Analysing Beijing’s 8 dirty tactics against the Hong Kong protesters

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Source: Macleans.ca

I’m no stranger to unreasonable authority using lies, tricks and stratagems to oppress the public. But China’s dirty tactics impress me, and admittedly top anything I’ve seen local government do here in Britain. On a personal level I’ve always been capable of admiration for the strategies of a competent adversary. So here is my analysis of the tactics deployed by Beijing, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and the Hong Kong police in their attempt to destroy Hong Kong democracy. As the Hong Kong police’s extreme brutality and the Chinese government’s acts of murder are well covered, this article will focus on nonviolent tactics.

1: Control of information

Media

Like all democracies, Hong Kong has freedom of the press. But that means little when journalists are prevented from reporting the news or even seeing what’s happening. Journalists are routinely beaten by police, tear gassed and arbitrarily detained. One foreign journalist lost an eye. Police also shine torches at reporters’ cameras to obliterate photos of themselves violently attacking protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.  The police use these violent tactics to prevent being identified while committing assaults on civilians. It is also feared that a temporary injunction banning civilians from identifying police officers on social media will affect reporters. Citizen journalism has been effectively targeted by this injunction.

Carrie Lam’s strategy of allowing police brutality against the press achieves her aim of preventing the media from reporting on how the Hong Kong citizens are suffering.

Defamation

The Hong Kong Police force typically describe peaceful demonstrators as violent rioters. They probably hope to turn public and international opinion against the pro democracy movement, thus cutting off support.
The police and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam have perpetrated the spread of misinformation in official speeches and media interviews, reaching a global audience. Previously the protesters were slandered as Islamist terrorists. This segues neatly into…

Justification

Carrie Lam has consistently lied that she is protecting Hong Kong. The police maintain that the protesters are violent and that their brutality is necessary to keep the peace. While this isn’t a very creative lie, it’s an effective anti-democracy tactic, as it leads the naive to support Beijing.

2: International alliances by deception

China aims to trick other countries into officially declaring that Hong Kong (and Taiwan) are fully part of China and therefore subject to Chinese authority with no sovereignty of their own. The latest example is China’s “Sister City” deal with Prague in which China used the pretext of twinning Beijing and Prague to force Prague City Council to publicly adopt China’s stance on Hong Kong. In this case, both trickery and threats were used against ordinary civilian Council employees, culminating in intimidation from the Chinese embassy.

In my opinion, it is likely that the Sister City initiative was simply a cover to achieve support for China’s views on Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong. Beijing may hope to instigate multiple similar moves with different countries cloaked as cultural initiatives but designed to gain official-looking agreement with Beijing. This would mean Beijing would have global support for its “One China policy”. There would appear to be a legal basis underlying any future invasion of Hong Kong or at least more international support for any illegal actions against the Hong Kong people. It would also appear to the international public that China is in the right as multiple governments agree with their position. Thus, sanctions and other pressures- whether exerted by single states or collectively by the United Nations- could be avoided. China might also find it easier to mount a legal defence, if necessary, in an international court.

China has succeeded in making Donald Trump agree to honour the “One China policy” (the idea that Taiwan is not an independent sovereign nation, but instead part of China). In October 2019, Nepal’s leader agreed to uphold this claim. Therefore it’s not surprising that Beijing is using the same strategy of international alliance against Hong Kong as it is doing against Taiwan.

3: Divide and conquer

Almost all of the Hong Kong population is pro-democracy and wish to see Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam step down (there are now reports that she may be replaced). This includes Christians; the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong called on Lam to investigate police brutality and to  “repent”.

Having lost the trust of the majority ethnic group, and that of Catholics and Protestants, Carrie Lam then wooed the Muslim population by visiting a mosque which had accidentally been spray-painted by police who were aiming at pro-democracy demonstrators. Carrie Lam and the chief of the Hong Kong police apologised to Kowloon Mosque during their visit. Neither have apologised to the thousands of protesters injured, including a young woman and a foreign journalist who both lost an eye, a student left with a brain haemorrhage and a teenager who was shot. Carrie Lam has consistently refused to order an independent investigation of the police brutality which has been ongoing for five months.

Police also claimed a water cannon truck was deployed to protect the mosque from protestors. This is despite the fact that demonstrators have never attacked the mosque or displayed any Islamophobia. The victims of tear gas and the water cannon truck, who were sprayed while peacefully demonstrating, have not been apologised to.

Police were later seen stationed outside the mosque while a demonstration took place nearby- probably an attempt to make those who use the mosque feel protected by the police, and to imply to the media and the Hong Kong public that it was protesters who sprayed the mosque instead of the police themselves. Carrie Lam and the police wanted to make it look as if the protesters are Islamophobic or racist, and that the mosque was in danger of being attacked by protesters.

Lam’s actions, and that of the police chief, represent a calculated attempt to get the Muslim community or ethnic minorities to side with Beijing. Additionally, citizens in mainland China are kept ignorant of the Hong Kong crisis by state media, depriving the protesters of mainland support. The worst thing for any oppressive government is a populace united against it.

4: Diversion

Beijing’s spreading of rumours that Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will be replaced and her own assertion that this is untrue could be a deliberate attempt to sow confusion and divert the Hong Kong people’s attention.

Carrie Lam’s speeches typically never answer questions about investigation of police brutality and other issues over which she is facing criticism. Instead, denial, obfuscation and diverting attention to other topics are the features of Lam’s public utterances. She even used the masquerade of a pretend apology (not for any of her questionable actions) to waste time and avoid the issues during press conferences. The use of her Defamation tactic is also often utilised to divert attention from her own actions.

On 1 November an agreement with Beijing about the election of Hong Kong leaders was reported to have been reached. However, so far the details are nonexistent, meaning it is impossible to know whether this means a better situation or increased dictatorship. There isno reason to keep the terms of the deal secret. In fact, China should be delighted to prove to the world that it is now acting more daily towards Hong Kong. Therefore it’s likely that the agreement strips even more human rights, and/or that China has something to gain by keeping everyone in the dark for now.

The effect China hopes for could be to create discussion and speculation which would divert public attention from the protests and channel the protestors’ energy away from demonstrating.

5: Cultural Assimilation

Since several years ago, China has changed its immigration laws to allow many mainland Chinese people to settle in Hong Kong. Chinese banks and businesses have also bloomed. This is a calculated measure to slowly change Hong Kong society and ensure pro Beijing factions are in Hong Kong if dissent breaks out. Had Beijing not done this, there would be no pro Beijing support in Hong Kong. The entire Hong Kong population would be pro democracy.

Niccolo Machiavelli states in The Prince that in order for a leader to avoid the public rising against him, an “excellent expedient is to send colonies…so that these may become, as it were, the keys of the Province; for you must either do this, or else keep up a numerous force of men-at-arms and footsoldiers. A Prince need not spend much on colonies.” Xi Jinping has practised his immigration policy accordingly.

6: Force

The above stratagems are of the social, political and legal type. But Beijing has consistently made use of violence alongside political strategy. Weakening both the pro democracy movement and Hong Kong’s democracy itself by force has become a hallmark of Xi Jinping’s strategy since a few years ago. And police brutality isn’t the only way force is being deployed.

Beijing has banned pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong from running in the upcoming district elections. This is a deliberate weakening of both the potential of the pro democracy movement and democracy itself. So were the abductions and murders of Hong Kong booksellers who stocked books which Beijing didn’t want Hong Kongers to access. On 4th November, the Chinese government warned that civil servants who protest or even silently agree with democracy are risking their careers and future, and “will burn”.

It is possible that attacks on pro democracy candidates and demonstrators, including driving cars into crowds and gang assaults with hammers, are the work of Beijing agents. A terrorist attack which wounded several people including a local politician was carried out on 3 November, a day after it was announced that Beijing would not tolerate protests and had concluded a deal to use law enforcement and security against the Hong Kong people.

And while most of the public are pro democracy – medical staff, pilots and teachers are frequently amo gthise protesting – one job stands out with most members being pro Beijing: taxi drivers. YouTube videos show rows of taxis displaying the Chinese flag. This could simply be coincidence. Perhaps these are real taxi drivers. But if they are Beijing plants, then the plan makes sense: demonstrators won’t dare take a taxi home. Taxis are cheaper in Hong Kong, especially if shared. They’ll be forced to pay more for a bus, the MTR (Hong Kong’s subway) or walk a long way home, possibly in the dark.

This can deter people from protesting or limit the amount of time they can protest for, since they will take longer to get to and from the demonstration or may not want to be out in the dark. Many protestors are young and some are still at school, making them particularly vulnerable to this tactic as they have to get up early for school and parents may not want them out at night.  Walking to and from protests also increases the chance of being arrested (protest is now a crime in Hong Kong).

7: Intimidation

China’s president Xi Jinping threatened Tianenmen-style violence while on a state visit to Nepal. On 14th October 2019 Jinping was quoted as saying that dissent would end in “end in crushed bodies and shattered bones.” He has also threatened America with retaliation for passing a Hong Kong Human Rights Bill. This is an obvious attempt to stop support for the Hong Kong people by intimidation.

8: Placation

It’s not all stick, however. Reports that Carrie Lam will be replaced as Hong Kong leader (Pro democracy activists have been calling for her to step down) could be designed to appease the public, at least for the time being. If these reports are true, they may be a longer term effort to make protestors feel they’ve achieved some measure of safety for Hong Kong. Or, it could simply be that Beijing believes Carrie Lam is not enough of a dictator to destroy Hong Kong in the manner desired.

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To conclude, Beijing uses force more than manipulation. While control of information is a form of mass manipulation and Beijing and Carrie Lam field a constant stream of lies blaming foreign agents and terrorists, they make no real attempt to trick the protestors into believing their freedom will be granted soon. There is also no clear indication – at least in the information available to the public-that China tried to charm or manipulate the USA into not passing the Human Rights Bill. Instead, police brutality and terrorist attacks purportedly committed by Pro Beijing civilians have been the hallmarks of the conflict so far. Therefore, as sublety isn’t Beijing’s strong point, the key to defeating them may lie in using deception rather than force (especially given that Jinping has a massive army).

Overall, China still deploys a wide array of tactics. However, media technology means the truth will out, and in fact always has done since the protest’s inception. While the struggle for human rights, democracy and an end to Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong may be a long one, history teaches us that dictatorships always collapse eventually, usually due to internal pressures, as they aren’t sustainable. However in the meantime Beijing’s game-playing is interesting to watch as- in my view- it’s done with a sense of style.

Free Hong Kong

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Free Hong Kong from China’s dictatorship.

Free Hong Kong from police brutality.

Free Hong Kong from restriction of the press by police assault and intimidation.

Free Hong Kong from a leader determined to betray her own people and destroy the peaceful democratic society which she benefitted from.

Free Hong Kong from an extradition bill which legalises kidnap and murder as revenge for selling books the Chinese government would prefer you not to read.

Free Hong Kong from China’s army.

Free Hong Kong from the police state which China and their puppet Carrie Lam have imposed.

Free Hong Kong from the dictatorship it is falling deeper into every day.

Lightbringer was democracy! How every Game of Thrones prophecy came true- with a twist!

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The Long Night isn’t what you think it is. The Night King was a red herring, Lightbringer isn’t a sword, and The Stallion Who Mounts The World wasn’t murdered.

Most people’s reaction to the shocking Game of Thrones finale, and S8E3, was that every single prophecy didn’t come true. The Night King was defeated without a legendary flaming sword or a sacrifice. The Prince That Was Promised didn’t bother showing up, and the identity of Azor Ahai is unclear. In S8E5 Cersei was killed by quite literally a ton of bricks- not the valonqar predicted by Maggy the Frog. In addition, The Stallion Who Mounts The World- Daenerys’ son- was defeated in utero by Mirri Maaz Duur back in Season 1.

So is the takeaway of Game of Thrones that prophecy cannot be trusted? That it’s simply a human belief which drives action in the story? Maybe in the A Song of Ice and Fire books that could be a possibility. George R. R. Martin is an atheist, so the idea of him writing a novel in which destiny is not set could make sense as that points to the absence of a divine plan. However, in Game of Thrones, every prophecy did come true- it was just that, in classic GRRM fashion, they each had a twist and were misunderstood by the characters.

 

The Stallion Who Mounts The World

Let’s start at the beginning with an easy prophecy. In a ritual at the Dothraki capital of Vaes Dothrak, teenage Daenerys recieves a prophecy that her unborn baby is a boy who will become the long-awaited “stallion who mounts the world”. It’s interesting to note that while in our English, “mount” means “to ascend or climb on top of”, the Dothraki use the word to mean sexual or physical violence. Actually physical violence might be a more accurate translation as the Dothraki appear to understand sexual violence as a type of physical violence. Both these definitions are important in regard to the prophecy. The horse is also almost sacred in Dothraki culture, while maleness is privileged even more than in Westeros and strength is idolised. The stallion is probably considered the strongest and most intelligent known animal to the Dothraki, as despite the existence of lions, they cannot be trained and seem rare and easily hunted, so might not hold the Dothraki imagination. A male horse- a stallion- would be the ultimate symbol of prestige and power. Not unlike the dragon in Westeros, which as well as being the royal Targaryen symbol is also the strongest, cleverest known animal and has an aura of the supernatural.

Obviously the unborn Rhaego was either killed by Mirri Maaz Duur or possibly had his life force ‘swapped’ to enable Rhaegal’s hatching. So at first glance The Stallion Who Mounts The World was a false prophecy or his destiny was subverted. But what if prophecy can be vulnerable to human error, as we’ve seen so often with Melisandre, whose true visions are interpreted wrongly?

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If we take the male-dominated culture of the Dosh Khaleen seers then it’s improbable they would be able to entertain the idea of a woman leader. That’s a concept that doesn’t exist among the Dothraki. So it makes sense that Daenerys was the Stallion Who Mounts The World but the Dosh Khaleen, while sensing the Stallion’s presence, concluded he must be male and so misinterpreted the Stallion to be Daenerys’ male foetus (or assumed her baby must be a son to be the Stallion). Daenerys has fulfilled every part of the Stallion prophecy: uniting all the Khalasars, taking the Dothraki to the ends of the earth (“the world ends at the black salt sea”), riding as swift as the wind (on Drogon) and all the peoples of the earth being her herd (Dany conquered, ruled and traded with all of the civilisations known to the Dothraki, and people from all of them were represented in her Unsullied army.) And of course, she fulfilled the part of the prophecy about trampling nations into dust (Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen could be considered city-states and smashing the slave trade obliterated their identity, purpose and economy) and burning cities to the ground. Daenerys also planned world domination in the finale. She truly brought violence on a devastating level everywhere she went, fulfilling the Dothraki definition of “mount” as “violence”. Dany also mounted Drogon, ascended to the leadership of Meereen and got the Iron Throne, and planned to rule- or at least conquer- the world. These actions correspond to the English definition of “mount”.

The Night King was essentially a red herring. The real threat was The Stallion Who Mounts The World. And that’s who Azor Ahai had to defeat to end the Long Night.

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The Khal of Khals, The Stallion Who Mounts The World.

 

 

Who was Azor Ahai and what was Lightbringer?

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Most of us thought it was Jon Snow. And we were right- but with a twist! According to the Azor Ahai prophecy, Azor Ahai is predestined to stab his true love in the heart to end the Long Night. The original Azor Ahai tempered his sword in water, then a lion’s heart, then finaly the heart of his wife Nissa Nissa to forge Lightbringer. (The sword must have been pretty short by the end of this, unless the shattered pieces were re-worked, which means the Catspaw Dagger being the original Lightbringer is a possibility).

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Azor Ahai. Source: Reddit

There are layers of symbolism to this. As others have noted, the Night King and Euron represent ice or water and Cersei- a lion- was heartbroken witnessing the destruction of King’s Landing. So Jon Snow could be said to have tempered his resolve, or even literal sword, fighting against the Night King and Cersei even though he didn’t personally kill them. However, while this may be deliberate symbolism, I don’t think Jon’s sword is the main meaning of Lightbringer. The whole point of Lightbringer is to end the Long Night, and Jon’s sword didn’t do that. I’ll explain why below, but first..

 

The Long Night isn’t what you think…

The Long Night that the prophecy refers to is nothing to do with the Night King. Readers and the characters assume it is because they confuse Azor Ahai with the story (not a prophecy) of the Last Hero who definitely did get involved with the White Walkers and Children of the Forest. Instead, the darkness referred to in the Azor Ahai myth is a metaphor for mass or global oppression. The real Long Night was the 300 year long Targaryen dictatorship or perhaps centuries of ongoing tyranny pre-Targaryen in the time of the Hundred Kingdoms and even before. The Long Night could also refer to Dany’s attempt at world domination which would have been a darkness which covered the world.

Did Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen end that with his sword? I’m going to say no. He killed Dany but tyranny would easily have continued, at least in Westeros. The  only thing which finally broke the wheel was the proto-democracy which Tyrion created. Which means…

Lightbringer was democracy

…And we witnessed its first forging. Westeros has adopted the Iron Islands’ style of leader-for-life election. A large nation following this example will help spread more democratic practices to the nearby regions of Essos and hopefully one day the entire Planetos (assuming no other large nations already have it). This is a leap forward as, though some other states do elect leaders, the pool of candidates and voters is even smaller than that of Westeros e.g. the Triarchy. But obviously there’s stil a long way to go before Samwell Tarly’s invention comes to fruition. If the prophecy is true, thee will need to be two more changes made to the system before Westeros (or another country, as we don’t know if the prophecy pertains to Westeros at all) becomes the first true democracy.

This first forging also represents within it a forging triad, as Dany was stabbed once and the Iron Throne was melted in two attempts. (Watch it again, Drogon breathes fire twice). These three acts were necessary for the forgining of Lightbringer/democracy.

A second possibility for the identity of Azor Ahai is that Azor Ahai is Jon and Daenerys together. It was Daenerys’ dream to break the wheel, and that enabled Tyrion to continue her legacy and sell the idea to Grey Worm and Yara Greyjoy. Dany was “reborn amidst smoke and salt”. These are the smoke from Khal Drogo’s pyre in which she hatched her dragons and the sea which she crossed to begin her conquest of Westeros, where she finally identified as a Targaryen and began her journey to the Iron Throne. Waking dragons from stone is self-explanatory. Both Jon and Dany were reborn- Jon was literally reborn after being murdered- around the time of the red comet, the Sparrows’ (red) star scarification rituals, and the destruction of the Sept of Baelor which killed the Sparrow cult. All or any of these could be the bleeding red star foretold in the prophecy.

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Why Bran Stark is The Prince Who Was Promised

Bran was a prince who became un-royal when he became King.

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Let’s back up. Bran had two brothers and a sister who were monarchs, making him a Prince. When he was given Kingship it was really more like a Xi JinPing President for Life situation. Xi’s children won’t become President after him (as of the time of writing) and neither will Bran’s, even if he were able to have kids. He is ‘promised’ because he heralds a new age of (a bit more) equality and (slightly improved) justice. Bran may have made the election possible by foreseeing Daenerys’ destruction of King’s Landing and not only not preventing it, but driving her to rage by informing Jon and Sansa of Jon’s true identity. Thus, “the Prince Who Was Promised will bring the dawn.”

 

 

 

Who was Cersei’s valonqar?

When Cersei was a preteen she was given this prophecy by a witch known Maggy the Frog:

“Queen you shall be, for a time. Then comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear. And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar [Valyrian for ‘little brother’] will wrap his hands around your throat and choke the life from you.”

The show version doesn’t mention the valonqar but I’m making a leap of faith that Cersei dies in a similarly underwhelming way in the books. The showrunners Dan and Dave seem to prize spectacle over actual plot, so I can’t see them skipping over a showdown between Dany and Cersei, or her murder by Jaime or Tyrion.

The more beautiful queen is easily Dany. However, the valonqar part didn’t appear on Game of Thrones. Now, Maggy’s prophecy has proved true so far; she correctly predicted the number of children she and Robert Baratheon would have, their fates, and even seems to have seen Westeros’ political future, accurately foretelling that Cersei’s betrothed Rhaegar Targaryen would not be king. Blood magic, which Maggy used, is also the most powerful form of magic. So I don’t think her prophecy is simply wrong. I think that, like Mel, she misunderstood it.

Cersei was “choked” to death by being smothered under a load of stone. She may have died from asphyxiation rather than being crushed to death, depending on how the blocks fell. Her little brother Jaime did have his arms wrapped around her at the moment of death. Furthermore, her other little brother Tyrion was the one who found her body and he uses his hands to move the stones which killed her, thus confusing Maggy’s viewing of events. Tyrion could be seen as Cersei’s enemy since they were fighting on different sides of the war. To complicate matters even more, Tyrion was at that moment Hand of the Queen to Daenerys- who planned to kill Cersei and unkowingly caused Cersei’s death by making the stones fall. Plus, he actually did murder his lover Shae by choking her with a necklace of gold hands. Jaime is also wearing a gold hand as he holds Cersei.

Maggy the Frog’s use of the word “drowned” could also be a reference to asphyxiation by being under a substance- in this case, stones. Euron’s defeat cemented Cersei’s fate and Euron is associated with water and the Drowned God. He also makes reference to having “two good hands” and to his “finger” at an important strategic moment (proposing the alliance with Cersei which ultimately was a factor in her death). Euron is killed near water by Jaime who is known for his rather expensive hand, to which Euron makes reference before Jaime stabs him.  Cersei walking downwards before her death could also be seen as a “drowning”. She was crying, which lends credence to the line “when your tears have drowned you.” All of these factors led to Maggy the Frog misinterpreting what she saw.

So the irony of Cersei’s story is that her increased hatred of Tyrion was pointless and she spent most of her life fearing something that would never happen. That’s a George R. R. Martin type of ending.

This is why Daenerys destroyed King’s Landing

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Source: Google Images

No, D&D didn’t mess up (for about the first time since Season 8 started). The writing was rushed- as per usual for this season- but it wasn’t nonsensical. Some people have commented that the showrunners are making Dany fit the ‘crazy wimmin’ stereotype and completely reverse Cersei and Sansa’s characters to make them less strong. I don’t see this either, and I’ll expand on that below. But first, let’s delve into why Dany’s massacre makes total sense.

 

Why did she do it?

Not for the throne. She could’ve flown straight to the Red Keep and either shish kebab’d Cersei or had hand-to-hand combat with her. (As they’re both untrained in physical combat, my money’s on a slapfight). But she didn’t. She brought fire and blood down on her own citizens. She destroyed her own capital. She damaged the Red Keep- her own seat of power. Why? Because maybe she doesn’t want the throne anymore. Dany now realises that what she thought she wanted is not what she actually wants. She grew up in war, that’s what she became- a warrior not a ruler.

“You weren’t made to sit on a throne and rule,” Daario Naharos said round about Season 6. “You’re a conqueror.” In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Iron Throne was Viserys’ dream and Dany kept it alive because it was all she knew. But having grown up, she might have shaken off his brainwashing. Dany also fantasised about how much more beautiful Westeros would be than the exotic cities she saw in Essos. But that’s very unlikely. She thought the pools of the Red Keep must be lovelier than her swimming pool in Meereen but as we know, the climate of King’s Landing (i.e. London) doesn’t often allow for open air swimming. Nor for tropical plants and exotic animals such as those Dany experienced in Pentos, Qarth, Astapor, Meereen and the Dothraki Sea. Dany has travelled extensively, even as a young child fleeing the Usurper’s hired knives. Staying for the rest of her life in a cold damp castle in a stinking city on a foggy island might not hold much appeal.

Dany doesn’t want power. She wants adventure. Dany cried when King’s Landing surrendered. Because she didn’t want surrender, she wanted to fight. Surrender gives her power but fighting gives her thrills. A long wait for victory- Dany waited all her life even to start fighting for her throne- accustoms you to war. Easy victory is boring because after a lifetime of scheming and preparing, now life is empty with no goal to work towards. So, for the conflict-deprived, violence becomes no longer a means to an end, but the end itself.

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Cersei appears confident as the battle begins.

Dany had another motive for destroying King’s Landing. It was a mental torture for Cersei. Maggy the Frog’s prophecy says that Cersei will be queen until “there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear.” Cersei loved Jaime and Dany “took” him temporarily to fight the Night King. Cersei saw Dany destroy her military power (the Golden Company and Iron Fleet), her political power (the city surrendered), her most loyal lieutenants (brain yes-man Qyburn and brawn yes-man Zombified Mountain) and finally fears losing her unborn baby. She is literally goes downwards- first towards safety in Maegor’s holdfast then led by Jaime to escape Daenerys. They end up under the Great Hall. Obviously the valonqar part of the prophecy didn’t come true on Game of Thrones unless Cersei and/or Jaime climbed over one of the piles of rubble while the bricks were falling and are still alive.

Daenerys’ destruction of King’s Landing truly was a psychological torture for Cersei. At the beginning of the battle she was smiling and confident with her two yes-men standing behind her. With every defeat, she crumbled a little more and finally was almost weeping. At the very end she is scared and weeping which, while very out of character, makes total sense for a character whose confidence derives directly from her power. Some people are naturally confident but for others- especially those who’ve always had power or privilege, like Cersei, much of that bravado comes from the fact of their power. I have personally seen this in real life.

So, I don’t think the show is reversing the female characters. Sansa betraying Jon wasn’t a true betrayal; she wants him to claim his birthright. She’s actually his staunchest supporter- because they are family. And of course because she doesn’t trust Dany. Sansa told Tyrion not just because she felt like gossiping, it was, as Dany surmised, to spread the information and gather support for Jon’s claim. If anything the showrunners are strengthening Sansa’s character snd showing what a shrewd operator she has become by learning from Cersei, Littlefinger, Tyrion and Ramsay. She can now manipulate Tyrion.

Cersei took a lifetime to get to where she is- from daughter of a powerful lord to wife of the king to Queen Regent to ruling Queen- and saw it destroyed in about five minutes. Even her home (the Red Keep), her seat of power (her capital) and her objects of power (the people of King’s Landing, whom she wields power over) were destroyed. Dany wanted Cersei to lose everything just as she had.

Dany might also have little love for the Red Keep. It’s a symbol of her Targaryen heritage, and it was that heritage which caused all of the bad experiences in Dany’s life. Viserys was driven insane by his goal to retake the throne and became cruel to her. Dany’s unstable childhood, assassination attempts throughout her life, marriage to Khal Drogo, and most of what followed were indirectly related to her status as an exile Targaryen.

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Another possible motive for Daenerys was that she believed the bells were a trap. Dany would indeed be a fool to believe Cersei. Cersei doesn’t exactly have a great track record for keeping promises; she said she would send her army north to help defeat the Night King but didn’t, meaning Viserion died for nothing attempting to rescue those who had captured a wight to show Cersei. However, this doesn’t explain why she aimed at civilians instead of Cersei, throwing only two cursory fire-blows at the Red Keep’s edges.

Another explanation is that Dany lost control of Drogon. Drogon did incinerate a little girl called Hazzea in Meereen. He also doesn’t obey Dany at other times such as when he flew her into the Dothraki Sea. His ancestor Balerion the Black Dread (hinted in the books to actually be Drogon in a previous life) carried Aerea Targaryen to Valyria against her will in Fire & Blood. I don’t think Game of Thrones is going this way, though. It wouldn’t have been necessary to show Drogon going berserk for as long as the showrunners did. The massacre took up that amount of screentime because it was an important plot point.

 

Psychology

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Daenerys was flying Drogon, shooting targets like a helicopter or fighter jet pilot. According to On War by Carl von Clausewitz, combatants who kill hundreds of innocent or helpless people from above don’t feel guilt or develop PTSD versus combatants who kill soldiers in self-defence face to face. It’s all psychological. Shooting tiny targets doesn’t feel like murdering a human being. The pilots knew they shot down their targets and the enemy pilot probably died; they knew the bombs they dropped killed hundreds in a second. But to our brains- which evolved in an environment which only had face to face killing- this wasn’t death. The same issues apply to Dany on Drogon. She saw ants on the ground and roasted them. She aimed fire at buildings, knowing there must’ve been people inside some of them, but not seeing them burn as Arya did.

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How King’s Landing looked to Daenerys Targaryen

 

Child development

Dany’s childhood wasn’t the best. In today’s terms, she grew up a refugee with an unstable home life and frequent moves, often homeless (just not street homeless) with an emotionally and physically abusive brother as guardian. She constantly feared for their lives as they often had to flee Robert Baratheon’s assassins. When the pair joined the Dothraki her brother became more abusive and abdicated any parental responsibilities, giving tacit consent for Khal Drogo to sexually abuse his underage 13 year old sister (she contemplates suicide in the books, and though Game of Thrones depicts a loving relationship more akin to statutory rape than actual rape, the comment Dany makes to Jon about being sold, raped and enslaved is likely referring to a side of Khal Drogo that we didn’t see onscreen.) Dany saw Viserys murdered, and though she enjoyed it, it couldn’t have been great for her psyche. She saw multiple violent crimes and was almost assasinated during her time with the Dothraki, culminating in her miscarriage and killing of Mirri Maaz Duur at age 14. Then follows a starvation in the red waste, flight from Qarth, war and an assassination attempt where she meets Daario Naharis. Book Danaerys is fifteen years old when she takes Meereen so presumably reaches 16 there. However, legal adulthood for some things in the UK, and almost everything in the USA, is 18- meaning that unless Dany spends around three years in Meereen- also chock-full of political intrigue, civil war, and foreign threats- she’s probably still a minor when she reaches Westeros. Psychological adolescence is now thought to end at 21 or 22. We don’t even know if Dany will survive that long.

To summarise, her entire development was one of fearing for her life and being subjected to, witnessing and eventually committing violent acts. More specifically, the idea of war is normal to her. Not only was the threat of war ever-present in Meereen, but Viserys indoctrinated Dany with the desire for vengeance and a raison d’etre of reclaiming their throne. Dany owes a lot of what she is to Viserys. Without him, she might well be content to live in a simple house with a red door. Perhaps that’s how her story will end, if she’s lucky. The foreshadowing points to Daenerys not getting the Iron Throne.

Mass murder might not seem so bad when you consider war and violence as just another thing people do.

 

 

Emotionality vs Logic

As Machiavelli said, it is better to be loved than feared, but if a ruler cannot be loved, they should try to be feared. A Song of Ice and Fire does include homages to Machiavelli, such as a description of Tywin Lannister as being “as much the fox as the lion.” (Machiavelli stated that rulers must be “a lion to drive off wolves, and a fox to detect traps.” Danaerys says she does not have love of the people in Westeros, unlike in Essos. “Then let me have fear,” she declares once she realises that public support through love is hopeless as not a single person loves her- not even Jon. Thus, Dany’s barbeque is partly rooted in political strategy. She cannot rule by love so must rule by fear. If only she’d remembered that Machiavelli also cautions against being hated.

The more obvious catalyst for the mass murder is the brutal kidnapping and murder of Dany’s best friend Missandei, an unarmed noncombatant. Perhaps Dany felt justified in killing civilians knowing Cersei had done the same. She may also simply have been moved to rage through grief and wanted revenge for her loss. Grey Worm was obviously deeply affected by witnessing his girlfriend’s beheading, and as Dany and Grey Worm are more friends than monarch and general, her sympathy for him may have been a factor.

 

What will happen in the books?

It’s possible Dany will turn Mad Queen in ASOIAF. But it will be done more carefully, built up more slowly, and therefore seem realistic. I suspect that Dany will be driven to madness by the loss of her dragons, the ‘loss’ of her people, and the loss of Jon.

Viserion- named for her treacherous brother- could bond with fAegon, and Rhaegal bond with Jon as in the show. Drogon has already bonded with Dany but could have his will overridden by Dragonbinder. The Westerosi people may already have fAegon as king by the time the ever-delaying Dany finally arrives, and see her and her hordes of Dothraki and Unsullied as foreign invaders. Tyrion did warn against this in Season 7, preferring to take King’s Landing with Westerosi armies but ultimately Dany had to attack with mostly foreign armies in Season 8 Episode 5; this could play out in ASOIAF. Jon Connington had hoped fAegon and Dany would marry, but presumably this won’t happen- especially if he bonds with Viserion or even teams up with Euron who may have Drogon. Dany feels she has lost her people’s support as they all rally behind fAegon, who is unlikely to be a tyrannical ruler due to his youth and the levelheadedness of his probable Regent Connington.

Dany may ally with, or even marry, Euron as he has a dragon. Euron is likely to subject her to mental, physical and sexual torture (Book Euron is a serial murderer, serial rapist and child molester who imagines he’s a god and enjoys mutilating people). Dany finally defeats fAegon, kills Euron and gets Drogon back. Viserion is a casualty of the battle. But she has defeated the fake Aegon only for a true Aegon to rise up in his place- Jon. Bonded with Rhaegal, Jon contends with Dany for the throne and the common people of King’s Landing support him. This could be enough to drive her over the edge, given all she’s endured for the throne only to have it taken from her at the very last instant.

A pregnancy and miscarriage or SIDS could also be another factor. Or perhaps the child survives but Dany feels torn at having Jon’s baby since he is now her enemy. I believe Dany will be pregnant again in the books as it has been foreshadowed heavily. I also believe the pregnancy- whether or not it results in a birth- is important, as otherwise it wouldn’t be foreshadowed.

D&D finally delivered George R.R. Martin’s vision. He said he was inspired by the Vietnam war to write fiction that portrays good & evil on both sides and moral shades of grey. He wasn’t messing.

What every character should do to win the Game of Thrones

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The opening episode of Season 8 of HBO’s Game of Thrones saw multiple reunions and preparations for war. Cersei appears to be the only one interested in the Iron Throne for now; Euron just wants to impregnate her and leave (or so he claims) while everyone else is focussed on fighting the Night King. But sooner or later the Night King will be defeated (or so our characters hope!) and the Iron Throne will once again be the prize. So what should Dany, Jon, Sansa, Euron and Arya do to achieve their goals?

 

Sansa 

sansalf

“You’ve learned to manoeuvre from the very best.”

“Did you bend the knee to save the North- or because you love her?”

A pertinent question. To gain power, Sansa should convince the other Northmen (and Northwomen- I see you, Lady Mormont!) that Jon has betrayed the North.

Key line: “Danaerys would have joined us in fighting the Night King whether Jon bent the knee or not. She saw the army of the dead and the Night King slew her dragon. Jon threw away the crown you gave him and betrayed the North to bang a hot chick and joyride dragons. I am Ned Stark’s trueborn heir and I will take back the North.”

Goal: Sansa is crowned Queen in the North. She becomes ruler of an independent kingdom.

Threats: Jon and Arya don’t seem to desire power, so may happily go along with this- unless Danaerys persuades Jon that the North should remain part of the Seven Kingdoms. Killing Dany would be a good move here, just to be on the safe side.

Possible allies: Lyanna Mormont, who is annoyed that Jon abandoned his crown. And everyone who wants an independent North.

 

Arya

Arya’s not interested in the throne, preferring a life of adventure to one of power and responsibility. However if she wanted to be queen (and one-up her Queen in the North sister) she could marry Jon once she finds out they’re not half-siblings but cousins. Cousin marriage is tolerated in Westeros and in fact Tywin Lannister married and impregnated his first cousin Joanna Lannister, fathering Cersei and Jaime out of incest. (Apparently the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree). If Jon ends up on the Iron Throne then Arya and he could become joint rulers. Of course Dany would have to be disposed of. If Arya doesn’t want to use her Faceless Man skills to accomplish this, she could stir up hatred against Dany by publicising her execution of the Tarlys and playing the “Mad King’s daughter” card. Cersei has conducted a very similar smear campaign. Arya could go further by staging riots and protests to make it appear as though Dany is unpopular, which could inspire the public to rise against her and support Jon’s claim. In the autobiography Confessions of an Economic Hitman, the CIA is claimed to have pulled off this tactic to depose a democratically elected Iranian president and install a dictator. No reason why it couldn’t work in Westeros.

Goal: Enable Jon to win the Iron Throne, then either rule with him or sail off into the sunset.

Key line: “We’ve always loved each other as siblings and been closest to each other. Let’s take your birthright together. They took Winterfell from our family, but now we’ll take King’s Landing and all of Westeros from them.”

Threats: Sansa and Dany, who could also benefit from political marriages to Jon. Killing both would be the safest course, though Arya and Sansa seem to be getting along better now. Tyrion could be a threat if he supports Danaerys. Jaime could be a threat if he doesn’t want Cersei deposed or killed, or he could be an ally.

Allies: Jon, Stark loyalists and possibly Jaime Lannister.

 

Euron

I don’t believe for a moment that this worldly, skilled magician’s (at least in the books) character is just sticking around to fulfil the role of Cersei’s latest bedroom toy. He should- and is probably planning to- impregnate and marry Cersei, then off her and rule either through his heir as Lord Protector of the Realm, or directly by claiming kingship by right of marriage, as Cersei did when she took the throne bloodlessly.

Goal: Become King or have his son or daughter become King or Queen.

Threats: Jaime Lannister, who was next in line, and Yara Greyjoy. Granting Yara the title of Queen of the Iron Islands and assuring their independence from the Crown would be a good way around this. Euron should also kill Jaime just in case, and possibly also Gendry if he finds out he’s a Baratheon bastard.

Allies: Only his Iron Islander supporters and possibly the inhabitants of King’s Landing.

Key line: “Finger in the bum.” Seriously, go read the books if you haven’t already. HBO’s hatchet job on this evil, mysterious Greyjoy wizard is a character assassination.

 

Daenerys

George R.R. Martin can’t even write a character if he hasn’t got their name right- and the names are meaningful. This makes me ponder the meaning of Dany’s name, which (almost) contains the Mad King’s (Daenerys is similar to Dan- Aerys). However, it’s not uncommon for Targaryen names to use the ‘aerys’ or ‘erys’ ending, e.g. Viserys, who actually was pretty mad, and one of their ancestors was named Daenerys. Is power slowly corrupting her? Whichever way she decides to go, slapping a ring on her undead toyboy is the best option. Dany has worked all her life to regain what she believed was her inheritance. I don’t blame her if she finds it difficult to turn it all over to some lad who just found out he’s a Targaryen, especially with the Iron Throne almost in sight. Furthermore, Dany seems to be a bit of a feminist, believing in some form of gender equality. It may be galling that as his daughter, she is most closely related to the Mad King but it’s her gender which pushes her further down the line of succession than grandson Jon. Marrying Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen VI and engaging in shared rule would satisfy both of them.

Key line: “Targaryen blood remains strong through inbreeding. We were meant to be together and bring peace to Westeros.”

Threats: Sansa, who doesn’t approve of Dany and probably blames her for seducing Jon into giving up on an independent North. And Cersei and Euron, obviously.

Allies: Tyrion, possibly Jaime, and her huge army.

 

Jon Snow a.k.a. Aegon Targaryen VI

Jon may not be interested in becoming king, but if he wants to support Dany, it’s probably still best achieved by marrying her so no-one can claim that she is not the legitimate successor.

Allies: Stark bannermen, the Wildlings, the former Night’s Watch, Arya and possibly Brienne. Combined with Dany’s army and dragons, this pairing would be an unstoppable force.

jondany.jpg

 

How Lysa Tully masterminded the wars in Game of Thrones

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Lysa Tully Arryn was the instigator of the War of Five Kings. Lysa was more than she appeared. She was more than Littlefinger’s pawn. Lysa hid her evil behind a mask of fearfulness, overprotectiveness toward her son Robin and generally being pathetic. Just like her sister Catelyn Tully hid her own cruelty behind determination, protectiveness toward her family and acting like she cared for her kids. The Order of the Green Hand have created an incisive series of videos entitled Why Catelyn Sucks, about Catelyn’s real character, including her role in the Starks’ demise by undermining Ned’s plans, her viciousness toward Jon Snow, and her misleading of the reader through her POV chapters. (I highly recommend checking out The Order of the Green Hand for in-depth analysis of the A Song of Ice and Fire books and the show Game of Thrones). I’m not going to go over how Catelyn caused the War of the Five Kings and the deaths of her family, as that’s already been covered by Why Catelyn Sucks. What I’m about to explain here is how Lysa Tully worked with (and also against) Catelyn and Petyr Baelish to destroy the Starks and cause chaos.

Now, before we delve into Lysa’s murders and how she and Catelyn got Ned Stark to King’s Landing, I’d like to point out something about Lysa’s name. George R. R. Martin has stated that his characters’ names are extremely important. He can’t begin to write a character unless he knows what their name is. As The Order of the Green Hand have noted, Petyr Baelish means “devilish” or “stone demon”. The spellings of Catelyn and Lysa both reflect the word “catalyst”; putting the two names together- ‘catelysa’ would be very close to “catalyst”. Catelyn is also close to the name Cateline meaning “maiden” (as in, her personality is as if she never married into the Stark family). The two Tully sisters were the catalyst for the War of Five Kings.

The War of Five Kings was started when the Lannisters became aware of Ned’s plan to reveal the fact that Cersei and Jaime’s kids weren’t the King’s heirs. Ned discovered this because he was investigating why the Lannisters made two attempts on Bran Stark’s life; Catelyn and Ned suspected that Bran had seen something and the murder was attempted to silence him. The Lannisters wouldn’t have known that the Starks suspected anything if Catelyn hadn’t told Littlefinger (who has a place on the Small Council and is the realm’s Master of Coin) and Varys (the realm’s actual spymaster– come on, Catelyn!) that she and Ned had travelled to King’s Landing to investigate Bran’s attempted murder at the hands of the Lannisters (Tyrion Lannister becomes the number one suspect at this point).

lysacat

But could Lady Catelyn simply have been naive? Not likely. First off, she was raised in the south, where schemes and betrayals are pretty much the order of the day. The northmen are an honest and possibly naive bunch, but not so the Tullys. Secondly, Catelyn’s behaviour shows how aware she was of the danger should the Lannisters discover that the Starks suspected their role in Bran’s fall. She swore her son Robb, their ward Theon, and her employees to secrecy, then journeyed to King’s Landing by sea for reasons of urgency and secrecy. She sometimes hid her face behind her hood to avoid being recognised. So telling Littlefinger and Varys smacks of at least carelessness if not deliberate provocation of war. Her seizing Tyrion is also a deliberate provocation. Catelyn probably thought that Lysa wanted to start a war and would be happy with her taking Tyrion to the Eyrie to be judged and executed.

I suspect that Lysa told Catelyn to get Ned to King’s Landing in her letter. That’s why Catelyn burned it before Ned or Maester Luwin could read it. Whether Lysa told Catelyn to provoke war is unclear, but her letter started the War of the Five Kings. Petyr Baelish lied that the catspaw dagger was Tyrion’s to further that agenda.

Catelyn listened to Lysa probably because she wanted to return south with Ned while he investigated Bran’s fall and/or Jon Arryn’s murder. She missed the events and warm weather of her homeland and the North must have seemed boring and cold to her. She may also have wanted to continue an affair with Littlefinger (Catelyn thinks “so soon” when Petyr contacts her, indicating that she was prepared for him to contact her but just not as quickly.

lysa

Lysa’s endgame

To suggest that Petyr Baelish, Lysa Arryn and Catelyn Stark conspired together is not the same thing as saying they were all on the same page. Petyr Baelish wanted chaos and to marry Catelyn. Catelyn wanted to return to the South, continue her affair with Petyr and have Jon Snow thrown out of Winterfell to secure her children’s claim (possibly out of fear that some of them were Petyr’s and had no claim on Winterfell). Lysa wanted to destroy Catelyn and marry Petyr.

Lysa’s evil character

Lysa has committed at least two murders, one rape, and one framing for murder. She may have deliberately started the war to harm the Starks as a revenge against Catelyn. Lysa claims to love Littlefinger, but what we have in both the books and the show is obsession. In HBO’s Game of Thrones, it’s a paranoid clinginess, all the more pathetic for being unrequited. In A Song of Ice and Fire however, Lysa displays a scheming ownership of Petyr and treats him as property.

In the books Lysa often kissed Petyr even though he showed no interest in her and doesn’t appear to have wanted this. That’s harmless enough in a child or teen, but one night Lysa went much further than this. Petyr was so drunk he had to be carried to bed. Despite being fully aware of this fact, Lysa sneaked into his room (“I stole upstairs to give him comfort”) and had sex with him- even though Petyr was semiconscious and so out of it that he couldn’t even recognise her. He whispered “Cat,” indicating that he was completely unaware of what was happening and believed her to be her sister. Interestingly, we’re never told that Lysa ever attempted to have sex with Petyr except one this one occasion- the occasion on which he was vulnerable. To the present day Littlefinger believes he had sex with both Cat and Lysa that night (he found Lysa in his bed the next morning). Lysa didn’t show remorse and, judging by the fact that Hoster Tully sent Petyr away after Lysa’s pregnancy became known, she concealed her crime from her father also and that’s why Petyr wasn’t treated as a victim but instead blamed for getting her pregnant.

It’s important to note that the young Lysa may not have realised that what she did was wrong, or at least that serious. An adolescent in our world would receive a lesser sentence than an adult; judging by the Steubenville case, Lysa would get only about three years in the slammer- even in a lock-up-happy country like America. (She might get even less as she was around 14 at the time while the Steubenville rapists were 16 and 17). Teens can learn, grow and change. What’s more worrying though is that Lysa as an adult feels no remorse. She wasn’t a kid who committed one crime in her life. She’s an individual who has continued in her criminal activity well past the age of majority.

Lysa murdered her own father and husband. She says as much to Petyr Baelish in the books and the show. The murder of Jon Arryn was done at Petyr’s instigation but in our world both would be held responsible for first degree murder. How much Petyr influenced the murder of Hoster Tully is unclear but as his daughter, Lysa’s role in his death is more shocking than Petyr’s. Lysa also wrote to Catelyn framing the Lannisters for Jon Arryn’s murder which gave Catelyn leverage to persuade Ned to go to the capital and set the war between the Starks and Lannisters in motion.

These are not the actions of a helpless headcase. Lysa’s unstable, sadsack character is merely a front, just as Doran Martell’s gout is a front for his carefully calculated plots. Lysa exaggerates her emotional weakness while Doran exaggerates his physical weakness. Lysa may be a bit crazy, but it’s bad-crazy, not sad-crazy.

 

Littlefinger’s puppet or his puppeteer?

lysapetyr.jpg

Littlefinger profited from Lysa convincing Jon Arryn to give him a job in Gulltown and then take him to King’s Landing. He does direct some of Lysa’s actions such as the murder of Jon Arryn and the framing of the Lannisters. He pretends to love her so he can manipulate her. He ends up murdering her in the cruellest way possible, telling her he’s only ever loved her older, prettier sister, before pushing her out the moon door.

However, Lysa seems proud and happy to have committed the murders and has always schemed to marry Littlefinger. It was she who pursued and took advantage of him when they were teenagers, getting pregnant by force. As a grown woman, she hurries Littlefinger into marriage the instant he arrives at The Fingers (the books) or the Eyrie (the show) and threatens her own niece’s life because she’s paranoid that Littlefinger will fall for her. These aren’t symptoms of love, but obsession and control. Lysa as a teenager wanted to possess Littlefinger by a physical ‘bond’ (sex), then a biological bond (having his child) and now by a legal bond (marriage). She will literally murder her own father, husband and niece to achieve this.

lysasansa

Littlefinger is Westeros’ arch-schemer so it’s unsurprising he has a hold on Lysa just as he influences most of the events of Game of Thrones. So it’s hard to see Lysa as being a victim of manipulation and betrayal any more than most of the characters are. Instead, Lysa and Petyr Baelish make quite a team and their relationship if anything seems more equal than Littlefinger’s betrayals of Ned, Catelyn, Stannis, Robert, Cersei, the Boltons, the Tyrells, Sansa…

In conclusion, Lysa Tully Arryn’s role in the War of Five Kings has been overlooked. Petyr may be an arch schemer but he could never have carried out his plan for chaos without Lysa’s help. He needed Lysa to get Catelyn to send Ned to King’s Landing and tell Ned to trust himself so he could lead Ned to unravel the Lannisters’ secret- which would lead to war-  and lie about the catspaw dagger, which induced Catelyn to kidnap Tyrion- which also escalated tensions. Lysa Tully is the true catalyst of A Song of Ice and Fire.

lysaasoif

Here’s Why Shamima Begum WON’T Be Prosecuted If She Wins Back UK Citizenship- And How She Can Live In Holland WITHOUT Dutch Citizenship!

 

How could Shamima Begum win an appeal against the Home Secretary’s revocation of her citizenship?

 

First off, it’s illegal for any UK court to remove citizenship if that would make someone stateless. In Shamima’s case, she doesn’t have dual citizenship (that we know of) so that’s a weight in her favour right there.

Shamima Begum could also argue that there is no ground to revoke her citizenship since (she would claim) she doesn’t pose a security threat. If the Home Office can’t provide evidence of crimes she’s committed in Syria then it will be difficult to defend their decision. Shamima could also argue that removing her citizenship would cause harm to her child and contravene child protection laws by leaving him in a dangerous situation where he could die of starvation. It’s unclear whether depriving Shamima of citizenship would also revoke her son’s citizenship, as he was born prior to the revocation. Even if it doesn’t, that would still leave him in a precarious situation unless Shamima agrees to be separated from him and manages to transport him to Britain.

She could further claim that the UK government has a duty of care towards her as a human trafficking/sex trafficking victim who was groomed and abducted as a child and is now seeking to return home. (Luring a person under the age of 16 to run away from their parents is legally abduction and in any case the Bethnal Green girls were undoubtedly groomed online and trafficked to Syria for the purposes of statutory rape and childbearing). The UK Asylum and Immigration Act includes deception and “abuse of vulnerability on the grounds of age” in its definition of means of trafficking. In additon, The Palermo Protocol (2000) defines trafficked children as victims, as under-18s cannot give valid consent. The 2009 UNODC Model Law on Trafficking in Persons offers States two definitions of APOV (‘abuse of a position of vulnerability’) one of which is relevant:

“Taking advantage of the vulnerable position a person is placed in as a result of being a child”.

 

Which crimes could Shamima Begum be prosecuted for if she returns to the UK?

Assuming that Shamima somehow manages to overturn the Home Office decision, would she be arrested upon touchdown? Well, possibly. Personally I would hope that there would be a full investigation into whether she committed crimes in Syria as well as any information or witness testimony she can provide about the crimes of others. There should also be a police investigation into the crimes committed against her and the other trafficked schoolgirls. Any information she has about the terrorists who groomed her could be crucial in preventing the radicalisation and recruitment of other children (and adults). As for the potential crimes Shamima Begum is currently known to have committed, they remain very…potential. Joining certain terrorist organisations is a crime in the UK. The age of criminal responsibility in England is 10 (currently 12 in Scotland; previously 8). Shamima, who left for Syria from England, was obviously above the age of criminal responsibility. However, for crimes such as these, people usually have to be 16 or over to be prosecuted, or even 18. This means that while two of the other ‘Jihadi brides’ could be prosecuted as they were 16, Shamima cannot be. There may be some crimes that none of the girls could be charged with as none were 18 at the time.  Shamima’s involvement in crime while in ISIS isn’t likely as women are not allowed to take part in combat and are treated as sex objects. Shamima probably lived as an imprisoned housewife whose life consisted of sexual abuse, lack of adult supervision and denial of education (ISIS provides so-called ‘education’ to girls but this ends at the age of 15).

So, if Shamima Begum has not participated in any atrocities whilst with ISIS, she’ll probably not be successfully prosecuted.

The fate of Shamima’s baby

The UK social service system is governed by the courts but operates independently. They have a duty towards Shamima’s son under Prevent, as well as under the usual child protection laws and policies. Hopefully, an urgent social work assessment of any child protection concerns will be carried out- not just on Shamima Begum, but the entire Begum family. Regardless of the outcome (social services could seek a Care Order from the courts to remove the child into foster care and/or eventual adoption, or allow the child to remain with her but with intervention), Shamima should be linked up with a deradicalisation service such as Channel. This is extremely important- not just to deradicalise her but also to prevent her from radicalising friends, family and boyfriends. If successful, deradicalisation would also prevent her from choosing a radicalised individual as a partner in the future. If her baby remains living with Shamima, a pro-ISIS stepfather on top of a radicalised mother would spell disaster. Even radicalised friends would have an effect on the child.

Could the family claim Dutch citizenship? And why Shamima doesn’t need actually need it

Well, that depends. If Shamima’s marriage was registered officially, it would be legal under Syrian law. This would probably confer Dutch citizenship on her. However, Holland may have laws which specify minimum numbers of years for citizenship to be granted through marriage in order to thwart sham marriages- Britain has had these laws for a long time. If that’s the case then Shamima may have to wait a few years to become a citizen of Holland. If her husband is deceased, she may never be able to claim citizenship.

But that doesn’t mean she definitely can’t reside there. Dutch citizenship will have passed to her baby from the father, meaning the child has a right of abode in Holland. While some countries don’t automatically give citizenship to children of unmarried fathers, the mother or child can apply for the child’s right of citizenship if paternity can be proven. So the legal-ness of Shamima’s marriage isn’t an issue. Because her baby has a right of abode, Shamima could claim the right of residency in Holland until her baby reaches the age of majority or the legal age of independence. EU law, including European Court of Justice case law,is very clear that childrens’ rights of abode must not be denied them by denying their legal guardians the right of abode in the country until they reach majority. In some cases this can extend to a child’s right to be educated in their country of citizenship, potentially increasing Begum’s length of stay to her son’s (and any future children’s) university career. So contrary to popular belief, Shamima Begum doesn’t actually have to become a Dutch citizen.

Begum could also apply for asylum from any country including Holland and the UK, though obviously her application would be considered differently as she is a possible threat to national security.

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