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That Was Too Close - Five times nuclear war DIDN'T break out

Tsar of New Zealand

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#4
I was familiar with three of these: the Cuban Missile Crisis is of course famous, Perimetr is not unknown within the security community, and Petrov is basically an alternate history meme at this stage. I was very surprised, though, by the other two, the Norway example in particular.

I wonder to what extent Kargil and other tense moments between nuclear states besides the US and USSR could be included in the same category as these five. I'm not altogether sure I buy the idea that an Indo-Pak exchange would lead to an all-out global strategic exchange, even if you tacked a "Sino-" on the front.

Anything in the Middle East, though (whether a Threads-esque proxy war escalating or Bibi's favourite nightmare ft. Iran), and all bets are off.
 

David Flin

A home of love and laughter.
#5
Anything in the Middle East, though (whether a Threads-esque proxy war escalating or Bibi's favourite nightmare ft. Iran), and all bets are off.
I'd merely point out that Saudi Arabia is developing plans, and has reached bidding stage for a nuclear power generator. It has also not signed, and refuses to sign, the IAEA Safeguarding Protocol in which IAEA inspectors ensure that no fuel gets diverted.
 

Tsar of New Zealand

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#6
I'd merely point out that Saudi Arabia is developing plans, and has reached bidding stage for a nuclear power generator. It has also not signed, and refuses to sign, the IAEA Safeguarding Protocol in which IAEA inspectors ensure that no fuel gets diverted.
Saudi Arabia getting the bomb is one of those ideas that keeps me awake on lonely nights. Not to mention the (rumoured?) agreement with Pakistan to ship a few of their own bombs over if things get hairy in the Gulf.

If there's a hell, A.Q. Khan will have his own brazier set aside for him.
 

Ciclavex

Ciclavex Jarl av Nya Sverige
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#8
I'm not sure what's worse. Being blown up because the computers have mistaken astronomical or meterological phenomena for nuclear launches, or being blown up because of shoddy work practices by an American telephone company.
The.

Those were the days when even the Department of Defense were at the mercy American Telephone and Telegraph. In the immortal words of Lily Tomlin on Saturday Night Live, “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re The Phone Company.”

AT&T’s monopoly wasn’t broken up into close to a dozen companies until 1982.

Of course, since 1982, those companies have consolidated into three which largely actually don’t compete with one another, so...
 

Thande

The Great and Powerful Wizard, Opnohop Moy
Published by SLP
#9
The.

Those were the days when even the Department of Defense were at the mercy American Telephone and Telegraph. In the immortal words of Lily Tomlin on Saturday Night Live, “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re The Phone Company.”

AT&T’s monopoly wasn’t broken up into close to a dozen companies until 1982.

Of course, since 1982, those companies have consolidated into three which largely actually don’t compete with one another, so...
I did find it fascinating to look into this; the fact that even though America in the 1950s-1970s period didn't actually have the nationalised industries one associates with the UK in the same period, in practice the Bell monopoly effectively functioned like a nationalised industry that just wasn't under the control of the Government. The stereotypical point of argument in debates about nationalisation on here has always been 'do you want to go back to everyone having the same beige BT phone', but in America in that era of private enterprise, everyone had the same black AT&T phone.
 

The Red

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#10
I might be wrong but I was under the impression that Dead Hand has been turned off by Yeltsin at some point and was only turned on again recently. Thinking about that it adds another worry to your “Impacts that never happened” article in regards to the Chelyabinsk impact. I’m not sure if Dead Hand was online at that point but no-one knows how reliant it is on seismographs.

McNamara’s idea of simply bombing the MRBMs also adds an extra worry as when he later met Castro he was apparently told that Cuba would have used them, with or without Soviet consent, if America had invaded and that he believed McNamara would have done the same in his position. McNamara was apparently horrified although he admitted that he only “hoped he wouldn’t.”

Great article despite it being a very eerie read at times. Even if you believe MAD is rational all these incidents just go to show we’re never safe from random incidents of human error.
 

RyanF

Abbot of Unreason
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Falkirk
#11
I might be wrong but I was under the impression that Dead Hand has been turned off by Yeltsin at some point and was only turned on again recently. Thinking about that it adds another worry to your “Impacts that never happened” article in regards to the Chelyabinsk impact. I’m not sure if Dead Hand was online at that point but no-one knows how reliant it is on seismographs
Great that we're now crossing over the near misses @AndyC compiles, as if the Chelyabinsk potential wasn't grim enough we're now throwing in the possibility of the Soviet WOPR!

The possibility is also raised of what if the Soviets had introduced more automation, in a discussion today on machine learning I brought up the Petrov incident as an example where a machine programmed to do his job would probably have reported the information with all the consequences that come from that.
 

BClick

One Million Americans
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#12
The fact that cooler heads prevailed every time it came down to the wire is something I think about often. Were we really just lucky? Or do people understand on some deeper level - not just abstractly - what nuclear war would mean, and run up against a psychological barrier when they're the one who has to make the call? Another example would be the memetic story of James Blunt "saving the world" by refusing to advance on Russian positions in Kosovo, although that's a few steps further removed from nuclear war than the PODs here.
 

David Flin

A home of love and laughter.
#13
Another example would be the memetic story of James Blunt "saving the world" by refusing to advance on Russian positions in Kosovo, although that's a few steps further removed from nuclear war than the PODs here.
Wasn't that Mike Stewart who refused the order (although it wasn't strictly an order he'd been given, merely warning to make preparations for if/when the order came)?

I understand Blunt said that he would have refused the order, but Stewart was - AIUI - the chap who actually refused the notional order.
 

BClick

One Million Americans
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#14
Wasn't that Mike Stewart who refused the order (although it wasn't strictly an order he'd been given, merely warning to make preparations for if/when the order came)?

I understand Blunt said that he would have refused the order, but Stewart was - AIUI - the chap who actually refused the notional order.
It was Sir Mike Jackson, hence the phrase "memetic story"; Blunt's name gets attached to it by people peddling fun facts on the internet.
 

Zillian

New member
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#15
The fact that cooler heads prevailed every time it came down to the wire is something I think about often.
This is also something I think about often but what about the reverse?
Battles/wars that COULD be avoid. A example that often props up in my head is the Second Battle of Copenhagen (1807).
The British attacked Denmark because they were concerned that the Danes would join France in the Napoleon Wars and thus lay Copenhagen under siege. This pre-emptive act led Denmark to join up with France.
If Britain didn't attack Denmark, then I would believe they would stay neutral as it is not in their interest in join either side.

I would like to read such an article about battles/wars that could be avoid if they kept their head cool
 

Ciclavex

Ciclavex Jarl av Nya Sverige
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#16
I did find it fascinating to look into this; the fact that even though America in the 1950s-1970s period didn't actually have the nationalised industries one associates with the UK in the same period, in practice the Bell monopoly effectively functioned like a nationalised industry that just wasn't under the control of the Government. The stereotypical point of argument in debates about nationalisation on here has always been 'do you want to go back to everyone having the same beige BT phone', but in America in that era of private enterprise, everyone had the same black AT&T phone.
This was actually a good thing on at least one level: as a very, very brief aside so that the topic doesn't get permanently set off, AT&T was probably much, much better to both African American customers and African American employees than a nationalized industry would have been for a very significant part of its monopoly period. That's not to say they were paragons of racial progress, but they were way, way better than how it could have worked out under different circumstances.
 

Redolegna

Champagne Socialist
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#17
This is also something I think about often but what about the reverse?
Battles/wars that COULD be avoid. A example that often props up in my head is the Second Battle of Copenhagen (1807).
The British attacked Denmark because they were concerned that the Danes would join France in the Napoleon Wars and thus lay Copenhagen under siege. This pre-emptive act led Denmark to join up with France.
If Britain didn't attack Denmark, then I would believe they would stay neutral as it is not in their interest in join either side.

I would like to read such an article about battles/wars that could be avoid if they kept their head cool
Wasn't Nelson also given the option not to go into battle the first time too?

Mers el-Kébir sounds like an entirely avoidable mess, if the French admiral hadn't been such a numpty, or maybe if ABC had been on the scene rather than in Alexandria.

Then there is the Khwarazmian 'let's kill the trade envoys, I'm sure nobody important will care' blunder.

And also the matter of Crécy, Poitiers, maybe even Azincourt if the knights don't insist so loudly they want to fight NOW.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#20
I hadn't actually known about SIOP and how inflexible it was, which makes for an interesting contrast with the article on Plotnukes - doing a story often requires everyone to not fire all their guns at once, based on "well we don't want to All Die yet", but the real world's not as plausible as a techno-thriller!