Tag: Soviet Union

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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Vietnamese Migration to Canada As a Template for Refugee Settlement

Alexander Robak | Canada

Following the conclusion of the Vietnam war and other military conflicts in South-East Asia, many refugees fled from their war-torn nations, and eventually settled in western countries such as the United States and Canada. These mass migrations reached their peak during the late 1970s but continued on through the 1980s. These refugees came to be known as “Vietnamese boat people” due to the fact that they fled their native country on boats and rafts. Following their departure from Vietnam by sea, hundreds of thousands of migrants were put into refugee resettlement camps in other South-East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, and Hong Kong. Once in these camps, the refugees then dispersed into developed Western nations such as the United States, Australia, and Canada for permanent resettlement. The ways in which these refugees were resettled into Canada and other western nations were extremely successful and should be used as a template for resettling refugees in the future.

In Canada, the main method that was used to resettle migrant families following the Vietnam war was to set up a program of host families. With this program in place, Canadian households were able to voluntarily sponsor refugee families coming to Canada, and allow them to live in their household for a certain time. What resulted from this program was a grace period that allowed settling refugees to adapt to the Canadian style of life with their host families helping them, after which they would be put into Canadian society to thrive on their own. This grace period system was effective at allowing new Canadians to adjust to a way of life that is founded on the ideas of tolerance, respect, and freedom. This is in contrast to the country that they were fleeing, which was ruled by an authoritarian communist government that did nothing but crush these principles in favor of conformity and collectivism.

Before continuing with this analysis of a mass migration into Canada,  it is essential that the principles that Canada was founded upon are understood. These four principles are freedom, equality, tolerance, and respect. It is important that when introducing a group of migrants into Canadian society, the forces responsible for this migration are absolutely sure that this group of migrants is able and willing to comply with this standard set of values. Not only are these the values that have made Canada what it is today, but these are the values that differentiate the western world from the rest of the world. This mindset is not a modern idea and has existed since the beginnings of mass migration on a global scale. We can and should use this system as a sober second thought when considering mass migration into the western world from non-western nations. When the government of Canada accepted 50,000 Vietnamese refugees into Canada following the Vietnam war, those responsible were aware that these migrants were willing and able to comply with Canadian values.

It is crucial to the analysis of this migration that some background information on the cause of this refugee crisis is given. To summarize, the North Vietnamese communist forces were able to overtake the southern portion of the country in a bloody war that lasted from 1955 to 1975. The Northern communists were supported by the Soviet Union, and many Eastern Bloc countries including Czechoslovakia, Poland, and East Germany. On the opposing side, the Capitalist southern government was supported by superpowers such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. The explicit or covert involvement of major world powers means that this war was a proxy war. Both sides were supported by opposing superpowers fighting over control of an area. The war ended with the fall of Saigon in 1975 to the communist forces of Ho Chi Minh. What resulted was the continued persecution of capitalists and dissidents to the new authoritarian government. Many of those who fled Vietnam to escape persecution were South Vietnamese capitalists, who believed in the principles of freedom, equality, tolerance, and respect.

The Vietnamese people brought a factor to Canadian society that was extremely important and beneficial to the society at large. This factor was their entrepreneurship. Following the integration of these refugees into Canada, many of them set up their own small businesses, which were important to the growth of the Canadian economy. It was in this instance that the Vietnamese people’s entrepreneurial spirit showed us that they were important to Canada as a whole, and were worthy Canadians.

Upon the arrival of these refugees into Canada, they were generally well respected among Canadians for their hard-working attitude and willingness to integrate into Canadian society. A big part of the settlement of these refugees into Canada was their ability to maintain traditional Vietnamese culture, while also adopting the culture of their new home. In contrast to many refugee groups in the modern era, these Vietnamese migrants did not demand that Canadian society make accommodations for them and their culture. Rather, they were thankful that Canadians had allowed them to take refuge in their country. This was a very important factor concerning the settlement of these refugees into Canada.

Another part of the settlement of these refugees into their new home was the fact that they were only brought in if Canada was able to support them. These refugees were dependent on the goodwill of the Canadian people to support them, as they migrated into a completely unfamiliar land. The system created helped Vietnamese migrants to settle in Canada and be financially and socially secure.

The Vietnamese were successfully brought into a society in which they had no experience, and within a short span of time, had become productive members of society. This can be compared to the modern Syrian refugee crisis, where many were pushed out of their country out of fear of persecution during a civil war. However, the government handled this refugee crisis completely differently from the one that proved to be successful in the past. Rather than allowing Canadian families to sponsor refugee families, the Canadian government brought in more refugees than could be handled, and as a result, they were not properly assimilated into Canadian society. As a result of this mismanagement, rather than having a support system that integrates refugees into Canada, these refugees were simply put into the whole of Canadian society and expected to prosper on their own. The exact opposite has happened. The unemployment rate for Syrian refugees is astronomically high in comparison to the rest of Canada, and many of them wish for Canada to conform to their culture, rather than the other way around. In the case of the Vietnamese refugees, they were thankful to the Canadian people for supporting them in a time of need and were willing to conform to Canadian culture, customs, and values if need be, while also maintaining their own heritage. It is entirely debatable whether or not the same can be said for the Syrian refugee crisis.

It can be seen that the Vietnamese people who took refuge in Canada, fleeing communist persecution were properly integrated into Canadian society in a way that proved to be beneficial to all parties involved. The support system of using Canadian families to sponsor Vietnamese refugee families proved to be a great system that allowed refugee families to integrate into Canadian society at large, before being put into the country to survive on their own, with no support whatsoever. Seeing as this system has proved itself to be a more than adequate method of integrating refugees from a war-torn country into Canadian society,t is crucial that this system is used in the future to properly integrate refugees, rather than through mismanagement and supporting more than can be handled.


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Joseph Stalin Was Undeniably Tyrannical and Evil

Nate Galt | United States

Joseph Stalin ruled the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics after the death of its founder, Vladimir Lenin, until his own death in 1953. His rule caused millions of deaths in his own country. Stalin was born in Georgia, which was under the control of the Russian Empire. He changed his name from “Jugashvili” to “Stalin,” meaning “man of steel.” He did rule with an iron fist, becoming most famous for his leadership of the Red Army in World War II and for his brutal repression of his political opponents. Commissars, army officials, dissidents, and other perceived rivals of Stalin were either sent to “gulag” prison labor camps in Siberia or were simply executed. Stalin was a dictator who resorted to totalitarian measures, directly ordering the deaths of millions of people. 

His totalitarian regime’s victims were not limited to his political opponents. When the Soviet dictator realized that Ukraine was drifting more towards the West, he decided to implement a famine known as the “Holodomor” in Ukrainian. His officers took the vast majority of food from certain parts of Ukraine. A survivor of this genocide recounts the story to a special U.S. government committee. She stated that “all the train stations were overflowing with starving, dying people” and that “there wasn’t a dog, a cat, or a sparrow in our village.” People resorted to cannibalism to survive. The evidence of Stalin’s rule causing the deaths of millions of Ukrainians cannot be denied. 

At the beginning of Stalin’s rise to power after the bloody Russian Revolution, he wanted to make sure that he would remain General Secretary of the Communist Party and leader of the U.S.S.R. Part of his plan to do so was his elimination of any opposition. One of his strongest opponents was the Russian Orthodox Church. He wished to “completely eliminate” all religion and wanted more persecution of the clergy, going as far as imprisoning many Catholic bishops in western Ukraine.  Joseph Stalin’s rule repressed religion and aimed for its destruction. He even destroyed several historic churches to build monuments and palaces dedicated to the glory of his rule and to his country, a clear sign that Stalin did not respect freedom of religion.

When the German Reich attacked the Soviet Union as a part of Operation Barbarossa, breaking the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Stalin was caught by surprise. Adolf Hitler’s offensive was quick and deadly. Western Soviet cities like Kiev and Minsk soon fell under the control of the Reich. Stalin spoke to his people, saying that the “Great Patriotic War” was a matter of life and death for the people of the U.S.S.R. He wanted absolutely “no mercy for the enemy” and stated that any cowards or traitors should be shot on sight. The Nazi-Soviet war of attrition raged on, with millions of men, women, and children mercilessly slaughtered. After key turning-point battles such as Stalingrad, the Third Reich was forced to retreat.

After the fall of the Nazi capital of Berlin on May 9, 1945, Stalin and the Allies were victorious. After the war, propaganda pamphlets owed the destruction of fascism to Stalin. The cruel dictator’s leadership during the war may have saved his country. Stalin’s supporters and communists point to the Allied victory as a good deed of his. They also point to the fact that the Russian literacy rate skyrocketed during his rule. They say that the economy grew during Stalin’s reign. He implemented a series of five-year plans in order to further industrialize the Soviet Union, hoping to produce more electricity, steel, coal, and oil. The Soviet Union certainly played a major role in World War II and the economy had a noticeable upturn; however, this fact should not distract anyone from the fact that Stalin murdered millions.

While Stalin’s modernizations could be considered a slight success, there were millions of victims of his authoritarian, oppressive regime. Low estimates put all non-wartime casualties at 10 million while the highest estimates state that Stalin was responsible for the death of 35 million people. Joseph Stalin’s methods of maintaining power were totalitarian. He kept the populace in line by the threat of execution or sentencing to a Siberian “gulag” labor camp. Tens of thousands died in these cruel camps as a result of several factors, such as the biting cold, fatigue, or starvation. In all, while Joseph Stalin ruled the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and attempted to modernize it, the primary result of his regime is the murder of millions of innocent people. There are thousands of pieces of evidence that prove that these deaths were caused by the government of the U.S.S.R. Despite certain improvements in Russian education, the economy, and the victory in the deadliest war to ever have been fought, the death toll is too great to ignore. 


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“Not Real Socialism” is a Valid Argument

By Ian Brzeski | United States

When referring to countries such as Venezuela, the Soviet Union, North Korea, and other countries that have experimented with socialism and ultimately failed, the same excuse of “that was not real socialism” is continuously uttered by those that advocate for socialist policies. While that excuse is technically correct, it is not in the way that most people would think. Yes, it is true that these countries ended up failing in a state where pure socialist thought is no longer in place. It did indeed go from “real socialism” straight to “not real socialism.” So, what happened?

What happened was the fact that merely maintaining a “real” socialist state is impossible. The constant pattern throughout the history of experimenting with socialism is that these countries do admittedly start with real socialism, but then everything turns sour. There is a simple reason for this, and that is because power corrupts. What socialism is doing is giving the government complete control over the private sector to have equality and prosperity for everybody.

Putting all economic thought which disproved the validity of socialist economic theory aside, let’s say that economically speaking socialism is able to flourish. Redistributed wealth, prosperity to all, a bustling economy, free healthcare for everybody, and everyone living happily ever after. All of this sounds too good to be true as if it were only possible in a dream.

In reality, it really is too good to be true because, inevitably, there is going to be some ruthless dictator who will end up becoming in charge. Think about it; the driving force behind socialist thought is that people are inherently corrupt and always seek to exploit and take advantage of others, so they need a government to regulate their actions to be able to ensure that no exploitation goes on and that there will be complete equality. The problem is that these very same people that socialism identifies as the problem are in charge of the government. There will always, and I mean always, be a corrupt, vicious, disgusting, and morally perplexed person who will end up becoming in charge of the government. Guarantee that an ethically sound Jesuslike figure would always be able to be in charge of the government, then maybe there would not be a constant and blatant hatred of government by libertarians and other limited government advocates.

Government rightfully gets a bad rep because it always seems that power hungry people are seeking to seize control. The government in itself is the definition of power which aims to monopolize violence and potentially other industries. Wouldn’t it seem that being in government is the ideal job for any person? People inherently want to be in power or have control. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the problem here is too much power will end up corrupting even the most thoughtful and generous person.

Regardless of the initial intentions of a person who seeks to be in charge, the power of holding office will unavoidably lead them to use their power towards personal gain. Examples of this include practically every single socialist leader who promised the betterment of their society. Equality, peace, and prosperity are always promised but always seem to fail in being delivered. Who knows if leaders such as Josef Stalin or Hugo Chavez had true, honest, and good intentions from the start and their influx into power ended up corrupting them or if they had these horrible aspirations from the beginning? That does not matter. What matters is that these people in charge ended up using their power to directly or indirectly commit awful atrocities towards their people through murder or starvation. There is a reason as to why all these socialist and communist leaders were wealthy while the rest of their country was poor and starving. The government will always end up acting in its self-interest and not in the interest of the people.

Bernie Sanders in 2011 praised how great Venezuela was doing as a socialist state and how the United States could learn from them. Now that the government is murdering and starving its citizens, he seems to discredit Venezuela and say that it is no longer real socialism. Yes while that may be technically true, he fails to realize that real socialism is impossible to maintain and will always end up turning into this “fake” socialist state for the reasons mentioned above.

Besides its economic faults and the fundamental immorality of socialism, corruption and flawed human nature are principal reasons as to why socialism will always end up failing. Socialism is quite popular among people because of what it promises to deliver. The only problem here is that the deliverance of these promises is quite impossible.


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How China Overtook the USA Where The USSR Couldn’t

Daniel Szewc | Poland

There are multiple reasons why China, a country which had to endure the dictatorship of a communist even worse than Stalin, Zedong Mao, managed to lift itself from the ashes, whilst Soviet Russia couldn’t do it.

Geography

To get the elephant out of the room, the only variable that is inherently more favorable to China than it is for Russia is geography. After WW2, the USSR’s access to warm water ports was the best in all of Russia’s history, yet it is undeniable that there was a muzzle on the bear. The Greenland-Iceland-UK triangle in the North Atlantic, Bosphorus, and Dardanelle, and the Danish straits being controlled by NATO all stood in the USSR’s way. The American Navy, which stood ready to invade the Eastern Russia coastline, also prevented the USSR from having complete territorial control.

In contrast, the People’s Republic of China had a better situation- an underperforming India busy with Pakistan to the South East, impoverished people to the South, and devastated Japan to the West. This allowed the Revolutionary Army of China to concentrate less on defending its borders than the USSR had to.

Economy and Ideology

From the era of Xiaoping Deng seizing power in the Middle Kingdom, China was an active participant in the global market, since they accepted revisionist Marxist doctrines. In practice, they became communist in name only- the gray market was allowed to flourish, and redistribution was minimized, but the authoritarian control maintained. Gorbachev’s, Jaruzelski’s and Kohl’s “opening to the West”, meant a lack of accepting Western cultural demoralization and the slow economic shift to the left, that is still making its way to this day. China, on the other hand, became America and Europe’s supplier of goods, therefore a complete blockade of them would drastically lower the living standards in America and Europe, and cause Westerners to rise up against their governments. Extreme tariffs against goods produced in the USSR would have a minimal effect, simply because Americans did not prefer Soviet products, and the USSR’s products were unfit for American consumption.

To further explain in how much of an disadvantage China was originally, it is enough to say that they didn’t enjoy de facto home rule for the period of European colonisation, even though the Chinese emperor did de jure administer most of it’s territory- in comparison, the only era that could be remotely called “non-home rule” since the Dimitriadis (an era of Polish foreign rule in Russia during the early 17th century) was the Bolshevik rule- most of the party’s presidium was Jewish during that time, even though most people may not know it- Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein) and Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) for example, were the grandkids of Orthodox Jews and changed their surnames to aliases to hide their roots.

China’s line of attack based itself upon prior experiences that they have learned from- as Otto von Bismarck said: “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others”


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