Mace Windu once made a comment that

...there aren't enough Jedi to protect the Republic. We are keepers of the peace, not soldiers.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones script

What did Mace Windu mean by this? I mean, in what other fashion would the Jedi defend the Republic and keep peace, and not be so involved in battle?

For example, on one end of the spectrum you have Qui-gon and Obi-wan going on (what they thought to be) a diplomatic mission in Episode I; and then, at the other end, we see Obi-wan (and other Jedi) leading military operations in other films, like Episodes I, II and III.

So, if certain aspects of this do go against the Jedi Code, as Mace Windu has hinted, then, what compelled the Jedi as a whole to violate their beliefs and take on such a role? Perhaps because the Sith specifically were involved?

Basically, I'm wondering if the Jedi Code addresses how involved the Jedi should get regarding government/politics/military, and if said level of involvement violates the Jedi Code (and if so, what motivated them strongly enough to go against it).

Looking for a canon response, but Legends is fine too if there's not much otherwise.

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    Their job ISN'T to defend the galaxy as soldiers. Mace Windu or whoever you said that said that is correct. Jedi are PEACE-KEEPERS. Similar to (I'd think) police officers, they are keepers of the peace. They keep people from getting crazy and starting a war. But even then, they had to join the war because the Separatists were a danger to the galaxy far greater than their normal job would handle. They are peace-keepers anyway, so I guess they would keep the peace if war came to them. I would think police officers would do the same if their country came under attack. But I am glad you asked. Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:43
  • @DarthVader Well, for example, the Jedi council.. Would they still have been heavily involved with political policy, etc., if the war wasn't going on? Do/did the Jedi have a presence in government before the war, when there was perhaps "times of peace"? This is what I'm trying to get at, if you can see the distinction now..
    – Charles
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:57
  • Okay then, I'll look upon that in the afternoon. For now, I am at school. I do know that they (like I have said) are peace-keepers. That's all I can think of, at any rate. Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:04
  • I edited in the quote I think you are referring to. Feel free to roll back if that's not what you were thinking of.
    – Null
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:36
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    I haven't seen many Clone Wars episodes - were the Jedi actually involved much in the Republic's internal politics? Seemed to me they were mostly just trying to persuade people around the galaxy to take the Republic's side, which was a necessary part of the war effort. Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 22:15

4 Answers 4


The Jedi Code simply says:

There is no emotion, there is peace.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

There is no passion, there is serenity.

There is no chaos, there is harmony.

There is no death, there is the Force.

The Jedi Code doesn't really say anything about whether or not Jedi should get involved in government and politics or take on a military role -- it's more focused on an individual and his connection to the Force.

Judging by the actions of the Jedi they obviously don't think involvement in politics and military action violates the Jedi Code because they have a long history of both. According to Obi-Wan the Jedi had served as peacekeepers of the Republic for many years:

For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (source)

Such a role meant the Jedi were involved in government and at least some level of politics, and such a role has a militaristic aspect to it as well. Furthermore, before the Jedi became peacekeepers of the Republic they had been forced to fight in an open war (the Jedi-Sith War), not unlike the fighting they participated in during the Clone Wars.

Mace Windu once made a comment that

...there aren't enough Jedi to protect the Republic. We are keepers of the peace, not soldiers.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones script

What did Mace Windu mean by this? I mean, in what other fashion would the Jedi defend the Republic and keep peace, and not be so involved in battle?

From the creation of the Republic at the end of the Jedi-Sith War until the Clone Wars the Sith were in hiding and no major conflicts arose -- the galaxy was largely at peace. The Republic did not have a standing military at this time (hence the controversy in Episode II over the Military Creation Act) but the Jedi were able to maintain the peace with the help of the Republic's Judicial Forces.

However, the long peace enjoyed by the Republic ended when discontent among the star systems of the Republic turned into the Separatist movement, which threatened to split the Republic in two:

After the Naboo Crisis and Palpatine’s election as Supreme Chancellor, many of Tarkin’s former Judicial peers would pin their hopes on Palpatine to keep the Republic from splintering. But the Separatist movement grew only stronger, and Tarkin and others were forced to accept that Palpatine, for all his talents, had come to power too late. Social injustices and trade inequities prompted hundreds of star systems to secede from the Republic, and local skirmishes became the norm. And then came war—a war that soon raged across the galaxy.

Tarkin, p. 93

Supreme Chancellor Palpatine refused to let the Separatists secede, thus bringing about the Clone Wars since both sides had armies with which to conduct open warfare (droids for the Separatists, clones for the Republic). In an attempt to serve as guardians of the Republic the Jedi were forced to fight in the Clone Wars as they had done in the Jedi-Sith War. Mace Windu's point was that the Jedi -- who had merely been acting as peacekeepers in a relatively peaceful galaxy -- were not equipped to fight a full-scale galactic war against vast droid armies.

Of course, Palpatine was actually behind the Separatist Crisis -- leading the Separatists as Darth Sidious. Palpatine was responsible for the Clone Wars, which was essentially a new Jedi-Sith War. But whereas the Jedi won the Jedi-Sith War, the Sith won the Clone Wars.


In Legends the history of the Jedi Order contains even more warfare than just the Jedi-Sith War. Clearly the Jedi do not think that the Jedi Code forbids military action in Legends, either.1

Legends also includes an alternate version of the Jedi Code which says:

Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.

Jedi use their powers to defend and protect, never to attack others.

Jedi respect all life, in any form.

Jedi serve others, rather than rule over them, for the good of the galaxy.

Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training.

The alternate version deals more with government, politics, and military roles than the main one. While it forbids Jedi from attacking it says that the Jedi should use their powers to "defend and protect" -- which could easily involve warfare.

1There is at least one notable instance in which the Jedi Council decided not to get involved in a war, at least initially: the Mandalorian Wars. However, the Jedi Council's decision not to get involved did not sit well with certain members of the Order, and those members split off to join the war on their own. In the end the Jedi were dragged into warfare anyway -- the Jedi Civil War.

  • I would argue that the Jedi-Sith War was actually rather different than the Clone War. The Jedi-Sith War was quite literally a war between the different factions of Force-users (if I understand correctly, that is). The Clone War did have Sith and various other dark side Force-users involved, even in positions of power, but it wasn't entirely/mostly made up of them. In fact, most Jedi involved in the war never faced a dark sider/Sith over the course of the entire 3 or so years the war lasted. Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 1:40
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    @ElvenPadawan While the Clone Wars did not involve much direct fighting between the Jedi and Sith, it was a sort of proxy war. Fundamentally both were conflicts between the Jedi and the Sith over control of the galaxy, and that commonality is what's important.
    – Null
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 13:24
  • True. I guess, then, one reason why the Jedi DID choose to join in the war as opposed to sitting it out as they normally did was because of the involvement of Sith in the actions of the Separatists. Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 0:11
  • Great answer! You may want to add that the OP's question was a frequent topic of debate among the Jedi in the "Fate of the Jedi" series in Legends. Both sides (Jedi and GA government) debated not only SHOULD the Jedi be serving the Galactic Alliance/Republic, and also in what capacity and to what degree.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 16:29

What did Mace Windu mean by this? I mean, in what other fashion would the Jedi defend the Republic and keep peace, and not be so involved in battle?

Mace Windu was explaining why there weren't enough Jedi to protect the Republic against the separatists - because the Jedi's purpose in this particular age was to keep the peace.

He was also implying that the Jedi are not ready to fight a war. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're not allowed to fight, or not willing to fight - just that they're not ready. They lack the training, the equipment, and most of all the numbers. The separatist war would probably have been very short indeed if it weren't for the clone army mysteriously turning up at just the right time!

On the other hand, according to this answer, in the official novelization of "The Phantom Menace" Qui-Gon says:

"The Jedi have no authority to take sides."

... but that was referring to a dispute between two members of the Republic, not at all the same thing as the separatist movement.

Note also that keeping the peace doesn't mean you're not involved in battle. The Jedi of Mace Windu's generation would no doubt have fought on occasion, against organized crime syndicates, terrorists, perhaps even the occasional minor rebellion. They were prepared for all of that.

What they weren't prepared for was a large-scale war.


The Jedi from the Clone Wars times ( or the Ruusan Jedi) are partially dependant on the Senate for funding and legal authority. This authority is called "Jedi Business" by Anakin, and roughly allows legal immunity in maters regarding the Force. In return, the Jedi provide services for the Republic.

When Mace Windu says peace keepers, he means that Jedi are normally being deployed to prevent wars ( with liberal use of mind reading and mental persuasion) and not to actually fight the wars.

Then again, the Jedi are a fundamentalist monastic religious order, known to have exterminated entire undesirable sects or species in the past.

The Sith got clever and used droids this time, that all.


The Jedi devoted themselves to serving the Republic. Sadly that includes fighting the wars needed to preserve it. Though various past instances, many Jedi have resigned commissions over objection to conflicts. Others haven't.

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