During the Cold War the dominant strategic doctrine was MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction. The irony of the English acronym was grimly acknowledged by proponents and critics alike. You would have to be crazy to initiate a nuclear war that would bring destruction on a global scale.
It appears, however, that those MAD days are upon us again. On Thursday, August 8, 2019 an experimental Russian rocket exploded over the White Sea off Arkangelsk on Russia’s northeast coast. Soon after local officials reported radiation levels 16 times normal background levels. Intelligence analysts suggest that a small nuclear reactor powering what Russians call the Petrel (“Burevestnik”), and NATO officials call the Skyfall, missile had malfunctioned. A week later the residents of Nenoska, the locality closest to the missile test site were told to prepare to evacuate, doctors who were treating accident survivors were forcibly evacuated, and the hospital rooms of the patients sealed off.