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The Nuclear War That Almost Was and the Man Who Prevented It – Article by Brittany Hunter

The Nuclear War That Almost Was and the Man Who Prevented It – Article by Brittany Hunter

The New Renaissance Hat
Brittany Hunter
October 1, 2017
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Will we be so lucky the next time this happens?

On September 19, 2017,

Trump spoke in front of the United Nations and declared that, if necessary, the United States would do “what it needed to do” to protect itself against North Korean threats.

Standing on the floor of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump stated:

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has threatened North Korea with the prospect of nuclear war. Just last month, he promised to “unleash fire and fury” against the country, which had just launched its own ballistic missile over neighboring Japan. Since then, tensions have been mounting.

But as the two countries move closer to the brink of nuclear war, the world is about to celebrate the 34th anniversary of the nuclear war that almost was.

Apocalypse Almost

Stanislav Petrov was working the overnight shift on September 26, 1983 when he inadvertently saved the world from nuclear war.

As a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces, Petrov was tasked with monitoring the country’s satellites, looking for possible nuclear weapons launched by the United States. There was nothing particularly unusual about this shift until the alarms began to sound at dawn.

The alarm had indicated a warning that America had launched five nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. And it was Petrov’s job to sound the alarm that would initiate a retaliation before it was too late.

“The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word ‘launch’ on it,” Petrov remembered.

Earlier that same month, the Cold War had further escalated after the USSR had shot down a Korean commercial airliner that had flown into its airspace. The incident resulted in the deaths of 269 people including a United States Congressman from Georgia, Larry McDonald.

The heightened tensions between the two global superpowers made the decision forced on Petrov even more grave.

Petrov recalled:

“There was no rule about how long we were allowed to think before we reported a strike. But we knew that every second of procrastination took away valuable time, that the Soviet Union’s military and political leadership needed to be informed without delay. All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders — but I couldn’t move. I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan.”

Countless Lives Saved

Petrov hesitated because he had a gut instinct that something was off. This technology was still fairly new, and he was sure it had some kinks to be worked out. In his training, he was taught that any strike from the U.S. would most likely come as a full-fledged attack. Yet, the satellite system was only showing a handful of missiles. This hardly constituted all-out warfare. What if the satellite was incorrect? Was he willing to call in his superiors and start a nuclear war over a system error?

On the other hand, if the monitors were correct, Petrov only had 20 minutes to act before the missiles struck. After a torturous internal debate, Petrov decided not to act in haste. He quickly checked to see if the satellite had malfunctioned, causing it to report a false launch.

He soon discovered that there had in fact been an error and no missiles had been launched at all.

If Petrov had simply sounded the alarm for his superiors, as he was trained and ordered to do, there is a good chance counterstrikes would have been launched on behalf of the USSR and the world may not be as it is today.

Commenting on this historic event that almost was, arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis told NPR:

“[Petrov] just had this feeling in his gut that it wasn’t right. It was five missiles. It didn’t seem like enough. So even though by all of the protocols he had been trained to follow, he should absolutely have reported that up the chain of command and, you know, we should be talking about the great nuclear war of 1983 if any of us survived.”

The New Cold War

Petrov passed away in May of this year, avoiding having to witness America’s current flirtation with nuclear war.

Aside from the Cuban Missile Crisis, the September 26th incident was the closest the United States had ever been to a nuclear war — until now.

The escalation between the United States and North Korea builds by the day. As each president continues to taunt the other, either by showing off military might or dishing out childish insults, the world gets closer to the possibility of nuclear war: one that could also involve the nuclear arsenals of China, even Russia. Unlike Petrov, neither world leader has taken a moment to fully think this through. A nuclear war is in absolutely no one’s interest.

The US government has been ratcheting up tensions with nuclear Russia over Ukraine and the Middle East and with nuclear China over North Korea and disputed islands in the South China Sea. As relations between nuclear powers deteriorate, incidents like what happened on September 26, 1983 become more likely. We’re all alive today because a man like Stanislav Petrov was the one on duty that day. Will we be so fortunate the next time? What if a more obedient and “by the book” officer is at the helm the next time a system malfunctions or a message is miscommunicated when nuclear stakes are on the line? As a BBC article reported:

He says he was the only officer in his team who had received a civilian education. “My colleagues were all professional soldiers, they were taught to give and obey orders,” he told us.

So, he believes, if somebody else had been on shift, the alarm would have been raised.

Petrov was ominously right when he said, “…they were lucky it was me on shift that night.”

Brittany Hunter is an associate editor at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). Brittany studied political science at Utah Valley University with a minor in Constitutional studies.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

No Good Can Come from Trying to Resurrect the Cold War – Article by Brittany Hunter

No Good Can Come from Trying to Resurrect the Cold War – Article by Brittany Hunter

Brittany Hunter
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A few days go, as I sat with my eyes fixated on my television screen during a particularly riveting Netflix marathon, an alert on my iPhone went off and interrupted an otherwise perfect night of binge-watching.

As I glanced down to see what fresh new hell awaited me in the hectic non-fiction world, I noticed that it was an alert from an Apple news app that I never bothered to deleted when I upgraded to a newer iPhone over six months ago. The app only goes off if there is significant breaking news, which, usually means a terrorist attack or another lost airliner.

This time, however, the news that disrupted my luxurious night of lounging was a headline about Jared Kushner, Trump’s loyal son-in-law, and his connection to Russia. The content of the alert was vague at best, something along the lines of “Kushner has Russian connection Proving Malicious Intent,” or something equally over-dramatic and sensationalized.

Enough Is Enough

Normally, I would roll my eyes at the media rushing to conclusions and go about my day, but after the roller coaster of an election cycle that the nation is still attempting to recover from, this alert somehow managed to become my own personal “straw that broke the camel’s back,” as they say.

For the record, I am no fan of Jared Kushner nor of Trump, but that is because I am no fan of any politician. However, given the amount of times I have personally been subjected to the “ fear Russia” rhetoric, I find myself quickly losing faith in what passes for “news” these days and am even more concerned that this fear-mongering will inevitably turn to warmongering if the drums of war continue to beat in Russia’s general direction.

Between hearing the term “Russian meddling” every 30 seconds on CNN, and Time Magazine’s controversial cover depicting the White House being taken over by the Kremlin, I have had just about enough of this return to 1950s Cold War speak.

While I am wary of any news story that justifies the military industrial complex’s lust for war, the Time cover speaks volumes about the modern day media industry as a whole. When it comes to the purposefully shocking Time cover, no one bothered to notice that the “Kremlin” seen swallowing the White House into a sea of red is in fact St. Basil Cathedral. The sensationalism of the story, despite its possible consequences, was of more importance than fact-checking the actual content.

Some might argue that this is a small detail to get worked up over in the long-run, but as the country “celebrates” Memorial Day today, it is important to remember that any rhetoric that aims to perpetuate our country’s obsession with war should always be questioned and scrutinized to the utmost degree.

Reinventing the Red Scare

Russia has recently replaced the millennial generation as America’s favorite group to collectively throw under the bus every time something goes wrong.

At a pivotal moment just a few weeks shy of voting day, Wikileaks revealed leaked emails that showed collusion between the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign (as if either can be distinguished from the other). The content of these emails seemed to shed light on the combined efforts of the DNC and the Clinton campaign, who together had done everything within their power to rig the election against Bernie Sanders.

But rather than blame those actually responsible for the constructed demise of the Sanders campaign, Russia somehow became the enemy — again.

Suddenly, the shadiness on the part of the DNC and the Clinton camp were pushed aside as “Russian hackers” became the main cause for concern. While there has yet to be a definitive answer on the matter, the authenticity of the leaked emails was not a source of outrage for devoted Democrats. Instead, they wanted justice because how dare we let Putin interfere in our elections! This is America! This is a Democracy!

Overnight, the Democrats began to sound like the bloodthirsty Republicans of the Bush/Cheney era, calling for war without any logical forethought. What their candidate did was of less importance than punishing those who may or may not have brought the information to light.

Appearing almost out of thin air, Russia became the culprit even though there was evidence to the contrary and Wikileaks maintains that Russia is not involved. For those insistent that the Red Scare be brought forth from its warmongering grave, the idea of a foreign body meddling in the U.S. presidential elections was too egregious a reality to live with in an allegedly free country.

Apparently, these same people have forgotten about the numerous times throughout history where the United States Government has interfered in foreign elections over the years.

Blood on Our Hands

If for example, Russia was found to be explicitly and directly tied to the election of Donald Trump, it does not, at least thus far, come close to the disastrous consequences that arose from America’s role in the Iranian coup d’etat in 1953. It also pales in comparison with the American backing of the President of the Republic of Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem in the 1960s. In the predominantly Buddhist territory of southern Vietnam, the United States ushering a devout Catholic into the powerful role of President was not appreciated, as history proved.

While these are just a few instances of many, the aforementioned examples have both caused and perpetuated conflicts that are still ongoing today. The United States’ reputation of meddling in the Middle East is exactly what gave rise to the sentiment seen with Islamist extremists, such as ISIS. But it didn’t begin in 2003 with the Invasion of Iraq.

The United States left Vietnam in shame after forcing their own men to go off and die in foreign jungles without a clear purpose. But U.S. intervention was largely to blame for the escalation of the conflict in the first time.

Simply knowing and understanding that the federal government has an unfortunate tendency of being all too hasty to declare war — or just attack without any formal declaration — should be enough to caution those who are calling for the nation to retaliate against Russia.

Let’s Really Remember

Memorial Day has unfortunately become a holiday that glamorizes war and glorifies professional federally sanctioned killing, rather than urging caution against escalating foreign conflict. While the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) has been an utter and complete disaster when it comes to honoring those who went off to die for undefined “American interests” abroad, the government has instead declared that Memorial Day is sufficient enough to at least calm the masses.

But as we spend the majority of the day enjoying our paid time off with BBQs and pool time, may we not forget to be increasingly skeptical of any propaganda that seeks to put the federal government’s interests ahead of individual life.

To be sure, the atrocities committed by Putin and other Russian agents of the state are reprehensible. However, not only does this not explicitly prove that Russia was involved in the leaks, those seeking to perpetuate this rhetoric are doing so only to save face and distract from the actions of the DNC and the Clinton camp.

For those who continue attempting to reignite the Cold War, protecting partisan politics is more important than sparing innocent lives from the brutal realities of war.

Brittany Hunter is an associate editor at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). Brittany studied political science at Utah Valley University with a minor in Constitutional studies.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.