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The creation of the clone army was orchestrated by the Sith, but the Jedi seemed to show no qualms about using this army of clones genetically modified for obedience and bred for the sole purpose of fighting and dying for the Republic (and, by extension, the Jedi). The Jedi are generally considered to be the "good guys" of the Star Wars universe, but this use of the clones is arguably a major moral flaw on the part of the Jedi.

I know of one case in which the Jedi were accused, in-universe, of exploiting the clones: a clone sergeant nicknamed Slick betrayed the Republic by working for the Separatists, and at one point berated Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi of using the clones as slave labor:

Slick: It's the Jedi who keep my brothers enslaved. We do your bidding. We serve at your whim. I just wanted something more.

Rex: "And all you had to do to get it was put the rest of us all at risk."

Slick: "I...I love my brothers! You're too blind to see it. But I was striking a blow for all clones!"

Cody: "If you loved your brothers, you wouldn't have put them at risk."

However, Slick's accusation was not made in a situation in which the general public would hear the charge (e.g. in the Senate or to the media), so in that case the Jedi did not need to justify their use of the clones to the general public. Even though Anakin and Obi-Wan were present when Slick accused the Jedi of enslaving the clones, neither Jedi bothered to defend the Order -- they left clones Rex and Cody to respond to Slick.

Owing to the obedient nature of the clones, there aren't a lot of cases where a clone expressed a desire to leave the service of the Republic. Aside from Slick, I only know of the deserter Cut Lawquane. But surely the Republic and the Jedi knew there was a possibility that a clone would not want to serve, in which case they would need a policy on handling such situations. Moreover, the validity of any clone's consent to serve is questionable given that clones are genetically modified for obedience and raised from birth for the sole purpose of serving in the Grand Army.

Were the Jedi ever publicly accused of exploiting the clones? If so, how did the Jedi attempt to justify their use of the clones? Did the Jedi have a policy that clones who wished to stop serving in the Grand Army would be permitted to do so? Note: Answers from Legends are acceptable, though I prefer canon answers.


[Further background reading]: Out of universe, the Jedi have been accused of exploiting the clones at least twice. The Clone Wars director Dave Filoni questioned the Jedi use of the clones as part of a discussion on Slick's character:

It is one of the things I think is an issue in the Clone Wars, is how can the Jedi Knights use these people as a military, knowing they're basically bred for combat? And this doesn't sit well with Slick; he doesn't see it evidently as being an honorable soldier, like Rex does. I mean, Rex is the good soldier; Rex and Cody, they're very loyal, very honorable. They have all the qualities that I think a hero has, and yet Slick sees them more as, you know, cannon fodder.

The Jedi were criticized more harshly by Star Wars author Karen Traviss, responding to the question "Is it true you hate Jedi?" on her blog:

But once you're past the age of puberty and you start arguing passionately with me that the Jedi were right to accept a slave army of cloned human beings and use them in war, and cloned humans aren't proper humans like us, and it was too bad the clones died, and the Jedi had no choice - well, sweetheart, I want to run a mile from you. Not the Jedi, who - just to remind you - are a figment of various writers' imaginations, just like the clones. You. If I see that you really mean it, and you're making excuses in your own mind for the Jedi just following orders on that delicate point, then you scare the living crap out of me. For real.

Traviss goes on to say that if you support the Jedi use of the clones in this way, then you are thinking like a slave-owner and/or Nazi for considering the clones less than human.

  • Interesting premise, but you are applying real world morals to a fictional universe. Cloning humans is not really possible IRL, and it is definitely not morally acceptable. However, the people of Kamino have built an entire empire around creating clone armies. Clearly the morals are different in the Star Wars universe, and the galaxy is totally okay with clones being bred for battle. – Dave Johnson Jun 2 '15 at 20:03
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    @DaveJohnson The galaxy as a whole appears to be okay with breeding clones for battle, but I would think that someone in-universe would consider it immoral. After all, slavery is legal on Tatooine but some characters (and the Republic at large) consider it immoral. I'm looking for an in-universe case of a character accusing the Jedi of exploiting the clones, and if so I'm interested in what the Jedi response would be. – Null Jun 2 '15 at 20:06
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    Err, the clone army is the responsibility of the Republic. It's the Republic that controls the purse strings and decides if they should order more units. As far as I can tell, the Jedi are just there to provide leadership and magicallasersword support. While I haven't seen an example where the Jedi are accused of taking advantage of the clone army, I would argue that Republic Senate is largely responsible instead. In this case, I think Slick is just flat-out wrong in his assertion that it's the Jedi that are responsible. – Ellesedil Mar 11 '16 at 0:33
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    @Ellesedil The Jedi are officers in the Republic military and therefore support the Republic which is exploiting the clones. They even consider themselves the "guardians" of the Republic. If they don't support the Republic's exploitation of the clones, why are they defending it? Since Karen Traviss has already invoked the Nazis I'll make a similar comparison: by your argument it seems that the managers of German corporations which used slave labor from WWII prisoners aren't responsible since they technically aren't the Nazi government -- they're just there to provide arms support, eh? – Null Mar 11 '16 at 4:38
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    The Jedi are already morally compromised by supporting a corrupt Republic. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/129640/… For all their claims to be the heroes, they do and allow actions others consider morally repugnant. – RichS Oct 22 '17 at 18:21
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Update:

The canonical reference book Star Wars Propaganda: A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy features some in-universe anti-Jedi propaganda focused in part on cloning.

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We see some protesters expressing a similar sentiment in The Clone Wars episode "Sabotage."

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Old Answer:

While I have been unable to find any example of someone specifically accusing the Jedi of exploiting the clones, I did find this an example of someone accusing them by proxy.

Senator Den Skeenah berated the Republic as a whole (including the Jedi) for their mistreatment of the clones in Legends novel Republic Commando: True Colors.

We have laws on how we treat sentient species. We have laws on how we treat animals and semi-sentients. We even have laws protecting plants. But we have absolutely no laws whatsoever governing the welfare of clone troops—human beings. They have no legal status, no rights, no freedoms, and no representation. Every one of you here who accepted this army without murmur should hang your head in shame. If that's the depths we as a Republic can sink to in the name of democracy, it hardly surprises me that the CIS wants to break away. The end can never justify means like this.

Unfortunately, I can't find any Republic or Jedi response to this. The passage doesn't actually occur in the main narrative, but is used as a relevant quote at the beginning of a chapter.

It's never made explicably clear what happens to clones who want to leave, but it's clear that freely leaving is impossible and that desertion is a grave offense.

From The Clones Wars episode The Deserter:

Captain Rex: You're a deserter.

Cut Lawquane: Well, well... I like to think I'm merely exercising my freedom to choose: to choose not to kill for a living.

Captain Rex: That is not your choice to make. You swore an oath to the Republic. You have a duty.

Cut Lawquane: I have a duty. You're right. But to my family. Does that count, or do you still plan to turn me in?

Captain Rex: Do I have a choice?

  • The comment by Den Skeenah is targeted specifically at the senators in attendance at the senate is how I understood it. "Every one of you" doesn't refer to the Jedi. The rest of the quote is" --Senator Den Skeenah of Chandrila, addressing the Senate eighteen months after the Battle fo Geonosis, after setting up a charitable appeal to fund the only veterans' welfare facility in the Republic" – Hatandboots Mar 10 '16 at 23:55
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    @Hatandboots It's open to interpretation, but I'd argue that the line "If that's the depths we as a Republic can sink to in the name of democracy, it hardly surprises me that the CIS wants to break away." is aimed at everyone in the Republic, Jedi included. – Rogue Jedi Mar 10 '16 at 23:58
  • Nice find, +1! I forgot about this despite the fact that the Republic Commando series is my favorite Star Wars series (it has been awhile since I read them). I should have known Karen Traviss was the author of what you found. – Null Mar 11 '16 at 4:23
  • @RogueJedi Done. I didn't want to accept immediately after you answered in case someone else saw the bumped question and did find a more specific accusation, but then I forgot to accept it. – Null Apr 4 '16 at 16:42
  • Don’t forget Dooku’s little speech in Dark Disciple. :) – Adamant Nov 27 '17 at 5:38

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