In 1962, during JFK’s brief presidency, the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union reached its zenith. The Soviet Union clandestinely constructed a missile base in Cuba, capable of launching a nuclear attack on the continental US.
This provocative move by the Soviet Union to gain military supremacy through forceful means amounted to a de facto declaration of war. JFK, while projecting the United States’ military strength and reputation, displayed a resolute intent for reconciliation. He deftly navigated the missile crisis by imposing a naval blockade, compelling the Soviet Union to make a crucial decision.
Though I am not a part of the generation that experienced war, I have harbored an enduring fascination with the subject since childhood. I first heard about war through my grandfather, a veteran of the Korean War. In my youth, I struggled to comprehend the gravity of his stories and often dismissed them as fabrications. However, as I matured and encountered countless war films, games, and online media, I gradually gained insight into the harsh realities my grandfather had shared with me two decades earlier.
Events like the Cuban Missile Crisis serve as stark reminders that even those of us living in the world’s only truce-negotiated nation are not immune to the specter of conflict. Periodic occurrences of military provocations and violent clashes, such as the Yeonpyeong Island Incident and the sinking of the Cheonan, extend beyond the borders of Korea and unfold across the globe. War, an outcome of armed confrontations between nations or powerful interest groups, is a calamity of immense proportions.
From intercontinental ballistic missiles to nuclear weaponry, and in the contemporary era, drones and cutting-edge armaments, conflicts have evolved to more menacing proportions. The doctrine of mutually assured destruction, put forth by John von Neumann during the Cold War, persists, yet its efficacy may wane due to the growing dominance of information warfare and technology. The delicate equilibrium of power may eventually succumb to overwhelming military might, rendering the doctrine obsolete.
Can artworks centered on war delineate clear distinctions between good and evil in the context of modern warfare? Is it justifiable to take a definitive stance and rationalize the sacrifices made? These creative endeavors serve as a conduit for conveying messages about war, raising awareness among societies habituated to conflict through their pervasive exposure to media.