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A weekly look at the weapons systems and tactics that both endanger the world and keep it safe.

A weekly look at the weapons systems and tactics that both endanger the world and keep it safe.
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A weekly look at the weapons systems and tactics that both endanger the world and keep it safe.




The Extraordinary Life and Death of War Correspondent Marie Colvin

War correspondents risk life and limb to report on conflict. Increasingly, it’s a leath profession. Marie Colvin was one of the best in the business. She was so good that Bashar al Assad’s regime ordered her execution. This week on War College, Lindsey Hilsum walks us through Colvin’s life and death. Hilsum is a journalist and friend of Colvins. She’s just published a new book, In Extremis, that follows Colvin’s fascinating and heartbreaking career. You can listen to War College on iTunes,...


Why America Can't Quit Saudi Arabia

The alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia helped define America’s role in the Middle East after World War II. Lately, Saudi Arabia has tested the limits of that relationship. This week on War College, Shadi Hamid walks us through the complicated alliance and what it means for the world. You can listen to War College on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or follow our RSS directly. Our website is You can reach us on our Facebook page:...


ICYMI: The Air Force's Frozen Chicken Gun

When the United States Air Force tests a new aircraft it needs to make sure it won't crash should a stray bird slam into the plane's side. Thankfully, the military has an artillery piece with a 60-foot barrel that hurls chicken more than 400 miles an hour. The chicken gun allows the military to make sure no stray bird will foul up its expensive jets while they're mid-flight. If you think the chicken gun is weird, it’s only the tip of a strange and fascinating iceberg.


Dissecting Today’s Apocalyptic Nuclear Culture

From Roadside Picnic to Fallout, the stories a culture tells about can tell you a lot about the culture. On this bonus episode of War College, Matthew and Jake Hanrahan of the Popular Front podcast sit down to puzzle out what’s going on these days with nuclear culture. You can listen to War College on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or follow our RSS directly. Our website is You can reach us on our Facebook page:; and on...


When Political Violence Exploded in America

From 1971 to 1972, the FBI reported more than 2,500 bombings in America. That’s five explosions a day, and most were tied to radical underground political movements. Political violence is on the rise in the US but many of its perpetrators are disorganized loners, attached to fringe movements that foment online but rarely follow through. In the 1970s and into the 1980s, dozens of violent political groups agitated for change and attempted the violent overthrow of the government. Today’s...


America’s Foreign Policy is Broken, Here’s How it Got That Way

America is at war all over the planet and the American public doesn’t seem to care. Since the end of the Cold War, Americans have largely checked out of foreign policy concerns. Today on War College, American foreign policy analyst Stephen M. Walt walks us through how we got here, and how to fix it. Walt’s new book is The Hell of Good Intentions: America's Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy.


The ‘Machete Squad’ Saved Lives in Afghanistan

The life of a combat medic is hard. When you’re a combat medic in Afghanistan, it’s hard and surreal. This week on War College former U.S. Army medic walks us through what it’s like to save lives in Afghanistan and how he, and his squad, avoided self destruction, the Taliban, and America’s own Special Forces. It’s all captured in Dulak’s new comic book memoir Machete Squad.


From Vikings to Zombies: A History of Drug Use in the Military

Why do soldiers fight? Maybe it’s patriotism. Maybe it’s comradeship. Maybe it’s fear of their own side. Or maybe it’s the drugs. For as long as there have been people, there have been people trying to get high. It’s no different in warfare. Fighters have used drugs to make themselves bloodier, stronger, more able to go without sleep. Lukasz Kamienski, author of "Shooting Up: A Short History of Drugs and War," joins us.


What 'War by Other Means' Means Now

Taylor Swift and Islamic State are in a battle for our hearts, minds and eyeballs. Russia wants your vote, or for you not to vote at all. And if you think the amount of false information out there online is dangerous now, just wait. Artificial intelligence is about to make fake news virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. Peter W. Singer, author of the new book "LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media," takes us beyond the troll farms and into some even creepier territory.


Why an Ancient Greek Historian Is Still Taught at West Point

More than 2,400 years ago, Thucydides of Athens wrote about his city's war with Sparta. Today, that book is still read at military academies all over the world. Why? That's what we asked Dr. Cliff Rogers of West Point.


ICYMI - How Modern China Got That Way

Xi Jinping’s China tends to look at itself as a historical victim, an underdog fighting to roll back indignities of the past and prove its strength. Author and journalist Paul French has been chronicling China’s rise since the 1980s, but has also focused on understanding the development of the country since the Opium Wars of the 19th century. In this episode, French offers his view of how China’s past is informing its aggressive foreign policy now. You can listen to War College on iTunes,...


Interviewing the Alleged Secret Master of the Qanon Conspiracy

Qanon is a conspiracy theory that supposes President Donald Trump is at war with an ancient pedophile cult. When Qanon believers began to show up at Trump rallies, the mainstream media took notice. In early August, BuzzFeed published an article that theorized the whole thing was an elaborate prank by leftists activists. Their evidence was a 1999 book about religious rebellions during the 16th century. It’s title? Q. Wu Ming 1, one of the authors of that book joins us today to talk about Q,...


Erik Prince Wants a Private Air Force

The man behind defunct mercenary provider Blackwater sees private air power as the key to winning the war in Afghanistan. A new report links Erik Prince to efforts to buy or build private gunships - the kind of weapon only the United States and a few other countries have at their disposal. David Axe, who writes for the Daily Beast, joins us to discuss the results of his investigation.


Venezuela: A Riches to Rags Story

People in Venezuela are murdering each other at the highest rate in the world. Workers are fainting on the job because of hunger. Citizens have lost 20 pounds on average since the country’s economic crisis began. It’s a nation in collapse with no clear way out. How did Venezuela, once one of the world’s richest countries, plummet so far? Keith Johnson of Foreign Policy helps us understand. You can listen to War College on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or follow our RSS directly. Our...


ICYMI - Why Nuclear War Looks Inevitable

Several recent developments have the potential to move the hands of the nuclear doom clock closer to midnight. In this episode from a while back, we talked with the Washington Post's Dan Zak about his reporting on the potential for nuclear war. What he had to say wasn't cheering. You can listen to War College on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or follow our RSS directly. Our website is You can reach us on our Facebook page:;...


From JFK to Qanon: Why Conspiracy Theories Won’t Go Away

Conspiracy theories are as old as the republic. Actually, they're a lot older than OUR republic. In every country, in every culture, people believe powerful forces are colluding in ways they know nothing about. Why is that? In this week's bonus episode we talk with Jesse Walker, books editor of Reason magazine and author of "The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory." You can listen to War College on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play or follow our RSS directly. Our website is...


Insider Attack Leaves Wounded Marine, Lingering Questions

Sometimes called insider, or “green on blue” attacks, when U.S. forces are assaulted by their allies, it usually makes the news. That wasn’t the case in Syria when a member of the Syrian Defense Forces shot a Marine sergeant twice in the leg. Instead, there was no mention of it by the military, no press release. Instead, there was contradictory information and a curious reporter who refused to let it lie. When Paul Szoldra of Task & Purpose first heard of the incident, the only thing that...


Space Is Dangerous, but Is Space Force the Answer?

Humanity has never been farther from home than the moon (and that was nearly 50 years ago), but the United States may soon be getting its own Space Force. So, what are the dangers a Space Force is meant to grapple with? And what would it do that isn’t being done now by the Air Force and the other services? The War Zone’s Joseph Trevithick joins us to explain that the dangers in space are very real, even if it isn’t clear that a Space Force is the answer. You can listen to War College on...


Different Perspectives on America’s Wars

Children born on Sept. 11 are old enough to fight in the war that began that day. When they go into battle, they will only know the video of the Twin Towers falling, of the Pentagon wounded and smoking, as historical footage, much like the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination looks to an earlier generation. Will they know why they’re fighting in Iraq in Afghanistan? Do we still know? CJ Chivers of The New York Times joins us to talk it through. You can listen to War College on...


How the US May Have Lost a War It Didn't Fight

When Syria was pulled apart seven years ago, the United States opted to stay on the sidelines. It was clear that President Bashar Al-Assad was a bad guy, but it was far less clear who the good guys were. Unfortunately, inaction has also had its price for the U.S., according to our guest Steven A. Cook, who is the Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.