RS Roundtable: Suicide at the Council of Elrond

An anniversary has recently passed. On October 25, 3018 Third Age, Elrond Half-elven, son of Eärendil of the line of Thingol, bearer of Vilya the great Ring of Power, made a critical decision for his people.

Rather than allow the last remaining outposts of the Elves at Imladris and Lothlórien continue without disruption from the outside world, he chose to invest the Elves in a grand global fight to rob Sauron of his power permanently, in the process destroying the Rings of Power of his own and Galadriel’s. At the Council of Elrond, a Fellowship was constructed, representing Elves, Men, Wizards, Dwarves, and Halflings, all united by a supposed common cause.

But where are the Elves now? All gone West. Was this great act of foreign policy by Elrond a self-destructive act? Would Elves not have been better off allowing Sauron to remain, acting as a counterweight to the Men, and preventing Men from being an undisputed hyperpower in Middle-earth?

More below…

AcademicElephant: What Elrond failed to recognize is that coalitions are fluid and should be assembled not simply for the sake of having a grand coalition, but to address the issue at hand. Really, what of substance did the dwarves contribute besides the disastrous and greedy foray to Moria that re-woke the Balrog? And what good was gained by having two men, not to mention four Haflings? Cut both of those in half and you eliminate the dead weight and have a leaner, more agile force that can get the job done efficiently and get the heck out of there.

Moe Lane: Here we go: blatant anti-Khazadism masquerading as policy analysis, yet again.

Khazad-dum is Dwarvish. Khazad-dum has always been Dwarvish. The Orcish invasion of our ancestral homeland – and note that the speaker does not mention the proven and notorious links between the Orcish “race” and that of the Elves – was an unjustified and illegal action that was replied to by the nations of the West with nothing more than empty condemnations from the Council of the Wise. Of course, what they also do not mention is that the mere presence of the Balrog itself can be directly attributed to Elvish incompetence after the First Age: if there had been a proper post-war cleanup, that monster never would gotten away in the first place.

And if we want to talk about Dwarves and “substance”… fine. Where was the “substance” from the other races of the West when we rescued Eriador in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs? Where was the “substance” when the great Wyrms devastated our holds and manufacturing centers? Where was the “substance” when we dared retrieve a portion of our ancestrial lands from Smaug? Yes, you hear such marvelous Faerie tales about the Battle of the Five Armies… but nobody mentions that the original goal of the other four armies was to smash the Dwarves utterly.

For far too long we have let the Elves dominate academia, and for far too long their inherent bias has been corrupting the debate. We stand against the Shadow; we stand against the Shadow better than Men or Elves, in fact. But we will no longer remain silent.

PS: I find this instinctive lumping of us together with “Halflings” – charming name to call them, by the way – to be exceptionally racist.

Neil Stevens: Uh huh. Of course. Nobody can ever criticize the Dwarves. But look, have you ever noticed what happens when the axes of the Dwarves come to a place?

Beleriand sinks after Dwarven outposts in the Ered Luin show up.

The Misty Mountains become a haven for evil raiders when the Dwarven greed for fossil minerals causes them to do grave environmental damage to the entire region, and create the worst failed state in the north. Elves use sustainable amounts of mithril; the Dwarves have a greater mithril footprint than anyone else in Arda.

The Shire, previously quiet, gets international attention after twelve Dwarves go recruiting for their ‘quest’, eventually needing Scoured, and of course we all know what happened that one day in Esgaroth, after those same Dwarves came to visit.

I wonder if Gandalf was optimistic in setting up that new Kingdom under the Mountain.

Look: It’s not my fault that Eru Illúvatar didn’t create the Dwarves. All are part of the Song of Creation, but some people just have chips on their shoulders about it. But I guess that makes me racist, eh?

Moe Lane:

“Look: It’s not my fault that Eru Illúvatar didn’t create the Dwarves. All are part of the Song of Creation, but some people just have chips on their shoulders about it. But I guess that makes me racist, eh?”

You know, some of us don’t base our policy positions on a literal interpretation of the Simarillion. Particularly since the pro-Elvish bias of that text is obvious to any disinterested observer.

Dan McLaughlin: I think we are overlooking the fact that hidebound elvish leadership was too busy fighting the last war (the inaptly named “Last Alliance”) to recognize until the last possible minute the transformative role of air power (despite its successful application in the Battle of the Five Armies, which Rivendell and Gondor ignored because it did not directly involve their forces).

AcademicElephant: Now now, don’t be so hard on the leadership. They had to fight the war with the alliance they had. Years of neglect and complacency on the part of MEN to the military infastructure of Gondor resulted in this situation. You can’t just cede strategic locations like Osgiliath to the enemy and think he will be satisfied and stay home. Weakness is provocative.

Moe Lane: If the Elves were so worried about the Gondorian strategic situation, why didn’t they step up to take on the burden themselves? Oh, right, they were off playing isolationist among the mallorn-trees. Typical.

Leon H. Wolf: Oh, sure, blame this all on the humans. I suppose next you’ll tell me that it was secretly elves and/or dwarves disguised as humans manning the ramparts in Minas Tirith for lo these many years repelling numerous invasions of unsavory orcs flowing out of Mordor. Let’s face it; it is humans that have fought and died to protect the elves’ and dwarves’ right to ungratefully burn the flag of the Rohirrim in protest.

Moe Lane: With all due respect, Man, you may want to contemplate that the Rohirrim flag has a completely different meaning to those who have had to deal with the Dunlending refugees dispossessed by that illegal regime. Might I remind you that Cirion did not actually have the authority to cede that territory to Eorl, even if you concede that previous Gondorian governments did?

Leon H. Wolf: Of course, you would seek to argue a point of ancient history to justify the current unseemly behavior of your peoples. Next you’ll be asking for reparations from the current regime notwithstanding the fact that no one in it took in these regrettable actions. History is written by the victors, and there comes a time when we all have to move on and deal with reality as it is. And right now the reality is that the Dwarves are powerless to withstand even Saruman (much less Sauron) – to say nothing of being totally disinclined to do so.

Any race of peoples can look back into history and find a convenient excuse to complain and do nothing. What you have to concede at this point is that Man – with precious little help from elves and even less from dwarves – is holding this world together and all you can offer in response is complaint.

Dan McLaughlin: The elves may have more difficulty making appeals to forget ancient history.

Leon H. Wolf: That, of course, is the essential problem with elves. They refuse to exist in the same plane of reality as the rest of us – it’s unnatural and disruptive to the cause we are fighting. The problems of history demand that the slate be wiped clean every now and again or we will perpetually face yesterday’s problems.

Moe Lane: Ah, yes, yet another example of Manocentricism. Five hundred years is not “ancient history” to anybody but Men, who seize on their own short lifespans to excuse their utter lack of short-term thinking. And I am not demanding reparations, although I can certainly see why your victims might wish to do so.

Pejman Yousefzadeh: Everyone is thus far missing the key question: Why did Aragorn choose Arwen over Eowyn?

One is a flighty Elf who won’t even be immortal anymore. The other is a beautiful, yet battle-hardened shield-maiden of Rohan. The Kingdom of Men chose foolishly by not making the latter their queen.

Ben Domenech: What we have here is a profound misunderstanding of the fundamental nature of diplomacy. One cannot cross the path into negotiation, especially without preconditions, with the lieutenants of Barad-dur without a full understanding of the historical basis for the moment. The Mouth of Sauron does not come to the table with an even-handed appraisal of the situation at hand, but rather with memories repeated and passed down of the wrongs and sins of Numenorean antiquity, slights and battles that may be virtually unknown by the naive, but are still sung of by those who recall the gates of Angband, if not in the halls of the Riders of the Mark.

Elrond’s mistake was in expecting his allies to come to the table with an informed perspective on history – an understanding of the unique calling they faced at this critical moment, when all swayed in the balance. Instead, they came to the table with expectations ranging from the naivete of refined Elvish protectionism and the swaggering redneck/jock courage of Men, and were disappointed when the imaginary world they had constructed came crashing down. Don’t get me wrong, I respect Elrond, I respect him for what he attempted to achieve – but we should have no illusions about how poor a judge of character and knowledge he was in his fellows. Expecting any better from that lot was sheer ridiculousness, insanity that would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad, like watching an Olog-hai joust with a Hummerhorn.

Pejman Yousefzadeh:

. . . One cannot cross the path into negotiation, especially without preconditions, with the lieutenants of Barad-dur without a full understanding of the historical basis for the moment.

One cannot talk to one’s enemies while at the same time imposing preconditions on those talks. They will not simply agree to give away the store and then sit down at the negotiating table.The conceit that suggests otherwise is based on the rigid, unilateralist approach of the neo-Men, whose policy towards other races has caused grave instability throughout Middle Earth.

Moe Lane: Oh, Aule, not the Dread Neo-Men again. Tell me, are you using the Morgothian “Apostate Black Numenorian” definition, or are you taking the ultra-Baldorist meaning of “any Men we can’t stand”?

Pejman Yousefzadeh: I’m sure that people like you will try for a generation or two to try to cover up the mistakes and blunders of the neo-Men by resorting to semantics. No amount of wordplay, however, can cover up the failings and shortcomings of this bankrupt ideology.