Further Reading


1956 - 2023

Doomsday Clock Ticks Closer to Midnight


Throughout history, there have been several instances when the world has come close to nuclear war. One of the most well-known examples is the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, in which the United States and the Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear war over the installation of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. The crisis was ultimately resolved through diplomatic efforts and the removal of the missiles.

Doomsday Clock Ticks Closer to Midnight Timeline

1954 Sep 3 - 1955 May 1

First Taiwan Strait Crisis

Taiwan Strait, Changle Distric

Taiwan Strait Crisis 1954-1958 | ©The Cold War

The First Taiwan Strait Crisis, also known as the 1954-1955 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was a conflict between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) over control of the Taiwan Strait. The PRC, which had recently come to power in China, had long claimed Taiwan as part of its territory, but the ROC, which had fled to Taiwan after losing the Chinese Civil War, continued to govern the island as an independent state.

The crisis began in September 1954, when the PRC began a bombing campaign against the ROC-controlled Tachen Islands, which are located just off the coast of mainland China. The United States, which had a mutual defense treaty with the ROC, responded by sending the Seventh Fleet to the region to protect Taiwan and the Tachen Islands.

As the crisis escalated, the United States threatened to use nuclear weapons against China if it did not stop its bombing of the Tachen Islands. On 12 September, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended the use of nuclear weapons against mainland China. This threat was part of a larger strategy known as "massive retaliation", which was designed to deter Soviet and Chinese aggression during the Cold War.

The crisis ultimately ended in a stalemate, with the PRC ending its bombing campaign, but neither side gaining control of the Taiwan Strait. However, the crisis led to a significant increase in tensions between the United States and China, and raised concerns about the potential for a nuclear war in the region.

1956 Oct 29 - 1956 Nov 7

Suez Crisis

Gaza Strip

Suez Crisis | ©Epic History TV

The Suez Crisis was a political and military conflict that took place in 1956, involving Egypt and the United Kingdom, France and Israel. The crisis began when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, which was then owned and operated by the British and French. This move was met with military intervention by the UK, France and Israel, who sought to retake control of the canal. There were fears that the conflict could escalate and lead to a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. However, the crisis was ultimately resolved without a nuclear war taking place, and diplomacy was used to defuse the situation. The Suez Crisis was also one of the first international crisis that united the UN to take a stand and play a mediating role.

Nikita Khrushchev's public threat, made through letters sent by Nikolai Bulganin, to launch rocket attacks on Britain, France, and Israel if they did not withdraw from Egypt, was believed to have played a significant role in forcing a ceasefire. This perceived demonstration of the Soviet Union's willingness to use nuclear force on behalf of Egypt, increased their prestige in Egypt, the Arab world and the Third World. Khrushchev believed that the Suez crisis was a personal triumph and that the use of nuclear threats was an effective tool for achieving Soviet foreign policy goals.

1962 Oct 16 - 1962 Oct 29

Cuban Missile Crisis


Cuban Missile Crisis | ©Ted-Ed

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a major political and military standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union that occurred in 1962. It is widely considered to be the closest the world ever came to nuclear war.

The crisis began when the US government discovered that the Soviet Union was in the process of installing nuclear missiles in Cuba, which is located just 90 miles from the US mainland. The US government considered the presence of these missiles to be a direct threat to national security, and they immediately began to prepare for a possible military response.

The United States announced a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent any further shipments of missiles from reaching the island, and also publicly announced that any nuclear missile launched from Cuba would be considered an attack on the United States, and would be met with a full-scale military response. The Soviet Union, under the leadership of Premier Nikita Khrushchev, denied that the missiles were intended for use against the United States, and insisted that they were for defensive purposes only.

The crisis reached its peak on October 24th, 1962, when a US spy plane flying over Cuba discovered Soviet nuclear missiles that were capable of reaching the US mainland.

The crisis was resolved after several tense days of diplomatic negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union. On October 28, 1962, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba, in exchange for a US promise not to invade the island and to remove US missiles from Turkey.

The Cuban Missile Crisis had a profound impact on international relations, and it is widely regarded as a turning point in the Cold War. The crisis demonstrated the dangers of nuclear weapons, and it led to the creation of several important arms control agreements between the US and the Soviet Union, including the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which helped to reduce the threat of nuclear war.

1983 Sep 26

1983 Soviet Nuclear False Alarm Incident


The night the world almost ended | ©BBC Reel

The 1983 Soviet nuclear false alarm incident was a significant event that occurred during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union's early warning system incorrectly detected the launch of multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) from the United States, indicating an imminent nuclear attack.

The incident occurred on September 26, 1983, during a period of high tensions between the US and Soviet Union. The Soviet Union's early warning system, which was designed to detect the launch of ICBMs, indicated that the US had launched a massive nuclear attack. The system reported that several ICBMs had been launched from the US, and that they were headed towards the Soviet Union.The Soviet military immediately went on high alert and prepared to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike.

The false alarm was caused by a malfunction in the early warning system, which was triggered by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds and the satellites used by the system. This caused the satellites to misinterpret the clouds as a missile launch. The alarm was eventually determined to be false by Stanislav Petrov, but not before the Soviet Union's top military leaders had prepared to launch a nuclear counterattack.

The incident was kept secret by the Soviet Union until the 1990s, but it was later revealed to the public by Russian and American leaders. The incident highlighted the dangers of the Cold War and the importance of having reliable and accurate early warning systems to prevent accidental nuclear war. It also led to changes in the Soviet Union's command and control procedures, with the creation of a “nuclear briefcase”, a device that would allow Soviet leaders to confirm or deny the launch of a nuclear attack before making a decision to launch a counterattack.

1999 May 3 - 1999 Jul 26

Kargil War


Kargil War | ©Prudentia Tech

The Kargil War was a military conflict between India and Pakistan that took place in 1999 in the Kargil district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The conflict began when Pakistan-backed militants infiltrated the Kargil region, which is located on the Line of Control (LOC) that separates Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered areas of Jammu and Kashmir. India responded by launching a military operation to drive out the militants and retake the area.

The war lasted for approximately two months, and resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. The fighting ended in July 1999, when Pakistan withdrew its troops and militants from the Kargil region, and the area was returned to Indian control.

During the conflict, there were concerns about the possibility of the war escalating into a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Both countries had nuclear weapons at that time, and there were fears that the use of such weapons could lead to devastating consequences for both countries and the region.

The risk of nuclear war was particularly high due to the nature of the conflict, as it was taking place on the LOC, a highly militarized zone and a flashpoint for tensions between the two countries. Additionally, the use of airpower by India and Pakistan was unprecedented in their history and was seen as a significant escalation of the conflict.

To prevent the war from escalating, the international community, led by the United States, intervened to de-escalate the situation. Diplomatic efforts were made to bring an end to the conflict, and both sides ultimately agreed to a ceasefire, which put an end to the fighting.

The Kargil War was a reminder of the dangers of a nuclear war and the importance of diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts and prevent them from escalating. It also highlighted the need for better communication and confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan to reduce the risk of future conflicts.

2017 Apr 8 - 2018 Jun 12

2017–2018 North Korea Crisis

North Korea

2017–2018 North Korea crisis | ©Al Jazeera English

The 2017-2018 North Korea crisis refers to a period of increased tensions between North Korea and the international community, particularly the United States. It was sparked by a series of nuclear and missile tests conducted by North Korea, which prompted the US to impose sanctions and threaten military action. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, also engaged in a war of words with US President Donald Trump, exchanging personal insults and threats of destruction. The crisis reached its peak in the fall of 2017, but tensions eventually cooled and diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation began.


Further Reading

Book Recommenations for Doomsday Clock Ticks Closer to Midnight

  • Allison, Graham; Zelikow, Philip (1999). Essence of Decision, Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: Addison Wesley Longman. ISBN 978-0-321-01349-1.
  • Andrew, Christopher; Gordievsky, Oleg, eds. (1993). Comrade Kryuchkov's Instructions: Top Secret Files on KGB Foreign Operations, 1975–1985. Stanford University Press. pp. 74–6, 86. ISBN 0-8047-2228-5.
  • Arnstein, Walter L. (2001). Britain Yesterday and Today: 1830 to the Present. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-618-00104-0.
  • Bakich, Spencer D. (2020) "Signalling capacity and crisis diplomacy: Explaining the failure of 'maximum pressure' in the 2017 U.S.-North Korea nuclear crisis." Journal of Strategic Studies.
  • Barrett, David M. and Max Holland (2012). Blind Over Cuba: The Photo Gap and the Missile Crisis. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2012.
  • Beaufre, André (1969). The Suez Expedition 1956. New York: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-571-08979-6. (translated from French by Richard Barry)
  • Bregman, Ahron (2002). Israel's Wars: A History Since 1947. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-28716-6.
  • Campus, Leonardo (2014). I sei giorni che sconvolsero il mondo. La crisi dei missili di Cuba e le sue percezioni internazionali [=Six Days that Shook the World. The Cuban Missile Crisis and Its International Perceptions]. Florence: Le Monnier. ISBN 9788800745321
  • Chayes, Abram (1974). The Cuban Missile Crisis. International crises and the role of law. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-825320-4.
  • Childers, Erskine B. (1962). The Road To Suez. MacGibbon & Kee. ASIN B000H47WG4.
  • Cockburn, Andrew, "Defensive, Not Aggressive" (review of Theodore Voorhees, The Silent Guns of Two Octobers: Kennedy and Khrushchev Play the Double Game, Michigan, September 2021, ISBN 978 0 472 03871 8, 384 pp.; and Serhii Plokhy, Nuclear Folly: A New History of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Allen Lane, April 2021, ISBN 978 0 241 45473 2, 464 pp.), London Review of Books, vol. 43, no. 17 (9 September 2021), pp. 9–10. "[F]or Kennedy, the [Cuban Missile] crisis was entirely about [internal U.S.] politics." [...] Voorhees argues convincingly that there was never any real danger of war, since Kennedy and Khrushchev were equally determined to avoid one..." (p. 10.)
  • Diez Acosta, Tomás (2002). October 1962: The "Missile" Crisis As Seen from Cuba. New York: Pathfinder. ISBN 978-0-87348-956-0.
  • Divine, Robert A. (1988). The Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: M. Wiener Pub. ISBN 978-0-910129-15-2.
  • Dobbs, Michael (2008). One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War. New York: Knopf. ISBN 978-1-4000-7891-2.
  • Feklisov, Aleksandr; Kostin, Sergueï (2001). The Man Behind the Rosenbergs: By the KGB Spymaster Who Was the Case Officer of Julius Rosenberg, Klaus Fuchs, and Helped Resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: Enigma Books. ISBN 978-1-929631-08-7.
  • Fischer, Ben B. "The 1983 War Scare in US-Soviet Relations" (PDF). National Security Archive. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 March 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  • Ford, Glyn (2018). Talking to North Korea: Ending the Nuclear Standoff. London: Pluto Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv69tfz0. ISBN 9781786803047. S2CID 240216460.
  • Frankel, Max (2004). High Noon in the Cold War: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-46505-4.
  • Fursenko, Aleksandr (Summer 2006). "Night Session of the Presidium of the Central Committee, 22–23 October 1962". Naval War College Review. 59 (3). Archived from the original on October 6, 2011.
  • Fursenko, Aleksandr; Naftali, Timothy J. (1998). One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958–1964. New York: Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-31790-9.
  • George, Alice L. (2003). Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-2828-1.
  • Gibson, David R. (2012). Talk at the Brink: Deliberation and Decision during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-15131-1.
  • Gonzalez, Servando (2002). The Nuclear Deception: Nikita Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Oakland, CA: Spooks Books. ISBN 978-0-9711391-5-2.
  • Heikal, Mohamed (1986). Cutting The Lion's Tail: Suez Through Egyptian eyes. London: Deutsch. ISBN 978-0-233-97967-0.
  • Jones, Milo; Silberzahn, Philppe (2013). Constructing Cassandra, Reframing Intelligence Failure at the CIA, 1947–2001. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0804793360.
  • Khrushchev, Sergei (October 2002). "How My Father And President Kennedy Saved The World". American Heritage. 53 (5).
  • Kolbert, Elizabeth, "This Close: The day the Cuban missile crisis almost went nuclear" (a review of Martin J. Sherwin's Gambling with Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis, New York, Knopf, 2020), The New Yorker, 12 October 2020, pp. 70–73. Article includes information from recently declassified sources.
  • Matthews, Joe (October 2012). "Cuban missile crisis: The other, secret one". BBC.
  • Mecklin, John (September 11, 2017). "Commentary: The North Korean nuclear 'crisis' is an illusion". Reuters. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  • Pieta, Ewa. "The Red Button & the Man Who Saved the World". logtv.com. Archived from the original (Flash) on 16 October 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2006.
  • Plokhy, Serhii. Nuclear Folly: A History of the Cuban Missile Crisis (W. W. Norton & Company, 2021).
  • Polmar, Norman; Gresham, John D. (2006). DEFCON-2: Standing on the Brink of Nuclear War During the Cuban Missile Crisis. Foreword by Tom Clancy. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-67022-3.
  • Pope, Ronald R. (1982). Soviet Views on the Cuban Missile Crisis: Myth and Reality in Foreign Policy Analysis. Washington, DC: Univ. Press of America. ISBN 978-0-8191-2584-2.
  • Powers, Thomas, "The Nuclear Worrier" (review of Daniel Ellsberg, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, New York, Bloomsbury, 2017, ISBN 9781608196708, 420 pp.), The New York Review of Books, vol. LXV, no. 1 (January 18, 2018), pp. 13–15.
  • Pressman, Jeremy (2001). "September Statements, October Missiles, November Elections: Domestic Politics, Foreign-Policy Making, and the Cuban Missile Crisis". Security Studies. 10 (3): 80–114. doi:10.1080/09636410108429438. S2CID 154854331.
  • Russell, Bertrand (1963). Unarmed Victory. London: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-0-04-327024-0.
  • Seydi, SÜleyman. “Turkish—American Relations and the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1957-63.” Middle Eastern Studies 46#3 (2010), pp. 433–455. online
  • Shane, Scott (31 August 2003). "Cold War's Riskiest Moment". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on 19 August 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2006. (article reprinted as "The Nuclear War That Almost Happened in 1983"')
  • Stern, Sheldon M. (2003). Averting 'the Final Failure': John F. Kennedy and the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Meetings. Stanford nuclear age series. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4846-9. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  • Stern, Sheldon M. (2005). The Week the World Stood Still: Inside the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis. Stanford nuclear age series. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-5077-6. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  • Stern, Sheldon M. (2012). The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality. Stanford nuclear age series. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.
  • Trahair, Richard C. S.; Miller, Robert L. (2009). Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations. New York: Enigma Books. ISBN 978-1-929631-75-9.
  • Weaver, Michael E. The Relationship between Diplomacy and Military Force: An Example from the Cuban Missile Crisis, Diplomatic History, January 2014, Volume 38, Number 1, pp. 137–81. The Relationship between Diplomacy and Military Force: An Example from the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • White, Mark. "The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Jupiters, 1957-1963." Diplomatic History (2002) 26#1 pp 147–153.

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Last Updated: Tue, 24 Jan 2023 23:54:27 GMT