The Case For Daenerys

(Welcome to Debate of Thrones, where a panel of Citadel-trained experts explain why someone deserves, or doesn’t deserve, to sit on the Iron Throne. In this edition: Daenerys Targaryen is a fiery ruler in several ways and that is exactly what Westeros needs.)

Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains, the Bane of Spellcheckers, the Boinker of Nephews, the Wearer of Really Fabulous Coats, the Lover of Tall Men and Occasionally Short Ones, The Drinker of Starbucks, the Booster of Word Counts, the Sporter of Excellent Braids, the Burner of Khals and Tarlys, the Victor of the Battle of the Goldroad is the best and only person who should sit the Iron Throne.  

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She has far more foreign policy experience than any other claimant, legitimate or otherwise

The known world is growing smaller every day; recent events have seen not one but two armies crossing the Narrow Sea into Westeros.  Westeros needs a leader who has personal, hands-on experience interacting with her peers in Essos, who understands their needs in a rapidly changing global environment as winter takes hold.  Daenerys Targaryen has lived with the Dothraki, liberated Meereen, proved a hard negotiator in Qarth, and has upended the slave trade in Yunkai, Volantis, and Astapor, respectively. She speaks several languages personally and has demonstrated a willingness to learn from and understand other cultures, to her benefit and theirs.  She has ensured her standing with the common people across the Narrow Sea, who would no doubt come to her aid if she ever required it. She is, in short, the global leader Westeros badly needs.

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She has demonstrated solid domestic policy as well

Daenerys has made significant alliances within Westeros in crucial and strategic locations.  Her recent efforts to win the loyalties of the North, at great personal expense and difficulty, cannot be taken for granted.  Likewise, the Iron Islands have historically been contentious and problematic, a source of frustration in economic and political situations alike.  Previously, the only successful attempts at keeping them from outright piracy required taking young children as hostages, which did not result in stability or peace for anyone in the long run.  Instead, the rightful Protector of the Seven Kingdoms took a new approach, approaching the only reasonable person in all of the Islands and negotiating a mutually beneficial and respectful alliance between queens.  In one five-minute semi-Sapphic discussion, she managed to achieve a goal that generations of Northerners had never hoped to accomplish, and all it took was talking to the right person. To state the obvious, Westeros needs more sensible solutions to long-running domestic issues.  I am not saying that Daenerys can solve all the problems currently facing the Seven Kingdoms, but her track record so far is excellent.

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Fire cannot burn a dragon

Westeros’ current troubles stem from a pair of assassinations (Jon Arryn and Robert Baratheon).  As such, wouldn’t it make sense to have a ruler who is at least somewhat less likely to die by some method, in this case burning alive?  (If only Shireen Baratheon had this ability in her portfolio; I’d be writing about the merits of adult literacy campaigns instead.) Granted, an invulnerable ruler would only breed tyranny in a land that has had plenty of it, but Daenerys Targaryen is not immortal — simply somewhat less likely to be assassinated and plunge Westeros into yet another series of ultimately pointless wars.  The common people would agree: a fireproof monarch makes for a more stable monarchy, and a more stable monarchy means a better life for your average Westerosi.

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Speaking of dragons!

In a similar vein, Daenerys provides stability on another, more obvious front: she has a dragon.  Even with one-third of her original complement, she still controls more brute force military resources than anyone else in the known world, and to date, she has been reasonably sensible about deploying them.  It is not accurate to say, as another commenter may have mentioned in a no doubt biased and inflammatory article, that she is mad with power or unreasonably confident in her ability to rule simply due to dubious luck in magical acquisition of resources.  The Mother of Dragon(s) has made use of her children in primarily strategic, well-placed military maneuvers unlikely to cause any collateral damage to the common people, at least the living ones. Her only shortcomings in this regard can be linked to her recent alliance with, shall we say, a less-than-ideal battle strategist.  Readers should note that her only notable military losses have been after her decision to join forces; on her own, she has been much more successful. The Seven Kingdoms deserve her sole and undivided decision-making.

There has got to be a better way

Which brings me to my final point in favor of Daenerys Targaryen’s rightful claim to the Iron Throne: what, exactly, has primogeniture gotten Westeros so far?  It is both sexist and inaccurate to assume that a good ruler’s son will necessarily be a good ruler himself; his sister (or aunt) may have already demonstrated far better real-world capabilities in this regard.  Without a reliable form of genetic testing, we must rely on the word of a mother that her son’s father is who she says he is, which I would remind readers is largely how we wound up in our current war-torn situation.  The Three-Eyed Raven is rarely available for comment in this regard, and when he is, his advice is frequently abstruse. Even the dedicated efforts of notable genealogist Gilly Craster have largely been overlooked by a patriarchal cabal of maesters unwilling to acknowledge her recent discoveries.  

Westeros cannot continue to rely on agnatic succession to produce a good and righteous ruler that will ensure the best possible lives for everyone in the Seven Kingdoms.  Winter is here; while the Night King is no longer a threat to all that we hold dear, we must consider the lasting effects of a monarchy. Do we really want to bend the knee to someone simply because he is the product of a secret marriage barely verifiable by any reasonable method?  I am not suggesting that we break with tradition entirely; there are definite merits in ensuring an orderly and predictable method of succession, and our feudal system of noble Houses swearing fealty to a sole monarch is too engrained for us to upend at this point in time, especially when so many are so tired of constant warfare.  Instead, I would recommend that we support the best contender for the throne rather than limiting ourselves to the “only” true heir, no matter how great his hair is.

Westeros does not need a ruler whose primary characteristic is that he knows nothing.  He has already demonstrated his staggering ineptitude on the battleground multiple times, most recently a series of baffling military decisions including a bewildering cavalry charge, manipulation by the enemy, extreme confusion regarding fortifications, and a foolhardy approach to undead dragon management.  His idea of foreign policy is traveling to King’s Landing to broker an ultimately unsuccessful deal; he can barely keep the North together without his cousin’s constant and dedicated assistance. In no regard does he measure up to Daenerys’ proven examples.

We need a ruler who understands the rapidly changing global environment, how it affects Westeros, and how best to protect the Seven Kingdoms from enemies outside and within.  We need someone with a strong commitment to women’s rights and the rights of the underprivileged as a whole. Most important, we need someone with a documented ability to be diplomatic when needed and know when to be aggressive in protecting this continent.  Westeros needs Queen Daenerys Targaren.

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