Alderaan was a legitimate military target. Was the level of force used against it justified? It’s a tricky question, but it seems the least bad of all the alternatives. Consider another option the Empire could have taken: invading Alderaan, removing its leaders and installing a pro-Empire regime. However, putting boots on the ground in this manner would likely have destabilized not only the planet but also the entire region, creating a breeding ground for religious terrorists and draining blood and treasure for decades. It’s not hard to imagine a Jedi State of the Alderaan System (JSAS, for short, though they’d likely prefer the simpler Jedi State (JS)) arising from the ashes of some ill-conceived invasion and occupation.We could run with this thought in a number of directions, including the old "one Hutt's terrorist ..." and the more recent "unconditional surrender, and we'll set up the government." Here's where Mr Bunch goes. Here's his interpretation about the Grand Moff (is that like a Reichsleiter?) unleashing the death star.
Granted, you have to use force once for the threat to be useful, but it’s easy to see the appeal of such a tactic, which is designed to save lives in the long run. Imagine the human toll — not to mention the enormous fiscal cost — of launching invasion after invasion of breakaway systems. The utilitarian calculation is complicated, but it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which fewer people died as a result of the destruction of Alderaan than would have died in a series of costly invasions.That happens to be the logic of berserkers or jihadis, you blood-eagle, or burn alive, a few people in order to encourage the others to cough up the Dane-geld or the jizya. Money quote. "The destruction of Alderaan, then, is more analogous to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki than it is to a 'genocide.'” Here, the parallel breaks down, as the nukes ended that particular war, and stopped the preparations to send Sgt. Karlson's unit from Germany to the Japan Expedition. On the other hand, the destruction of Alderaan brought the various rebelling factions together. "The Imperial Grand Moff Tarkin is no worse than Democratic President Harry S. Truman — and no one worth listening to considers Truman to be a monster."
Perhaps not, but we'll see whether National Command Authority becomes more interested in conducting wars in such a way as to win them.