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European Game of Thrones

European Game of Thrones

by Todd Davis

Ukraine is losing the war with Russia. No, that’s not correct. Ukraine has lost the war with Russia. The Ukrainian economy has been completely destroyed to the point that it no longer functions. GDP has fallen precipitously since the war began and it would have completely cratered were it not being held up by a constant influx of cash from America and the EU. Militarily, Ukraine doesn’t produce any arms or equipment; everything it uses comes from NATO. The math is lopsided, Russia outproduces NATO by a wide margin and this has led to an increasingly large Russian superiority in the most important combat systems; artillery and precision-guided munitions that are no longer interdicted by the degraded Ukrainian air defense system. Casualties are at least 7:1 in favor of Russia, and around the death trap of Bakhmut, Ukraine is losing thousands of soldiers each week. Yes, by all metrics the war is lost, so we have to ask, what comes next?

The fallout from Ukraine’s defeat will be a butterfly effect that is felt across the entire world. But it is in Europe where the shockwaves will be most seismic. NATO’s defeat in Ukraine will topple the old, American-dominated “rules-based order”. There is a popular culture analogy we can draw some comparison from in looking at what comes next; the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. 

President Joe Biden is an apt stand-in for King Robert Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms. Since all of NATO does exactly what the United States wants, even turning a blind eye toward the American demolition of Nord Stream, Biden rules over more than seven kingdoms. Like Robert, Biden is well past his prime, incapable of ruling over the realm. And while Robert was distracted by hunting and wine, Biden is distracted by transgender culture wars and UltraMAGA boogeymen. Biden won’t die in a boar hunt, in fact, it’s likely he will be reelected in 2024, but figuratively, after its defeat in Ukraine, American lordship over Europe will crumble and quite possibly perish. With the NATO King gone, European leaders will scramble to see who will dominate the continent going forward. Chaos is a ladder and these are the players who will try to seize the crown. 

Ursula von der Leyen – Cersei Lannister

Ursula is the president of the European Commission. Now wait, that’s not even a country you may say. In fact, many might even be Googling, what exactly is the European Commission? The European Commission is the executive branch of the European Union, a bureaucratic institution that has the power to negotiate treaties and, what ends up being its primary role, impose sanctions on countries that don’t accept European (actually American) policy decisions. 

Arrogant, wealthy, and based on both her COVID policy and economic decisions in support of Ukraine that have crushed the people of Europe, Ursula is obvious to the needs and wants of the commoners. That’s a fairly accurate description of Cersei Lannister as well. Like Cersei, Ursula has no actual power either by popular election or birthright. She functions as something of a regent over European affairs, strong-arming nations to do what her globalist cabal wants regardless of whether it coincides with an individual nation’s sovereign interests. 

The fall of American influence would be a perfect opportunity for Ursula to expand the power of the EU. Much like the Lannisters, Ursula’s primary means of coercion and power is wealth. Controlling the purse strings of the EU affords Ursula the opportunity to compel nations to hold the line and do what she wants. Recently proposed sanctions against Hungary for not fully supporting NATO’s war on Russia are evidence that the European Commission will ruthlessly turn on its own. Economic bullying may work and may keep countries in line, but as Josef Stalin once said, how many divisions does the Pope of Rome have? Ursula has no military to back up her demands, especially when the United States recedes. She has no iron in the glove to enforce EU demands if one or more major European countries decide they don’t need Ursula anymore.

Emmanuel Macron – Renly Baratheon

Friendly, accommodating, a diplomat, a child of summer, interested in playing as king rather than being a king, Renly Baratheon was the happy wanderer in Game of Thrones. Renly would have made a good king provided his reign was peaceful and isolationist. Ill-equipped to face the hard world of realpolitik, Renly was a child sitting at the adults’ table. 

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to be the leader of a new Europe. A professional diplomat, he has maintained a relationship with Vladimir Putin even after 14 months of European war. Putin still takes his calls. Macron, accompanied by Ursula who was there to control Macron and the narrative, namely for China to stop supporting Russia, recently went to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. After isolating Ursula and separating her from Macron, Xi charmed him and the French President came back talking about separating European interests from American imperial aims. 

Macron constantly flips his positions so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him saying the exact opposite three months from now, but if the towering specter of America recedes then Macron will have a chance to stabilize the sand he’s constantly walking through. He has an opportunity to cement a relationship with China. Unlike other European leaders, Macron’s support both economically and militarily in Ukraine has been measured, almost tepid. France will emerge from NATO’s defeat relatively intact. With Britain bankrupt and Germany castrated, it’s not inconceivable that France could become the dominant power in Western Europe. 

France is going through domestic turmoil at home that has threatened Macron’s leadership. He faces a constant challenge from Marine Le Pen and the increasing support for the National Rally. However, if he’s able to successfully navigate these problems he may find the courage to take the leadership position a future France could have in the new post-American Europe. 

Boris Johnson/Liz Truss/Rishi Sunak – The Starks

Proud, arrogant, steeped in tradition, and guardians of a formidable military past, Britain is the Starks of Europe. During the Ukraine war, British Prime Ministers have fallen about as frequently as Stark family heads. The most vocal of all Western European nations about its support for Ukraine, Britain has taken every opportunity to escalate the war from Boris Johnson sabotaging the March 2022 peace agreement that Russia and Ukraine were about to sign to Rishi Sunak sending depleted Ukranian shells into the war zone. 

Like the Starks, Britain is living in the past clinging to traditions and policy that looks antiquated to the modern world. Britain conducts itself as if this is 1853 and the sun never sets on the British Empire. Long an opponent of Russia, Britain spent centuries trying to contain and thwart the Czars. In many ways, Britain tried this war in Crimea before, instigating the Crimean War from 1853-56. They brought France along and like this current war, it was a logistical disaster for the West that eventually ended in a stalemate. 

Britain begrudgingly accepted the Soviet Union as an ally in World War 2 but Churchill never trusted the Russians and ultimately viewed them as the real threat after Germany’s defeat was assured. Britain has never liked Russia. It has always seen them as rivals and has constantly engaged in politics meant to antagonize Russia. 

This policy, if not particularly wise, was at least feasible when Britain had an empire. They no longer do. Britain is a bankrupt nation that has a military tradition but not an actual military. The once magnificent Royal Navy is now barely seaworthy. Britain recently stated it would not be able to provide more than one division, and that would take years to pull together if it were involved in a land war. 

Britain is about to bottom out after centuries of importance on the world stage. The only thing it has going for it now is its name. Russia has called its bluff and the world is realizing that what Britain says or does has little relevance anymore because it can no longer back up its words. Without the US supporting them, they will look foolish, an empire with no clothes.  

Mateusz Morawiecki – Stannis Baratheon

Stannis was passed over by his younger brother Robert for the Iron Throne. He held Storm’s End and took enormous losses during Robert’s rebellion. And while he was bitter, he was always loyal. After Robert fell, Stannis believed his time had come. A strong warrior, used to hardship, pragmatic in policy, and yet, willing to believe in magic if it would get him a crown, Stannis shares the attributes of Poland and its Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. 

While its fellow allies in NATO have stumbled around in Ukraine, Poland has taken a direct approach. Poland mobilized 300,000 soldiers training and integrating them into its army over the last six months. Morawiecki has consistently advocated for an anti-Russian policy using loaded phrases describing Russia as evil and a threat to all of Europe. Poland pushed hard for a cap on Russian oil and cheered on the destruction of Nord Stream. 

Credible intelligence indicates that Russia is deploying nuclear warheads in Belarus because Poland had preliminary plans to invade the country at the first opportunity. One does not mobilize 300,000 men to run drills and play Call of Duty in the barracks. Putting nuclear weapons in Belarus creates a nuclear shield around the country and deters Poland, NATO, or anyone else from invading the country. 

Ukrainian collapse in the Donbas will allow the Russians to advance all the way to the Dnieper. If Kiev is directly threatened, it is almost certain the Polish army will intervene and move into western Ukraine as a “peace-keeping” force. Large parts of Ukraine might be joined with Poland or annexed entirely to prevent it from falling into the Russian sphere of influence depending on how much of Ukraine’s combat capabilities disintegrate. 

Poland has a legitimate opportunity to become the dominant NATO power in Europe. Like Stannis, they are a favorite to win the game. Poland has both the will and confidence to attain these aims. Morawiecki seems intent on relitigating World War 2. He has a better army than Germany and this time, his people have the national spirit. Poland has to be careful, however. Should it become obsessed with the throne, like Stannis, it could be drawn into a trap where they don’t become the next hegemon of Europe but instead become the next Ukraine.

Olaf Scholz – Theon Greyjoy

The Greyjoys were one of the more militaristic Houses in Game of Thrones with a motto of “We do not sow” indicating they would take by raiding and force what they needed. They had a proud history in Westeros, but by the time we see them in the HBO series, House Greyjoy has lost a series of wars putting them in a position of vassalage to the Starks. Theon Greyjoy, heir of Balon Greyjoy, is a ward and hostage at Winterfell ensuring the good behavior of the defeated kingdom. 

Germany finds itself in a situation similar to the Greyjoys. From the time of German unification in 1871 through the two world wars in the 20th century, Germany was one of the major players in Europe and often the primary land power on the continent. Crushing defeat in the Second World War, the stain of Nazism, and a partition of the country left Germany shattered. Even when the Berlin Wall came down and Germany was restored to one nation, the German people have not recovered from the trauma, shame, and Godwin’s Law. 

Theon has a tortuous journey in Game of Thrones that begins with him striving to prove himself, ends up failing, gets castrated and turned into a gimp, then eventually finds a degree of redemption. Germany as a nation has been turned into a eunuch by the United States. Nord Stream was a German pipeline that the United States blew up forcing Germany to accept US energy policy. At almost every step in NATO’s Ukrainian escalation Germany has tried to resist knowing that everything happening is against its national interests, but they are publicly shamed by Poland and forced by the United States to enact American policy by sending ammunition, artillery, air defense, and now tanks into Russia. German tanks getting swallowed up into the Russian steppe must stir up harrowing memories for the German people. 

Olaf Scholz, the current Chancellor of Germany, is forced to watch and allow all this to happen. When he recently visited the United States he looked like Theon to Biden’s Ramsay Bolton. Olaf and Germany have been humiliated psychologically and culturally by the United States. At the moment, it’s hard to call Germany a sovereign nation as it lacks the will to do anything in its own interest. Will accepting central and eastern European domination by Poland be the bridge too far for Germany? Or have they completely given up on the world stage?

A path to redemption exists for Germany. Like France, Germany could break with the NATO alliance. Once an industrial powerhouse, Germany is reliant on cheap Russian energy and the Chinese market. If both these elements are replaced by expensive American energy and a shrinking market, then German industry will be gone. Germany will turn into another Greece or Spain reliant on tourism and EU subsidies. 

Does Scholz have it in him to bring honor and respect back to the German people? Theon escaped with Sansa and went into the cold dark night trying to rebuild his life. Will Germany ever escape from the hard oppressing American thumb pushing it down?

Win or Die

Cersei’s famous quote to Ned Stark, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground”  might seem too theatrical for 2023. We are, after all, a civilized world. We view climate change as the primary existential threat to our existence. Critical geopolitical decisions by world leaders are so 1984. And yet, history always happens to generations who aren’t at the time aware of the significance of what is transpiring. The entire world is changing because of NATO going all in on Ukraine. Countries like Brazil and Saudi Arabia are leaving the American sphere of influence and aligning their policy and aims with Russia and China. Without US domination over Europe, the continent will be free to pursue its own path for the first time since 1945. Someone is going to win. And while the others may not literally die, without strong leadership that puts national interests ahead of globalist concerns, the people in these nations will be condemned to a figurative death as the sun sets on Europe and rises in the South and East.     

Todd Davis

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