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Analyzing The Battle Of Hoth

Battle_of_Hoth

Spencer Ackerman analyzes the Battle of Hoth and doesn’t come away thinking very much of the Imperial Commander:

What did the Empire gain at Hoth? It had the opportunity to deal the Rebel Alliance a defeat from which the Rebels might not have recovered: the loss of its secret base; the loss of its politically potent symbol in Leia; and most of all the loss of its promising proto-Jedi in Luke. Instead, Luke escapes to join Yoda; Leia escapes with Han to Cloud City (where Vader has to resort to Plan B); and the Rebel Alliance’s transport ships largely escape to join up at a pre-established rendezvous point, as we see at the end of the film.

At the very most, the Empire’s assault on Hoth killed a couple of low-ranking Rebels and destroyed a few transit ships — which we don’t even see on screen. Instead of crushing the Rebels, it scattered them, leaving them to survive for the additional successes they’ll achieve in Return of the Jedi. It’s a classic fiasco of overconfidence and theology masquerading as military judgment — and the exact opposite of the Empire striking back.

Not everyone agreed with Ackerman’s take, though, so he followed up with a “symposium” of other analysts who disagreed with his take. Here’s a sample:

Vader wasn’t a strategist, he was a tragic hero. He was Anakin Skywalker, supremely talented, painfully sensitive, devilishly impatient, stubbornly sure of his own rightness, and most of all ruled by instinct and emotion. Anakin Skywalker never listened much to what other people wanted him to do, no matter their nominal authority over him. He ignored his mother and Qui-Gon, resisted Obi-Wan on matters large and small, and defied the Jedi Council. He was passionate and impulsive, prone to leaping before he looked and taking off on unapproved missions if he felt they were right. He hared off to Tatooine after his mother against Obi-Wan’s orders. He married Padme in violation of the Jedi Code.

As unsuccessful as George Lucas might have been in depicting this, Anakin loved Padme so passionately and so beyond reason that he was willing to burn down the whole galaxy for just a chance to save her. Luke was his son, and more importantly, Luke was Padme’s son. As soon as Vader knew he was out there, Palpatine’s wishes no longer mattered, and Vader was once more in service only to his own motivations. He continued to follow the Emperor’s orders where it was convenient for him, but on Hoth and everywhere else for the rest of the series, he was doing what he wanted, to the inevitable detriment of the Empire’s military effectiveness.

Much more at both links.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. John Peabody says:

    Gee, I thought it was an action scene in a movie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. Tillman says:

    How the hell is Vader’s plan at Cloud City Plan B? But for Calrissian’s betrayal, he would’ve had Leia and Luke.

    Ackerman notes that the incompetent admiral leaves hyperspace too close to Hoth, losing the element of surprise. Most real plans fall apart right after that sort of thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Moosebreath says:

    Actually, I came away from that scene thinking the Empire’s military procurement folks were the biggest idiots. They have a knack for building high-tech weaponry with very big, very obvious flaws, from the Death Star with a clear shot to the central power core to assault vehicles vulnerable to trip-wires.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. C. Clavin says:

    My first reaction here was wondering what this was doing on an

    “…online journal of politics and foreign affairs analysis…”

    But then I realized it was just about as reality based as the rest of the Libertarian drivel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  5. @C. Clavin:

    Sense of humor, much?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  6. C. Clavin says:

    @ Doug…
    Sense of humor, much?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  7. Jeremy says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Except what you wrote was completely unfunny, so Doug is justififed in his comment. You, not so much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  8. scott says:

    @C. Clavin: To quote another movie: “Lighten up, Francis”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  9. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Funny.. I read that, and I could not help but see the correlation of Bush & Iraq.

    Sure, we COULD have attacked Afghanistan, and ended this in a much shorter time, but instead we listened to the Neocon / Cheney faction and attacked Iraq instead.

    At the very most, the Empire’s assault on Hoth killed a couple of low-ranking Rebels and destroyed a few transit ships — which we don’t even see on screen. Instead of crushing the Rebels, it scattered them, leaving them to survive for the additional successes they’ll achieve in Return of the Jedi. It’s a classic fiasco of overconfidence and theology masquerading as military judgment — and the exact opposite of the Empire striking back.

    Prescient, in hindsight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. JKB says:

    Well, the Imperial army was just a bunch of cookie cutter soldiers with every ounce of individuality bred out of them. Hardly the type to improvise, adapt, overcome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. JKB says:

    Palpatine’s wishes no longer mattered, and Vader was once more in service only to his own motivations.

    A perfect example of what happens when you let people whose loyalty is only their immediate passions into positions of influence in government. Vader is the ultimate bureaucrat….with a passion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    A perfect example of what happens when you let people whose loyalty is only their immediate passions into positions of influence in government. Vader is the ultimate bureaucrat….with a passion.

    Much like Dick Cheney, in fact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. JKB says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Dick Cheney being all passionate? Now there’s an image for this Valentine’s day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. JWH says:

    @JKB:

    I hate you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. CB says:

    @JKB:

    I feel a great disturbance in the force…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Gustopher says:

    The battle of Hoth was unnecessary.

    The Empire could have wiped out the rebels at Yavin with the Death Star. The only thing that prevented them from getting a clear shot at the rebel base with their giant planet destroying machine was that there was a planet in the way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    Dick Cheney being all passionate? Now there’s an image for this Valentine’s day.

    Oh god my mind’s eye! The goggles, they do nothing!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0