In 1983, the ABC television network broadcast a movie called The Day After about how a superpower nuclear exchange devastated the lives of typical Americans in two midwestern cities. The conflict began with a Russian troop buildup in Eastern Europe (which Moscow initially claimed to be a military exercise), and then gradually escalated to a point where both sides launched their nuclear missiles for fear of losing them in a preemptive attack. Coming as it did during a period of U.S.-Soviet tensions and controversy surrounding Reagan Administration nuclear policies, the broadcast attracted a huge audience of over 100 million viewers; it is still the highest rated made-for-television movie in U.S. history.Sponsored Ads
Americans haven’t thought much about such scenarios since the Cold War ended, because the Soviet Union dissolved and the ideological rivalry between Washington and Moscow ceased. However, this year’s crisis over Ukraine is a reminder that Russia remains a nuclear superpower, and that the geopolitical sources of its security concerns have not vanished. In fact, Moscow may have greater reason for worrying today, because it has lost the buffer of allies that insulated it from Western attack during the Cold War, and now finds its capital only a few minutes from the eastern border of Ukraine by jet (less by missile). If you know the history of the region, then it is easy to see why Moscow might fear aggression.
The Day After (Attack Segment)