MAD. Mutually Assured Destruction. We were all terrified by it. When I started hearing policy makers (usually not military) talking about 'tactical' nuclear weapons and 'winnable' nuclear war, I couldn't believe it.
Numerous times over the past 50 years there were false alerts on both sides, in Russia and the US. Each time the person at the console said, This can't be possible, and did not call for instructions to counter strike from their Kremlin or Oval Office. They hesitated because they did not believe the other side was that crazy. They hesitated because they believed in humanity, theirs and the other side's. Each time they were right. Each time...we survived. Because of some Russian or American colonel who knew that his ultimate commission was peace.
Some were technical, computer glitches, strange weather conditions. Flocks of birds, even. One was because a training tape had been loaded into a computer by mistake! Each time, because both sides were equally in dread of nuclear war, they refused to believe what the technology was screaming.
What happens now that everyone has been force fed the neo-Red Scare bullshit for the past several years? That's great for theater and shifting people's attention away from our own corruption, but it is playing with nuclear fire. Propaganda is programming people to hate, but propaganda bites the hand that feeds it.
What happens when the next obscure programming error mindlessly coughs up an alert? Will the technician at the flashing console use his humanity and say, No. I will not do this? Or has the propaganda poisoned his mind? Will he jam on the button because we all know how crazy the other side is?