moved into a de facto position of superiority over everyone else in the Empire.
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  2. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    I remember in that Mara Jade-centric comic By the Emperor's Hand that there was a flashback where Palpatine introduced Vader to Mara. He had Mara infiltrate Tarkin's palace looking for evidence of treason. Mara didn't find anything. He later explained that he suspected Tarkin of being ambitious, and that ambition could lead to treason. Tarkin being ambitious - I think we can all agree on that. But treasonous? Hardly. The closest Tarkin might have come to gaining control of the Empire would have been in that Ghost Prison comic, but it would have been temporary. Based on what happened in that comic, I could see Tarkin arriving on Coruscant and taking control of the Empire until Palpatine returned. At which point, he would wholeheartedly relinquish control and allow Palpatine to take the throne again.
  3. jasonfry VIP

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    Love this debate -- and thanks for the link to that portion of the Warfare endnotes.

    What has to be separated out is original intent vs. accumulated EU evidence.

    Weighing the EU evidence, it's unlikely Tarkin was actively plotting anything and there are all manner of obstacles involved with taking the Death Star to Coruscant and challenging Sidious, as discussed above.

    But looking at original intent -- the 1977 movie and the novelization -- it seems pretty clear to me that Tarkin was indeed actively considering a coup, with Motti trying to push his boss to declare himself openly and working to shove Vader aside as Tarkin's favorite lieutenant. And in 1977, remember, there's no Sith Emperor, no 501st, no Emperor's Hands, etc.

    IMHO one of the EU's biggest mistakes -- introduced in the late 80s -- was making Vader the Emperor's enforcer instead of Tarkin's lackey. That muddled everything, and IMHO choked off a much more interesting story.

    Anyway, it's a great topic, but I think the debate quickly runs aground if those two POVs -- original intent and the later EU -- aren't treated separately.
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  4. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Ars Dangor.
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  5. FTeik Force Ghost

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    Just some thoughts:

    If the emperor dissolved the senate, he can hardly be the isolated, powerless figure-head he is supposed to be at that time.

    According to the ANH-novel, Vader wasn't Tarkin's lackey. Motti - during the briefing - clearly complains about "that Sith-Lord the emperor forced on us" and Vader himself thinks of Tarkin and Motti to be expendable.


    Was Coruscant really irreplacable for the administration of the empire? The senate had just been dissolved and "the regional governours had now direct control over their territories" (one has to wonder, why the NR later insisted, that the empire followed an approach of centralized government). Not to forget, that the DSs were to serve as regional mobile headquaters, according to CTD, IIRC.
    I always wondered, if the massive upscale of DS2 in comparison to DS1 (be a factor of almost two-hundred), wasn't alone because of the battlestations increased capabilities, but also because it was to house the facilities for the central government.
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  6. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    When? I could see that being in the radio play- but I don't recall it being in the briefing.
  7. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    Third paragraph of chapter 3 (though it's Tagge, not Motti... and the guy also takes the role of the choke victim, later):

    "I tell you, he's gone too far this time," the General was insisting vehemently. "This Sith Lord inflicted on us at the urging of the Emperor will be our undoing. Until the battle station is fully operational, we remain vulnerable."
    Last edited by Ulicus, Jul 16, 2013
  8. Iron_lord Chosen One

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  9. LelalMekha Force Ghost

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    And Thrawn too. I was struck by a particular tirade he gave to Tash Arranda in Galaxy of Fear: The Swarm:
    While I mostly agree with you on making that distinction, the original intent is not reliable anymore. If we look at the original intent (the 1977 movie and the novelization), we see that many things have been changed, not in the EU, but in the movies themselves. For example, in ANH, the Emperor was intended to be a puppet leader, which he clearly wasn't anymore as early as ROTJ. The debate is not "original intent vs. accumulated EU evidence," it's rather "original intent vs. later revisions + accumulated EU evidence."
    Last edited by LelalMekha, Jul 16, 2013
  10. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

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    I would say yes, Coruscant is irreplaceable. The Senate might have been dissolved, but even dictatorships have their power bases, people who have to be kept happy. And where else would the galaxy's powerful elite be? Coruscant.

    Anyway, I'd consider the Tarkin coup to be a pipe dream. We're talking about the Palpatine who was devious enough to hide in plain sight while he orchestrated the Clone Wars. If Tarkin tried anything funny with the Death Star, all Palpatine would have to do is activate a secret cell of loyal Imperial troops stationed on board and that would be the end of that...no need to even send Vader. And if it really came down to it, the combined strength of the Imperial Navy could probably destroy the Death Star. The DS could probably take on 5-6 Rebel Fleets at once and win, but not the entire Imperial Navy.

    I also don't think Tarkin really had the ambition to rule the galaxy. From his time as a Republic officer, he's always seemed to be more an agent of a cause (the Militarist cause) than someone interested in power for its own sake. I think that more than likely he saw Palpatine as an ally who gives him what he wants, rather than someone he wanted to replace.
    Last edited by Alpha-Red, Jul 16, 2013
  11. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    In the movie the Hoth shield is "strong enough to deflect any bombardment".

    If this was literally true- then the whole fleet couldn't get through that shield.

    And we know the Death Star had a powerful shield too (albeit one with little holes that fighters could pass through).

    Maybe it could have taken on the Navy?
  12. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

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    Eh, Death Squadron actually wasn't that large of a fleet...its strength varied, but at Endor it was like around 37 ISDs? Even if that many were present at Hoth, that's still a small fraction of the whole Imperial Navy, even if you go with a minimalist count of the total number of Star Destroyers in the galaxy. So I think the "strong enough to deflect any bombardment" probably refers to the firepower available to the fleet at the time and not that the shield is completely invincible.
    Last edited by Alpha-Red, Jul 16, 2013
  13. CeiranHarmony Force Ghost

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    Never seen its shield :p

    And the thing the Rebels passed through more felt like the Death Stars gravity zone than a shield, cause given the distance between this shield/gravity edge to the Death Star surface itself... what the hell of a huge shield is that? A moonsized battle planetoid with shields as large as an entire planet?
  14. CeiranHarmony Force Ghost

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    I right now imagine one sneaky Tie-Fighter pilot without any shields shooting a missile down the reactor shaft unnoticed during the battle :p
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  15. FTeik Force Ghost

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    We don't have to look at "later revisions + accumulated EU". We don't even have to look at the radiodrama or novelisation. Within the first ten minutes of A New Hope we get "Darth Vader, only you could be so bold", suggesting that Vader has been some kind of maverick, that nobody has managed to control for some time. He chokes Motti without hesitation and only stops when Tarkin tells him to do so. His "as you wish" seems more to be indulgence than actual obiedience, since he has made his point. When he and Tarkin are without the other officers they are a lot more cordial to the extreme, that Tarkin calls him "my friend" and hints at knowledge about Vader's past, suggesting a relationship of equals. If Vader plays the subordinate than he is doing it either because somebody has ordered him to do so (the emperor) or out of respect for Tarkin (because of their past/friendship) or at least out of respect for Tarkin's position as overall commander of the DeathStar-project.

    Now, for Tarkin to attempt to execute a coup, the major question isn't "who will win?", but will Tarkin think "can I succeed with this?" Tarkin knows the emperor is powerful and might even know, that the emperor has mystic powers, but at least since the GhostPrison-incident he should also know, that the emperor is vulnerable and not omnipotent.

    And if he thought, that he had to protect the empire from the emperor (to prevent its turning into a Sith-theocracy like another Grand Moff did), then he would certainly try to usurp Palpatine's power.
  16. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Well, according to Krytos Trap, only 20 seconds worth of bombardment by an SSD was required to punch a hole through Coruscant's planetary shield, said to be the most advanced set of shields in the galaxy. How the Hoth shield therefore be strong enough to deflect any bombardment is beyond me -- unless we handwave it by saying Coruscant's shields weren't at full capacity after the Rebels took over.

    Yes. The X-wing series makes it abundantly clear that Coruscant was essential for governing the galaxy: the central Imperial bureaucracy and administrative apparatus was housed there, and it was what the NR later used in order to run the galaxy itself. Bacta War notes that the loss of Coruscant rendered the legitimate Imperial successors unable to govern the galaxy, which greatly hastened warlordization.

    It was noted that the satrapies of the moffs and grand moffs were capable of preventing worlds from joining the NR, and those governors were able to restrain the worlds -- but galactic governance required Coruscant.

    I also have to wonder if Tarkin would've had a similar falling-out among the military as Isard did. X-wing also notes how the Imperial military was largely quiescent and Loyalist under the regency of Sate Pestage and the rule of Ars Dangor's ERC, but Isard's emergence into power convinced many in the military that it was time to be independent because they did not respect her rule the way they respected the legitimate rulers of the Empire. Tarkin would be a similar power-monger.
  17. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    The most common explanation I've seen is - shields are much weaker to attacks against them from within.
  18. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Unfortunately, there is a line that reads something like "the shields proved just as strong against an attack from within as without" or something like that as part of that very scene.
  19. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

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    Although in the X-wing comics, isn't an admiral who initially overthrows Pestage?
  20. Havac Former Moderator

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    It's Admiral Krennel who kills Pestage -- but he was sent by Isard to do so, and he went warlord and set up his own regime with Pestage's stolen resources rather than returning to Isard afterward.

    To be fair, Tarkin is not Isard. Isard wasn't respected because she came from obviously outside the power structure to take over by intriguing Pestage out of power. She was a senior bureaucrat as Intelligence head, but not on the same command level as Vader, Pestage, Dangor -- or Tarkin. There's also the fact that Isard's position as head of Imperial Intelligence meant that she was specifically resented -- as part of the paranoid Imperial thought police prying into everyone's secrets. The military didn't like her specifically, as a result of her specific position and style, and because she didn't come from the same background of military competence -- her expertise was in spying and setting people up to get executed, not winning the war against the Rebellion.

    Tarkin was in a very different situation. He had the old-line military background -- he was a Militarist with a long record of military success, someone who came from the same general mindset as the Pellaeons and Rogrisses of the Fleet. They wouldn't have been the same concern that he would mismanage the war, or resentment of where he came from. He also had a much higher status within the command structure than Isard. Tarkin was not only the first Grand Moff, he was the intellectual architect of much of the Empire, second only to Palpatine in that regard. His power and influence appears to be far greater than that of any other Grand Moff, and I feel pretty comfortable stating that he had more power and influence in the Empire than anyone who wasn't Palpatine or his direct representative (Vader, Pestage, Dangor). He doesn't have the legitimacy level of Vader, Pestage, or Dangor as a regent, but he's only one step below that, which is far above where Isard was.

    Now, I don't think that means that the military would sit still for a Tarkin coup against the Emperor, but I don't think the comparison to Isard is apt. Had he come to power in Isard's situation -- claiming the regency after Palpatine's death -- I don't think he would have had Isard's problems at all.
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  21. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    It's an admiral that kills him, and it's a general who overthrows him. General Paltr Carvin, along with individuals known as Plumba and Challer or something thereabouts formed a triumvirate known as the Tribunal out of a court faction known as the Cabal. Since the DESB says that it was the ERC and Dangor who drove Pestage out of power (albeit at an earlier date), and since the X-wing novels state that it was a coterie of Imperial Advisors who drove Pestage from power, the local fix is that the Cabal is a name for either the entire ERC or part of the ERC, and that it constituted a court faction. Dangor, then, would have been exercising influence from behind the scenes, since the front-men for the Cabal were indeed this Tribunal. It's unclear whether they're figureheads or whether Dangor simply moved aside because he did not publically want to sit on the throne.

    Well, the Cabal intrigued Pestage out of power and Bacta War makes it clear that the military still supported them. It was only Isard they chafed at, and I have to suspect it's either her managerial style or (more likely) the fact that she's military, like them.

    I wouldn't call her a senior bureaucrat at all, in fact. The Rebellion-era Sourcebook makes Imperial Intelligence one of the military branches, and the Imperial Sourcebook has the Ubiqtorate reporting directly to the Imperial Advisors rather than to the mofference. Unlike real life intelligence agencies, Imperial Intelligence is military -- the civilian intelligence agency is the ISB. Now it's true that ImpIntel agents were certainly resenated, and that played a large role -- and you're certainly right that they disliked her style and probably wondered what made her qualified to win the war, but I'd argue that it's her military background that played the key role: if her, then why not them, in other words? What made her special? That's why folks went warlord, as opposed to simply challenging her right to rule.


    He has a military background, but he's not really a true Generational -- he's Rimkin nobility, like the Tagges but without the money. He's an old time militarist too, but he's also a civilian administrator: grand moffs are explicitly not military, though they are usually given honorary military rank. The main roles moffs have is to sit in a house some where and run the civil administration. Granted, Tarkin himself was certainly the exception -- he wielded far more power than any moff since. And yes, in terms of personal power and name recognition he's far, far beyond Isard.

    He has a far larger following than Isard, a lot of military forces under his personal command, but I almost wonder if he'd get MORE opposition than Isard. People were scared to confront Isard openly, so they broke away. Tarkin is scary too, but I can see people trying to take power from him within the Empire should he have held it.
  22. AdmiralWesJanson Force Ghost

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    And a single Golan station is able to take down the shields of Lusankya is just as sort a time. Stackpole does not put much credit in the strengths of shields, of any sort.There are numerous examples in his works where small or moderate amounts of firepower concentrated on a point, knock through shields quickly and easily.

    Yes. It also says that the mid and rear guns fought to keep the hole in the shield open, which is interesting as it implies the shields were coming back up nearly as fast as the guns were punching the holes in them.
    As for the Hoth Shield vs the Coruscant shield, best guess is that it's a mix of factors- Battlecruiser power supply, efficiencies of a low level theater shield vs high level planetary shields, possibility that the Coruscant shield was damaged or running on low power with no expected threats.

    Back on the topic of Tarkin, it seems unlikely that he would attempt a coup not because he trusts in the Emperor and doesn't want power, but that he sees the role he has as the desirable position- the man behind the throne almost. He does not seem quite as charismatic as Palpatine, instead more of an administrator or chief bureaucrat. To Tarkin, the Empire was a government first, Empire second, and someone with his sort of influence on the administration of that Government, between the Tarkin doctrine and things like the Maw Instillation, fits his personality and desires enough that he has no real cause to try to overthrow Palpatine. Tarkin would rather leverage his power within the system than try to overthrow Palpatine and with him, the system. Too much hassle.
  23. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

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    Ah, I see. I do remember that the whole Pestage issue (along with his clone status and issues surrounding the capture of Coruscant) was one of several continuity issues that Stackpole's X-wing works generally messed up on.

    Although as you point out, Tarkin would be the exception to this, and I have to think that other military leaders would recognize it. I remember as far back as the ISB, it was stated that Tarkin was an admiral in his own right (which is why I was tickled when he was made an admiral in TCW, one of those continuity nods they got right almost certainly by chance).
  24. Havac Former Moderator

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    Isard is notionally military, but I doubt the rest of the military would consider Intelligence -- and especially Isard -- "real" military in the way that matters. I think you're right that someone coming from so relatively low on the totem pole to take power would inspire more of the low-level striving and intriguing and warlordism -- you could also probably draw the line to the Central Committee making a play for power -- but I think her status as an up-jumped bureaucrat -- an agency overseer -- who's not part of the military culture played a part in the military rejecting her.

    Eh, I don't think the divide can always be made that cleanly -- he's not from the Core, but he's a member of an extremely powerful family with a long military tradition from a long-important Rim powerhouse, and his family is of Corulag extraction. He's not a nobody, and I don't think the Core bias in the military is all that strong -- in the oldest Generationals, maybe, but not overall. I think you're underselling his military experience -- he got into politics from the military, was a Clone Wars hero, and continued to command military operations within the Empire as a Moff and Grand Moff, with great success. His position is political as well as having a military component, but Tarkin himself is an accomplished commander and known as such. He's got strong appeal to the military -- much stronger than Isard, or apart from the legitimacy of their positions, Pestage or Dangor.
  25. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

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    At the suggestion of Tarkin being concerned that the Emperor had a backup plan in case he tried a coup- do we know when the Galaxy Gun was being developed? It would seem like an obvious deterrent to anyone using the Death Star against Imperial holdings.