For those two young to remember, the Cold War was a long drawn-out ordeal between the US and the Soviet Union (USSR). There were no hand-to-hand or face-to-face battles (at least publicly), no missiles fired and no bombs dropped. But it was just as real as the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During this time, the US and USSR spied on each other to learn secrets. The fear was that at any moment, missiles could start flying and nukes could start exploding. While this may sound far fetched, it was very, very real. School children were taught how to prepare for an attack at school before my time. By my time, schools realized that in case of nuclear attack, preparation was unnecessary. There were bomb and radiation shelters downtown (I wonder where those went). And at age 22, during the height of Reagan's hype, I even mapped out a plan to get away and a location to escape the coming war.
During this time a favorite tactic of both countries was diversion. The US would publicly talk about things just to have the USSR spend time and effort spying into details. This tactic probably had more to do with ending the war than anything else. It forced the USSR to spend dollars upon dollars. The economic collapse finally did them in and now there is no USSR.
Sometimes, I feel like this happens in life, at work and home. At work, my competitors talk about some grand scheme and I have to go off researching details. After all is said and done, the customer isn't interested, but I've wasted a lot of time and resources. The same thing happens at home, just on a different level, with different players.
Ah, for the days of the Cold War.