The story of Stanislav Petrov, the Soviet missile commander whose disobedience averted nuclear war

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/03/99-luft-balloons.html

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It’s frightening how many times the world came close to a nuclear exchange, only to be saved by the level-headedness of one or a handful of individuals. Despite that, the spirit of Curtis LeMay lives on today in those who think a nuclear war involves anyone “winning”:

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Dr%20Strangelove__Ripper__I%20find%20your%20lack%20of%20faith%20distubing

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“…and have you stopped beating your wife?”

I can’t tell if Liz is really that ignorant of how an actual nuclear war would play out or if she’s being willfully obtuse to score points. :roll_eyes:

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She’s her father’s daughter, so I lean toward the latter.

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Do cockroaches bother keeping score? I’m not so sure they’re patriotic enough to care.

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I just joined to acknowledge that my mortal fear for nuclear war / annihilation was not misplaced at that age. Thank you Mr. Petrov.

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Dear Mr. Petrov,

большое спасибо вам

(“bol’shoye spasibo vam”)

Thank you very much.

Not getting the planet blown up is A Wonderful Thing™ and we are also grateful for the lack of nuclear fallout from what would have been a catastrophe.

Signed,
Humans everywhere

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https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113579843

At 12:15 A.M., Petrov was startled. Across the top of the room was a thin, silent panel. Most of the time no one even noticed it. But suddenly it lit up, in red letters: LAUNCH.

A siren wailed. On the big map with the North Pole, a light at one of the American missile bases was illuminated. Everyone was riveted to the map. The electronic panels showed a missile launch. The board said “high reliability.” This had never happened before. The operators at the consoles on the main door jumped up, out of their chairs. They turned and looked up at Petrov, behind the glass. He was the commander on duty. He stood, too, so they could see him. He started to give orders. He wasn’t sure what was happening. He ordered them to sit down and start checking the system. He had to know whether this was real, or a glitch. The full check would take ten minutes, but if this was a real missile attack, they could not wait ten minutes to find out. Was the satellite holding steady? Was the computer functioning properly?

Previously on bOINGbOING:

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If Petrov had done as expected and reported upwards that he had detected a suspected launch it is unlikely it would have led to nuclear war. His superiors would have hesitated given that the report made no sense as a US attack.

Vasily Arkhipov, on the other hand, was personally, with a single deciding vote, reponsible for preventing WW III:


Seems Petrov has a better PR department.

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Yeah, well, who’s laughing now.

Not so much disobedience as doing the job right.

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My hope is that every human would do the same thing.

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My hope right now is that the air force locked the actual “football” in a safe at the Pentagon and have given Trump something by Fisher-Price with lots of blinkenlights.

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c9e791ae0038042c5eae91afd51e29aa

Yes, I’m aware Scott Adams is an asshole.

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I think we are very lucky this all happened before President Reagan’s infamous “we begin bombing in 5 minutes” remarks in 1984. Petrov - and his superiors - might not have been so ready to dismiss the warnings.

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Yes it’s deja vu all over again, where the U.S. gets this elderly white man installed as U.S. president, then some of us start wondering about just how much that elderly white man’s dementia

has affected and will affect U.S. policy, human lives, the environment, etc.

The big picture historically is doubleplus ungood.

Yeah, but Trump.

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