Was this 'Game of Thrones' episode a metaphor for the Iraq War?
In episode five of season eight of "Game of Thrones," countless civilians were burned alive in dragon fire as the city of King's Landing was "liberated" by Daenerys Targaryen from the tyrannical ruler Cersei Lannister.
Prior to the devastating attack, Daenerys' advisers pleaded with her to spare civilian lives and she responded that a destructive show of force will actually be an act of "mercy" by sparing future generations from the oppression of Cersei.
Instead, Daenerys indiscriminately rained fire down upon helpless men, women, and children, even after it was clear victory was at hand. As the fleeing civilians died, they left only their charred bodies to line the streets in an ashen city.
A lot of people think the horrific genocide is a metaphor for US foreign policy, in the sense that an ostensibly benevolent and powerful leader justified the killing of thousands of innocents in the name of what she claimed was the greater good.
Many people took to social media and drew parallels between US foreign policy — and particularly the US invasion of Iraq under former President George W. Bush — and Daenerys' unilateral attack:
*whispers* it suuuure would be nice if all this conversation about Dany & King's Landing would translate into a discussion about aerial bombardment, drone strikes, and civilian protection out here in the real world.— Hilary Matfess (@HilaryMatfess) May 13, 2019
In the books, as many have said, Dany is much more liable to make bad choices -- she's a stand-in for George W. Bush destroying the Middle East! That's not the Dany this show created.— Kate Aurthur (@KateAurthur) May 13, 2019
Yes. Last night provided another point:— Matt Duss (@mattduss) May 13, 2019
Daenerys: “Our mercy toward future generations who will never be held hostage by a tyrant.”
Bush: History will vindicate me for invading Iraq and setting the Middle East on fire. https://t.co/o2fAWvKRJ5
Daenerys burning a city full of innocent people...she wanna be a U.S. president so bad— manny (@mannyfidel) May 13, 2019
Since the US launched the so-called "war on terror" following the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, over 480,000 people have been killed by direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan — including at least 244,000 civilians, according to the Watson Institute's Cost of War project at Brown University.
Many experts, including those behind the Costs of War project, have contended the US could've pursued non-military options to pursue those responsible for 9/11 and spared many lives in the process.
The US military is still present in Afghanistan and Iraq, and continues to conduct air strikes and drone strikes in many places as part of its global war on terror, among other military operations. In the fight against the Islamic State group, or ISIS, the US has killed thousands of civilians in Syria and Iraq. Recent reporting also suggests the US has killed civilians with strikes in Somalia.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
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