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  1. Best and Worst Statesmen/women in the series?

    Baelish's big problem was that he was of low birth. If he'd been noble born, the son of a great lord, things might have gone more smoothly for him. But the Lords Declarant aren't going to want to take orders from an up-jumped grandson of a hedge knight. Would northern lords like Manderly and Bolton be okay with having Jory Cassel named as their liege lord, especially if the orders came from a distant king? Actually, I agree with Bran the Cute in this. Ruling is ruling, and even in the North, there was politics. The game might have been slightly different, but the Starks had to play it all the same. You don't stay in charge for ten thousand years without learning how to keep your bannermen happy, especially when some of them are powerful in their own right (Manderlys, Boltons). Ruling your own lands will always be easier than ruling someone else's, and Ned had the built in loyalty that comes from being a part of the ruling family. The North would have been obliged to follow Ned even if he had been crazy. Disobeying your liege lord is the worst thing anyone can do (which is why deposing Aerys was such a big deal and only came about because of the deaths of a major lord and his heir). Ned’s big mistake was that he expected the people around him to be as honorable as him, even when it backfires (Robert, Cersei). That mindset isn’t a good one because even in the North, not everyone subscribed to Ned's personal sense of honor. Following the Old Ways and the Old Gods don't make people morally superior, and thus a certain level of wheeling and dealing is to be expected even among the Northmen. While the Starks might be the uncontested leaders, other houses would be vying for more power and influence, and that can involve a certain level of deceit. This was probably something that Rickard understood and probably trained Brandon for. Ned on the other hand was the second son, and it seems likely that his education was geared more towards martial duties, leaving the diplomacy to his older brother (Willas vs. Garlan and Loras, Doran vs. Oberyn, Tywin vs. his brothers, etc). When he unexpectedly became lord, he had his soldier's mentality to fall back on. We know that his straightforward manner endeared him to the mountain clans, and he managed to keep his bannermen from each other's throats. We also know that after the Stark rule collapsed, people were still loyal to the family. But that doesn't necessarily mean Ned was a fantastic ruler. It also doesn't mean he wasn't, but you can't really infer from either since we never really see Ned actually ruling in the North, nor do we know of anything happening in the North that tested his abilities (long summer, no war, etc). I personally think Ned was a good guy, and his heart was in the right place. But his vision was limited, and his lack of cunning was a major weakness.
  2. Best and Worst Statesmen/women in the series?

    Well, in that case, that applies for all people. A man from the Reach could never rule in Dorne (they tried and failed), a Dornishman can't rule in the Riverlands, etc. Culture is just as important as blood, and even amongst the Andals (Riverlands, Vale, Reach, and the Stormlands), a "foreign" person will not get the same level of support as a native. Also, I guess I think of a ruler and a statesmen as two different things. You can be one or the other or perhaps even both, but they imply different things. Ned was a great ruler, and perhaps Robb would have been as well, but diplomacy and relations with other regions was not their forte, which in my mind makes them poor statesmen. We know Jon Arryn was a good statesmen in that he helped Robert keep the other regions stable (Greyjoy's Rebellion, the unrest in Dorne, etc), and yet we have no idea how he was as a ruler of the Vale. Tywin ruled as hand of the king for two decades, and the entire realm prospered, not just his own lands. Doran Martell has an extensive network in the Free Cities, and despite his inaction, still commands a great deal of respect from outsiders. Petyr Baelish played the Starks, the Tyrells, the Arryns, and the Lannisters, and even though we know his intentions are not good, to the people he's dealing with, his diplomacy is obviously 100%. Cersei, on the other hand, is an awful stateswomen because she publicly alienates her allies, both foreign and domestic. Stannis would be an able ruler but an awful statesman while Roose might be a better statesman than a ruler.
  3. Best and Worst Statesmen/women in the series?

    Despite being old and gouty, people still take him very seriously outside of Dorne (the irony here is that his own people don't give him half as much credit).Doran Martell was the only person I can recall Tywin complimenting, Renly wanted the Dornish on their side, Robb was disappointed to find that the Dornish had sided with the Lannisters, Jon Arryn had to personally go down and calm the Martells, and Jon Connington also wants Doran as an ally. Doran is also networked with powerful people in the Free Cities (Archon of Tyrosh, Sealord of Braavos, Norvos, and most likely Volantis and Myr as well). In fact, he is the only great lord who has his own foreign relations that aren't tied to the Iron Throne. Tyrion had hoped to keep Doran Martell as a hostage (the offer of the council seat) because the Lannisters wanted leverage over the Martells in case they went against the throne. So regardless of how much Dorne can actually contribute to a war (they had a small army) or how much wealth they have, they are a significant force in Westerosi politics. A lot of that is due to Doran - his ability to make Dorne seem more dangerous than it actually is, as well as the fact that he can put aside his own personal feelings for a long term and yet more satisfying goal.
  4. [twow Spoilers] Arianne II, Part 2

    The rest of Westeros thinks Dorne has 50,000+ spears, Quentyn tells Daenarys that Dorne has 50,000 spears, and yet Doran tells Arianne that they only have 35,000. I get why Doran would let the other kingdoms think that Dorne has more men than they actually do, but why would Quentyn lie to Daenarys. Nothing good would have come out of that (do you really want to piss off a girl who has three dragons?) unless Dorne actually does have 50,000 spears, or at least close to that number. I'm inclined to think that Doran would have eventually hired sellswords or relied on his alliances in Essos to augment his army to bring his men from 35k to 50k. OR perhaps 35,000 is their current standing army amongst all of Dorne's bannerman, but it doesn't include recruiting from the smallfolk, as the Lannisters eventually did and the Starks didn't have time to do. If that's true, then Doran didn't lie to Arianne but obfuscated the truth. It doesn't make much sense, but Doran's been known to hide things from his family, and at the time of his revelation in AFFC, he may not have entirely trusted her with his entire plan (which we ourselves don't know yet). As of DwD, he might have given her updated information that the readers are not privy too. Either way, it just doesn't make sense why Doran (who surely instructed Quentyn) would give false information to a potential ally.