The Cold War3 Essay

This essay has a total of 1545 words and 6 pages.


The Cold War3





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 Intelligence Agency and plunged its agents into an
immediate duel with Soviet spies. This was the era of fear that inspired the West to once
again join forces, now as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And all of this was the
inspiration for the blind man’s challenge, the call for submariners in windowless
cylinders to dive deep into a new role that would help the nation fend off this menace.”
(Sontag, 6) So we see that the fear was not only ever present, but justified.

Sherry Sontag’s book is a goldmine when it comes to understanding why the U.S. felt so
afraid of the Soviets. “The Soviets had been developing missiles at a phenomenal rate ever
since they were forced to back down during the Cuban Missile Crisis.” (Sontag, 93) This
was common knowledge throughout the world. However, the U.S. was coming up with questions
in their minds about what the possibilities were if the Soviets were in fact advancing in
their technology. ”Was it possible that, just six years after the Cuban Missile Crisis,
the Soviets were positioned to launch a first strike with little or no warning? If the
subs were as silent and deadly as they seemed, then at the very least, the Soviets would
have matched the United States in creating a second-strike capability, a way to punch back
if all their land missiles and bombers were destroyed” (Sontag, 173)

There were many other things that Naval Intelligence was able to find out about the
Soviets, driving the fear of Soviet attack even deeper into America’s heart. For instance,
they found that the Soviets had placed their Delta ballistic missiles out of reach of the
U.S., but just a straight shot away from Washington D.C. (Sontag, 295) When this occurred,
naval leaders began to be confused as to what the Soviets were planning. “American
planners had believed that the Soviet Navy was bent on challenging the United States on
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