The Cold War
The irrational fear of Soviet invasion gripped our country for over 35 years. That fear led to the upper echelons of authority making decisions, which would create a feeling of near hysteria throughout the public. Americans feared that the Soviets were planning some nuclear attacks on the States, and were frightened by the thought that the Soviets might have a lead in the arms race. The words “race” and “gap” came to be used everyday when referring to anything the Soviets created, and Americans felt that the “gap” which kept America on top of the arms “race” needed to remain a “gap”. With our submarines constantly finding new ways to tap into Soviet intelligence, it seemed that America did, in fact, have the upper hand. This could have cause some to feel confidence instead of fear; however, this did not come to be so. The whole nation, from the very head of government to the bottom rungs of society, feared the Soviets. Was this fear justified? What caused such intense fear? This is what this paper will explore. We will use the movie Dr. Strangelove and the book Blind Man’s Bluff to look at why it could have been justified and also at the reasons for why such fear came into being.
We begin by analyzing why the irrational fear was justified. The movie Dr. Strangelove shows almost every aspect of Cold War mentality in the United States during that period. What amazes me is that the film was shown at all during that time, what with all the blacklisting and censoring that was happening. Newspapers, film, and books were being censored left and right; however, Dr. Strangelove tapped into society’s fear of our printed material being used against us. The Russian ambassador in the film claims that they learned of America’s development of a doomsday machine in the New York Times. Although this would seem highly unlikely, in Blind Man’s Bluff, there are references to stories, which were in fact leaked out to the Times. The first reference is on page 194: “On October 9, 1969, the New York Times ran a front-page story headlined ‘New Soviet Subs Noisier Than Expected.’” The second reference is on page 273, when the NYT ran a five-column, three line headline: “CIA Salvage Ship Brought up Part of Soviet Sub Lost in 1968, Failed to Raise Atom Missiles.” These newspaper headlines were what Americans were reading everyday, leading to the fear that Soviets might have the one-up on warfare vehicles, or that they would salvage those missiles and use them against America.
Also, if Americans could read so freely about what was happening with the military, the Russians could very easily be reading the same thing. Once again, the fear that Russians would use this knowledge against us was widespread. There were reports that the Soviet Union was racing to build its own atomic bombs, and there seemed no doubt that the Soviets were “out to make a grab for world dominance.” (Sontag, 5) “This was the atmosphere of mistrust that gave birth to the Central...