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The good people of Gladbrook, Iowa (population 881), don’t realize it, but they’re toast. Gladbrook is ground zero for a massive combined missile attack from China, Russia, and North Korea. Precisely what sort of grudge the Chinese, Russians, and North Koreans have against the citizens of Gladbrook is not entirely clear. But the Web site ...

The good people of Gladbrook, Iowa (population 881), don’t realize it, but they’re toast. Gladbrook is ground zero for a massive combined missile attack from China, Russia, and North Korea.

Precisely what sort of grudge the Chinese, Russians, and North Koreans have against the citizens of Gladbrook is not entirely clear. But the Web site of the Coalition to Protect Americans Now (CPAN) — a nonprofit organization promoting national missile defense — isn’t interested in exploring such nuances. The purpose of CPAN’s site is to scare the bejesus out of all those complacent, post-Cold War Americans who have foolishly converted their old bomb shelters into wine cellars and rec rooms.

The CPAN Web site is a vivid illustration of how advocacy groups are effectively using the Internet to bring Beltway foreign policy debates into people’s homes. Just enter your zip code, click "go!," and a "customized missile threat profile" pops up listing the arsenal of each nation that has the capability to turn your town into smoldering rubble. From there, you can point-and-click a letter to the editors of your local newspapers or to your congressional representatives.

CPAN, which promotes the work of such influential conservative think tanks as the Center for Security Policy and the Heritage Foundation, won’t be limiting its campaign to the Internet. It has sponsored two commercials accusing the Clinton administration of leaving the United States defenseless, and it promises another barrage of ads this fall… just in time for the elections.

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