Arms Race

Nuclear War in the 21st Century and the Urgent Need for Disarmament

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In 1983, the ABC television film "The Day After" left an indelible mark on Annie Jacobsen, a high school student at the time. The film's depiction of the horrors of nuclear war terrified over 100 million Americans, including President Ronald Reagan. According to his biographer and memoirs, the film played a pivotal role in Reagan's shift towards nuclear disarmament during his second term.

Following the film's release, the global stockpile of nuclear warheads reached its peak and has since declined significantly, from 70,000 to just over 12,000 today. However, this number remains sufficient to render Earth a radioactive wasteland, with warheads to spare.

Despite the decline in nuclear weapons, the global situation is arguably more perilous than ever since the Cuban missile crisis. The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues unabated, and China is contemplating a similar move against Taiwan. The danger of nuclear war remains as imminent as ever, yet it has faded from public discourse.

A Scenario" to address this disconnect. She believes that the nuclear threat has been filtered out of mainstream discourse due to the assumption that it ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the technical nature of the debate surrounding nuclear weapons.

In her book, Jacobsen presents a single scenario for a nuclear war set in the present day. North Korea launches a surprise missile strike against the US, prompting Washington to respond with a salvo of ICBMs aimed at North Korea's weapons sites and command centers. However, the missiles must fly over Russia, which triggers a miscalculation and leads to an all-out nuclear attack by Russia on the US.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09