Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Jedi Peacekeepers

So, I was thinking. According to the prequels, during the last years of the Old Republic, there were around 10,000 Jedi in the Jedi Order. First off, that seems like an awfully unwieldly group to be run, apparently directly, through a Council of like 12 Jedi. There's no way Yoda and Mace Windu could possibly know the names of all the Jedi nor have personal audiences with them to discuss their missions. There would have to be more of a command structure and hierarchy than just three levels of Council Member, Knight, and Padawan.

But, beyond this, it occurred to me that, though too large to be the close-knit organizaton run by a loose council shown in the prequels, it is also by orders of magnitude too small to really be the peacekeepers of the galaxy.

Think about this. According to the Star Wars Technical commentaries, in order for Coruscant, a planet entirely covered with city, to be as densely populated as the surburbs of the small city of Perth, Australia, it would have upwards of 9 trillion inhabitants. Being much more densely populated than Perth, Coruscant would realistically have thousands of trillions of inhabitants. But, let's go with the low figure of 9 trillion, for the sake of argument.

Then, there the number of planets in the Republic. Lots of sources seem to indicate there are something like twelve million worlds in the Empire, and a similar number in the Republic. In a recent Clone Wars comic, Obi-Wan claims that there are only 100,000 inhabited worlds in the Old Republic, which seems low. Let's go, for the sake of argument, with West End's Star Wars Roleplaying Game and assume there are a million worlds in the Old Republic.

So, assuming 9 trillion sentient beings per planet, and a million planets in the Old Republic, we have:

1 Jedi for every 100 inhabited planets, or
1 Jedi for 900 trillion sentient beings

Let's suppose that the Jedi are effectively the equivalent of FBI Special Agents in the United States. According to the FBI website, as of June 30, 2003, the FBI employed 11,633 Special Agents in a nation of approximately 290 million people with an area of 3,537,441 square miles, or:

1 FBI Special Agent per approximately 2,883 square miles
1 FBI Special Agent per approximately 25,000 Americans

Even if Jedi are much, much more elite than FBI Agents, they each have a span of responsibility literally billions of times greater than an FBI Agent. In fact, the Earth, with its current population of approximately 6 billion, wouldn't even rate a whole Jedi's attention, but only an infinitesimal fraction of a Jedi.

This just doesn't seem sufficient for the Jedi to have any kind of real effect on galactic peace. Consider that, if only 2% of the planets in the galaxy have any kind of border dispute or disturbance requiring the attention of a Jedi at any one time, the Jedi would be overwhelmed: 2 planets for every 100 planets would need a Jedi, and there is only 1 Jedi for every 100 planets. And this is if every single Jedi is out on a mission at all times, with no time for training, vacations, or hanging out in the Council or watching the Senate. And we're talking about intervening in situations on planets with trillions of beings on them, with potentially millions of soldiers/police/criminals to deal with in solving the problem.

It is no wonder it was so easy for Count Dooku and the Separatists to start the Clone Wars. The Jedi are stretched way too thin to truly be "keepers of the peace." Peace must have mostly maintained itself and the Jedi just smoothed the rough edges. Because, realistically, if 200 Jedi were not enough to handle the situation on Geonosis, there aren't many situations of galactic importance that would involve fewer people and less firepower than that. The Jedi on Geonosis fought perhaps thousands of battle droids, but on a planets boasting 9 trillion people you would expect armies orders of magnitude larger. If planets really want to fight, there really aren't enough Jedi to stop them, even with mind tricks and all that.

Remember, this is a Republic with no standing army! As far as we can see, the only means the Chancellor and the Senate have of enforcing the Senate's will is the Jedi. There's no National Guard to call out in times of emergency. The only militaries seem to be private or controlled by the individual planets. If a bunch of planets decide to start fighting at the same time in different places, there's no one else but the Jedi to stop it. Despite their vast powers, it's hard to see how a single Jedi can really enforce his or her will on the conservatively 900 trillion beings that each one would be responsible for.

Of course, by the same token, this indicates that it is likely that only 1 in a hundred planets would produce a Jedi, making it statistically very, very unlikely that we would see multiple Jedi from the same planet as in the prequels (Yoda and Waddle, Barriss Offee and her Master whose name I can't remember, probably Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon given the similarity of names).

In fact, it wouldn't even be possible, for most planets, to send a Jedi of the same race as the people he or she would be dealing with, since most planets and/or races wouldn't have produced a single Jedi, making the Jedi's task even more difficult. (Not only would the Jedi be an outsider from a strange Order members of which most people have never seen before, but an alien besides). The idea of a tradition of Jedi from a single system, like 'Corellian Jedi' in the Expanded Universe, is pretty much absurd, as the chances of a planet producing a Jedi in a generation are only about 1%, unless some races or planets produce lots of Jedi and some don't produce any, in which case you'd have favoritism issues to deal with.

And the idea of Jedi being the generals of the Grand Army of the Republic, as shown in the Clone Wars comics, books, and graphic novels, is pretty difficult to support. In fact, in many of these stories, multiple Jedi are shown fighting together on the same planet. But, if the Separatists only attack 1 in 100 planets of the Republic, there would just be enough Jedi to have one as general on each planet, but not multiple ones on a single planet. And, if the Separatists are attacking fewer than 1 in 100 planets, it's really difficult to see how the Clone Wars would really be anything more the Republic as a whole than a fringe war, not much more than a border dispute.

Of course, it also occurs to me that Kamino really couldn't possibly produce enough clones to form a Grand Army of the Republic. Most of the surface of Kamino is water. Even if Kamino were entirely populated with clones, we would only expect there to be about 9 trillion, but Kamino is obviously far less populated than Coruscant (it isn't even in the Republic), and couldn't possibly support that many clones. Supposing, even, that the Kaminoans produced a trillion clones for the Republic (at what fantastic cost that the Republic didn't notice it was spending!), it wouldn't be nearly enough to defend a million planets. It would make much more sense, in fact, to simply raise up armies on each Republic planet, since each planet could likely field an army larger than the clone army could field being so terribly spread out.

Plus, of course, there is the issue of transporting something like a trillion clones around the galaxy to fight. It would be much more economical to use local forces than use hundreds upon hundreds of ships to ferry clones all around the galaxy. The films make it appear that the big issue is raising up an army, but the Republic has massive populations from which to get manpower. The difficulty in arranging transportation of those armies and the cost of producing the masses of ships, equipment, fighting vehicles, and all that to support an army of a trillion clones would far outstrip the cost and difficulty of creating it. The Republic has nearly infinte population but, having no standing army, likely has only limited military production capability. Presuming the Kaminoans produced the equipment used by the clones on Geonosis, I would say the bulk of the Kaminoans' contribution to the war effort was really in the equipment and vehicles rather than the clones. (I wonder where the proto-Star Destroyers shown at the end of Episode II came from... did the Republic build them or the Kaminoans? And if the Republic, how did they produce such massive troop transports so fast without pre-planning by Palpatine that you would think the Senate would notice).

This is why it's bad to show us too much of a universe. There are all kinds of problems in the original Star Wars trilogy, but you see a small enough slice of the universe that you can kind of ignore the problems. But then, Lucas expands the universe and shows us all this stuff about the Old Republic, and it's hard to maintain suspension of disbelief when so many more unbelievable things are thrown at you. Sort of like the MATRIX movies. The first film didn't actually make sense, but it only really had a couple of big problems (the 2nd law of thermodynamics says it would be better to burn the food used to feed the humans than feed it to the humans and use them as engines, and why the hell does the MATRIX have wireless access?) You can let one or two big problems go and still enjoy the film. But then, in the sequels, the world just becomes more and more improbable as you see more of it, or as I like to say, "the seams start to show."

The seams are showing in the Star Wars universe pretty badly.


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