Zimmer mit kolossaler Aussicht. War Rooms als imaginäre Aushandlungsorte von Störungen

Tobias Nanz


During the Cold War numerous fictional scenarios featured War Rooms and bunkers as control rooms. In these places we witness how a head of government is negotiating with a political opponent in times of crises and deciding on war or peace. In this paper, I will discuss three literary and cinematic treatments that focus on crises situations that broach the issue of atomic war. I consider the war room (and its environment) as an experimental laboratory that tests the decision-making ability of any political leader and his skills to handle technical or human failures that threaten to cause a nuclear war. As I will argue, in fiction human control and sovereignty were replaced by computers that took command. This loss of human agency was caused by the medialisation and mechanisation of the nuclear weapons control.  Drawing on these deliberations, this article aims to introduce a typology of disruption. Based on the analysis of Cold War fictional treatments, this typology identifies different ways of handling incidents caused by human or technical agents as well as the different ways of solving (or failing to solve) a nuclear crisis.



DOI: https://doi.org/10.6094/behemoth.2016.9.1.890