The Clone Wars begins in the action-packed finale of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, but it might have ended far earlier if the Jedi captured the Separatist leader Count Dooku. The Clone Wars was orchestrated by Dooku and his Sith master, Darth Sidious (a.k.a. Palpatine) to divide the galaxy and gradually erode the Galactic Republic’s democracy until a coup would turn it into a Sith-lead dictatorship. As the political leader of the Separatists and the highest-ranking subordinate of Sidious, Dooku was essential to the Sith Order’s nefarious scheme, but his potential defeat in Attack of the Clones could have undone everything.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
The Clone Wars exemplify the horrific callousness of Palpatine and Dooku as well as their genius. The war pit the Galactic Republic against the Separatists, giving the former’s citizens an easy enemy to hate, as the latter would have subjugated the galaxy under a corporate oligarchic rule and turned a blind eye to atrocities under the pretense of planetary rights. Adding to the threat of the Separatists is their vast military of Battle Droids and warships, whose sheer size was an immediate existential threat to the Republic, who, before receiving the Clone Army (courtesy of the Sith in secret), had only meager Judiciary Forces and local planetary militias protecting the Republic’s citizens.
Related: Star Wars: What If The Jedi Refused To Fight In The Clone Wars?
Although Palpatine and Dooku each publicly led the two respective combatants in the Clone Wars, they privately worked together to perpetuate the war, keeping it in an almost constant stalemate while gradually giving the Separatists the upper hand, terrorizing the Republic into repeatedly keeping Palpatine in office and giving him an increasing amount of emergency power. By the third year of the Clone Wars, the Republic had become the Galactic Empire in all but name, so turning the heroic clone troopers against the Jedi (and ultimately wiping out both groups) was a simple matter, paving the way for Palpatine’s fascist regime. Considering Dooku’s importance to this plot, however, his capture during the Battle of Geonosis could have prevented Palpatine’s rise to power.
How The Clone Wars Began (& Why)
As shown throughout Attack of the Clones, Palpatine and Dooku secretly worked in tandem to increase tensions between the ancient Galactic Republic and the growing Separatists movement. The Separatists turned half the galaxy against the Republic with Dooku’s charismatic leadership, and the Republic’s lack of a true military force to stand against this looming enemy put the Republic in a worrisome position. A series of assassination attempts on Padmé Amidala and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s subsequent discovery of the hidden Clone Army (and capture by the Separatists) finally ignited the Clone Wars when a contingent of Jedi and clone troopers engaged the Separatist droids on Geonosis following Kenobi’s rescue, just as Dooku and Palpatine had hoped.
Why Count Dooku Was Instrumental To Continuing The Clone Wars
Half the galaxy joined Dooku’s Separatist movement due to the secret Sith Lord’s political savvy. While the Separatists were truly run by the Sith Order and the galaxy’s greediest corporate entities, its citizens believed that it granted worlds more autonomous rule than the Republic and that they were, therefore, better represented as Separatist planets. In Legends, the Separatists (known as the Confederacy of Independent Systems) lacked a capital planet (aside from arguably Geonosis and Raxus Prime), emphasizing individual planets’ need to govern themselves with minimal oversight from the CIS. In canon, the Separatist Alliance was headquartered on Raxus Secundus and included a Separatist Parliament to further trick the Separatist populace into feeling better represented than Republic worlds. In both cases, Dooku’s leadership as both a politician and military commander was what ultimately held the Separatists together.
Capturing Count Dooku Could've Prevented The Clone Wars
Obi-Wan Kenobi claims that capturing Dooku would end the war instantly in Attack of the Clones, which is somewhat correct. Kenobi and Skywalker were outmatched against Dooku in their duel, but if they’d had backup from Yoda, Mace Windu, and other powerful Jedi Master from the start, they could have overwhelmed and defeated the Dark Lord. Dooku’s capture would cripple the Separatists from the start, as their most charismatic and skilled leader would be gone, leaving selfish corporate leaders, aspiring Sith who lack political savvy, and brutal military officers in charge. The Separatists would be at a major disadvantage without Dooku leading them (and working with Palpatine to gradually give them an advantage against the Republic), and while this wouldn’t end the war immediately, it’d guarantee a Republic victory sooner rather than later.
Related: How The Introduction of General Grievous Changed The Clone Wars
Obi-Wan Kenobi Didn't Believe Count Dooku's Warning About The Sith
Dooku notably warns Obi-Wan about a Dark Lord of the Sith controlling the Republic in secret, which Kenobi immediately doubts. While this might seem like a foolish action on Dooku’s part, it actually sows distrust and confusion within the Republic, and Dooku knew that the Jedi wouldn’t investigate this statement right away. With Dooku and Palpatine’s plans thrown into disarray by the former’s capture, however, Dooku might continue to use this against his Jedi captors, either to distract them so he could escape or to betray his master and rise to power in his place.
Grievous Would've Taken Control Of The Separatists If Dooku Was Captured
If Count Dooku had been captured on Geonosis, the dreaded General Grievous would most likely succeed him as the Separatists’ leader. In both continuities, Grievous was active (albeit secretly) during the Battle of Geonosis, killing all Jedi and clones who he encountered, but with Dooku gone, he’d likely become the de facto leader, with Sev’rance Tann remaining in control of the CIS military in Legends. While the Separatists hid Grievous’ many atrocities from their populous, his reputation as a brutal war criminal was well-known within the Republic, and despite the cyborg General’s skills as a military commander, he’d lack the inside knowledge of the Republic that Dooku has and he’d certainly lack the political charisma that rallied so many systems to the Separatist cause.
Dooku's Capture Would've Prevented Order 66 From Ever Happening
Order 66, the directive that brainwashed clone troopers into turning on their Jedi leaders in both continuities, was predicated on battle-weary Jedi generals leading the troops into battle across the galaxy after forming a strong sense of trust with them for three war-torn years. Dooku’s capture on Geonosis would prevent the Clone Wars from lasting nearly as long as it does in canon and Legends, preventing Palpatine’s Order 66 plan from being executed effectively. Whether by Dooku’s betrayal or simply the Jedi’s investigation, the Sith would be thwarted and Palpatine’s grand plan to wipe out the Jedi would come undone.
How Star Wars Would Look If The Jedi Weren't Killed
The destruction of the Jedi in canon and Legends led future generations of Force-sensitives to reevaluate the flaws of the Jedi Order, with Luke Skywalker creating the vastly-improved New Jedi Order in Legends and Rey being in the best position to do the same in canon. Without the Jedi Order’s violent destruction, however, it’s still quite possible for them to study their failings after the brief Clone Wars and reform their ways along with the Galactic Republic itself. While it wouldn’t be due to their violent destruction by the Sith (and would therefore take far longer to be fully implemented), the Jedi Order and the Republic could learn from the conditions that led to the Clone Wars in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and gradually improve themselves, resulting in both institutions reducing their corruption.