Courtesy Reuters

"IT'S THE THIRD WORLD WAR" headlines an Italian satirical newspaper during the 1979 Chinese-Vietnamese conflict. From the Balkans, appropriately enough, a warning: in the summer following interventions in Ethiopia and Zaïre, Yugoslavian President Tito, the only remaining European leader who can claim to have fought in both world wars, decries "the renewed threat to peace from power politics and the persistence of the terrifying arms race. . . ." In London, a group of retired military officers publishes a best seller. Its topic: the fictional history of a global conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union that begins in August 1985.1


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