The Sanitized Rhetoric That Makes Nuclear War More Likely

To Rid the Planet of Atomic Weapons, We Should Dismantle the Language That Makes Them Possible

The nuclear age began 73 years ago when a brilliant, terrible flash lit up the pre-dawn sky in the New Mexico desert. That first explosion at the Trinity site in July 1945 came from a massive spherical bomb with radioactive plutonium at its core. It was playfully called “The Gadget.”

Can you think of a more innocuous word for a machine that could eradicate a city in seconds, incinerating both humans and buildings within a radius of several miles?

But in the moments after the blast, J. Robert Oppenheimer—who oversaw …

More In: Cold War

How Bullwinkle Helped Us Laugh Off Nuclear Annihilation

The Dim-Witted Moose and His Squirrelly Sidekick Calmed Our Cold War Fears with Subversive Humor

“Mr. Chairman, I am against all foreign aid, especially to places like Hawaii and Alaska,” says Senator Fussmussen from the floor of a cartoon Senate in 1962. In the …

Is the Cyber Era the New Cold War?

Both Are Elusive and Shadowy, with No Clear Endgame

So-called cyberwarfare has blurred the boundaries of what war is, raising profound questions about how the U.S. should respond to attacks that occur online and in information networks. This was …

The Man Who Explained the Soviets to America

How George F. Kennan's Passion for Russia Colored Our Cold War Strategy

The enduring irony of George F. Kennan’s life was just how much the architect of America’s Cold War “containment” strategy—aimed at stopping Soviet expansionism—loved Russia.

Kennan arguably played a …

Don’t Laugh, But Trump May Be Right on Russia

Foreign Policy Elites Are Still Invested in a Cold War With Moscow That No Longer Makes Sense

Donald Trump’s views on U.S.-Russia relations bring to mind something that Shakespeare points out in King Lear—that sometimes the court fool is the only person telling the truth.

Washington’s …