The Nuclear Crisis

Cold War Cultures and the Politics of Peace and Security, 1975-1990

On December 12, 1979, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) passed the so-called Double-Track Decision: If case arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union were to fail, the West would station intermediate nuclear forces to provide a counterweight to the new Soviet SS-20 missiles.

This momentous decision, alongside the almost simultaneous Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, directly affected international politics as well as domestic developments in Europe and North America, as the world moved from an era of détente to a newly heightened East-West confrontation.

Interpreting the “nuclear crisis” of the late 1970s and early 1980s as a phenomenon in which a variety of military, political, and cultural transformations converged, this research project explores the discourse about atomic energy and weapons during the final decades of the Cold War from three distinct but interrelated angles: cultural representations of the nuclear threat, changes in the sociopolitical and economic spheres, transatlantic and global transformations.