It’s one thing to pick apart plot holes in a film, but to do so while at the same time cross-examining the military strategy of fictional protagonists? That’s about as far up my alley as you can get without things getting adults-only.
Wired’s military column, Danger Room, has written a fantastic piece putting Darth Vader’s strategy at the Battle of Hoth under the microscope.
What at the time looks like a scrappy, if ultimately crushing victory for the Empire is instead — rather convincingly — shown to be its greatest failure, being the one and only time the military might of Palpatine and co had a serious chance to eradicate the Rebellion and all its principal characters, only to let it slip.
I’d personally argue the Tantive IV operation was worse, at least in terms of strategic importance. Not firing on 3PO and R2′s escape pod, burning Owen and Beru’s farm in a gross act of unnecessary force (which compels Luke to set off on a journey that will ultimately kill both Palpatine and Vader), failing to discover a Jedi had been living on the planet for decades, letting the Falcon escape… it was a mess.
But the arguments made here for Hoth are still good reading (especially since the Tatooine operations weren’t really a “battle”).
Inside the Battle of Hoth [Wired]