「至誠の仮面劇」 (Shisei no Kamen geki)
“Masquerade of Sincerity”
Another city visited, another member added to the party. No surprise Abiriga would join up with Mahmut considering the intro has been teasing it for weeks, but it was certainly the elaborate ruse to bring it about. As has been the case with Altair for a while though, every piece has its purpose, and you can bet that every action has a hefty amount of thought behind it. Venedik’s modus operandi only proves the point well.
I mentioned last week how Altair uses realism as its foundation, and as expected Venedik largely obeys its will. The country performed as the best lawyers always do, treating language as exact and using its loopholes to find convenient escape clauses. So what if the Phoinike alliance mandates responding to a call to arms, there’s nothing specifying when said aid must arrive. It seems incredibly dishonest, but this is part of the reason why all modern international negotiations often take forever to hash out—the phrasing of a handful of words often dictates how an agreement will function day to day. There is never trust between nations, only occasionally aligning interests towards a common goal.
What makes Venedik’s position all the more fascinating is its stance on Balt-Rhein. Mahmut certainly not wrong the empire is a threat to all around it, but as the Doge cleverly points out, it does not mean they must be fought. Wars may be political as Clausewitz is at pains to describe, but they are always the rational nation’s last resort. Sure Balt-Rhein can (will) turn on Venedik later, but by that point the map will have changed and each state’s circumstances will be different. Enter the complex deception regarding Abiriga. By quietly forging contacts and friendly relations with upcoming rulers now, Venedik ensures when the inevitable comes that it has the strongest position possible to meet the new demands. The best strategists always think three steps ahead, something Phoinike forgot between the height of its power and its slow senescence into irrelevancy. This boys and girls is how the political game is played. Ruthlessly.
What keeps all the International Relations 101 above interesting though is how Mahmut responds to it. The kid never stops surprising me, first by earlier acknowledging the limitations of his idealism, and now by outright admitting his answers are not the only correct ones. Seriously, colour me impressed. As the Doge correctly states, Mahmut’s weakness is not his dreams, but his (gradually disappearing) inexperience. Idealism is an incredibly useful tool for finding ways of improving upon the preexisting, but quixotic naivety in the vein of Constantinos is what gets men and nations killed. I still stand behind my remarks about Mahmut being a scheming monster in the making, and it seems Venedik has also recognized his potential. By placing Abiriga in Mahmut’s party, Venedik ensures when the time comes to “update” the international order, Mahmut will be ready and able to make—and properly carry out—the correct decisions. After all to make money you first have to spend some, and Venedik has money to burn.
Next time, however, it looks like we’re back in Turkiye and get some more experience with the internal politics of pashas. It’s unclear how Mahmut or Balt-Rhein could factor into this little event, but with a coming clash of nations not far on the horizon, you can bet both will have their part to play.