Communion Of Dreams

“I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed.”*

About a year before I was born, the Strategic Air Command had a little movie made for training purposes. Here’s a nice clip from it:

And here’s a bit explaining the story behind the movie:

Washington, D.C., February 19, 2011 – “The Power of Decision” may be the first (and perhaps the only) U.S. government film depicting the Cold War nightmare of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear conflict. The U.S. Air Force produced it during 1956-1957 at the request of the Strategic Air Command. Unseen for years and made public for the first time by the National Security Archive, the film depicts the U.S. Air Force’s implementation of war plan “Quick Strike” in response to a Soviet surprise attack against the United States and European and East Asian allies. By the end of the film, after the Air Force launches a massive bomber-missile “double-punch,” millions of Americans, Russians, Europeans, and Japanese are dead.

60 million American casualties, actually, when all was said and done. And that was the “winning” scenario.

Is it any wonder that much of the popular culture (and the science fiction) of the time was concerned with dystopian futures, frequently involving apocalyptic nuclear war? It truly was a form of MADness.

And we came a lot closer to that actually happening on several occasions that most people realize. I’m not going to bother to dig up all the references, but in addition to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Yom Kippur War there were multiple instances of false alerts due to mechanical and communications failures which came to light following the end of the Cold War.

Is it any wonder that I have a hard time getting too worked up about the threat of ‘terrorism’? When you grew up expecting a nuclear holocaust, the prospect of random bombings doesn’t seem that big a deal.

Jim Downey

*Of course.

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