During the Clone Wars, the Sith (i.e., Palpatine) essentially controlled both sides and both armies, the Droid Army and the Clone Army. The basic premise was that the Droid Army would weaken the Jedi by killing some of them, and later the Clone Amy would finish the rest (Order 66).

But why would the Sith need the Clone Army at all? The Republic has no other forces with which to defend itself. The Jedi were no match for sheer numbers of droids, as witnessed in the First Battle of Geonosis. Palpatine could pretend to be pacifist like Padmé Amidala and other senators who were against the Military Creation Act, but then the Army of the Republic would not be created, or this would happen too late to effectively train it and equip it.

Without a standing military, the Republic would quickly fall, and the Jedi would be killed more easily, and the Sith would rule the galaxy.

Why didn't Palpatine follow this plan instead?

  • 3
    I'm not aware of what is discussed in any official material, but my interpretation was that he gained a few things with the clone army: He discredited the jedi by drawing them into the war, he spread them out and distracted them so it would be harder for them to oppose him. He was also able to manipulate people in positions of power to put more people loyal or favourable to him there. It probably also allowed him to make sure less jedi escaped and survived.
    – Jack
    Feb 7, 2017 at 1:27
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    Because the whole thing is a sham. The droids aren't people and nor are the clones. The only true casualties are the Jedi (and a few million bystanders). Basically he gets to take over a fully functioning Republic, not one shattered by war.
    – Valorum
    Feb 7, 2017 at 1:27
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    Another point is in real world history, invading groups generally generate a lot of opposition just from being invaders. By representing the republic, he avoided this as an impediment to taking power.
    – Jack
    Feb 7, 2017 at 1:31
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    indeed as @Valorum says, it was a sham. Palpatine was playing both sides. He could have tried to take over first and then build a massive navy and military but probably would have failed. Instead, he fabricates an enemy, gets the 'good' guys to build all weapons and an army, pits both groups against each other and then wipes out any real threats of opposition. Then, he has a fully functioning military structure at his command and is nigh unopposable for decades
    – NKCampbell
    Feb 7, 2017 at 2:33
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    @NKCampbell - exactly right. Palatine is playing a long game - he wants the Republic to willingly hand him the Emperorship, and he needs a vast and loyal army and fleet to deal with future insurrection
    – HorusKol
    Feb 7, 2017 at 6:55

3 Answers 3


Palpatine doesn't want the war over quickly

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. As Jack points out in a comment on the question, the extended Clone Wars make the Jedi more vulnerable. This is discussed in the Matthew Stover Revenge of the Sith novelization; an inevitable consequence of the Clone Wars is that the Jedi (who never had terribly high numbers to begin with) are diffused throughout the galaxy, isolated, distracted, and vulnerable:

    With the Jedi Order overextended, spread thin across the galaxy, each Jedi is alone, surrounded only by whatever clone troops he, she, or it commands. War itself pours darkness into the Force, deepening the cloud that limits Jedi perception. And the clones have no malice, no hatred, not the slightest ill intent that might give warning. They are only following orders.

    Revenge of the Sith: The Official Novelization Chapter 18: "Order Sixty-Six"

    The other advantage of dragging the Jedi into a protracted war is that it delegitimizes the Order in the eyes of the Republic. Before the Clone Wars, the Jedi are a generally well-regarded organization; they're the moral authority of the government, essentially a state religion, and so effective at keeping the peace that they've largely supplanted any other Republic-wide defence force.

    But dragging them into a war they can't win (and Palpatine knows they can't win, because he ensures it), attacks the basic premises of their existence: how can the Jedi retain their moral unimpeachability while also waging a massively destructive war? How effective of a peacekeeping force can they be if they let this war go on for so long? Bonus points for Dooku, a prominent former Jedi leading the charge against the Republic. Even if you could simply wipe out in a single battle (a premise I find stunningly unlikely on its own), you wouldn't gain this advantage; destroying a Jedi Order still revered by the populace makes them into martyrs, which isn't what Palpatine wants.

  2. One of the other goals of the Clone Wars was to delegitimize the Republic in the eyes of its citizens; this was accomplished partly by exposing the corruption and hypocrisy that already existed, but mainly by making everybody just so damn sick of the constant political turmoil; this is something Palpatine touches on in his Declaration of a New Order speech (again from the Stover novelization):

    "Never again will we be divided! Never again will sector turn against sector, planet turn against planet, sibling turn against sibling. We are one nation, indivisible!"

    The Senate roared.

    "To ensure that we will always stand together, that we will always speak with a single voice and act with a single hand, the Republic must change. We must evolve. We must thrive. We have become an empire in fact; let us become an Empire in name as well! We are the first Galactic Empire!"

    Revenge of the Sith: The Official Novelization Chapter 19: "The Face of the Sith"

    By making the Republic tired of war, Palpatine gets to assume absolute authority by promising peace and stability; this is something that's moderately easy to achieve after five years of constant warfare, but much harder to do if it's just a droid army attacking Coruscant.

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    Palpatine doesn't want Jedi spread around, he wants them dead :) For that purpose, it easier to have them all on one place, and then use masses of droid on them (like on Geonosis ) . Also, CIS victory would show that Republic was weak and rotten to the core. I agree that citizens wanted stability more after long war, but frankly average Republic citizen didn't want to fight for his country - that is why they had clone army instead of regular army .
    – rs.29
    Feb 7, 2017 at 7:40
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    @rs.29 So you think it would be easier to land millions of battle droids on the Republic Capital world, march them on a fortress filled with narrow corridors and the best warrior-mages in the galaxy, all of whom know you're coming (because you're marching millions of battle droids on their temple)? And if the Force takes pity and this actually works, you expect the political fallout to go in your favour? Feb 7, 2017 at 13:54
  • Given Palpatine's prejudices against non-humans, its not unreasonable to think that he wouldn't trust the destruction of the Jedi to droids. Having organic agents allows them to befriend the Jedi and gain their trust, making it far harder for the Jedi to see the trap. Spreading them out makes sense; divide and conquer is a classic strategy for a reason. given the Jedi's low numbers, this was the sort of thing easily accomplished by Palpatine's existing plan. Once he gave the order to strike, the Jedi were cutoff from each other, with no line of support.
    – Irishpanda
    Feb 7, 2017 at 14:19
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    A massive strike with a droid army would be shocking, but nearly impossible to make a surprise. Too many Jedi would manage to escape such a trap. Also, don't forget that once the shouting is done, Palpatine needs a military in order to run his nascent Empire and enforce his will.
    – Irishpanda
    Feb 7, 2017 at 14:19
  • @Jason Baker Droids managed to land on Coruscant and "capture" Palpatine even with clone forces being present. Therefore, without clones it would be even easier for them to do just that, and then attack Jedi Temple and Senate building. Jedi would be pressed to respond, leading to pitched battle with casualties Jedi could not replace and CIS of course could.
    – rs.29
    Feb 7, 2017 at 18:13

Because Palpatine knew a slow, gradual takeover was easier than an immediate, hostile takeover.

Palpatine's vision wasn't one of militaristic takeover, it was one that was a lot more like the boiling frog metaphor. From Wikipedia:

The boiling frog is an anecdote describing a frog slowly being boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in cold water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of threats that arise gradually.

Palpatine knew that it was much more difficult to storm Coruscant and take over by force than it was to manipulate the Republic into appointing him ruler by choice.

Recall that the clone army was commissioned years before Palpatine/Dooku had convinced the Techno Union, the InterGalactic Banking Clan, etc. to join up with the Trade Federation and create the Separatist Alliance. Before that happened, all Palpatine had at his disposal was the Trade Federation's droid army and it couldn't even keep control over Naboo, let alone the Republic capitol of Coruscant.

separatist council

Also recall that even with all of Palpatine's political manipulations, he still doesn't feel comfortable enough in his ability to maintain an absolute dictatorship until the Death Star is built and he decides he's finally powerful enough to dissolve the Senate.

dissolve senate

Between the difficulty of taking the capitol, the unlikelihood of keeping the capitol, and the political fallout guaranteed to happen, it's quite obvious that manipulating the people into wanting Palpatine's control is much, much easier.

By slowly leveraging the Trade Federation conflict of Episode 1, creating the threat of war in Episode 2, and by painting the Jedi as traitors in Episode 3, he jumps to Supreme Chancellor, is granted emergency powers, and restructures the Republic... all with the cheering support of the Senate.

thunderous applause

  • Why would be more difficult to simply storm Coruscant, if Courscant was not adequately defended (no clones = no army, only security force not equipped to repel invasion)
    – rs.29
    Feb 7, 2017 at 18:25
  • Several reasons. First, Palpatine didn't gain control over the massive droid army until Episode 2 when the Geonosians, Techno Union Army, and others joined the Trade Federation to create the Separatist movement. So his invasion force would have been significantly weaker. Then, even if they succeeded, the people would have universally rebelled (as opposed to a few outlying idealists). Even with all his political workings, Palpatine didn't have the firepower to maintain absolute dictatorship until the Death Star was built and he could safely dissolve the Senate. Feb 7, 2017 at 19:32
  • Recall Tarkin's quotes: "The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station." Feb 7, 2017 at 19:32
  • @rs.29 - Plus, securing the capitol is only the first step. You meet a lot of resistance galaxy-wide and would never be able to completely seize control over the whole Republic just by capturing the capitol. Feb 7, 2017 at 19:54

In addition to the points made by other answers, the clone army provided Palpatine with the following benefits:

  1. By tricking the Jedi into fighting alongside the clone army, Palpatine was able to surprise them with Order 66 and kill almost all the Jedi at once. If Palpatine had instead attacked the Jedi with the droid army, he would not have been able to surprise them. Suppose Palpatine and the droid army attacked and conquered the Republic and the Jedi in a conventional battle on Coruscant, for example -- the Jedi would be able to anticipate their imminent defeat and would have had time to evacuate the Jedi Temple and send many of their members into hiding. By completely surprising the Jedi with an attack by the clones they fought alongside, Palpatine ensured that only the bare minimum number of Jedi escaped into hiding.
  2. By controlling both sides of the war, Palpatine was better able to work around setbacks. For example, if the Jedi had discovered the inhibitor chip used to force the clones to carry out Order 66 (which they nearly did), Palpatine would have lost the element of surprise with Order 66 -- but he could have issued Order 66 early and had two armies (the clones and the droids) hunting down the Jedi.
  3. As other answers have pointed out, Palpatine was able to paint the Jedi as traitors and delegitimize the Republic. As a result, the Senate and people of the Republic largely supported the creation of the Empire. This support was important because the Empire depended on the voluntary support of its citizens -- for example, the stormtroopers were volunteers. The Empire could have ruled with droids and clones, but it's much easier to rule when your army consists of volunteers. Moreover, while the Empire could have ruled without volunteer stormtroopers, it would have had a much more difficult time acquiring the expertise of scientists and engineers necessary to build weapons such as the Death Star. Galen Erso demonstrates the problem with coercing engineers to work for the Empire, for example.
  • Jedi could not sense clone army on Geonosis, and could not sense actual attack on Coruscant. I doubt they would be able to flee on time, and even if they did, it would mark end of Republic and them (Jedi) marked as cowards. Therefore, I think they would try to resist invasion, and would suffer consequently.
    – rs.29
    Feb 7, 2017 at 18:20
  • @rs.29 Of course they could flee -- they just need ships capable of jumping to hyperspace. Not all would have to flee -- most would fight, but the Jedi could send a few dozen of their members with data from their archives to hide and preserve their knowledge.
    – Null
    Feb 7, 2017 at 18:34

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