In “Rogue One” a motley group of rebels is tasked with stealing the plans for the Death Star, the massive, moon-sized superweapon capable of destroying entire planets. The operation leads to the first movie that was produced, “Star Wars: A New Hope” in which Luke Skywalker and his friends destroy the super weapon and triumph over the Empire. However, as a recent article in the Federalist suggests, a Death Star makes no military sense, especially with that one design flaw that allowed an untrained young pilot to blow it to atoms.

To be sure, the Death Star is an impressive terror weapon. It would show up as a new moon in the sky near a planet and then, with one pull of a lever, turn it into an expanding pile of rocks and dust. But it is a weapon that has to be used sparingly. The purpose of a Galactic Empire is to rule over planets of willing subjects, not to obliterate them.

The Death Star can only be in one place at one time, subject to constant attack by the more dispersed, nimble rebel alliance. Moreover, it represents a tremendous waste of resources.

One study suggested that building a Death Star would cost $852 quadrillion, roughly 13,000 times the GDP of the entire Earth. That kind of money would buy a lot of star destroyers, storm troopers, and secret police.

At the end of “A New Hope” the investment of imperial resources has been reduced to atoms, along with a considerable number of personnel and equipment. The blow against the Empire in the term of physical capital, not to mention prestige, is beyond evaluation.

Yet, the Empire’s reaction is to build a second Death Star, which the rebels destroy again, along with the Emperor, this liberating the galaxy from the Empire’s iron grip.

To be sure, a Death Star is consistent with the psychology of tyrants to one massive, super weapons. Hitler relied on the V-2 rockets to win World War II. Modern tyrannies such as Iran and North Korea want the atomic bomb to gain respect. But nothing substitutes for sound strategy if one proposes to keep a galaxy full of unwilling people in thrall.

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