The Cold War - Background of Annihilation.
The year 1950 saw the Korean War going on overseas, and the civilians of the U.S. were dealing with a different type of crisis. Known as the second red scare, or McCarthyism, the American public found itself fearing a rise in communism from within. It reached such an extreme fervor, that one had to only be accused of being a communist, to have their lives ruined and total alienation from the public. It would seem likely that this scare, along with the Korean War, largely contributed to N.A.T.O. making the decisions that would follow soon after. In 1954, the U.S.S.R. had already demonstrated that they had nuclear power like the U.S., and a willingness to help communist countries battle democratic ones. Next, they shocked N.A.T.O. leaders with an attempt to actually join N.A.T.O. and avoid open war with the free nations. If sources are to be believed, the Kremlin reached out shortly after Joseph Stalin’s death to the countries of N.A.T.O., but they were quickly rebuffed. Apparently, the response from the West was, “the unrealistic nature of the proposal did not warrant further discussion.”, and the information of the proposal was not even released to public attention until after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1989. It seemed that N.A.T.O. and the U.S. never intended to allow the communist country to join N.A.T.O. To drive that point home further, the N.A.T.O. document MC 48 was drawn up in December of the same year, which explicitly states the rules regarding nuclear retaliation in the event of any hostilities with the U.S.S.R. or other communist countries. In essence, the document stated that in the event of hostility of any kind to a N.A.T.O. country would be grounds for complete nuclear retaliation, preemptively if at all possible.
A chilling document from last century to be sure, but more chilling still is the realization that even then, N.A.T.O. understood the devastation that nuclear war would bring on both countries. This concept became known as a deterrent to war through mutually assured destruction, and it was extremely effective in the fear it generated and the policy changes that were made as a result. It should be no surprise that the Russia, Poland, East Germany and other communist countries formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955. With the two opposing sides firmly established, the Cold War had officially begun.
“Fear is one of those intangibles of history that often explains a lot about why things unfolded the way that they did. The problem with it is that it’s also a fact of history that evaporates quickly.” - Dan Carlin
When most people think of the Cold War, they think of espionage activities, space races, and hockey games. It has always been easy for the American public to reduce that entire forty-year period into the few public events where the United States supposedly came out on top. What they have forgotten however, is the fear that accompanied life back then. For the first time, human beings had to consider the fact that the entire human race could be wiped out based on the decisions of their leaders. A concept that inspired fear, and with that fear came a way of life that has been completely forgotten.