The end of the Cold War was supposed to bring peace. When the Berlin Wall came down thirty years ago, on 9 November 1989, there were hopes that it heralded the dawning of a new era, freed from superpower rivalry, arms races, paranoia, and the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). We were promised a “peace dividend”, and told we had reached the “end of history”.
What went wrong? In a recent BBC interview, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned that tensions with Russia are once again putting the world in “colossal danger”:
As long as weapons of mass destruction exist, primarily nuclear weapons, the danger is colossal. All nations should declare – all nations – that nuclear weapons must be destroyed. This is to save ourselves and our planet.
The infamous “Doomsday Clock” of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which measures how close the world is to the apocalypse, is currently set to two minutes to midnight (the closest it’s been since the 1950s). In August 2019, the United States withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, prompting analysts to warn of a new nuclear arms race with Russia (and China).
Is the world in ‘colossal danger’? Are tensions with Russia putting us all at risk? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!