Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Lord Revan » 2019-08-30 07:15pm

Straha wrote:
2019-08-30 12:33pm
Elheru Aran wrote:
2019-08-13 05:21pm
I find it somewhat of an unusual approach, given how the EU depicts the chaos and infighting of the greater Empire. I suppose encouraging discord and rivalry is the Sith way, but it's no way to run an intergalactic government. It's like, after he assumes the mantle of Emperor, he began deliberately breaking shit everywhere because he could. Appointing all the wrong people because they kissed his wrinkly ass just right and all that. He got lucky with competent guys like Tarkin, Vader and Thrawn, but on the other hand we have guys like Ozzel and Motti... eh. Expanded universe, what will we ever do with you.
I don't think he broke things because he could. I think the best in-universe explanation is that he broke things because he genuinely didn't care. He's won power, he controls the galaxy, and... what's left? He's a dog who has spent his life chasing cars and finally caught an Abrams Tank, what is there left in life? He seems to get joy out of sadism and using the force (especially to kill Jedi), but beyond that? Solid 'meh's all around.

It explains his lazy planning with just rebuilding another Death Star after the explosion of the first one, and why in RotJ the only thing he seems to enjoy is tweaking Luke, watching Luke and Vader fight, and then torturing Luke.

And, to touch on the 'maybe he's a master manipulator with deep insights into people's minds' thing: Vader is someone Palpatine turned to the dark side by planting images of his wife and children dying, is someone whose turn he cinched by telling him Padme died along with his unborn children, and someone who Palpatine controlled and cajoled by having him search for the Son of Skywalker. And what does Palpy do directly in front of Vader after a climactic battle? Torture his son in front of his eyes with force lightning. Those are the actions of a man who just does not give a crap, not someone who is an arch calculator.
Palpatine's key flaw is essentially "evil cannot comprihend good" combinied with not accepting that he could loose, Palpatine's actions in ROTJ make perfect sense from what we've been told of the Sith philosophy which is ultimately power and dominance for its own sake.

So Palpatine doesn't see Vader's betrail not because he no longer cares for anything but rather he's unable to understand that there's a part of Vader who would put saving Luke above gaining more power, even if saving Luke would cost Vader his life.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Gandalf » 2019-09-01 06:26am

Palpatine seemed to comprehend good pretty well in the prequels.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Lord Revan » 2019-09-01 10:55am

Gandalf wrote:
2019-09-01 06:26am
Palpatine seemed to comprehend good pretty well in the prequels.
Well not really, he could understand how "good" people would react but he didn't really understand why, ultimately his issue was that he couldn't recognize that things like "protect my son who is also the only positive link to my dead wife" could overtake "more power to myself" as motivation.

Also there's the issue that Palpatine might have gotten sloppy once he won due to arrogance, not to the point of totally not caring but enough that things he could previously noticed would slip his mind.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by RogueIce » 2019-09-10 06:44am

Straha wrote:
2019-08-30 12:33pm
Tarkin may be emblematic of a young bureaucracy that has no real experience doing things? On one hand he's shown to be a capable manager and organizer. On the other hand there are routine basic errors that are made over and over again. The simplest example being the lack of an active fighter patrol during the approach to Yavin IV (something which the Imperial fleet has in the opening of ESB). The Death Star has fighters, rebel fighters are a known threat, and we see them do plenty of damage to the Death Star in their strafing runs, even if there was no perceived existential threat to the station there's every reason to have a patrol out just to be safe/interdict ships as appropriate.
They do have fighter patrols, since that's what fired on the Millennium Falcon and led them to the DS, and there was one transition scene that had TIEs on patrol.

The lack of one on approach to Yavin is thus a little odd, but probably some weird bit of psychological warfare on Tarkin's part? Letting the fighters attack, maybe some of them survive but none of it mattered because the DS was going to blow up Yavin IV anyway. A couple survivors to tell the tale would help in that regard, so having 1,000 TIEs or whatever sweep the 30 Rebel fighters from the sky wouldn't help with that.

Or something. It's obviously never explained so who knows what the reasoning was.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Elheru Aran » 2019-09-10 11:46am

RogueIce wrote:
2019-09-10 06:44am
Straha wrote:
2019-08-30 12:33pm
Tarkin may be emblematic of a young bureaucracy that has no real experience doing things? On one hand he's shown to be a capable manager and organizer. On the other hand there are routine basic errors that are made over and over again. The simplest example being the lack of an active fighter patrol during the approach to Yavin IV (something which the Imperial fleet has in the opening of ESB). The Death Star has fighters, rebel fighters are a known threat, and we see them do plenty of damage to the Death Star in their strafing runs, even if there was no perceived existential threat to the station there's every reason to have a patrol out just to be safe/interdict ships as appropriate.
They do have fighter patrols, since that's what fired on the Millennium Falcon and led them to the DS, and there was one transition scene that had TIEs on patrol.

The lack of one on approach to Yavin is thus a little odd, but probably some weird bit of psychological warfare on Tarkin's part? Letting the fighters attack, maybe some of them survive but none of it mattered because the DS was going to blow up Yavin IV anyway. A couple survivors to tell the tale would help in that regard, so having 1,000 TIEs or whatever sweep the 30 Rebel fighters from the sky wouldn't help with that.

Or something. It's obviously never explained so who knows what the reasoning was.
It's pretty much always depicted as "overconfidence in the face of ultimate victory", and that's pretty clearly how it's supposed to come across. But then you don't really get much of Tarkin's character in the film other than 'Imperial bigwig, holds Vader's reins, the Guy In Charge, Super Confident (TM)'. So...
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Straha » 2019-09-11 06:14pm

RogueIce wrote:
2019-09-10 06:44am
Straha wrote:
2019-08-30 12:33pm
Tarkin may be emblematic of a young bureaucracy that has no real experience doing things? On one hand he's shown to be a capable manager and organizer. On the other hand there are routine basic errors that are made over and over again. The simplest example being the lack of an active fighter patrol during the approach to Yavin IV (something which the Imperial fleet has in the opening of ESB). The Death Star has fighters, rebel fighters are a known threat, and we see them do plenty of damage to the Death Star in their strafing runs, even if there was no perceived existential threat to the station there's every reason to have a patrol out just to be safe/interdict ships as appropriate.
They do have fighter patrols, since that's what fired on the Millennium Falcon and led them to the DS, and there was one transition scene that had TIEs on patrol.

The lack of one on approach to Yavin is thus a little odd, but probably some weird bit of psychological warfare on Tarkin's part? Letting the fighters attack, maybe some of them survive but none of it mattered because the DS was going to blow up Yavin IV anyway. A couple survivors to tell the tale would help in that regard, so having 1,000 TIEs or whatever sweep the 30 Rebel fighters from the sky wouldn't help with that.

Or something. It's obviously never explained so who knows what the reasoning was.
The psychological warfare on Tarkin's part doesn't square the circle for me because of the amount of damage that the Rebel attack does on the Death Star before the trench run. Even if it doesn't present an existential threat it's Tarkin sacrificing dozens to hundreds of Imperial soldiers to death, and causing hefty damage to his prized station, for the sake of psychological warfare against people who will be dead in thirty minutes? Also, the lack of a sweep to catch the Millenium Falcon even after fighters were deployed (and/or the sensors and batteries on the Death Star ignoring it?) seems to speak either a fundamentally broken Death Star or an uncaring incompetent commander.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by RogueIce » 2019-09-14 10:22am

Straha wrote:
2019-09-11 06:14pm
The psychological warfare on Tarkin's part doesn't square the circle for me because of the amount of damage that the Rebel attack does on the Death Star before the trench run. Even if it doesn't present an existential threat it's Tarkin sacrificing dozens to hundreds of Imperial soldiers to death, and causing hefty damage to his prized station, for the sake of psychological warfare against people who will be dead in thirty minutes?
Fighters engage Death Star. Death Star ignores them. Death Star blows up Yavin IV. Fighters retreat, having no base left to defend, and the pilots tell their story of the useless struggle against the unstoppable battle station.

So some Imperial soldiers die in the process. Do you think this is going to matter to the guy who blew up a planet full of civilians to make a point?

Again though, it's all conjecture. For all I know the initial lack of a fighter screen is because Dambusters and similar WWII movies the Battle of Yavin was based on didn't have enemy fighters engage until after the battle had commenced, so George Lucas just did it like that.
Also, the lack of a sweep to catch the Millenium Falcon even after fighters were deployed (and/or the sensors and batteries on the Death Star ignoring it?) seems to speak either a fundamentally broken Death Star or an uncaring incompetent commander.
Are you talking about when they escaped the first time? If so...

...did you even watch the movie? Because it being a plot point that the Empire (and Tarkin, at the behest of Vader) let them escape wasn't exactly a subtle plot twist.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Straha » 2019-09-14 12:02pm

RogueIce wrote:
2019-09-14 10:22am
Straha wrote:
2019-09-11 06:14pm
The psychological warfare on Tarkin's part doesn't square the circle for me because of the amount of damage that the Rebel attack does on the Death Star before the trench run. Even if it doesn't present an existential threat it's Tarkin sacrificing dozens to hundreds of Imperial soldiers to death, and causing hefty damage to his prized station, for the sake of psychological warfare against people who will be dead in thirty minutes?
Fighters engage Death Star. Death Star ignores them. Death Star blows up Yavin IV. Fighters retreat, having no base left to defend, and the pilots tell their story of the useless struggle against the unstoppable battle station.

So some Imperial soldiers die in the process. Do you think this is going to matter to the guy who blew up a planet full of civilians to make a point?
This would make sense if fighters were never deployed to take down the Rebel attack, except they are. The Rebels show up and after they begin their attack Tie fighters are launched and the only rebels who escape either flee or get really lucky. Which begs the question why weren't the Ties launched first.
Again though, it's all conjecture. For all I know the initial lack of a fighter screen is because Dambusters and similar WWII movies the Battle of Yavin was based on didn't have enemy fighters engage until after the battle had commenced, so George Lucas just did it like that.
Agreed that that's the best possible explanation. In universe it doesn't paint a rosy picture of Tarkin though.
Also, the lack of a sweep to catch the Millenium Falcon even after fighters were deployed (and/or the sensors and batteries on the Death Star ignoring it?) seems to speak either a fundamentally broken Death Star or an uncaring incompetent commander.
Are you talking about when they escaped the first time? If so...

...did you even watch the movie? Because it being a plot point that the Empire (and Tarkin, at the behest of Vader) let them escape wasn't exactly a subtle plot twist.
No, during the trench run when the Falcon's appearance is the only thing that saves Luke from getting destroyed by Vader and the lack of a "Heads up, there's a ship making a run at you" alarm is arguably the thing that dooms the Death Star.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by RogueIce » 2019-09-15 10:58am

Straha wrote:
2019-09-14 12:02pm
This would make sense if fighters were never deployed to take down the Rebel attack, except they are. The Rebels show up and after they begin their attack Tie fighters are launched and the only rebels who escape either flee or get really lucky. Which begs the question why weren't the Ties launched first.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Only thing to say here is that Vader gave the order, and he was semi-independent of Tarkin.
Agreed that that's the best possible explanation. In universe it doesn't paint a rosy picture of Tarkin though.
His overconfidence was his weakness.

TBH he literally just may not have even cared about what (relatively little) damage the fighters could even do. Maybe he figured they'd either give up after their base is destroyed or the surface guns would get them, eventually. Maybe he didn't want to have the TIE pilots take any glory for themselves.
No, during the trench run when the Falcon's appearance is the only thing that saves Luke from getting destroyed by Vader and the lack of a "Heads up, there's a ship making a run at you" alarm is arguably the thing that dooms the Death Star.
Oh, that. Well, Han flew in out of the sun so of course nobody could see him. This is WWII in space, after all. /s

Or Tarkin just dgaf about Vader or what was going on outside the battle station, being bore-sighted on just blowing up Yavin IV.

EDIT: Just to be clear, I'm not trying to advance the argument that Tarkin is a great or even good military commander here. It's more about trying to just make up some rationale for what was going through his mind at the time. Much like trying to find consistency in the Imperial rank insignia, I realize there's probably no real "in-universe" reason beyond the aforementioned "WWII in space" influences. But it's something I like to do on the side.

So I'm not so much 'debating' you as just playing devil's advocate I guess.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Straha » 2019-09-15 02:52pm

RogueIce wrote:
2019-09-15 10:58am
Straha wrote:
2019-09-14 12:02pm
This would make sense if fighters were never deployed to take down the Rebel attack, except they are. The Rebels show up and after they begin their attack Tie fighters are launched and the only rebels who escape either flee or get really lucky. Which begs the question why weren't the Ties launched first.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Only thing to say here is that Vader gave the order, and he was semi-independent of Tarkin.
Agreed that that's the best possible explanation. In universe it doesn't paint a rosy picture of Tarkin though.
His overconfidence was his weakness.

TBH he literally just may not have even cared about what (relatively little) damage the fighters could even do. Maybe he figured they'd either give up after their base is destroyed or the surface guns would get them, eventually. Maybe he didn't want to have the TIE pilots take any glory for themselves.
I think this goes back to my original point. It's not necessarily a Tarkin problem as much as it's a 'Imperial Bureaucracy is too young to know what it's doing' problem. Multiple commanders with hazy lines of authority with different, conflicting, goals and procedures and a heavy focus on the orders coming from the very top all seem to portray a clumsy bureaucratic apparatus still trying to figure out what it wants to do.

(This would fit neatly with Admiral Piett being the one who approves clearance for the Tydirium in RotJ, surely an admiral on the Flagship of the most important imperial fleet at the most important construction site in the Galaxy has something else to do with his time.)

Or Tarkin just dgaf about Vader or what was going on outside the battle station, being bore-sighted on just blowing up Yavin IV.
Which would make sense, but then it begs the question of what all the sensor operators, tie pilots, and gunners on the Death Star are doing there when not firing ineffectively at X-Wings? Is there no Imperial equivalent of a CAG in charge of coordinating things either from the Death Star or in space?
EDIT: Just to be clear, I'm not trying to advance the argument that Tarkin is a great or even good military commander here. It's more about trying to just make up some rationale for what was going through his mind at the time. Much like trying to find consistency in the Imperial rank insignia, I realize there's probably no real "in-universe" reason beyond the aforementioned "WWII in space" influences. But it's something I like to do on the side.

So I'm not so much 'debating' you as just playing devil's advocate I guess.
Yeah, I'm on the same page as you here. I'm not gunning at Tarkin here, though I think his portrayal is obviously interesting, as much as trying to contextualize him both in the movies and in the weirdly adoring fan culture that's been raised up about him and the Empire in the EU (both pre and post-Disney.) Also trying to figure out whether or not to lay the blame at his feet or the system around him is something that I think might be resolvable and would be interesting in its implications.

I also think Tarkin's perceived overconfidence is an interesting thing, because one of the only private interactions we see of him is his subordinate offering to prepare his shuttle for an evacuation, which seems to imply that Tarkin fleeing the scene of a potential defeat is something that those around him think would be in his character. It makes more sense that he viewed his defeat as being ridiculously small which, in his defense, makes sense because the Death Star was only destroyed because the pilot of one of the attacking fighters was a space wizard who was only given the chance to take his shot because a radar operator was asleep and missed a literal space truck on an attack run.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by RogueIce » 2019-09-16 11:39am

You know, I do think the bureaucracy thing makes a lot of sense. Thinking about it, Tarkin doesn't give the order, but Vader does. And yet he only seems to take a handful of fighters with him, certainly not the whole complement. But why is that?

Because Vader didn't have the authority to do so.

I remember way back when it was posited that these fighters were under Vader's personal command. His own squadron or whatever. That would make sense, so he could give the order to launch them. But Tarkin, as overall commander, would have to order the rest of them to launch. And he didn't. Because Vader was out leading the charge, and so him defeating the attack would steal Tarkin's glory.

So why wasn't Tarkin more proactive? Because he knew Vader would fly out with the rest of the fighters anyway, and by default be "leading" all of them due to his high status in the Imperial hierarchy. He couldn't stop Vader from launching on his own initiative, but maybe he was just hoping the Dark Lord would fail. Or at least take too long and the Yavin base would be destroyed before Vader could destroy the fighters. Which, as it turned out, was very nearly the case. Luke cut it really close, and Han's intervention to save him was also very last minute. The superlaser firing and Vader shooting down the last rebel ship would have been nearly simultaneous were it not for one smuggler's change of heart.

And the lack of warning? Because the Death Star wasn't talking to Vader, period. Obviously, they could track what was happening and analyze the attack pattern. But they didn't warn Vader of Han's approach because Tarkin is like, fuck that guy. I can't stop him going out and being a "hero" but I don't have to help him, either. Tarkin never seems to get any updates on the fighter battle anyway, so maybe this as why.

As for the escape shuttle, well as you point out a lot of deference is paid to the supreme command. Maybe it's just Imperial SOP to have an evacuation plan in place for the top commanders and their cronies, if it looks like there's some existential danger to them. I'd imagine it's more in place for ground actions, where it might look like they're going to get overrun? Since generally if your ship battle is going bad there'd be a general order to abandon ship anyway if you're getting sufficiently blasted, and time in which to do so. But the Death Star had a weak spot so that conventional wisdom went out the window and they defaulted to the evacuation plan.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Elheru Aran » 2019-09-16 12:04pm

IIRC (it has been a very. long. time. since I've watched ANH, so I'm probably wrong but what the heck) doesn't Vader go up to Tarkin shortly before Yavin and say something along the lines of "Those fighters are a threat, I'm going out to deal with them" and Tarkin basically shrugs and says 'do whatever you will, we're going to win anyway'?
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Lord Revan » 2019-09-16 12:47pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2019-09-16 12:04pm
IIRC (it has been a very. long. time. since I've watched ANH, so I'm probably wrong but what the heck) doesn't Vader go up to Tarkin shortly before Yavin and say something along the lines of "Those fighters are a threat, I'm going out to deal with them" and Tarkin basically shrugs and says 'do whatever you will, we're going to win anyway'?
No, not directly. Tarkin never directly gives Vader premission to launch the fighters and he's informed of the risk to station by a generic imperial officer not Vader (though he essentially does dismiss the threat).

In fact Tarkin and Vader never discuss the attack on Yavin IV in anyway.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Patroklos » 2019-09-16 07:12pm

Tarkin and Vader are rivals. Both are Palpantine's golden boys representing two halves of his primary power sources: The technocratic military/bureaucracy and the esoteric force adapts. Tarkin may have intentionally ordered them not to warn Vader of threats because him defeating the Alliance and being rid of his chief rival all within seconds of each other is the greatest possible outcome he could imagine.

In the movie, it is just an arrogance thing. To Tarkin nothing, Vader is doing matters because he believes he is invulnerable. Its not an unreasonable assumption either if you are not the bad guy in a movie. The relative power disparity is not gnats buzzing you on a summer's day, it's a dozen atoms wafting your way in the air column. Even as a kid I cocked my head a bunch of random military dudes analyzing the plans for a device the size of a moon for five minutes and finding that weakness. Good movies get to cash in on their rapport with the audience for some necessary contrivances.

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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Gandalf » 2019-09-16 07:51pm

In effect, Tarkin is just like the every arrogant commander who assumed victory was such a foregone conclusion that "smaller" details were irrelevant. Perhaps thr Empire was in the midst of its own End of History Fukuyama moment?
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Straha » 2019-10-12 07:19pm

Gandalf wrote:
2019-09-16 07:51pm
In effect, Tarkin is just like the every arrogant commander who assumed victory was such a foregone conclusion that "smaller" details were irrelevant. Perhaps thr Empire was in the midst of its own End of History Fukuyama moment?


Wasn't the Empire always a End of History thing? The Emperor as ruler had no ideology, no goal, no plan beyond power and the holding of it.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Galvatron » 2019-10-12 07:38pm

There's a deleted scene in which Bast seemed relatively chummy with Vader and contemptuous of Tarkin, so I always wondered if he told Vader about the Death Star's weakness too.

On the issue of rank insignia, has anyone considered that the Imperial military had to reorganized after the dissolution of the Senate so that its officers had greater political authority? Couldn't that be a reason for the change in their badges too?

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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by RogueIce » 2019-10-13 10:30am

Galvatron wrote:
2019-10-12 07:38pm
On the issue of rank insignia, has anyone considered that the Imperial military had to reorganized after the dissolution of the Senate so that its officers had greater political authority? Couldn't that be a reason for the change in their badges too?
If Rebels wasn't using them both concurrently, and well before the Senate was dissolved, I could buy that.

Honestly I'm with Dr. Saxton and it's a Tarkin thing, or Death Star Project, or whatever. Much like Thrawn got his insignia on stormtroopers, Tarkin got unique rank badges? It's not perfect either, but eh. Either that or a transition during the Rebels/ANH time frame, completed by the time we get to ESB.
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Gandalf » 2019-10-14 05:12pm

Straha wrote:
2019-10-12 07:19pm
Wasn't the Empire always a End of History thing? The Emperor as ruler had no ideology, no goal, no plan beyond power and the holding of it.
I wonder if those below him had any ideologies (or lack thereof) along similar lines?

It's like the bit in Vice where young Cheney, asks Rumsfeld "What do we believe?" and Rumsfeld starts laughing uncontrollably. Something like that would have been a neat scene in Rogue One. :P
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Re: Imperial Rank Insignia Discussion

Post by Lord Revan » 2019-10-14 09:34pm

Gandalf wrote:
2019-10-14 05:12pm
Straha wrote:
2019-10-12 07:19pm
Wasn't the Empire always a End of History thing? The Emperor as ruler had no ideology, no goal, no plan beyond power and the holding of it.
I wonder if those below him had any ideologies (or lack thereof) along similar lines?
IIRC the "no ideology, goal or plan beyond amassing power and holding it" was the reason why most Sith Empires fell in the legendaries with it eventually devolving into the higher ranking members being too busy with their personal power struggles to maintain the empire even if it was at war with the Galactic Republic at the same time.

At least in the Legendaries (aka old EU) most higher ranking imperials seemed to share Palpatine's philosophical leanings, I dunno how it is in current EU.
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