Monday, May 12, 2014

Phase IV Operations in Game of Thrones

Just a few thoughts on recent Game of Thrones episodes, with tv-show based spoilers below (I have read the books but the discussion below follows from the TV show):

Overthrowing governments is relatively easy, but building lasting political systems is hard.  Khaleesi Dany, Queen of yada yada and the Andals, is finding out that overthrowing dictators can be pretty simple.  But governing?  Not so much.  News arrived last week that her conquests of previous territories did not create lasting justice and happiness as usurpers, coups and other such stuff have undermined the outcomes that she sought.  This week's episode reveals some tensions as those who ruled before now have serious grievances (can I bury my father whom you had killed?).  Her rule in Merkeen is not going easy, what with 221 additional supplicants to hear. 

I could not help but think/tweet about Dany and GW Bush having something in common--not really having a plan for after a regime is changed.  Why?  Because it requires hard work, patience, resources, and discrimination.

Discrimination?  Yes.  One of the current lessons (being somewhat contested now) is that in a civil war, one should engage in discriminate violence, only targeting those who are targeting you.  Indiscriminate violence antagonizes far more folks who then either join an insurgency or at least become more willing to be the sea in which the insurgent fish swim.  In the tale from last night, Dany's retribution for the crimes of the Merkeen elite hit hard a man who apparently was opposed to the awful tactics of the previous government.  Ooops.

This is not just a problem for those in the East.  Westeros's civil war is not yet over.  Stannis has found additional funding, the Iron Born are still engaged in violence against allies of the Lannisters, and the regime has significant problems enforcing its authority throughout the lands with much banditry (as we saw in previous weeks as we follow the Hound and Arya).  There has been no reconciliation deal, as the marriages thus far (as temporary as they seem to be, what with the various folks getting killed) have unified just the Lannisters and the Martells.  No marriage has quelled the north, nor have the Riverlands been accommodated.

Of course, we know that civil wars with many actors are harder to settle and last longer than those with only a couple of combatants (veto-players).  At least Tywin is thinking about this while others are overly comfortable with the outcomes of the war thus far. 

Which leaves with one last question: is Tyrion's trial more or less a sham than the referenda in Ukraine?

No comments: