New research details how even a "limited" nuclear exchange would be a catastrophic event that would radically alter the Earth's weather for decades. One can only imagine what would happen to the planet in a full scale nuclear war such as the one shown in the British government's 1965 propaganda/educational film War Game.
The hip hop generation was the last cohort to come of age in the shadow of the Cold War--and what seemed at the time--to be an inevitable nuclear apocalypse.
I was talking to some of my students this week about generational change and political attitudes.
In that discussion I used an example from my childhood. To my surprise, none of them could relate to the idea of "World War 3" as something other than the background context for video games or movies like The Terminator.
I shared with the seminar how I had several recurring nightmares as a young person coming of age in the 1980's.
They were (in no particular order):
1. Nuclear war;
2. A "Red Dawn" style Russian invasion;
3. A zombie outbreak in the spirit of George Romero's vision;
4. Alien invasion;
5. Finally getting my shot as a professional wrestler and forgetting all of my moves in the main event...yes, I am an unapologetic ghetto nerd.
The idea of a nuclear war is terrifying as a general premise. What has come to public light in the years following the end of the Cold War makes the "known known" (to play off of Donald Rumsfeld's phrase) even more disturbing.
The American and world public has learned over the last decade about how:
1. NATO deployed nuclear landmines in Europe for the purpose of delaying a Warsaw Pact Invasion and making the European heartland uninhabitable;
2. American soldiers practiced parachuting behind Soviet lines with man portable nuclear bombs, the "secret" code for the release of United States' ICBM's was "00000000";
3. The Soviets had planned to mix biological weapons in their strike package along with their nukes;
4. The Soviets were rumored to have hidden nuclear weapons in their embassies;
5. A Doctor Stangelove like doomsday machine was in use by the Soviets;
6. And the Cuban Missile Crisis was not the only moment when the world came perilously close to nuclear destruction.
There are many other secrets about the Cold War, secrets which remain archived and locked away from the American people, only to be revealed in 40 or 50 years once all the principal agents are dead and gone.
What are the nightmares of Millennials, Generation Y, and the Facebook generation? Are they having bad dreams about the Internet not working or losing faux friends on Social Media? Or is this generation, at least the smart and engaged young people among it, having nightmares about global warming, unemployment, debt, and food shortages?