The Threat of Nuclear War: Four Decades After ‘The Day After’

Co-sponsored by the Quincy Institute, The Intercept, and The Nation Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its nuclear threats against the United States and NATO have made nuclear war a top-of-mind issue for Americans once again. Nearly 70 percent of Americans now worry about a nuclear attack, a level of concern unparalleled since the Cold War. Back then, the ever-present risk of nuclear annihilation was popular culture fare. On a Sunday night in 1983, more than 100 million people in the United States tuned in to ABC’s made for TV film “The Day After.” The film dramatized the fictional account of a Kansas town caught in the terror of a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The film is said to have led then-President Ronald Reagan to support his first arms control agreement with the USSR, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (which President Trump withdrew from in 2019). Please join a webinar cohosted by the Quincy Institute, The Intercept and The Nation for a discussion with Jeff Daniels, who made a documentary on the making of “The Day After” and its impact; Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation; and nuclear weapons expert Professor Sharon K. Weiner to explore the history and the legacy of the film and its lessons for today. The discussion will take place on Tuesday, June 14 from 5-6 pm ET.


Jeff Daniels

Jeff is a multi-award winning director/producer specializing in feature-length documentaries. His latest feature documentary TELEVISION EVENT met overwhelming critical acclaim at Tribeca 2021 and has since won multiple awards. His first film, THE 10 CONDITIONS OF LOVE (2009 — ABC), made international headlines after being banned by the Chinese government for highlighting their arbitrary imprisonment of the Uyghur. He has also produced and directed MOTHER WITH A GUN (2016 — Netflix) about a U.S. based militant Jewish group, FAIR GAME (2017 — SBS) which sparked a national debate after exposing systemic racism in Australian football, and co-produced CITY OF JOEL (2018 — Samuel Goldwyn Films).

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editorial director and publisher of The Nation. She served as editor of the magazine from 1995 to 2019. She writes a weekly column for The Washington Post and is Vice-President of the American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord. A frequent commentator on U.S. and international politics for ABC, MSNBC, CNN, and PBS, her articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe. Vanden Heuvel is also the author of several books, including The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in The Age of Obama, and co-author (with Stephen F. Cohen) of Voices of Glasnost: Interviews with Gorbachev’s Reformers.

Sharon K. Weiner

Sharon Weiner is Associate Professor at the School of International Service at American University. Her research, teaching, and policy engagement is at the intersection of organizational politics and U.S. national security. Her current work focuses on civil-military relations and on nuclear weapon programs and nonproliferation but she also pursues research and teaching interests in international security and U.S. relations with South Asia. From August 2014 through February 2017 Weiner served as a program examiner with the National Security Division of the White House Office of Management and Budget, where she had responsibility for budget and policy issues related to nuclear weapons and nonproliferation. Previously, she worked for the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and has held research positions at the Los Alamos National Laboratory Center for National Security Studies and at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.

Nausicaa Renner (Moderator)

Nausicaa Renner is the Washington Editor at The Intercept. She was previously the digital editor at Columbia Journalism Review and a senior editor at n+1. She grew up in Chicago.