Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Link roundup

2.  Adam Garfinkle:
In Syria we have an interest: harming the geopolitical power of Iran. And we have a principle: preventing the mass murder of innocents. That means we will eventually intervene, right?

No, not right, because this definition of the calculus of intervention is flawed. Sure, an unemotional assessment of interests and prospects does sometimes take place, somewhere in the government. But if we look back at American military interventions abroad, we see that the likelihood of intervention is actually a function of a much different tripartite assessment, and it is an assessment that cannot fairly be called a calculation. I mean by assessment here a kind of combinate intuition made up of three rather slippery, elastic parts: affinity, aesthetics and cycle-sensitivity.
3.  George Martin (spoiler):
What about the Red Wedding itself? Is that based on history too? 
The Red Wedding is based on a couple real events from Scottish history. One was a case called The Black Dinner. The king of Scotland was fighting the Black Douglas clan. He reached out to make peace. He offered the young Earl of Douglas safe passage. He came to Edinburgh Castle and had a great feast. Then at the end of the feast, [the king's men] started pounding on a single drum. They brought out a covered plate and put it in front of the Earl and revealed it was the head of a black boar — the symbol of death. And as soon as he saw it, he knew what it meant. They dragged them out and put them to death in the courtyard. The larger instance was the Glencoe Massacre. Clan MacDonald stayed with the Campbell clan overnight and the laws of hospitality supposedly applied. But the Campbells arose and started butchering every MacDonald they could get their hands on. No matter how much I make up, there’s stuff in history that’s just as bad, or worse.