In the time period that covers The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and now Star Wars: Ahsoka, we’re right in the thick of the earliest days of the New Republic. The former insurgents of the Rebel Alliance formed this government and former Rebel leader Mon Mothma is their Chancellor. But as we’ve seen so far, especially in the most recent episode of Ahsoka, this New Republic is a very weak government. So much so, that when the First Order utterly destroys the New Republic in The Force Awakens, some 20 years later….it’s going to be hard to argue that they didn’t have it coming. We aren’t talking about the billions of innocents who died thanks to Starkiller Base. But the actual government? Sorry, but they made their own bed… and here’s why.
Even before Ahsoka, The Mandalorian showed how terrible the New Republic was at recognizing any emerging threat. They recruited several former Imperials into the New Republic ranks via their Amnesty Program. On paper, there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, the Empire conscripted millions of people into serving them, and most probably didn’t have Imperial loyalties. They had no choice. But enough did have fascist ideologies, like Elia Kane (Katy O’Brian). So it’s shocking that their vetting process was so extremely lacking. They ignored the rise of Moff Gideon simply because he was too far away to be a threat to the core worlds. This was an early example of their extreme short-sightedness. But in Star Wars: Ahsoka, it gets worse.
Ahsoka Shows the New Republic Ignoring the Threat of Thrawn
In episode three of Ahsoka, we see how General Hera Syndulla (May Elizabeth Winstead) pleads with Chancellor Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) and several New Republic senators for military aid in seeking out Grand Admiral Thrawn. But the New Republic bureaucrats scoff at the idea that Thrawn is even still alive, much less still a threat. Mon Mothma seems like she knows better, having encountered Thrawn’s military prowess during the events of the Galactic Civil War. But she ultimately has to give in to what her constituents want. And the New Republic must deny Hera any help in the search for Thrawn. We see the New Republic’s representatives act very similarly in episode seven of the show as well. At best, the majority appears to find Hera to be overreacting, and at worst, they actively seek to punish her for her warnings and foresight.
Here’s the thing, though. At some point, either in Ahsoka or in the future movie that Dave Filoni has planned, Thrawn will make himself known as a true threat to the galaxy again. This is a given. And we know that he’ll eventually be defeated, die, or retreat again into another galaxy. We know this because two decades or so later, around the time of the sequel trilogy, Thrawn is not a threat anymore. But all of that makes the New Republic’s eventual failure with the First Order even more embarrassing.
The New Republic’s Failures in Ahsoka Ultimately Lead to the First Order
In the sequel trilogy, we know that the New Republic has an extremely small military. In canon novels like Bloodline, we discovered that the Senate believed that a centralized military fleet would be too much like the previous Empire. Thus, they reduced the New Republic military by 90%. On one level, we get this edict. The Rebellion went through a long and bloody war. Most citizens would want to get back to how things were before Palpatine turned the Republic into a fascist regime. But as the saying goes, you can never go home again. The galaxy changed, in many ways, for the worse. Pretending otherwise was foolish.
Ignoring the threat of neo-Imperials out in the galaxy was colossally dumb. It was also colossally dumb to believe that bankrolling a small Resistance would be enough to defeat a faction like the First Order. Because of this willful ignorance, the First Order used Starkiller Base to wipe out the New Republic capital, Hosnian Prime. Not to mention several neighboring worlds. We should note, a senator who appears in the third and seventh episodes of Ahsoka, Senator Hamato Xiono (Nelson Lee), debuted on the sequel trilogy-era animated series Resistance. He was the father of that show’s lead character, Kazuda Xiono. Senator Xiono’s casual dismissal of Hera’s warnings in Ahsoka episode three ultimately leads to his home world’s destruction in The Force Awakens, although he himself survives.
We think it’s safe to say the First Order only emerged because a threat like Thrawn must have come very close to victory over the New Republic. The First Order higher-ups could look back and figure out what mistakes he made and avoid them. The New Republic witnessing a threat like Thrawn, or even just hearing about what he had planned, should have been enough for a complete rethinking of their “no significant military” policy. Instead, they ignored it all and buried their heads in the sand. And by the time of The Force Awakens a few decades later, billions paid the price for it. The New Republic’s extreme denial of credible threats led to its demise.
Will the galactic government we see in the upcoming Rey-centric New Jedi Order movie be any better? That movie will be set fifteen years after the fall of the First Order, as seen in The Rise of Skywalker. So we hope whatever new government is formed is not as blind to threats as the New Republic clearly was. Also, maybe this time call it the “Galactic Alliance.” The word Republic might be tainted now. Between the failures of the Old Republic in the prequels and the new Republic in the current series like Ahsoka, let’s hope something better finally emerges for the galaxy far, far away.
Originally published on August 31, 2023.