Brad Delong points me to Ogged, who points me to a recent tweet from Bill Kristol:
A commenter has an obvious and seemingly devastating riposte: “Other than blowing up an entire planet to torture a prisoner/deter other planets, the Empire was pretty moderate.”
But wait. The size of the Star Wars galaxy is in some dispute, and I’m not willing to spend more than a minute or so on this. But apparently the galaxy contained about 50 million star systems during the reign of the Empire. If we assume Alderaan was more or less typical, it means the Death Star killed one 50-millionth of the galactic population. Assuming I haven’t slipped a decimal point somewhere, that’s about equivalent to killing 140 people on present-day Earth.
See? Not so bad! That’s about 0.0002 percent as bad as Hitler in World War II. It’s about 0.07 percent as bad as George Bush in the Iraq War. And honestly, the enhanced interrogation of Han didn’t look all that bad either. I think we really have to give this one to Kristol. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.