Spoilers for Game of Thrones through the fourth episode of the seventh season below.
I was a bit confused to see this tweet from the New York Times‘ Ross Douthat regarding the use of dragons against Lannister King's Landing:
Has anyone written the dragons/King's Landing///atomic bomb/Hiroshima hot take yet?
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) August 7, 2017
Confused because, well, obviously Dany should use her dragons against King's Landing. If she cares about saving lives, that is.
The simple fact of the matter is this: as we saw last night, Daenerys Targaryen has the ultimate trump card in the war for the Seven Kingdoms. Dragons are incredibly powerful, making mincemeat out of whole divisions in no time flat. If they were a character in a fighting game, they'd be Akuma and you'd throw your controller at any friend who picked him. If they were a card in Magic the Gathering, they'd be Black Lotus (I assume, from Googling; what do I look like, some kind of nerd). Yes, the Lannisters have a secret weapon—but it's not a secret any longer and they only appear to have the one. Even if there are more "Scorpions" waiting, should Dany turn all three of them loose on King's Landing and the Red Keep at once, there wouldn't be a Lannister alive to defy her claim to the Iron Throne.
Not that there'll be an Iron Throne to sit on; more like an Iron Puddle.
Would such an assault inevitably lead to some civilian casualties? Yes, in all likelihood, it would. But Dany can mitigate these losses by, say, warning the people of King's Landing that death and destruction are coming while also telling them they are free to leave the city. She could, perhaps, send a flock of ravens over the city, dropping little scrolls informing the masses of the power of the dragons and offering safe passage to those who wish to flee. It's not clear to me what the literacy rate amongst the commoners is, but I'm sure her point would get across, especially as word of last night's exploits spread through the city's slums.
These regrettable civilian casualties would be a mere fraction of the total dead should the war for Westeros continue to rage—think of all the cities yet to be sacked, all the granaries yet to be looted, all the rape and pillaging still to come if this horrifying contest is allowed to drag on and on. I'm sure the Dothraki hordes will be very gentle as the Mother of Dragons goes on the march. And this is to say nothing of the troops who would die in the ugly hand-to-hand battles between the Dothraki horsemen and the Lannister pikemen. But all of these deaths, even, would be mere footnotes to the larger totals if Dany is unable to bring Westeros to heel in a timely fashion. Should she fail to win before the White Walkers descend South, creating ice zombies as they go in an unstoppable march to the Narrow Sea, every human in Westeros is in mortal peril.
Now look: I'm on record as being #TeamWhiteWalker. So it makes no difference to me, really, if Dany pussyfoots around and listens to notably foolish tacticians like Jon Snow in her quest to be loved rather than feared. Every moment of human delay brings us one moment closer to White Walker salvation. But if you, dear reader, want a human on the Iron Throne—if you want humanity staying alive at all in the Seven Kingdoms—you need Dany and her dragons focused on the threat in the North and not on some easily dispatched blondes squatting in King's Landing and hiding behind a mountainous zombie.
So yeah. We have to destroy King's Landing with dragon fire to save it—and the rest of Westeros.