Sunday 24 March 2019

Ian O'Doherty: 'We've gone back to the future with all the nuclear sabre rattling'

US president Ronald Reagan, right, shakes hands with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev after the leaders signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987 (AP)
US president Ronald Reagan, right, shakes hands with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev after the leaders signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987 (AP)
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

With RTÉ currently showing the wonderful German drama Deutschland '86, we're looking at the very recent, and quickly forgotten history of the Cold War and how close we came to Armageddon.

Anyone who grew up in the 1980s will remember the terror we all felt - I still have nightmares about the time I was woken up by a thunderstorm in 1986 and was convinced the bomb had been dropped.

Deutschland '86 prompted me to go back and look at all the nuclear war dramas that terrified me and while Threads remains arguably the most horrifying film ever made, the remake of On the Beach is also worth checking out - although the final scene is emotionally devastating.

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We can watch those films now and enjoy them as fiction rather than a chilling warning of our probable fate - or so I thought.

With all eyes on Brexit, it's no surprise that we haven't paid much attention to the latest sabre rattling between the Americans and the Russians.

The Yanks have pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, following Russian breaches of that agreement, and how has Moscow responded? Well, we saw Russian sources on Wednesday reveal their latest plan: a 100 megaton nuclear torpedo called Poseidon that they could deploy off the American coast, causing tsunamis and turning thousands of miles of real estate into a glowing, smoking inferno.

That's bad enough, but what followed was terrifying - the Russians now say they reserve the right to a pre-emptive strike if they feel their borders are being threatened.

Yup, we're back to the 1980s all over again.

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