"Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate ... Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
- President Ronald Reagan, standing at Brandenburg Gate on 12 June 1987
Two rival superpowers with nuclear weapons
People in my generation may not always be aware of it today, but the world was afraid of a nuclear war for over forty years of the last century. It was called the "Cold War," for those who don't know, and the scariest thing about it was that this nuclear holocaust could actually happen. Two superpowers had nuclear weapons, you see - which were, of course, the United States and the Soviet Union - and these two superpowers disliked and distrusted each other greatly.
Berlin Wall, 1986
An eerie description of the Cold War from a previous century
The words of a philosopher from 300 years ago could be seen as an accurate description of this twentieth-century conflict, and an eerie one at that. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote that "persons of sovereign authority [or in this case, nations] ... [are] in the state and posture of gladiators; having their weapons pointing, and their eyes fixed on one another; that is, their forts, garrisons, and guns upon the frontiers of their [nations]; and continual spies on their neighbors; which is a posture of war." (Source: "Leviathan" [published 1651], Chapter XIII, the subsection entitled "The incommodities of such a war") Thus, in many important ways, Thomas Hobbes' timeless quotation is an apt description of the Cold War.
Blockade (or "quarantine") of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962