During the Cold War, we're told, America and the USSR were bitter enemies, conceding nothing and never negotiating, with only the threat of mutual destruction keeping each from destroying the other. Our view of the politics came mostly from what politicians told us, politicians strongly interested in exaggerating the animosity so we'd rally around them.

For example, many people believe that the Cuban Missile Crisis was the textbook example of brinkmanship—with the fate of the world on the line, the two nuclear powers simply stared each other down. In reality, the United States prepared concessions, and at the exact moment that the Kennedy White House later said the Soviets were right next to America's naval blockade, the Soviets had actually already turned around and were almost a thousand miles away. 

Then there was the time Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev actually talked to each other face-to-face. They held a summit in Geneva in November 1985, and though they held press conferences, they also took one walk together, with no one but their interpreters overhearing their conversations. For decades, no one knew what they'd discussed. Then Gorbachev disclosed it: Reagan had asked if the USSR would help the US if aliens attacked.

"No doubt about it," replied Gorbachev. Reagan then said the US would do the same were the Soviets the space lasers' victims. Now, we don't know the tone of this conversation. Maybe Reagan genuinely feared an alien attack, influenced by the film The Day the Earth Stood Still (one of his biographers believes this). Maybe he was being more metaphorical about any possible circumstances that might warrant future cooperation; this actually might have made the conversation even more meaningful.

We do know though that Reagan wasn't basing his question on the situation in the Cold War story Watchmen. It would be another year till Watchman came out. However, it's possible that Watchmen writer Alan Moore overheard the conversation and based Watchmen on it, as no one knows exactly where Alan Moore was on November 20, 1985, or ever. 

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For more on those guys and their war, check out:

Actor President Ronald Reagan Let Films Influence Him A Whole Bunch

The Cuban Missile Crisis Was A Diplomatic Success, Not A Political Dick-Measuring Contest

Nancy Reagan's Astrologer Helped End The Cold War

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