Sep 11, 2017 • 37M

What Game of Thrones Teaches Us About Nuclear War

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Jason Fields
Conversations about conflict on an angry planet.
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From The Day After to Threads, fiction has long reflected our nuclear fears. Today, Daenerys Targaryen’s flying dragons stand in for B-52 bombers armed with thermonuclear bombs and the ashen corpses of Lannister guards remind us of Hiroshima.

This week on War College, nuclear weapons expert Timothy Westmyer talks us through the nuclear metaphors in Game of Thrones. Westmyer is a nuclear security expert with CRDF Global and the host of the Super Critical Podcast—a show that explores pop culture’s obsession with atomic power.

It’s a geek fest this week, as Westmyer runs down the history of weapons of mass destruction in Westeros. We argue about whether Dany’s children really are weapons of mass destruction or just an effective air power, what Game of Thrones can tell us about our fear of an atomic confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea, and the TV movie from the ‘80s that’s still effective today.

If that wasn’t enough, we dive into the Fallout video games series, which take place in an alternative American future where the bombs fell and the atom never went out of style. The popular games take players through a world that looks like the 1950s never ended, and nuclear armageddon froze it in place.

Please let us know what you think of this show. It’s definitely a change for us. By making our break from Reuters, we have a chance to do a little experimentation, but we know it’s the serious stuff that got us here.

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Next week, we’re back to a more traditional topic, an Islamist group you may not think much about that’s reshaping the Middle East with the help of Iran.

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