It's very hard to believe that anyone reaching a high enough point in Star Wars Imperial republic military would have any illusions about what they're doing.
This begs the question however, WHAT is higher up in a galaxy level military?
As an example, the U.S. Military has 38 4-star generals. Now, under them there are 818 other flag officers (Colonel [O-6] and above). Not all 919 of those officers would be necessary to fight a war of course, we only need a hand full of generals to run operations (ideally) in the Central Command Area of Operations. But on a galactic level?
Just how many commissions are we talking in the Imperial forces?
We can safely assumed that four star officers (Generals, Admirals, etc) are even more abundant even as the Imperial forces were clearly spread thin even before the Battle of Yavin. It's entirely possible that they also have 5-star officers who command planetary sections if warranted by population.
(To be clear: population dictates the required power to control, which gives the number of personnel you need and the rank of the commander you require, assuming they are using the modified Sandhurst model of the United States Army.)
This brings us to the Moffs, which I assume are some sort of hyrbid commander that both planetary and air/space forces answer to (aside: that qualification school has got to be a bitch for both sides of the house). I would imagine 1 Moff per solar system (as needed, of course if the population of a system is less than, 100 million, say, perhaps a 5 or even 4 star can handle it) I would have to guess that Grand Moffs are assigned not unlike senators in the U.S., by population and it's entirely possible they also handled all of those functions after Gr. Mf. Tarkin dissolved the galactic senate.
It's quite safe to assume that any one in a position to see Darth Vader's leadership style probably has very few illusions about what the Empire is doing.
In fact, a vast majority of the rebel pilots, from Bigs Darklighter to Han Solo trained at the Imperial academy before deciding that a life of rebellion or crime (respectively) was better than working for such an organization.
How many storm troopers have had to clean up a corpse produced by one of Vader's childish tantrums and have actually thought "This is for the best?"
It's generally agreed Vader doesn't actually have a rank, and is some sort of civilian/cleric that is only really answerable to the highest of Moffs or the Emperor himself. As has been said before, at the highest levels the Empire is a mess. It's entirely possible it's not much better at the lower levels, but a worse scenario still is that at the lower levels, they are extremely honorable and when they find out about the higher ups genocidal designs, love Wookies or not, they're resigning their commission.
We Have Always Been At War With the Rebels
There is extensive evidence that the galaxy the Old Republic, the Empire and the New Republic have governed has been in a state of perpetual war since their respective inception. Further, the Jedi have been constantly battling with the Sith for longer than humans have been on Earth by some accounts.
This is a holy war based on two different interpretations of what is effectively a religion that gives you super powers, meaning that soldiers with a real vested interest in this ongoing conflict are potentially ten times more damaging to civilians and infrastructure than your average infantryman, plasma weapons or not.
Further, whole planets have been completely depopulated if out not right destroyed during the course of these conflicts, which has probably had dramatic and permanent effects on the galactic economy. I'll be generous and say 80% of the time it's the Sith who have done this damage, but at some point has no one stood up and said "Could assholes stop blowing up whole planets to prove that you're better than the Jedi?"
To understand how bad this is, I must touch on the concept of Gross World Product. Earth produced $70.16 Trillion in 2011. Wookiepida states that galactic empire controlled something to the tune of 1 million populated planets at it's height. So let's say half of those have a GWP on par with Earth in 2011. That's Five hundred thousand planets producing 70.16 trillion dollars EVERY YEAR, with some even producing more and some producing less. Governments and militaries being what they are, they would have to come up with a way to spend all that tax revenue.
That is a massive scale, and this probably explains the Rebellion.
The Rebellion that blew up the Death Star during the Battle of Yavin was not an rag-tag bunch of insurgents making do with second hand weapons and improvised explosive devices that decided it was tired of an occupation. There was a Rebel fleet opposing the Empire, very likely from day one. Also very likely from day one, people were gathering intelligence on the Death Star, and the mere fact that it existed was enough to galvanize the rebellion to such an extent they decided blowing up the Death Star would be enough to cripple the Empire.
We've touched on the sheer scale of the Empire, and probably why they feel that logistically they can blow up a planet. Imagine if the U.S. government decided it could feasibly destroy New Jersey and did so during the school year. Then all the students attending school in the surrounding states came home to find that their home is gone and hear rumors that United States Government did it. The Rebellion suddenly had an untold number of agents, already spread through out the galaxy; any native who was working or on vacation or traveling outside of Alderraan would surely find themselves morally conscripted into a war against the people who killed every living soul they knew.
Imperial expansion, as we have surely learned on Earth since someone said "Let's have An Empire," if done incorrectly is extremely costly not just during initial invasion, but also the maintenance. If a planet is declared "Imperial territory" and they never see anything outside of a few screwballs in white armor patrolling the most populous city on the planet, it's a safe bet the first time an Imperial does something stupid that ends up on the news, the Rebellion has begun to build a new ally. In the case of Alderaan, any planet without a significant imperial presence is certainly going to experience issues if not become a Rebel stronghold.
The Galactic Graveyard of Empires
After the Battle of Yavin, the writing was very likely on the wall for a good number of imperial military members, imperial citizens, and those non-humans who have been suffering under the regime.
The Rebellion either believed or said that there was merely 1 million people on the first Death Star. The Empire, spinning the loss as The Yavin Massacre, said the number was much higher, to the tune of 800 million. If 1 million, that's going to visibly ripple through the ranks. If nearly one billion? The empire was finished before the Rebels even got to Hoth. Even if the imperial military is at United States military WWII levels, a beefy 9% of the population, and a galaxy being a galaxy, we can figure on at least a Quadrillion, so you have a military of 900 Trillion. Loosing a billion all in one day? That's beyond damaging. That's like The United States Army loosing the Big Red One in an hour. A logistical nightmare to start with, but more than that, a crushing blow to morale. While such a loss could be galvanizing to anyone actually in the military, the civilian population would very likely be split right down the middle between hard-line pro and anti-war stances
In a last ditch effort to prove that the Empire is not ten times worse than the slow moving bureaucracy it replaced when the Galactic Senate was dissolved, the imperials make an effort to hunt down the surviving rebels from the Battle of Yavin. This is at best, half as productive as fixing the problems that caused the rebellion in the first place, like a government built solely on a the lust for power of one man and human-centric practices that have pissed off everyone else from physically powerful Wookies to the technological Juggernauts, the Mon Calamari.
Once again, we come back to the scale, these are not towns or cities but rather: Now it's The Battle of The Entire Planet That We Happened to be Fighting Near. The Battle of Endor very likely left the Moon of Endor a barren waste after fire and metal rained from the sky. No matter who won that battle, or even that war, there is an entire planet laid to waste just as collateral damage. This is even worse than Alderaan, because this was not a targeted attack. This is just the side effect of two other sides clashing. Does anyone think that the Ewoks are going to be able to sue for restitution, assuming any of them survived?
The essence of the issue raised by the Empire is that trying to enforce a standard of law, even if that law is "fuck the non-humans, give us money so we can ignore your human rights" trying to push that agenda beyond a single country is very difficult. Imposing it on a whole planet is probably 100 times more difficult. A Galaxy? An entire galaxy? There must a new word created specifically for that kind hubris.
And So It Goes
Further reading the Star War novels doesn't paint a picture suggesting a peaceful galactic future where everyone is just happy the empire is dead. First, the remaining imperial forces had a Civil War of sorts that served only to strengthen the New Republic.
After a straight decade of fighting within and without, all that was left was called the Imperial Remnant and that group eventually joined the The New Republic officially when a new an interesting enemy began pushing into their space from far beyond the known galaxy. These weird new foes were called the Yuuzhan Vong and devastated a galaxy already weak from fighting itself.
Losses were great, casualties were sustained, and chances are neither side ever thought negotiating.
|Infinite on loop forever|
CORRECTION: from @pozorvlak said...
Arithmetic error: 9% of 1 quadrillion is 90 trillion, of which a billion troops is about 0.001%. I can't imagine what effect it would have on morale to lose such a huge number, but tiny proportion, of troops in one go. But then I can't imagine what kind of command structure would work for a force of trillions of people