Did Darth Vader Deserve His Promotions?

Sometimes you have to politely end debate when it's no longer productive.

“You have surpassed your allotted briefing time.”

I had dinner with a mentor a while ago, a good leader, man and friend who belongs in front of troops. I lamented the fact he was not chosen for a coveted assignment while some of his peers whom I judged to be lesser men were.

We talked about the selection process, and we grew more animated as the beer flowed. The institution likes to trumpet a fair, balanced methodology that takes all of an individual’s previous performance and experience into consideration, without regard to legacy or old connections. Haha. I believe a reality in which whom you know in the room may eventually play a bigger role than what you did in your career.

So my thoughts naturally turned to a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …

Darth Vader lost more battles than he won, tortured prisoners, and killed or cowed all of his subordinates, yet he was continually promoted through the ranks of the Imperial Fleet. Was he a supreme bad ass or just a royal kiss ass?

When the “Star Wars” saga began (choosing to ignore Episodes 1 through 3), the Dark Lord was executive officer of the first Death Star (Episode 4), tagged along for the ride on a task force hunting the Millennium Falcon (Episode 5) and capped off his career with a vague inspector general/consigliere role to the Emperor in the series’ final installment (Episode 6).

But he had a terrible losing streak. First, he let the good guys escape the Death Star because he was consumed by a grudge against a feeble old man. Then he missed an easy shot that would’ve destroyed Luke’s X-wing fighter, leading to the destruction of the Death Star. Later, he managed to capture Han Solo in Cloud City but allowed Luke and Leia to escape. Yet his career path continued to soar. In today’s U.S. military, he would’ve been fired a long time ago for his heavy breathing alone.

Could Darth have gotten to where he is without the evil Emperor serving as his mentor? Did he satisfy some quota for guys with speech impediments.

Lord Vader’s career was spotty. He did not have a constructive command climate.

His interview techniques do not abide by guidance in the U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogations.

Although he probably took credit for it, he didn’t directly order the destruction of Alderaan (the order was actually given by Grand Moff Tarkin, the Dick Cheney of the Galactic Empire).

What do you think? Is it more about who you know or what you do?


About Chairman Mao

I like fomenting socialist revolutions and purging my homeland of pseudo-intellectualism and capitalist dogma. I also like sports, dogs and food (although I wouldn't consider myself a foodie).
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3 Responses to Did Darth Vader Deserve His Promotions?

  1. Charlie says:

    Definitely a combo, but who u know will trump the rest in the end.

    • Chairman Mao says:

      You have to be decent on paper to get into the playoffs (Jim Mora: “Playoffs??!! Playoffs??!!”) and then it’s a matter of stacking up one guy’s record against another. To accept an institution’s party line that the process manages to isolate the who-you-know and lineage factor is absurd. Just as Darth Vader was the Emperor’s chosen one, there are a fair number of flag-level officers and politicians whose names are the same as names from decades past. Not bemoaning it because we accept this as common practice. But if the machine tries to say otherwise, it’s simply blowing smoke up our asses.

  2. It depends on the cannon from which you are considering his accomplishments. There is a 20 year period between ROTS and ANH where Vader got some serious work done. But all in all Anakin saving Palpatine from Mace Windu definitely fast tracked Vader.

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