The Inescapable Cold War: Deutschland 83

Publicity photo of Jonas Nay and Maria Schrader on the set of Deutschland 83
Publicity photo of Jonas Nay and Maria Schrader on the set of Deutschland 83 (UFA Fiction)

Deutschland 83 is Germany’s answer to the highly successful American television drama The Americans. Whereas the latter follows two well-trained KGB “illegals” in the United States, Deutschland 83 centers on a young East German border guard who is unwillingly thrust into the middle of a nuclear standoff.

The two series have a powerful theme in common: the way in which the extreme polarization of the Cold War could tear families apart. Read more

Oceania Has Always Been at War with Eurasia

Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev and other Soviet leaders review an army parade in Moscow's Red Square, Russia, November 9, 1962
Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev and other Soviet leaders review an army parade in Moscow’s Red Square, Russia, November 9, 1962 (Life/Stan Wayman)

Russia’s latest standoff with the West is already popularly seen as the beginning of another Cold War. In fact, the conflict’s origins go back much further. Geography and culture conspire to pit landpower Russia against the maritime civilizations of the West. The crisis in Ukraine has less to do with alleged promises about NATO expansion and a Russian government that needs to shore up its legitimacy; there is a certain inevitability about tension between the two sides that is unlikely to go away any time soon. Read more

Reagan’s Rebellion and the End of the Cold War

James Mann, The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War (2009)
James Mann, The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War (2009)

In university, I once attended a panel discussion about the Cold War where one of the organizers of the large antinuclear demonstrations that took place in the Netherlands in the early 1980s startled the audience by saying he believed President Ronald Reagan had been a “nuclear pacifist.”

Many of the students, who had been taught Reagan was a cowboy, a radical rightwinger and a strident anti-communist who spoke of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” just as Mikhail Gorbachev set about reforming the country, found the old peacenik’s admiration of the Republican president difficult to understand. Hadn’t Reagan stepped up the arms race, they asked? Wasn’t it his administration that deployed cruise missiles in Western Europe — the very missiles he protested against at the time? Read more