Post by Juho Julkunen Post by Dorothy J Heydt Post by James Nicoll
1: Manipulate the Atreides into relocating to Arrakis.
2: Sabotage their spice mining operations so other Great Houses
concerned for their prophets^H^H^H^H^H profits will turn a blind eye
while you take advantage of them being cut off from the power base
offered by the loyal people of their ancestral planet Caladan and
certainly unable to replace it with natives you antagonized and never
bothered to take a census of to attack and destroy them with the
clandestine support of the Padisah Emperor concerned about Duke Leto
Atreides's growing support to finally end the blood feud decades in the
There may be some disadvantages to having spice-addicted Mentats in
charge of your cunning plans.
The entire Empire, by that point, _was_ more-or-less a decadent, complexity-addicted, rotten structure, from the Throne down. That's part of why the whole sequence of events plays out as it does, the Bene Gesserit even know it's happening (though they are also caught up in the decadence and complexity-addiction).
From the Emperor's POV, the plot actually makes a lot of sense, in the complexity-addict mindset of the age. He wants, in fact he thinks he _needs_, to take down the threat represented by Leto I.
Why is Leto I a threat? Well, partly because he's not quite as complexity-addicted as the rest of the nobles, not quite as decadent, and that makes them nervous. Partly because Leto was just a little too popular with the commoners. Partly because he had trained up a fighting force that was a little too loyal and capable. Even if Leto I had no personal ambitions against the throne, he was starting to look like a _potential_ rival for power, and the Corrinos had not stayed in power for millennia by letting that sort of thing grow and metastasize. Best to nip it in the bud.
It wasn't personal, Shaddam wasn't angry at Leto for anything Leto personally had done or not done. 'It was business.'
But how? The easy way is the direct approach, crush them with the Sardaukar. But that would alarm the other Great Houses. If the Atreides today, why not them tomorrow? So he needs an excuse, but Leto isn't going to give him one and Shaddam IV knows that.
So, the deal with Vladimir Harkonnen. Manipulate the Atreides into Arrakis, which looks like the most tempting fiefdom possible and is a trap. Count on Leto's personal honor making him walk into the trap that he knows is there, hoping to evade or disarm it. Put your Sardaukar in Harkonnen livery, let a fake pretext be used to strike, wipe out the Atreides threat and even if the other Houses suspect _something_, they won't know enough to risk upsetting the applecart and their incomes. Plus you make the Harkonnen's dependent on you for their part in the scheme. If it ever comes out, the Emperor is shocked, shocked, at what Vladimir tricked him into doing...
The Fremen? They've been a nuisance for centuries, never caused any big trouble before, how _could_ they cause any big trouble now? They're so insular and paranoid that they kill any outsiders that come into contact with their core tribes anyway.
And to be fair to Shaddam, normally all that would have been true. He and Vladimir had no way to know about the BG's religious-engineering 'bolt hole' that Jessica and Paul used to join the Fremen. Nor did they take faith seriously enough to understand its motivating power, in their old, tired, decadent society, they'd never seen what religion could motivate when ignited under the right conditions, which hadn't happened for millennia.
So when the explosion happened, the direct-approach Fremen erupted against a decadent society whose idea of 'action' was a ten-layer, multiple-feint, intricately subtle maneuver playing out over months or years. That was suddenly faced with an army whose idea of action was 'submit or die', and prepared to act on it immediately, and who were impossible to intimidate because they just didn't care that much if they lived or died.
The Fremen eruption was something entirely out of the experience of the Empire, something of the sort that had not happened for many, many generations. From their POV, it did look like somewhere in the chain of events, a malign miracle happened.