Who is Count Dooku?
He is the attack of the clones.
It’s stark how we switched from the most foreign Sith lord imaginable (not just different, but representing a foreignness our culture fears) to well, the whitest.
Dooku is one of those characters we know so much about. He was a trusted Jedi. He was Yoda’s padawan. He was Qui-Gon’s master. He switched sides about ten years before Episode 2. When Old Ben Kenobi in A New Hope describes a light saber as from “a more civilized age” he’s referring to guys like Dooku.
His light saber, by the way, is shaped like a cane.
Contrasted with Darth Maul, he talks a lot. He never stops talking. We learn how he convinces his allies. We see how he threads lies with the truth to instill doubt in Jedi. He keeps referring to his Jedi foes as friends, and goes out of his way to compliment them and reassure them.
He is as similar to the Jedi as a Sith could possibly be. He is their clone.
He has a somewhat different agenda yes, but it’s a logical extension of the Jedi. He is an elitist through and through (hell, he's a Count), and does not like being ruled by others. He wants the Jedi strong, free of the Senate and any who would tell them what to do. The Senate after all, as he is very concerned about, is corrupt.
(When Count Dooku complains that the Senate is corrupt and a hundred Senators are under the way of a Sith lord, we the audience laugh because we know that is an understatement. And yet notice how it parallels Obi-Wan’s fears early in the movie that trusting a politician is a bad idea because... of their reliance on fundraising. It’s this fantastic mirror of Democrats worrying that the only thing wrong with American government is picayune corruption, and not the entire system itself.)
If the people ruling do not meet Dooku’s standards, then he has no choice but to… secede. No, he doesn’t want to take over, he wants to be left alone. He goes separatist and allies with the corporate Trade Federation. This is very similar to Ayn Rand’s cry for the elite to “go Galt” and abandon institutional society.
Yes, Dooku has a lot of plots spinning in his head, and is certainly double-speaking to the separatist movement and to Darth Sidious, in addition to his fatuous lies to the Jedi. But it’s a very callow reading to believe he is “truly” only following Palpatine’s plan. He’s a Sith (in addition to a narcissistic white human elitist). Powerful manipulators like him believe all the stories they are telling all sides, and will say they “really” agreed with whoever wins in the end. He’s trying to play off Sidious as much as he is loyally following him.
Because Dooku is a clone of the Jedi, his attack is much more serious than the phantom menace of before. The galaxy really is in turmoil over this, and we’re no longer talking about a “trade dispute” far out on some spiral arm. The Jedi and the Senate have to respond to this.
We’ll talk about how they respond, and why it’s so bad later. But it’s very much caught up in the fact that the Jedi are fighting themselves here, and failing to question who is making them do the fighting.
What is a clone but an us-who-is-not-us? It's a scifi creation used to describe something that shares all the traits of the original, but we can still get away with calling the Other.
The Prequels move in the direction of the evolving maturity of their villain. It's more mature to focus on an attack from someone that looks like you, than a phantom you've relegated as wholly other. Darth Tyrannus is a superior villain to Darth Maul, in the moral intellect it takes to fight him.
But he's a clone, so Dooku isn't really us. He may look like us, he may quack like us, he may talk like us. But really he's a Sith. We will even expel our own brothers and sisters, in the course of moral combat, if that means we can say that their sin is not our sin. If we can Otherize them, and call them "a clone".
When the Jedi blame all the evil of the past few years on Count Dooku, they are falling into prelapsarian thinking. Sure, Dooku was a lot like them, but he was different and alien too. Once he is defeated, they believe, the Republic can return to peace and harmony.
The Prequels are at their highest when they show us just how terrible an idea this was.