Tag: nuclear war

Stanislav Petrov: The Forgotten Man who Saved the World From Nuclear War

By Jack Parkos | United States

Can one man save the world? Could just one action by one person prevent the downfall of human civilization? This simply sounds like a fictional story like Superman. It’s unrealistic. But one man, Stanislav Petrov, was able to do this. Yet, he is not talked about in schools or mentioned in history textbooks. The average person may not know the name and face of “The man who single-handedly saved the world from nuclear war”.

Who Was Petrov?

Stanislav Petrov, son of a WW2 pilot, joined the Soviet Air Defense Forces in 1972. Stanislav became lieutenant colonel and was stationed at the Serpukhov-15 base near Moscow during the early 1980s, his duty was monitor early nuclear detectors (called Oko), and warning his superiors of an attack.  This was during one of the most dangerous periods of human history: the Cold War. There had been decades of tension between the capitalist West and communist East. The Soviets and Americans were in an intense near-nuclear war with the fear of annihilation on everyone’s minds. Both sides were waiting for the other to attack.

The Incident

Many people know the close call of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not as many know that on September 26th, 1983, we were just as close. On September 26th, 1983, Oko picked up five USAF minutemen ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missiles) heading towards the Soviet Union. As the alarms went off and panic ensued, Stanislav was left with a choice: to call his superiors warning of an attack, or to dismiss it as a false alarm. Stanislav was skeptical of the new technology and thought it to have many flaws. He had a gut feeling the alarm was false. In a 1999 interview with the Washington Post he recalled thinking:

“When people start a war, they don’t start it with only five missiles, you can do little damage with just five missiles.”

He figured an attack would be much larger and would have the goal of obliterating the Soviets. He made the final decision that it was a false alarm and checked for computer error, rather than reporting the incoming attack. He was correct, Oko had picked up by sunlight on high altitude clouds.

Following the incident, Stanislav was interrogated by higher-ups as to what happened. Although initially receiving credit, he was scolded for not properly documenting all the paperwork amidst the chaos. He defended himself saying:

“Because I had a phone in one hand and the intercom in the other, and I don’t have a third hand”

Thus, he was never rewarded for his actions. The improper filling of paperwork was enough to lose credit for saving the world. Stanislav also claimed he received no reward because his reward would result in the punishment of the scientists who developed Oso. He claimed he was made a scapegoat. Stanislav left the military in 1983.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, his story was told. He was honored at the United Nations in 2006, winning the World Citizen Award. Also winning the Dresden Peace Prize in Germany in 2013. Also having a documentary film made about him called “The Man Who Saved the World”.

What If He Wasn’t There?

Stanislav has claimed he doesn’t consider himself a hero, but rather just a man doing his job. He has also stated, however, that they were lucky he was there that day.

Indeed, we all are lucky. Had he not been there, it is likely everyone reading this article wouldn’t be alive or would never have been born.

Assume he wasn’t there. Instead, another officer on duty that day who was not skeptical of the detectors. What would have happened? It is highly possible this officer may have reported the attack to higher up officials-who were very paranoid about an attack. They were not afraid to retaliate. They would have likely retaliated with a nuclear strike. The United States would then pick up an attack coming there way and retaliate, starting World War Three and a nuclear holocaust. This would likely be the end of civilization.

Indeed, this man is a hero. He was doing his job and his job saved civilization. JFK and Reagan get much credit for getting us through the Cold War, but Petrov is not given the praise he deserves. He deserves to be taught about in schools. Moreover, it is an interesting concept in the idea of how important and powerful the individual is.

Petrov died May 19th, 2017, but his impact on the world will never die. It is important that we keep his story alive. For his story saved all stories that happened after that fateful day in 1983.


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Trump’s Iraq: Why the President Wants War with Iran

By Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury

“I open up my wallet and it’s full of blood.” Godspeed You! Black Emperor

On Sunday morning, following a speech by Iranian President Rouhani that threatened the United States with ‘the mother of all wars,” President Trump rattled off an incendiary verbal warning against the Iranian State via Twitter. In a message that was written in all caps for the world to see, the President demanded that Iran “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.

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This gaudy show of juvenile bullymanship is only the latest in a string of petty and dogged counter-intellectualism that has come to characterize a President who practically embodies “If it bleeds, it leads.” On the topic of American interventionism and a global democracy, Trump’s watery stance has seen him use Bush’s failure in Iraq as a campaign placard while also quietly stroking the dogs of war in response to Iraq’s wealthy and theocratic neighbors to the East. Trump’s blatant messages of unabashed aggression are similar in tone to those of every American President’s position (outside of Obama) when addressing Iran since the fall of the Shah. It brings a consistent and malignantly manufactured campaign of fear and mistrust with Iran that is striking in its uniformity of allegiance from both political ruling classes over the past century.

Americans were quick to lambast and mock the President by editing the tweet to include lyrics to their favorite pop songs. The flippant response from users is telling in its suggestion of two disconcerting truths: first, that the American people don’t take a word Mr. Trump has to say seriously, and more importantly, that they don’t believe they have a real and honest voice in the endless, bloody, transnational pursuit for ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’ that has symbolized and consistently dotted American foreign policy throughout their lifetimes. The sad poetry of the anti-imperialistic American politico is written in the meme markets of absurdity and anger.

Of course, much of the discussion regarding Iran is actually, at its core, an uninterrupted debate about Israel. Though we boast about a ‘special relationship’ with The United Kingdom, it is our ‘open secret relationship’ with Israel that has informed so many missteps in the region. Relations between The United States and Israel have only strengthened under Trump’s presidency as he moved the American embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. Many see this action as a symbolic gesture of the unyielding political, ideological and military support for the Zionist state that has often sparred with Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was said to be pleased with the tweet and called the President’s stance on the ongoing geopolitical unrest “strong.” As long as The United States has a financial and military obligation to Israel, these sorts of complex foreign entanglements will never cease. The complexities of the Iran-Israel relations in no way, shape, or form have any resonance with the fundamental ideas of an American republic and the simple aspirations of common Americans for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In their beds at night and in the fields of Idaho where wheat grows, Americans do not worry about Israel, Iran, or whichever cold war proxy that is drummed up next on the list. These decent people know inherently that it is the elite showmen of the political and media class that demand we place our foreign policy of death and imperialism before the domestic interests of food and family. They know it is rarely the neocolonialist class that is called upon to suffer the toils. It won’t be the President or Congressman’s children who end up dead on the battlefields across the sea.

The major tension between The United States and Iran dates back to the 1950’s when democratically elected President Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized all oil industries of Iran. Mossadegh advocated for secular democracy, demanded sovereignty from the British empire and was a champion of his people. It was the CIA, an unelected body, that overthrew the democracy of Iran in 1953 for their own slighted interests. They installed Reza Pahlavi as Shah against the wishes of the free people of Iran. And the American taxpayer, under the guise of democracy, funded the tyranny of Iran for oil resources through 1979 and the fall of the Shah.

With the triumphs of WWI and WWII at our backs, The New American Empire had taken its unrightful and post-philosophical seat as the ultimate arbitrator of good and peace throughout the free world. The ingrained policy of overextended foreign interventionism has yet to change much in the decades that have followed. Whether Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, or Palestine. “If it bleeds, it leads.”

The list goes on and the names begin to blur. The list grows, the enemies broaden and the financiers get richer. The pitiful truth of our misadventures in the post-classic wars is that they have never been about the intellectual triumphs of our miraculously free society or the merits of our material and philosophical splendor. They have gone against every bold aspiration of peace that lays face up for all to see in our first and bravest documents.

So let us be clear: the good people of the United States have no interest in war with Iran. That 60% of ‘independents’ who have given up on the political process are so disenfranchised by the ballot and the screen that they have given up on an idea without wartime. The American public has no interest in war with Syria, or Libya, or Afghanistan, or Russia, or Iraq. We want to be done with all of them. When the American people see Donald Trump tweeting about Iran, they wonder what stake any of us have in the businesses of people more than 8,000 miles from our shores?

They can’t remember Iran ever attacking an American city (because they haven’t.) They couldn’t name Rouhani if you offered them up a million dollars. When has it ever been our duty to be so pathologically involved and mindlessly uninformed as we are in 2018? Is this about nuclear weapons? If it is, how can we be in any position to lecture? Americans see through the blatant hypocrisy of our demands for a neutered Iranian nuclear program when our country currently holds almost half of the nuclear weaponry in existence. Whether Americans are left or right, they all want a few simple things. They want their family, their food, their property and to be left alone.

This brand of conservative isolationism is not rooted in ‘false comfort’ as George Bush warned during his 2006 State of the Union Address. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted during the Second Iraq War, 42 percent of Americans agreed that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally.” Furthermore, the study found that a staggering 84 percent of Americans preferred “protecting jobs of American workers” to only 24 percent who supported “promoting democracy in other nations.” It wasn’t that George Washington and the founders of our country were cold to the world. It was simply that they understood that bringing justice and peace outside our borders was a fool’s errand with a bottomless pit of unsolvable morality. Washington realized what the scale and scope of global policing meant in its over-extension of resources and personnel.

In his Farewell Speech to the country, President Washington warned of foreign entanglements. Madison, an ideological minarchist, was noted for his belief that the country should possess no standing army unless attacked. When Bush led the makeup war for his father’s disastrous missteps, the President called in over 400,000 reserve troops to fight and die on warm Arabian sands in the name of peace and freedom. Today, the utter size of the United States military is such that there is no going back. The brokers and dealers of blood and tyranny are too entrenched. There will be forever an enemy and Iran is just the latest in a string of foregone conclusions.

The president’s call to action, his drab demand, and fettered foolishness are not representative of Americans I know. They have always wanted, above all, peace. Harmonic, egalitarian, tolerant, loving, peaceful, they seek meaning in their lives. The great lie about contemporary America is this: for all of our terrible, marauding, unjust, vicious, serpentine, blood wars, it is not the people of this country who organize and instruct the death machine. It is not the people who cheer for the denigration of ancient art and the dehumanization of civilized peoples behind the callous drumbeat of ”freedom.’ Wars and more wars. Death and taxes. The ghoulish carousel of private interests and public lies that the American public is made to shoulder. New enemies and faces that never end. Don’t blink, you might miss the next war.


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North Korea: Dead in the Water

By Joe Brown | United States

Imagine living in a world where every day is your last. Waking up each morning knowing you have numberless hordes of rockets pointed at you. Imagine living under the smoking barrel of a gun, or sleeping on a bomb, knowing that at any moment your entire existence could be reduced to a smoldering pile of nothing.

Imagine looking into the eyes of death…and yawning.

As unbelievable as this sounds, that is exactly what life is like when living in the Korean Peninsula. Welcome to the world where war is as trite as your morning cup of coffee, and the threat of nuclear annihilation is as natural as the rising of the sun.

Due to recent developments in the realm of diplomacy, many now consider with hope the possibility of a unified and peaceful Korea. But with a less than favorable track record and warhawks running foreign affairs, many question the United State’s role in garnering peace in the region, and still the greater question remains:

Can peace ever be achieved in Korea?

Despite what you may have heard in middle school, Korea was divided before the Korean War. Years of Japanese rule came to an end with the Second World War, with treaties delegating the North to Soviet forces, while the South remained under Western control before the invasion that triggered the conflict in 1950. Unlike its German counterpart who eventually united under a single democratic government, the Korean War is still technically at war to this day, leaving the people of Korea with more of a question mark than a happy ending.

After nearly 70 years of perpetual tension and complete separation between the two countries, diplomatic strides are causing some to regain hope for peace in the region. The Chinese government confirmed that earlier this week a meeting was held between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in which, the latter promised to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

The pledge comes after months of heightened tensions regarding North Korea’s escalating nuclear program, which included the testing of multiple warheads with nuclear capabilities. Although the announcement was welcomed by most, many wonder how China was able to reach such a solution with a country the rest of the world generally considered uncompromising.

The thought that such an agreement can be made without threatening military action, applying economic sanctions, or paying off government officials may come as a shock to an American, but victims of American “negotiating” would testify otherwise.

The failure of American diplomacy isn’t anything new, and it certainly didn’t start with Korea. If anything, the modern United States was built upon broken promises, dishonest pacts, and shredded treaties. Whether it’s the hundreds of formal agreements made with Native Americans, the recent rejection of American efforts to preside over peace talks between Israel and Palestine, or Roosevelt’s infamous “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” policy, peaceful and effective negotiations have never been America’s strong suit.

What’s the point in talking if you have the bigger gun, right?

The world needs leaders who are willing to compromise, rather than leaders who can’t take their fingers off the trigger.

Besides. No one can hear you if you speak softly, and you don’t need a big stick if your ideology is worth anything.

Michael Flynn, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General and former National Security Advisor, famously commented on American affairs abroad, saying:

“We’ve invested in conflict, not solutions….”

Even a man who many would consider hawkish recognizes that if peace is what the U.S. is really looking for, its actions aren’t backing up its claim. In fact, if you took a closer look at the American track record concerning nuclear weapons, you would see that tensions such as those in North Korea exist because of so called “peace efforts” rather than despite them.

We don’t have to go any farther than this past year to find evidence of American efforts to undermine diplomacy. John Bolton, the newly appointed National Security Advisor with a knack for warmongering, has long opposed peaceful resolution in Iran, repeatedly stressing that regime change is the only real option in the country, (nevermind the fact that American supported regime change is what got Iran where it is now in the first place).

During a conference call with AIPAC, the most influential Israeli lobby in the U.S., Bolton revealed the true darkness of his strategy when he expressed frustration with Iranian compliance with international law. Iran has been a member of the non-proliferation treaty since its conception in 1968, and as such, its inventory, facilities, and nuclear infrastructure are subject to regular inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Bolton, knowing that Iran had agreed to the rules set by international entities, vehemently advocated for crippling sanctions against Iran in order to trigger the country into withdrawing from the treaty. Bolton planned on using this reaction as justification to invade Iran, to overthrow the government. As Bolton said himself during the call:

“They have not…withdrawn from the non proliferation treaty or thrown out IAEA inspectors which I actually hoped they would do, as that reaction would produce a counter-reaction.”

Bolton is essentially saying: “How am I supposed to justify an invasion if I can’t credibly accuse them of harboring weapons of mass destruction?”

Sound familiar?

America followed an almost identical formula to justify regime change in Iraq, even after Saddam Hussein invited chemical weapons inspectors from the U.N. to prove his country had no plans to use WMD’s. In order to preserve the false narrative that justified the invasion, John Bolton illegally exercised his influence to get the Chairman of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons fired in 2002, in what the United Nations’ highest administrative tribunal later condemned as an “unacceptable violation” of principles protecting international civil servants. His actions sent a clear message to the global community: The United States doesn’t accept dissident opinions.

This has grim consequences in the realm of negotiation.

Even as significant steps in diplomacy bring us closer to peace than we’ve ever been before, similar strategies have been used against North Korea in attempts to sabotage peace efforts. To the career politicians and lobbyists on capitol hill, an end to the conflict means losing the Korean War.

The recent strikes in Syria pose an additional threat to global security, as they jeopardize America’s fragile position as peacemakers in North Korea. With the groundbreaking talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un scheduled to happen within a month, many speculate that attacking one of the closest allies of Kim Jong-Un’s regime cripples America’s ability to negotiate. Simon Jenkins, one of Britain’s most acclaimed authors, notes that western patterns of opposition such as air strikes and economics sanctions act as an “elixir” that empowers dictatorships, spoils public image, and that promotes independence from domestic markets. All of which actually do more to support authoritarian regimes and contribute to a robust political and economic environment in which the U.S. has no power or influence.

Kim Jong Un is motivated by a desire to maintain power. He recognizes that the possession of nuclear weapons may be one of the only ways under the sun to prevent American aggression, and his administration has repeatedly stated that their nuclear weapons program would be suspended if they felt safe to do so.

As unpopular as the rocket man may be, Kim Jong Un paid attention in history class.

He knows what happened to Ukraine after the breakup of the Soviet Union, when regional leaders surrendered over 2,000 nuclear weapons in exchange for territorial autonomy. Following the deal, Ukraine would be invaded by Russian forces, and Crimea would be annexed.

He knows the only thing that preserved peace during the Cold War was the grim concept of mutually assured destruction

He knows that the complete lack of WMD’s still wasn’t enough to prevent an invasion in Iraq, and that the U.S. wouldn’t be bombing Syria if Assad possessed nuclear weapons.

Love him or hate him, the Supreme Leader has some legitimate concerns.

The problem isn’t that we’re dealing with a bully with a bad haircut who threatens other countries with nuclear weapons. The problem is that you didn’t know if I was talking about the Korean dictator, or the U.S. President.

By all means, hope for peace. But don’t be surprised by empty promises, broken treaties, and failed agreements. Whether by diplomatic incompetence or dark design, national interests have always been more important than peace.

Rather than asking: “Is peace attainable?” we should be asking: “Was peace ever even a priority?”

Of course peace is attainable. The real question isn’t whether or not peace is possible. The question is whether or not the current administration, or any administration for that matter, is willing or capable of garnering that peace.

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Rocket Man and Agent Orange Should Find a New Playground

By Ryan Lau | USA

Looking for a nice, lighthearted article? The title of this piece sure would suggest it to be so, but it is with no shortage of embarrassment that I must declare it all too seriously. American foreign relations with North Korea have taken another turn for the worse, and it appears that each time this happens, the level of sophistication and class used by our world leaders drops considerably. Every time it appears our leaders have reached rock bottom, a new insult is born, or in this case, President Donald Trump now feels the need to insist that his office nuclear button is bigger than Kim Jong Un’s. It is frankly unsettling that someone needs to step forward and say this, but these two world leaders need to leave their pettiness on the playground, preferably not one with millions of children and adults. 

Simply stated, the level of informality and clear childish behavior that presidents of major world players have taken on needs to be greatly altered. Just this Tuesday, Un stated that “the nuclear button is on his desk at all times”. I’m not entirely sure where President Trump is confused by this statement, but it appears that it means that, well, the nuclear button is on his desk at all times. Though there is a significant diplomatic advantage in bluffing about these sorts of statements and letting them impact American decisions without evidence of their veracity would be a foolish move. However, there are countless more sophisticated manners of response than to simply brag about the size and capabilities of his own nuclear button. Shortly after Un’s brash tweet, Trump’s response was an embarrassment:

“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

-President Donald Trump, January 2, 2018

Though seemingly playing the tough guy, Trump does not tell anyone anything they are not already well aware of with this tweet. Though North Korea, like most authoritarian left-wing regimes, has dealt with significant food shortages, this matter is entirely irrelevant to the presence or absence of a nuclear threat. It is entirely an attempt to draw sympathy towards the people and against the North Korean leader. While a valid strategy, it does not belong in such a heated and important matter. There is also obviously no doubt by Un, his regime, or anyone else in the world that the United States has a larger nuclear capability than does North Korea. Considering that we have been stockpiling our nuclear arsenal since the end of World War II, this once again is simply a line added to infuriate Un, which is the last thing that should be done to someone with nuclear capabilities of their own.

Despite this, Trump continues down the road of poking a stick at an angry man with nuclear weapons. Now, if North Korea’s nuclear claims were not veritable, this strategy may do more to subdue the nation. However, the United States government has confirmed multiple times that North Korea’s tests have been successful, with tests of everything from hydrogen bombs to ballistic missiles. This threat is not a joke. Conversely, many fellow non-interventionists will cite the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction as a rationale for why a nuclear war is impossible. Essentially, MAD suggests that out of fear of retaliation and great total human casualty, two nuclear powers will both permanently hesitate in firing the first shot, thus avoiding great loss of human life and preventing nuclear war through unadulterated fear of fallout. However, the principle implies rational human decision. Rationality is never a given, especially when two world leaders, both quick to ignite, begin taking irrelevant yet brutal shots against each other’s country.

If a pair of adults desires to engage in childish arguments regarding the state of each other’s possessions, so be it. If those two adults just so happen to be the leaders of nuclear powerhouses, so be it. If those two adult leaders of nuclear powerhouses are engaging in such behaviors in regards to their nuclear capabilities? It is at this point which we now have a serious societal problem. The eventual loser of such a spar could not simply laugh it off or even retreat in anger, for there is a serious possibility of their being a great deal of blood on the hands of both parties.

While Trump is absolutely correct in saying that his nuclear arsenal could absolutely devastate North Korea, is it really worth the millions of innocent lives that would be lost in the process, just to kill one oppressive leader? Is is worth the millions of potential American lives, if Un was to be provoked into attacking first, ignoring MAD in a fit of rage? The simple answer to both of these questions is no. Trump and Un are using human lives as gambling chips, each hoping that the other will be afraid, yet not enough to strike. Fear has limits. Nuclear war, though not necessarily probable, is not impossible, and thus should never be remotely a part of a conversation. In a bar, two fighting men with guns would provoke significantly less fear and overall potential aggression than two men would without guns. Multiply that fear and overall potential aggression infinitely, and give the two men nuclear weapons. This is a nightmare waiting to happen. Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are threatening the future of humanity due to a petty human desire to one-up each other. These men should not be sitting behind nuclear buttons in their offices. They should be finding a new playground and returning to their positions when they are capable of acting like mature adults who recognize the sanctity of human life, and the permanency of death.

Japan is Strengthening its Defense Arsenal Amid North Korean Weapon Tests

By Vaughn Hoisington | JAPAN

In an attempt to increase national security against the threat of North Korea’s missiles and nuclear program, Japan’s Defense Ministry has requested an additional 730 million yen ($6.4 million) to be added to the initial budget for 2018. The budget was already their highest ever, at ¥5.26 trillion ($47.6 billion), with an increase of 2.5 percent from last year’s initial budget.

The addition to the budget will be used to scout potential land-based sites in Akita and Yamaguchi Prefectures to deploy Aegis Ashore missile-defense units, which are believed to be the defense system Japan will purchase two of, with a portion of their originally requested budget. These units cost around ¥80 billion ($728 million) and were originally planned to be deployed in 2023, but the Japanese Government is allocating ¥2.1 billion ($18 million) from its supplementary budget to accelerate preparation for the development of missile defense complexes.

With Aegis Ashore missile-defense units, Japan’s missile defense system would become three-tiered. Japan’s current two-tiered system involves “ships armed with SM-3 interceptor missiles, which must knock down a ballistic missile on the middle part of its trajectory. If this is not done, the second level of missile defense will be deployed using the Patriot PAC-3, which must intercept the missile at the final stage of its flight.”

Along with plans to purchase Aegis Ashore missile-defense units from the U.S., the Defense Ministry will seek to use the budget to develop an improved anti-stealth radar system that can distinguish ballistic missiles that are more difficult to detect and improve detection capabilities on the Japan Aerospace Defense Ground Environment automatic alert control system. Japan’s Defense Ministry also plans to purchase six F-35A stealth fighters, maintain facilities on the southwestern island of Okinawa Prefecture for units of the Self-Defense Forces, and study the development of high-speed glide bombs with the remaining amount of the budget.