SCENE: A circular briefing room aboard the Mon Calamari Cruiser, commanded by Admiral Ackbar. Mon Mothma, head of the Rebel Alliance, is addressing the assembled leaders of the rebellion against the Empire.
MON MOTHMA: The Emperor’s made a critical error and the time for our attack has come. The Emperor destroyed the planet of Alderaan with the first Death Star and now has a second one. This is a crime against humanity…
MON MOTHMA: …a crime against all sentient beings. He has crossed a red line and must be punished for it. Therefore, we must strike against him and his new Death Star.
JAR JAR BINKS: Waity-wait. Howsa we know dat de Emp’ror is even ree-sponsi-bull for Alderaan? Maybee de Alderainee did it to demselves…
*ZORCH!!!* LEIA ORGANA calmly holsters her blaster , eyeing the small pile of ash with satisfaction. Applause breaks out spontaneously, then quickly grows quiet again.
MON MOTHMA: I assure you…this time, the intelligence is good. Many Bothans died to bring us this information.
WEDGE ANTILLES: With all due respect (nods to LEIA), Alderaan was only one planet. Two billion sentients. The Emperor has killed TRILLIONS over the last few years, with Star Destroyers, Stormtroopers, and turbolasers. What kind of red line is this?
MON MOTHMA: Since the first Death Star was created, all civilized planetary systems have agreed that it crosses a red line of decent behavior to conduct interstellar war in such a way. I didn’t set the red line–the galaxy set a red line.
LANDO CALRISSIAN: OK, so what do we do? Destroy it? It’s heavily protected, both by a significant space defense fleet and an energy shield generated from the nearby moon of Endor.
HAN SOLO: I could take a small force down there, destroy the shield generator. With Luke’s help, it shouldn’t take…
MON MOTHMA: No. We must not commit forces on the ground. It’s politically untenable at this time. After the disaster at Hoth, we cannot risk troops in such a way. There may be a civilian populace we don’t know about there. Any casualties are too much to risk.
HAN SOLO: Wait…so what’s our objective here? With that generator in place, there’s no way our ships can even get close to the Death Star and the Emperor, much less destroy it.
MON MOTHMA: We’ll just have to attack it from space. It’s our only option.
LUKE SKYWALKER: Well, that’s a silly option. I mean, if our objective is to stop the Emperor from destroying planets, we need to blow up this Death Star!
MON MOTHMA: Our objective is to punish the Emperor. He must learn that he cannot, must not, do this sort of thing without retribution. There are always consequences!
LUKE SKYWALKER: Maybe if we could topple the Empire, change the regime…
MON MOTHMA: No. We cannot be seen as trying to overthrow a legitimate government. The Empire must choose its own path. We must simply encourage them to change their own ruler.
(Stunned silence for a moment.)
ACKBAR: That’s a crap!
And so, the shield generator was never blown up by a small, ragtag band of Rebels (yes, and Ewoks, too). The Rebel Fleet was eradicated over Endor, futilely trying to get through the energy shield. Darth Vader spent the next few months punishing the Rebel-aligned planets of Corellia, Tatooine, and Bespin—by destroying them with the new Death Star. The Emperor just laughed and laughed.