Sunday, 13 August 2017

Time for Strategic Dragon Reduction Talks?

We're in a arms race now. Last week's The Spoils Of War put a stick in Daenerys's spokes. Or rather, a scorpion bolt in her dragon. Sure, the fire-breather survived Bronn's surface-to-air spear-to-the-ribs but for the first time in all the seasons, the assumed invulnerability of The Unburnt's Weapons of Mass Destruction has been called into question.

Dany had been hoping for a decisive and unanswered show of strength against the Lannister army facing its own Dunkirk on the banks of the Blackwater Rush. It was a proper take-no-prisoners strategy (in contrast to the Nazis in France, as it happens, who saw PoWs as valuable leverage over occupied civilian populations). However, Cersei and her allies have probably worked out by now, as Jon Snow did, that Dany does not want to be 'Queen of the ashes' and go full Enola Gay with her children. So with Khaleesi's options bounded by morality and ambition, Westeros is entering a period of rational deterrenceIts maintenance or destruction depends on four factors.

First, a military balance. Dany reckoned without Maester Qyburn's very own Strategic Defence Initiative in the form of the prototype ballista. Now proven, its development and mass production could well be where a lot of that new Iron Bank of Braavos money on offer goes. Of course, such power would not only be possibly effective against a dragon or three. It could almost certainly take out several unarmoured Dothraki at a time, too. Combined with whatever's left of the King's Landing wildfire, who has the true WMDs now?

Second, signalling and bargaining. We can expect to see the diplomatic machinations of Varys, Tyrion, Qyburn, Jaime, Littlefinger and others increase.

Third, 'reputations for resolve'. That is, credible demonstrations by the attacker or the threatened that they will be prepared to use their power. Limited proxy battles and the use of the dragons against third-party populations will ensue. A Guernica Beyond The Wall, perhaps.

Fourth, interests at stake. Essentially, the deterrence will break down when one side has already lost too much or has nothing left to lose. What could Cersei and Dany take from each other to make the other feel that way? Money? A lover? Territory? A limb or two?

Or perhaps all four and more. It's going to be a busy couple of weeks, common people.

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