OP: 「赫色 -akairo-」 (Haka -akairo-) by CIVILIAN
「隊商の娘」 (Taishou no Musume)
“The Caravan Daughter”
A little delayed in returning to Altair this week (blame the glory that is Blade Runner 2049), but I firmly think the wait was worth it. With new OP, ED, and one little pasha now firmly in his rightful role (not to mention best idol squad), all that was missing for the show was a suitable situation for Mahmut to realize his potential. Lo and behold one finally appearing as Altair gives us the quick and dirty of economic warfare.
While Altair has never hesitated to show off its intellectual chops, it still never ceases to amaze me just how broad its knowledge is. Economic warfare is a topic few people ever consider (I mean, who even knows of international political economy?), let alone fictional stories, but as this episode highlights it is something often more important than the “fun” of conventional war. It is economics that fuels the lifeblood of all states, for governments need currency (whether actual money or tangible goods) to function, and currency can only be obtained from an active citizenry. Cripple an economy and you mortally wound your enemy, limiting their options and simplifying your own planning. It is this aspect that Mahmut deviously takes advantage of, cutting into Balt-Rhein’s lifeline and forcing them into the only response they know: aggression. Sure it’s debatable that the results are primarily due to the actions of zealous juniors (Admiral Lay had the right idea), but this only reinforces the point: Balt-Rhein got where it was by running over the competition through force of arms, and only after indulged in more “abstract” means of coercion to lighten the boredom. Louis and his ilk may have attempted their own economic subversion with Turkiye’s dependencies for example, but they came to it from a position of strength—it’s little more than a passing hobby to them. Mahmut on the other hand has no other option, unlike Balt-Rhein and the plentiful forces they can fall back upon he must make do with what little he has.
Where Mahmut’s strategy becomes especially important, however, is in the secondary responses it generates. Balt-Rhein is aggressive, but that aggression was always applied intelligently up until now. The attack on Venedik’s ships was impulsive and bad for their diplomacy, the sort of thing occurring when you have no plan—or are simply desperate for another one to work. Louis may be devious, but Mahmut actually outplayed him here, using his enemy’s tendencies to his advantage while smartly ignoring the superfluities. The previous Mahmut for example would have rejected this scheme outright because it takes advantage of the innocent and requires the ultimate sacrifice on the part of more. For a pacifist it’s unthinkable and shows just how far the little pasha has come since his idealistic beginnings. The only thing Mahmut has likely not considered is Balt-Rhein’s other option. He may have cut off a vital supply of grain to the empire’s armies, but there’s nothing stopping Balt-Rhein from simply speeding up their plans of invasion. Napoleon after all succeeded so well and so fast because he used the enemy’s own land and people as the source of his military’s supplies; there’s nothing stopping Balt-Rhein from doing the exact same thing.
With a new arc underway and Mahmut finally in his element, Altair seems ready and raring to set its world on fire. It’s not exactly clear what is heading our way, but you can bet war (and lots of it) is not that far away. It’s taken some time to get to this point, but Altair at last looks ready to start spreading its wings.
ED: 「Windy」 by CHEMISTRY