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796 comments

That list is clearly missing one (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208263)

June, 1983 - American teenager David Lightman hacks into NORAD's WOPR computer and begins playing a game of Global Thermonuclear War. WOPR however doesn't believe it to be a game, and begins preparations for missile launch. Fortunately, with the help of WOPR's creator Stephen Falken, they were able to have the computer play itself at Tic-Tac-Toe. As a result of this win-less battle, WOPR learns the only winning move is not to play.

Re:That list is clearly missing one (1)

antiWack (1000628) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208353)

Genius. Pure genius.

Re:That list is clearly missing one (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208787)

Don't forget about milw0rm [wikipedia.org] .

Why Only U.S. & Russia? (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208269)

Although these were a very solid twenty mishaps that almost lead to nuclear war, why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

I'm sure there are other countries with nuclear weapons. The current count on nuclear weapons from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] comes to:
The former chair of the United Nations disarmament committee states there are more than 16,000 strategic and tactical nuclear weapons ready for deployment and another 14,000 in storage. The U.S. has nearly 7,000 ready for action and 3,000 in storage and Russia has about 8,500 on hand and 11,000 in storage, he said. China has 400 nuclear weapons, France 350, Britain 200, Israel 200, India 95 and Pakistan 50. NATO has stationed 480 U.S. nuclear weapons in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Turkey, with several other countries in pursuit of an arsenal of their own (1).
Frankly, the India/Pakistan development of a nuclear arsenol worries me more than what happened historically between the U.S. & Russia. And don't even get me started on chemical and biological weapons.

Re:Why Only U.S. & Russia? (4, Insightful)

GeorgeMcBay (106610) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208427)

Although these were a very solid twenty mishaps that almost lead to nuclear war, why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

Uh... because those were the only two countries that had more than enough ICBMs to actually result in a global world-ending nuclear war.

Re:Why Only U.S. & Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208579)

Why did moderators decide to raise the GP to +5 instead of the P? People, 100 nukes in a warehouse isn't much of a threat without an advanced missile technology.

Re:Why Only U.S. & Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208795)

Uh... because those were the only two countries that had more than enough ICBMs to actually result in a global world-ending nuclear war.
Could you cite the source you used to determine this? How do you know that 200 nukes launched between India and Pakistan won't kilter the environment enough to kill us all? How do you know the the thousands between the US and Russia will?

Nuclear war is nuclear war. We don't really know what happens after that. When the US used nuclear weapons on Japan, things changed. If both sides had had bombs (even just 2 or 3), things would have really changed.

Re:Why Only U.S. & Russia? (4, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208449)

``Frankly, the India/Pakistan development of a nuclear arsenol worries me more than what happened historically between the U.S. & Russia.''

What worries me is that, at some point, the Russian government wasn't able to pay all it's employees' wages. What does that say about a rich and determined party being able to acquire some of the stored weapons? Even if such a scenario is highly unlikely, I'm still more worried about that than about what a state with citizens and territory might do with nuclear weapons.

Re:Why Only U.S. & Russia? (1, Redundant)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208565)

let's think for a second... Russia has about 20,000 nukes. 20,000. They are a politically unstable nation (or have been).

Are you going to tell me they can account for every single one of those, and that none of them managed to wind up in... let's say another communist nation? Such as... North Korea?

Re:Why Only U.S. & Russia? (2, Interesting)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208541)

Although these were a very solid twenty mishaps that almost lead to nuclear war, why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

Because the vast majority of weapons belong to those 2 countries? Because those 2 countries have been engaged in a cold war (sometimes called WW3 by some analysts) practically since the end of WW2?

To be more worried about India/Pakistan I find a strange postion to take. Obviously the real worry should be attached to the owners of the largest arsenals as these are the countries that could truly wipe out the world. India and PakistaN could not.

As for chemical and biological weapons, America and Russia lead the way there too. Russia felt compelled to develop biological weapons particularly during the 70s and 80s as they could no longer afford to keep up with the cost of the nuclear arms race and biologicals offer similar levels of devestation for a fraction of the cost. America then saw that and began to match Russia on the biological front. At it's peak Fort Detrick was turning out nearly 10kg of weaponised anthrax a week.

Re:Why Only U.S. & Russia? (4, Informative)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208627)

...why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

Here's number 21 - Pakistan and India were both considering using nuclear weapons during the Kargil conflict of 1999. Fortunately, the United States persuaded Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan to order a withdrawal.

Here's the Wikipedia article - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kargil_War [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why Only U.S. & Russia? (5, Interesting)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208685)

Wow. The babysitter I hire for my kids was born in 1992.

Between you, she, and a host of the current MTV generation, you guys have no concept of:

The significance of the Berlin Wall [wikipedia.org] - you used to be able to buy pieces of it when you were in grade school.
Life before the internet.
Life without cell phones.
A time when you couldn't buy telephones in the store - they had to be leased from the Bells and from their stores.
61 cents a minute to a town 90 miles away was the normal fee for intrastate long distance.
Life before VCRs; and yeah, the Wizard of OZ was on every Easter and that was your only chance to see it.
There was a smoking section in airplanes and the ashtrays in the arm rests used to open.
A time before the Space Shuttle.
A time when rocket trips to the moon were current events. My 6th birthday had the Apollo capsule on the cake.
A time before Star Wars.
A time when your local TV weatherman hosted a kids show on their station. It's kind of against regulations now.

And as far as I matter, Cuba has always been shut off to the US. I eagerly await the day when travel from the US will be allowed.

False and biased. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208745)

Although these were a very solid twenty mishaps that almost lead to nuclear war, why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

None of them almost lead to nuclear war - in virtually every instance doctrine and procedures produced exactly the result they were supposed to. No launch, no war. Others, like the bear at the Air Force Base fence or the B52 crash near Thule, are extremely overhyped.

Re:Why Only U.S. & Russia? (4, Insightful)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208747)

Although these were a very solid twenty mishaps that almost lead to nuclear war, why are they all tied to the U.S. & Russia?

You're misrepresenting this a little bit. That article [nuclearfiles.org] is specifically discussing incidents between the US & the Soviet Union/Russia.

The US and Soviet Union are the only two countries which had enough nuclear power to destroy the world, following the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Frankly, the India/Pakistan development of a nuclear arsenol worries me more than what happened historically between the U.S. & Russia.

Combined, the US and the Soviet Union had 60,000 [wikipedia.org] nuclear weapons-- enough to destroy the entire world a dozen times over.

India & Pakistan will never be allowed to develop an arsenal of that magnitude. Compare the size of the arsenals [nuclearfiles.org] today.

I think you are correct to fear nuclear proliferation in India & Pakistan, as I think they are more likely to use the weapons. However, the world will not end if India & Pakistan use their weapons. We will suffer, but the world would not end.

Re:Why Only U.S. & USSR, Not Russia (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208799)

It was the Soviet Union. Referring to the USSR as Russia is like saying Texas when you are talking about the USA.

Re:Why Only U.S. & Russia? (1, Funny)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208841)

Don't worry I just changed the article so that no countries have nuclear weapons anymore. What a relief, I wonder why someone didn't do that before.

I guess it's just one of those things that just seems obvious in hindsite.

f p (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208275)

first prostrate

How much to people trust America now? (3, Interesting)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208297)

If the same thing had happened now do you think people in other countries trust America enough that they would be confident that America hadn't launched a pre-emptive nuclear strike?

Re:How much to people trust America now? (1)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208461)

I'm brazilian and I wouldn't. But that's just me. Maybe Petrov would do it again.

Re:How much to people trust America now? (2, Funny)

Spasmodeus (940657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208801)

I can see why you'd feel that way, since Brazil has always been such a high priority target for U.S. warheads.

MAD (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208481)

I think what kept the USA and the USSR from fighting more openly was mutually assured destruction. I also think Iraq has been invaded and North Korea hasn't been yet is due to North Korea having claimed to posses nuclear weapons and Iraq denying the same.

Re:MAD (4, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208557)

North Korea doesn't need nuclear missiles. It has regular short-range missiles that can easily reach Seoul, and enough to completely destroy the city if they were attacked. That's just as good as having a nuke, for all practical purposes, and it's a huge deterrant against pissing them off.

(Note: Of course, they'd lose the resulting war, no question about it. But in the first hour of the war, they could litterally kill millions of civilians.)

Re:MAD (3, Interesting)

flooey (695860) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208863)

I also think Iraq has been invaded and North Korea hasn't been yet is due to North Korea having claimed to posses nuclear weapons and Iraq denying the same.

It's much more that the North Korea/South Korea border is the most heavily militarized location in the world. The US estimated that if we were to invade North Korea, there would be more than 50,000 casualties in the first three months of fighting.

Re:How much to people trust America now? (5, Insightful)

dan828 (753380) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208503)

Don't be daft. The Russians didn't trust the US in 1983 at all. They'd just told their operatives to expect a nuclear war after they'd shot down a civilian airliner and their strategic nuclear forces where on high alert. Petrov noticed that the patern of missile launches were not what would be expect in a preempive strike and concluded that it was a computer glitch. He didn't trust that his country hadn't been launched on by the US, whom I doubt he trusted at all, he used logic and determined that the data he was getting was bogus.

All propaganda to the contrary, the dislike and distrust of the US is not markedly different now than it was 23 years ago.

Re:How much to people trust America now? (4, Insightful)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208559)

I'm glad he didn't think Americans were launching rockets in a strange pattern in order to fool guys like him.

Re:How much to people trust America now? (3, Interesting)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208797)

1983 was a very tense year. This didn't make the "20 Mishaps" list, but it should have -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Able_Archer_83 [wikipedia.org] .

When someone tells you, "Don't worry, they can't intercept these messages", he's wrong.

Re:How much to people trust America now? (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208875)

All propaganda to the contrary, the dislike and distrust of the US is not markedly different now than it was 23 years ago.

I don't know about 23 years ago, but here's real data on how global attitudes towards the US [pewglobal.org] have changed in the past several years.

Re:How much to people trust America now? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208537)

If the same thing had happened now do you think people in other countries trust America enough that they would be confident that America hadn't launched a pre-emptive nuclear strike?

Yes, because it would be just as pointless now as it would have been then. Even the actually crazy ones, like North Korea, despite their ranting, know that it's in any way useful for us to literally remove that entire country from the earth in the way that would be suggested by the phantom launch portrayed by the radar ghosts described in TFA.

The tone of the article is a little annoying. You know, the problem with the nuclear tension was Ronald Reagan's fault for calling the Soviet Union what it was, etc. But the writing celebrates the man who didn't do something that didn't need doing because he had the good sense to think about what he was not seeing. It's a shame that "heroism" and "professional competence" are so easily tangled up in such coverage. I'm glad there wasn't a launch, but I'm also glad for every single day that everyone with the ability - recently or today - to let loose with nukes competently, doing their jobs, does not.

Re:How much to people trust America now? (1)

xoanon (115073) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208555)

It wasn't that he trusted that America hadn't launched a preemptive strike, it was that he doubted we would have launched one missle at a time in a preemptive strike PLUS the satellite warning of the launch was suspect. I think if he (or anyone for that matter) had seen a massive launch the situation would have escalated.

Re:How much to people trust America now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208607)

Yes were american. Were like the bully that tells you hes going to beat you up at 9am just so he can watch you squirm till that 3:30 bell rings. I bet if you ask Petrov he didn't do it out of trust. Fear works better as a motivator ask the jerks at Fox News or CNN. The real question is if we saw bombs flying at our head(or so we tought) how many seconds before we hit back?

Why ever? (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208719)

USA are the only people who've actually fired these things...

In Soviet Russia Petrov saves you? (0, Redundant)

GrumpySimon (707671) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208299)

(sorry)

Re:In Soviet Russia Petrov saves you? (4, Informative)

GrumpySimon (707671) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208373)

To make up for my horrible over-cliched joke above, let me just say that this guy deserves to be an international hero, and there's a much better article than the TFA about him http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov [wikipedia.org] on the wiki. Another example is Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Alexandrovich _Arkhipov [wikipedia.org] ) who stood up to a superior officer during the Cuban Missle Crisis and convinced him not to launch a nuclear weapon.

It's kind of lame to say to someone who literally saved the world, but thanks guys.

Gratitude (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208335)

The Soviet military did not punish Petrov for his actions, but did not reward or honor him either. His actions had revealed imperfections in the Soviet military system which showed his superiors in a bad light. He was given a reprimand, officially for the improper filing of paperwork, and his once-promising military career came to an end. He was reassigned to a less sensitive post and ultimately retired from the military.

That's gratitude for you.

Thank you Petrov.

Re:Gratitude (1, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208451)

He was reassigned to a less sensitive post and ultimately retired from the military

Considering what his duty was, I think that he got off easy.

In Moscow on May 21, 2004, the San Francisco-based Association of World Citizens presented Petrov with its World Citizen Award, including a trophy and $1,000 (US), in recognition of the part he played in averting a potential catastrophe.

In January 2006 Petrov traveled to the United States where he was honored in a meeting at the United Nations in New York City. There the Association of World Citizens presented Petrov with a second special World Citizen Award. The following day Petrov met with American journalist Walter Cronkite at his CBS office in New York City. That interview, in addition to other highlights of Petrov's trip to the United States, will be included in the documentary film The Man Who Saved the World, which is expected to be released in late 2006.


Yep. No graditute here.

Re:Gratitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208513)

Whatever his duty may officially have been, we all have a higher duty. Just what *is* your beef?

Re:Gratitude (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208539)

Wow, $1000! I hope it covered his plane ticket.

If I ever have to save the world I think I will hold out for at least $2000.

Re:Gratitude (1, Interesting)

h2oliu (38090) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208551)

I would postulate that his duty was to return fire when missles were launched. Missles were not launched, and he did not fire. Using good old common sense. That would mean he did his duty.

What I wish they did is what they did for Y2K. Put a military officer from the other country in the head quarters of the other. Then they could call and state what the exact situation was. It added an extra level of failsafe.

helping him out. (1)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208847)

Actually, I recall there was some fund raising to help him out, as he had retired on a typical soviet pension, which is next to useless. If I hit the lottery, I 'll probably send him a nice chunk of change as a special thank you. He at least desrves to live in moderate comfort. and to spread his genes around a bit. Don't wait for the UN to kick anything in.....

In Soviet Russia.... (0, Redundant)

Blurp123456789 (236212) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208721)

War Games play YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208851)

Mod Parent UP!!!

IT"Pro" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208337)

We're called ITPro yet we'll serve a mostly blank page unless JavaScript is on.

Lucky? How so? (2, Informative)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208379)

I figure, if there are that many examples of OMGARMAGEDDONWTF?!, then it's probably not luck that kicks in every time disaster is averted.

Sting said it best (3, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208381)

``How long will we keep getting lucky?''

I couldn't say it better than Sting:

What might save us, me, and you
Is that the Russians love their children too

Re:Sting said it best (5, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208779)

I couldn't say it better than Sting:
 
What might save us, me, and you
Is that the Russians love their children too

And Hitler loved his mistress and Mussolini his. Stalin doted on his daughter.
 
The lesson of history? That dictators can have tender feelings and still be homicidal maniacs.

Re:Sting said it best (1)

grammar fascist (239789) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208829)

I'm fairly sure he's speaking of the citizenry.

Re:Sting said it best (1)

grammar fascist (239789) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208849)

What might save us, me, and you
Is that the Russians love their children too


It's too bad this doesn't seem to apply to certain Islamofascist movements.

Out to get us all, Editors? (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208393)

[...]saved the world from nuclear destruction in 1983. Sadly there are plenty of other examples of this kind of thing.

    Yeah, I get the meta-reference, but isn't there a better way you could have worded that?

Regarding that write-up (-1, Flamebait)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208405)

Sadly there are plenty of other examples of this kind of thing. How long will we keep getting lucky?

1982 called. They want their article back.

One thing's for sure (5, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208423)

We'll stay lucky 'til the end of the world.

Re:One thing's for sure (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208521)

Yeah. the global thermonuclear war is always in the last place you look.

Re:One thing's for sure (1)

NinjaFarmer (833539) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208873)

I think we should start breeding by lottery so that there will be no end of the world.

Well, as long as IRAN doesn't get nukes... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208425)

Somewhat off-topic, but probably the discussion is going to go to this anyway.

Why doesn't the U.S. completely dismantle all of their nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, if they are going to go on crusades against any other countries that have them? (Or at least use it as an excuse for ones that piss them off; they don't seem to be going after Pakistan the same way they're going after Iran, but for the moment lets pretend they actually are serious in their concern.) I don't think Iran should have nukes. I don't think that the U.S. should have nukes. If there were no nuclear weapons, the world would be a safer place. But one cannot avoid seeing the stinking hypocrisy in the U.S. acting like they have some moral authority to decide who in the world is responsible enough have nukes, when there is only one county in the world that has ever used nuclear weapons... twice... on civilians.

So, why not get rid of them? They're not actually planning to use them some time, are they?

Re:Well, as long as IRAN doesn't get nukes... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208457)

But one cannot avoid seeing the stinking hypocrisy in the U.S. . . .

Sure ya can. We not only do we it all the time, but we've gotten damned good at it since Mark Twain wrote "To the Person Sitting in Darkness." Practice makes less imperfect.

KFG

Re:Well, as long as IRAN doesn't get nukes... (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208543)

``Why doesn't the U.S. completely dismantle all of their nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, if they are going to go on crusades against any other countries that have them?''

Because, you see, we are the Good Guys, and they are the Bad Guys.

``I don't think Iran should have nukes. I don't think that the U.S. should have nukes. If there were no nuclear weapons, the world would be a safer place.''

Would it? Or would people still be killing each other with conventional weapons, instead of refraining from it for fear of being nuked?

``But one cannot avoid seeing the stinking hypocrisy in the U.S. acting like they have some moral authority to decide who in the world is responsible enough have nukes, when there is only one county in the world that has ever used nuclear weapons... twice... on civilians.''

Very true. But then, perhaps not using them would have had worse consequences? On the other hand, recent events don't seem to support the USA having any sort of moral authority.

Yes. It's complicated.

Re:Well, as long as IRAN doesn't get nukes... (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208593)

Or would the countries who have nukes be unable to threaten other nations with them and be forced to deal with equally well armed opponents--perhaps even negotiate?

Is your goal to reduce bloodshed or tyranny?

Putting the US nuclear arsenal in perspective (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208633)

Here's a video of Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry's ice cream fame) that puts the size of the US nuclear arsenal in perspective.

Ben's BBs [truemajority.org] [flash]

Even President Reagan's assistant secretary of defense says [sensiblepriorities.org] [PDF] we could cut some of these nuclear weapons and not harm our national security.

And Robert McNamara (of Vietnam War fame) is now saying [foreignpolicy.com] that the US should urgently confront the dangers of it's nuclear weapons policies to avoid another Cuban missile crisis scenario.

Re:Well, as long as IRAN doesn't get nukes... (3, Interesting)

SensitiveMale (155605) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208655)

If there were no nuclear weapons, the world would be a safer place.

This is completely false.

If the number of deaths by war were plotted over the course of human history you would see a a line that increased every year and each year the increase grew steeper. Around 1945, by coincidence I'm sure, the number of deaths by war has dropped to about a million per year and it has stayed there ever since.

Nuclear weapons, as illogical as it may sound, save lives.

there is only one county in the world that has ever used nuclear weapons... twice... on civilians.

Case in point. Japan started the fight and they would not surrender. Very conservative estimates of an invasion of Japan's homeland put American deaths at a million and Japanese deaths as a multiple of that. As horrific the destruction caused by the 2 atomic bombs, those bombs saved American and Japanese lives.

Re:Well, as long as IRAN doesn't get nukes... (3, Interesting)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208699)

Case in point. Japan started the fight and they would not surrender. Very conservative estimates of an invasion of Japan's homeland put American deaths at a million and Japanese deaths as a multiple of that. As horrific the destruction caused by the 2 atomic bombs, those bombs saved American and Japanese lives.


Also consider Iraq. The Japanese were just about a militant as the Iraqies. Given even the limited industrial capacity of current iraq, they do a lot of damage to the US. Imagine a near technological peer beign just as militant, and you've invaded their home land. The bomb completely demoralized Japan. any hope of conditional surrender or resistance died. In Iraq, the militants are fairly certain the Us will not nuke them all so it has no effect and the US has the head aches they do now.

Re:Well, as long as IRAN doesn't get nukes... (1)

Inverted Intellect (950622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208763)

"those bombs saved American and Japanese lives."

That's not quite true. The demonstration of ability saved lives, not so much the actual dropping on actual cities.

It'd have been much more civilized to drop a single bomb where its immense destructive power could have been witnessed, with the promise of dropping the other one somewhere where it would cause real damage in case they wouldn't immediately surrender.

If they'd acted in such a manner, even more lives could have been saved, and needless destruction would have been avoided.

Re:Well, as long as IRAN doesn't get nukes... (1)

ricree (969643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208859)

I agree that it would have been best if they did that, but you have to remember that they only had two bombs at the time. If the demonstration proved unsuccessful, then they would be left with only one bomb to actually use for military purposes. If they'd had more bombs, they almost certainly would have done a demonstration, but unfortunately circumstances were otherwise.

Ugh - DUH (1)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208775)

I shouldn't feed the troll, BUT....

If the North Koreans have a nuke, and a missile to deliver it to the US (coming very soon, if not already in place), then doesn't it make sense for us to have the same or better technology to combat this sort of weapon?

This would go for any non-rational country, 'Western' or not. If Hitler had nukes, would you suggest that the US should disarm or not even arm at all? Your statements are ludicrous.

Re:Well, as long as IRAN doesn't get nukes... (1)

ral315 (741081) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208791)

You're going down a dangerous slope blaming the U.S. for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese had attacked us at Pearl Harbor, unprovoked, just 3 1/2 years ago, and to stop them from fighting the United States and its allies would have required a full-scale ground attack on Japan, which would have, under conservative estimates, resulted in casualties of 500,000 to 1,000,000 U.S. soldiers (not counting Japanese and allied forces). By launching the atomic bombs, Truman saved the lives of countless men. Is it sickening to attack civilians? Always. Was it morally reprehensible under the circumstances? I don't believe so.

As far as keeping nukes goes, I think there may still be a need to keep nuclear weaponry even today. With so many countries with nuclear weapons, it's important that there still be the worry of Mutually Assured Destruction. We won't use any of the nukes at this point because there's really no circumstances where using them would be helpful, and a counter-attack would be devastating. I don't think that nuclear weapons should spread across the world, no, but the technology's there, so there's really no way to remove all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. At this point, it's a matter of keeping every nation in check, including the United States.

Re:Well, as long as IRAN doesn't get nukes... (1)

mariotwins (956610) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208827)

Sounds like a prisoner's dilemma to me.

wow (1)

uber-human (842562) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208445)

Another reason why ignorance is bliss...

How to trick the Ivan (5, Funny)

agw (6387) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208465)

Next time you want to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Russia, just launch your missles one after another.

Re:How to trick the Ivan (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208701)

Wow, Ivan with the "The"! It sounds the same as "how to trick the John", or "how to trick the john". Just don't flush the toilet, you fucking idiot! Ivans have a soul, they are not fucking "the"'s

Son of Ivan

"How long will we keep getting lucky?" (3, Interesting)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208495)

Unil the current government of Iran develops nuclear weapons and decides to bring about The Coming of the 12th Imam. [telegraph.co.uk]

Re:"How long will we keep getting lucky?" (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208571)

From the article you linked to:

``But listen carefully to the utterances of Mr Ahmadinejad - recently described by President George W Bush as an "odd man" - and there is another dimension, a religious messianism that, some suspect, is giving the Iranian leader a dangerous sense of divine mission.''

The same can be, and has been, said of Bush.

Re:"How long will we keep getting lucky?" (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208603)

Why would Iran (which, presumably, has no or a very small nuclear arsenal) want to start a nuclear war, where others (e.g. the USA and the USSR, who have had the power to pretty much obliterate all human life) have not done so?

Iranians are people, too. Starting a nuclear war would ruin their futures, and they know it.

Re:"How long will we keep getting lucky?" (1)

shagymoe (261297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208807)

Iranians are people, too. Starting a nuclear war would ruin their futures, and they know it.

No.....it would make them Martyrs, duh! Bush is stupid but Ahmadinejad is psycho.

Re:"How long will we keep getting lucky?" (1)

evil agent (918566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208823)

Why would Iran (which, presumably, has no or a very small nuclear arsenal) want to start a nuclear war

Do you really think Iran would just start launching nukes when/if they develop them? No, they have a better way. All they have to do is hand off the weapons to a terrorist group (i.e. Hezbollah) to do the dirty work for them. Then they can just sit back and deny responsibility.

How long? (4, Insightful)

NalosLayor (958307) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208497)

How long will we keep getting lucky?

Until about ten minutes before we don't get lucky any more. The answer isn't less nuclear weapons, per se -- we'll always find a new way to kill each other. The answer is in getting people who want to kill others indescriminantly out of power.

i can answer the how long question (1)

nude-fox (981081) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208501)

6 years!

Re:i can answer the how long question (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208653)

Because the Apocalypse is coming in 2012?

WHIRRED (1)

riff420 (810435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208517)

In Soviet Russia, world save you!

I wonder... (3, Funny)

o-hayo (700478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208519)

afterwards, did he take up chess?

Wait, what? (3, Insightful)

The Dalex (996138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208597)

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that this didn't turn into nuclear war, but it sounds strange to me that he "saved the world." Technically, he chose not to destroy the world based on information from a known faulty satellite. It's like pointing a gun at someone's head, declining to pull the trigger, and then having them thank you for saving their life. In any case, it's good to hear that level-headed people were chosen for this job for precisely this reason.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208765)

Well, it's not like he was the one who set the gun to the other person's head or even to hold it their. All he had control of was whether that trigger was pulled. And it wasn't. That's why he really did save the world.

He didn't save the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208609)

From the article:
Petrov was in charge of the Soviet Union's satellite warning systems
He didn't save the world, the summary is misleading. He wasn't the guy were to push the button and lauch the nukes. Petrov was in charge of the warning system and his job was to pass the information to people who make decisions. To his credit, Petrov did a very good job of evaluating the threat level.

He didn't save the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208617)

He saved the human species. I'm not sure if I should thank him for that.

Balance of Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208621)

Balance of Power (1986) is the hardest computer strategy game ever.

You think its bad now that a politician uses a war to make his competitors lose face, in the 80's politicians threatened destruction of the entire planet as a political tool to make opponents look bad...

Gratitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208625)

To all the Petrovs out there (accidental and otherwise), a sincere "Spasiba". It's good to know that in a world full of FUBAR, there's a few folks with a decent shovel to help us all out of the creek.

I saw a movie today... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208673)

...and before it started, I was forced to sit through both "Stars are Blind" *and* "London Bridge."

Fuck you, Petrov. This world wasn't worth saving.

WOW OMFG (1)

drewsup (990717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208707)

Balls of Fucking STEEL!!!! Thank you Petrov. You're a much better man than me, I would have slammed that big red shiney button through the console.( After soiling myself, naturally)

WMD Threats Continue (2, Interesting)

KarmaOverDogma (681451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208711)

IMO, this kind of threat still continues today. For those of you who may have seen "The Sum of All Fears" http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/sum_of_all_fears/ [rottentomatoes.com] or "By Dawn's Early Light" http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1003334-by_dawns_e arly_light/ [rottentomatoes.com] , it doesn't take much to think of a moderately plausible scenario where we blow ourselves back into the stone age. Today we can look at a terrorist motivation for possible fissile material to enter via poor port security, for example, or porous borders in the US/Canada US/Mexico.

Actually, what really scares me are biological weapons (think Smallpox's Variola Major or other very nasty bugs) that can be transported with less readily available detection (Frank Herbert's "The White Plague" is a good read, so is Stephen King's The Stand, and then there is the movie 12 Monkeys http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/12_monkeys/ [rottentomatoes.com] ). My High school biology teacher (back in the mid 80's), who sevred as an officer in the Army a few years before, said biological weapons concerned her much more than nuclear for several reasons:

* easier to obtain the needed materials
* less technology needed to deploy
* time delay between deployment and noticable effects
* ease and speed by which pathogens can spread

So yes, I can see why the risks are significant and recurrant. There's plenty of Fear, Hate, Ignorance and Mistrust going around for possibilities to crop up. I just hope there are enough people like Stanislav Yefgrafovich Petrov, in the right place, and at the right time, to help save us from ourselves.

Thanks, Stan :)

Re:WMD Threats Continue (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208737)

Actually, what really scares me are biological weapons (think Smallpox's Variola Major or other very nasty bugs) that can be transported with less readily available detection (Frank Herbert's "The White Plague" is a good read, so is Stephen King's The Stand, and then there is the movie 12 Monkeys http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/12_monkeys/ [rottentomatoes.com] ). My High school biology teacher (back in the mid 80's), who sevred as an officer in the Army a few years before, said biological weapons concerned her much more than nuclear for several reasons:

Given even the most viril and horrifying biological agent (ebola/anthrax) there are those with natural immunities and infection rates can be drastically cut down through quarantine and some people just live in such remote places that they'd have little to fear. However there are no natural immunities to 4000'C temperatures.

months ago (0)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208713)

wasnt this posted a few weeks/months ago?

How long will we keep getting lucky? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208715)

Until the USA conquers all of the world. Our luck will then have run out at the exact time that it is no longer needed.

Back in the USSR (-1, Offtopic)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208733)

Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC
Didn't get to bed last night
Oh, the way the paper bag was on my knee
Man, I had a dreadful flight
I'm back in the USSR
You don't know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the USSR, yeah

Been away so long I hardly knew the place
Gee, it's good to be back home
Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case
Honey disconnect the phone
I'm back in the USSR
You don't know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the US
Back in the US
Back in the USSR

Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the west behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
They Georgia's always on my my my my my my my my my mind
Oh, come on
Hu Hey Hu, hey, ah, yeah
yeah, yeah, yeah
I'm back in the USSR
You don't know how lucky you are, boys
Back in the USSR

Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the west behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
They Georgia's always on my my my my my my my my my mind

Oh, show me round your snow peaked
mountain way down south
Take me to you daddy's farm
Let me hear you balalaika's ringing out
Come and keep your comrade warm
I'm back in the USSR
Hey, You don't know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the USSR
Oh, let me tell you honey

Twisted Logic (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208759)

Not "relying on your own faulty instruments and blowing up the world" is considered "saving the world"??? Liberals never fail to amaze me.

"Turn your key, sir! Turn your key!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208785)

Maybe it was the Russians testing their own guy. Good thing they ran out of money before they could build their own WOPR.

Error... (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208789)

TFA says DEFCON 2 was declared on October 24. Not true, it was on the 22nd, same time as everybody but the SAC went to DEFCON 3.

Help the Unfortunate (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208813)

I think that one thing that might improve conditions is helping the unfortunate people who aren't born in one of the rich, western countries. I guess people will always fight (to greater or lesser degrees of destructiveness), but the fewer reasons we give people to hate us, the lower the chances they will attack us. How many wars have been fought among states in the US? How many wars were being fought in current EU countries before the EU existed, and how many have been fought since? Will China be foolish enough to risk a war with its trade partners?

We're threatening other countries with invasion or forced regime change, poisoning their economies by dumping our products on their markets, exploiting them by buying their natural resources at prices that aren't enough to properly feed people there, and then processing them and selling them at towering profits. People there are grabbing what they can, stealing each other's land, clinging to religion or nationalism, sending us terrorists, or even raising armies to destroy us.

I feel that, if, instead, we extended a helping hand, educated people, moved production facilities and know-how there, helped develop local economies, rather than plundering and poisoning them, the world would be a better place. When you have food in your belly and a future to look forward to, you don't need fanaticism to hide from reality. When your neighbor doesn't have anything you couldn't get, you have no reason to envy him. When the hand feeds you, you don't bite it.

Where are the American heroes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208839)

Think about it. We're in a cushy position of being able to thank a Russian dude for not losing his cool, recognizing a fake threat as a fake threat, and not starting an action that would have lead to war.

Too bad the present-day Iraqis don't have a similar American hero to thank, you think?

I'd hate to be that guy's brother... (2, Funny)

tool462 (677306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208845)

Mrs Petrov: Stanislov saved the world from nuclear annihilation today. What are you doing, you lazy bum?

/me goes back to playing Pacman...

A no-brainer -- why aren't we getting rid of nukes (3, Insightful)

intnsred (199771) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208853)

Since this is an obvious no-brainer: why aren't we getting rid of nukes?

Consider a few facts:

* The USSR, when it existed, several times suggested getting rid of all nuclear weapons. The US rejected their proposals.

* The nuclear non-proliferation treaty requires that nuclear powers work towards nuclear disarmament. The US rejects all proposals calling for nuclear disarmament.

* Presently, 4 of the Central Asian *stan countries are organizing to declare themselves a "nuclear free zone" forbidding all nuclear weapons from their territory. What country is working diplomatically and is pressuring them to scuttle the nuclear free zone idea? The US.

Considering the US has the most nuclear weapons, engages in the most wars, threatens non-nuclear countries with nuclear weapons, other countries have an incentive to develop nukes. The ironic thing is that only the US has hundreds of thousands of Marines that can be deployed and a strong worldwide military deployment capability -- eliminating nukes will not weaken that capability.

But eliminating nukes does not fit into the US Pentagon's publicly stated goal of complete, worldwide military superiority.

Nukes won't be eliminated until the US foreign policy and militarism is changed in a substantial way -- and that is not happening. Until it does, we can expect more "close calls".

00000000 (2, Funny)

LearnToSpell (694184) | more than 7 years ago | (#16208857)

That was the standard unlock code for nukes during the Cold War. :-) Sleep well tonight!

Not Bush's Fault?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16208865)

But but... nothing in the article gives us any reason to blame Bush! Oh noes! How are we going to shift the blame onto him and the United States?
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