I really thought the whole plot where Palpatine is basically running both the Separatists and The Republic really strained credibility. At least have the reveal that Dooku was a Sith take place in ROTS - make the audience think he is truly a rogue Jedi fighting against a hopelessly corrupt Republic and that The Separatists were actually the good guys.
Yeah - and as a morality tale it’s a bit hollow because it’s so far removed from how these things play out in real life. Real life dictators aren’t far-seeing puppet masters that expertly pull off elaborate conspiracies to seize power. They just take advantage of existing weaknesses in the political system. Caesar marched his army into Rome because he gambled that after years of war, his legion would be more loyal to him than the Senate. Hitler took advantage of a politically divided and economically depressed Germany.
A more realistic scenario would have Palpatine taking advantage of never-ending war to slowly implement more and more “emergency powers” (similar to the Enabling Act that gave Hitler power), until he became de-facto dictator for life. This is sort of what happened, except in the actual movies Palpatine also artificially caused the war in the first place, and expertly directed it towards an intended outcome. (We’re also never told why General Grievous et al takes orders from a mysterious hologram, or why all the thousands of Separatist planets suddenly just stop fighting just because Anakin killed their first tier leadership.) Plus, the movie implies that it was more the botched assassination attempt led by Mace Windu that ultimately cemented Palpatine as dictator than the years of war or the recent attack on Coruscant.
I would disagree. What I see in history is that successful dictators are fairly cunning when they rise to power. It is once they are in power and what they do to try to hold on to it that leads to paranoia and mistakes. Usually it leads to their undoing. So I see Eps I to VI as being a fairly accurate depiction of a dictator who has ruled for 23 years. He has a cunning plan for gaining power. He is wicked in his use of power. Then he becomes paranoid and/or overconfident (or both) and makes mistakes that lead to his downfall. Palpatine is overconfident that his cunning plan to trick the Rebels will go according to his plan. It does not. He is overconfident that Luke is putty in his hands. He is not. He is paranoid enough that he doesn’t have anyone around him. He is isolated. In many ways he has been isolated since his rise to power because he is leading a double life - the kindly Emperor vs. the evil Sith Lord. But after 23 years, it doesn’t look like he has very many people around. There are something like 3 or 4 odd looking people in his party. They’ve always been called diplomats, but what if they are his Sith followers. Could be both. But that isn’t the entourage he used to travel with. I think it very much matches what we see happen to many of these dictators who trust fewer and fewer people until they are practically alone.