Saturday, March 24, 2012

Terror and the Nuclear Threat Tradition

Culture is formed by the accumulation and the passing on of traditions from one generation to the next in social groups . These traditions are the collective experiences, beliefs, values and practices of individual members and institutions of society. Those which prove to be adaptive and become critical to the group's survival  are recorded and passed on from generation to generation. Those which are not critical may be lost over time. The speed of culture changes influences what is retained, what is passed on and what is lost.

The end of the Cold War in 1992 changed the way we, in the public, look at the nuclear threat. For those born after the end of the Cold War, the nuclear war threat may only be "history." But, for those of us who lived through the Cold War, the traditions of that period remain part of the our culture and worldview.The terrorist attack on the twin towers on 9/11/02 has shifted our national focus from the threat of a global nuclear war between nations to the threat of the individual terrorist suicide bomber of the 21st century.

Today, with the discussions about the possibilities of  nuclear terrorism once again surfacing, it may be worthwhile to re-examination of the culture of nuclear defense and disaster control. Today in 2012, with the concern over Iran's nuclear program and Israel and US potential response to it, it is worth thinking about how our traditional nuclear culture may be used to guide our response. We should examine the super-organic of t,he Nuclear war and Terrorism as anthropologists by asking:  How do the Cold War traditions influence, or not influence, life in America and the world the 21st century? Do our traditions prepare us for what might happen?

A good place to start is this 2008, TED presentation, by Irwin Redlener entitled

How to survive a nuclear attack

The presentation is described as: "The face of nuclear terror has changed since the Cold War, but disaster-medicine expert Irwin Redlener reminds us the threat is still real. He looks at some of history's farcical countermeasures and offers practical advice on how to survive an attack "

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