The manufacturing and introduction of nuclear power to global wars instigated a series of detrimental effects that lasted long after the end of World War II. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a direct effect of the toxic nationalism that triggered production of the weaponry initially, but the cultural divides and polarization of economic and political ideologies that expanded as the Cold War ensued was another underlying effect that we can still trace in today’s society.

Wars create a heightened sense of nationalism, especially in American society. This nationalism is toxic, isolating the general “them” from the American “us.” Toxic nationalism is perpetuated by ideas such as racism, threats to personal safety, and supremacy in the areas of military, economy, and culture. An attitude such as this combined with the significant wealth and power of the American government allowed for the rise of nuclear weaponry production. While nuclear power is scientifically brilliant, it is not ethically rational. The bomb’s effect on the end of the war is debated, but it’s annihilation of Japanese innocents is widely considered a horrible event. Nationalism allowed Americans to isolate themselves from other groups of people. They could degrade these other people into beings that were less than human, thus it was rationalized as acceptable to drop a bomb on them. In their thirst for power, Americans lost sight of their morality.

This toxic nationalism was carried throughout the Cold War as nuclear weaponry continued to be built. A positive feedback loop was created in which Americans felt threatened by Russian power, attempted to combat such power with their own nuclear development, which then spurred further Russian nuclear production, thus completing the cycle. U.S. power extended to foreign countries in an effort to prevent communist power from spreading throughout Europe. Again, the people in these other groups were not seen as other humans, but as a strategy to be used against Russia.

In American society today there is still an abundance of animosity tied to the idea of communism. This is because the word reflects a challenge to American values and power. The same nationalism that demonizes communism advocates for nuclear weaponry in order to defend against such threatening ideals.