Technically, aren't we mere minutes from nuclear annihilation at any given moment?
Moreover, why doesn't this infuriate us? How come the fact that governments dangle our lives over the precipice of decimation, every second, isn't a bone of contention the size of a Tyrannosaurus rex femur?
The title of this feature became a much more imminent reality on January 25, 1995. Oddly enough, most of still aren't aware of it.
The U.S. and Russia nearly ended humankind on the aforementioned day. We're talkin' eradication of you, your family, and everyone on the planet.
If you're reading this article, there's a chance you were engaging in cognitive thought on January 25, 1995. On that date, perhaps you found yourself:
A) driving your car.
B) driving a stolen car.
C) trapped in the Grotto at the Playboy Mansion.
For your sake, we hope you were immersed in letter C, as it was quite nearly the last act of your life.
In order to study the aurora borealis, Norway and the U.S. had jointly launched a harmless Black Brant XII rocket. Although Russia was informed of this exercise, for whatever reason, the message didn't make it through proper channels. As a result, at somewhere near dawn, the Kremlin believed they were under attack from an incoming nuclear missile.
President Boris Yeltsin was awakened and given the sobering news.
Out comes the Russian version of the Nuclear Football, the suitcase containing launch authorization for every warhead owned by the largest country in the world. To be precise, three black attaches, known as Cheget, were opened that morning. One was presided over by Yeltsin, while the other two were handled by Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev and Chief of the General Staff Mikhail Kolesnikov.
Whether or not to discharge two thousand nukes isn't a decision that should fall upon the shoulders of groggy men. Moreover, these dudes had ten minutes to reach their resolution. This is how long it took U.S. missiles launched from submarines in the Barents Sea to impact Russian soil.
Moments prior to dispatch, radar operators noticed the missile in question heading toward the ocean. The heightened state of emergency was cancelled. The end of humanity, as well as every living thing on Earth, except for cockroaches and insurance salesmen, was avoided.
Makes a person wonder if this type of scenario has played out more than once, doesn't it? Well, it has, but those stories will have to wait for subsequent articles.
One question before we discover what's at the bottom of this bottle of bourbon. Doesn't the idea of launching a counterattack in response to a nuclear first strike seem insane? Say Russia fires their missiles initially. As a result, at least half of humanity will die. Wouldn't it be far more advantageous for the U.S. to not launch a retaliatory strike, and thereby save half our species?
© 2011. Hugh Mungus
Kick, Russ. (2003). 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know. pp. 28-29. The Disinformation Company Ltd. ISBN 0-9713942-8-8