Many people dream of saving the world. Combatting terrorism, global warming, mafia, corruption, etc… And there is another possibility of doing it – to be exact, NOT to do a certain thing. Not to commit the fatal mistake. There are some stories from the time of the Cold War when the world has been saved through the non-action of military people.
This is an amazing true story about the man, who held the future of the world in his hands for 10 min. In 1983.
A Russian pensioner in a village north of Moscow claims he saved the world. Most people would walk straight on if accosted in the street with that tale. But the truth is that Stanislav Petrov, interviewed on Monday for a Radio 4 programme and about whom a film is being made, did exactly that.
image by James Gordon
On September 26 1983, Petrov, a 44-year-old lieutenant colonel, was monitoring the Soviet Union’s early warning satellites from a command bunker. Three weeks earlier a Korean jetliner, with 269 passengers on board, had been shot down over Soviet airspace. The Americans were about to deploy the Pershing II missile that could hit Moscow from West Germany in 12 minutes. Ronald Reagan had called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and launched his “star wars” programme. The Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, critically ill with renal failure, thought Reagan already had a missile defence system and was convinced that the US was about to shoot first.
The Soviets were accident-prone. Shortly after midnight, a blip appeared on Petrov’s screen. Several minutes later four more blips appeared. Petrov had about 10 minutes to decide whether the blips were incoming US missiles, or were, as they later proved to be, a false alarm from a faulty satellite. The future of the world rested in his hands. Petrov followed his “gut instinct” and did nothing. He should have been given a hero’s medal. In the event, he was reprimanded for not filling out the log book that day and retired a year later.
Things happen… we have no idea!
P.S: the story found in GUARDIAN.