Would Russia Use Dragnipur?

Would Russia Use Dragnipur?
Photo by Luke Jernejcic / Unsplash

Today I read this article in The Atlantic by Shadi Hamid. It is, in my opinion, an excellent example of how complex America's possession of power has been since the end of the Cold War.

If there was any doubt before, the answer is now clear. Vladimir Putin is showing that a world without American power—or, for that matter, Western power—is not a better world. [...] Blaming America first became all too easy. After September 11, U.S. power was as overwhelming as it was uncontested. That it was squandered on two endless wars made it convenient to focus on America’s sins, while underplaying Russia’s and China’s growing ambitions.

It reminds me of something I wrote in AM⌭PM | 013, which I will repost below.


There is a series of fantasy books called The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. In the series, there is this weapon called Dragnipur, which is carried by a character named Anomander Rake.

Dragnipur is a terrible weapon. It can cause massive destruction and suffering, and if it is used, the possibility of the weapon getting out of control is very high.

One thing that makes Anomander Rake interesting is that he can hold onto Dragnipur responsibly, which usually amounts to not using it even though he could.

There are lots of characters that wish that Dragnipur would not exist, but it does. There are lots of characters that want Dragnipur, but they can't get it from Rake. A few characters want to destroy Dragnipur, but they don't know how.

What I think is interesting about Dragnipur and Rake is how they could be used as a metaphor for powerful weapons on a macro scale, such as nuclear weapons, cyber attacks that can take down critical power infrastructures, biological weapons, etc. I also think it is Dragnipur could be used as a stand-in (metaphor) on the micro (personal) level with guns.

Terrible weapons exist. Lots of nation-states and other groups want to have these weapons. A few people and groups would love to get rid of these weapons, but of course, they can't.

Rake is the sort of character that everyone hates. People see him as a power monger who keeps Dragnipur to himself and uses the threat of using it to keep others (individuals and groups of people) from doing things he thinks are double plus un-good. Lots of other characters are saying, "Who the hell do you think you are to tell us what we can and can't do."

Rake responds to these people by calmly saying something like, "I'm more experienced and wiser than you are. I don't want Dragnipur. Bearing the weight of its power is not easy. I hold it because everyone is safer when it is held by someone who does not want to use it. If someone like you, some young person who does not question their motives, because they are so sure they know what is best, got ahold of this weapon and its power, you could not be responsible with it. YOu would use it to enforce your desires on others, you would destroy all who disagree with you, and in destroying them, you would also destroy yourself."

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