Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Opinion: Politics on the Front Line

By: Dave Bouressa

“A Galaxy Divided”- the first ever spoken words of the Clone Wars series (aside from some clone radio chatter in the opening credits of the Clone Wars film), yet there may be more to it than we see. Yes, on the outside, it is clearly a war between Jedi and Sith, droids and cloned soldiers, etc. However, looking more deeply into the war and the series as a whole, there is just as much fighting (if not more) on the political battlefield. I understand that many people feel that the politics of this series-and of this era as a whole- is major slow down, and an unneeded bore, but it is a scenario I find very interesting. I will do my best to keep my own personal political beliefs and real world politics out of this discussion, but I do realize that this is a very valid scenario that is most likely happening in the Galactic Senate during the Clone Wars.

Now for this scenario

Episode III has not happened and you have no idea of what takes place in the future. As far as you know, Palpatine is just the Supreme Chancellor. The Clone Wars have been going on for about 2 years now and taken a toll on both the galaxy and the Republic. You are a political representative in the Galactic Senate. The separatists have just invaded a neighboring system fairly close to yours and you worry that they will invade your home.

Now imagine you are in the senate during the episodes "Heroes on Both Sides/Pursuit of Peace/Senate Murders". Padme Amidala has just put a motion to stop the war, and stop the funding for more troops, believing that more troops will only prolong the fighting.

Do you agree with her, and simply hope that the separatists do not invade your home, believing that the only way to stop the war is to stop fighting all together or do you vote to continue the war, allowing more funding for more troops which could add protection to your home, believing that more troops is exactly what is needed to end the war and stop the traitorous Separatists once and for all?

If you agree with her, you are viewed as a pusher of peace, but at the same time, someone who is unpatriotic and should be charged of treason by simply allowing the Republic to break apart and thinking that doing nothing will make everything better. But if you disagree with her, you could be viewed as both patriotic and loyal to the Republic, but you could also be considered a warmonger. It truly is a win/lose scenario either way.

The way the series seems to progress, it follows the views of Padme, Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, etc, all of which feel that peace and diplomacy is the only way to win a war. To quote Amidala, "By adding more clones to the conflict, we are only escalating destruction-not winning the war" (Senate Murders). However, after putting yourself in the above scenario, it makes that 3 part story arc of "Heroes on Both Sides/Pursuit of Peace/Senate Murders" very difficult to watch because the show spends 3 full episodes trying to push a political ideal that you feel could endanger your home.

And then no matter what political ideal you side with, there are different circumstances of war, and with that comes different views, all of which have valid points for both pros and cons.

It's a simple "Geonosis" vs "Umbara" scenario.

It was discovered that Geonosis was housing a massive droid factory, which would be used against the Republic-legitimizing the resulting planet-wide invasion. The factory was eventually destroyed, potentially saving thousands of lives, however, will now push the Separatists that much more in both droid production, recruitment and military action.

Umbara, however, was invaded simply due to seceding from the Republic and following the Separatists. As far as we know, they had not provoked the Republic prior to the invasion and some would argue that the massive invasion was unwarranted. However, the opposite argument is that the Umbarans have technology that is unknown and never seen before by the Republic, and if the Umbarans were to allow their weaponry to be distributed throughout the Separatist movement, it could result in not only massive casualties to Republic troops, but cause a crippling blow to the Republic- and the justification would be that invasion would taking out a potential enemy before they have the chance to strike. But then the counter argument to that would be “If a person is friends with a murderer, do you throw that person in jail because they MIGHT also cause harm?”

It is interesting how the series tends to push the views of Amidala and company. It is pushing the view that if you do not wish to end the war diplomatically and peacefully, you are considered a “bad guy” or a separatist, for whom the series has also pushed the “bad guy” label. Then there are the senators who feel that more military force and more clone troopers are exactly what the Republic needs to win the war (as stated by a senator meeting with Amidala in “Pursuit of Peace”).

Then you go into the two separatist sides. There is the obvious “bad guy” perspective that the show has been trying to push, where there are evil generals and politicians simply trying to take over the galaxy/gain massive profit and are nothing more than Dooku’s pawns/ “typical seperatists”, and there are the peaceful political separatists, ala Mina Bonteri who simply seceded from the Republic due to political and moral differences and are hopeful for peaceful negotiations with Palpatine. There are clearly more views to this war (such as the views of the Jedi who claim to be peace-keepers, yet they are generals on the front lines of war leading soldiers into battle), but simply cutting it down to the 4 main views of the war adds a whole new level of not only tension, but a sense of “gray” to all the “black and white” of politics. 

Either way, it all boils down to a quote from Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi: “You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view” and war is no exception, both in the wars of today, and the wars taking place a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…


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