Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the "War on Terror"

By Andrew Martin; Patrice Petro | Go to book overview

FUTURE-WAR STORYTELLG
NATIONAL SECURITY
AND POPULAR FILM

DOUG DAVIS


Popcorn and Politics

A specter is haunting America—the specter of destruction. “In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden's 9/11 assault, which awakened the world to the reality of global terrorism, it is incumbent upon serious national security analysts to think again about the unthinkable,” write Graham Allison and Andrei Kokoshin in the fall 2002 issue of the National Interest. A decade after the end of the cold war, and following a brief respite when “the threat of nuclear weapons catastrophe faded away from most minds,” the United States along with Russia once again faces the threat of nuclear attack. “Consider this hypothetical,” Allison and Kokoshin continue: “A crude nuclear weapon constructed from stolen materials explodes in Red Square. A fifteen kiloton blast would instantaneously destroy the Kremlin, Saint Basil's Cathedral, the ministries of foreign affairs and defense, the Tretyakov Gallery, and tens of thousands of individual lives. In Washington, an equivalent explosion near the White House would completely destroy that building, the Old Executive Office Building and everything within a one-mile radius, including the Departments of State, Treasury, the Federal Reserve and all of their occupants—as well as damaging the Potomac-facing side of the Pentagon.”1

As veteran U.S. and Russian security specialists respectively, Allison and Kokoshin admit that this scenario is an “unprecedented event.”2 Much as a global nuclear war fought with tens of thousands of strategic weapons has no precedent in military history, no act of terrorism anywhere near as technically complex or physically destructive as an act of nuclear terrorism exists in

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