‘A Dance With Dragons’ And The Debt Ceiling

Mild spoilers for George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons.

So, A Dance With Dragons was obviously hugely delayed, and obviously folks are hugely vexed about that. I totally understand, except that the timing means that the novel came out at the perfect moment to illuminate our debt ceiling debate. As I write as part of a much larger essay for Foreign Policy about international relations and A Song of Ice and Fire:

Issues of international trade loom large in A Song of Ice and Fire, particularly as they intertwine with ethics. Dany, the dragon-hatching exiled heir of the ancient kings of Westeros, has an ethical campaign: She wants to end the slave trade in the countries she controls across the sea. But while it gains her followers, she’s unable to support them because the city she takes over has no viable trade goods other than slaves. Conquering land and holding it is one thing — but if you really want a society to change, you’ve got to set it up with a viable economic base that’s an alternative to destructive old options, whether it’s the trade in human flesh in Slaver’s Bay or poppies in Afghanistan.

Similarly, national debt becomes an issue for the Lannisters. Cersei Lannister forces the regime to stop making its payments to the Iron Bank of Braavos, a move that leads the Braavosi bankers to start colluding with her rivals. It’s as if China intervened on the debt-ceiling debate, but the risks of default included not just a lowered credit rating but magically aided assassination

So whatever else happens in August, I think we can be reasonably confident that the Faceless Men are not going to come for President Obama. Small mercies, people.