The Greatest Hero in History?

Filed in Archive, Blog by on September 21, 2017 0 Comments


Stanislav Petrov is the former Soviet lieutenant-colonel who saved the world on 26 September 1983 from nuclear war and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). He followed his instincts and ignored a warning from the Soviet Union’s missile defence system that the US had launched a nuclear missile strike. Stanislav thought it was an error. And he was right.

The ‘glitch’ in the warning system was caused by the sun’s rays reflecting off the tops of clouds.

A similar scenario with far more tragic consequences was anticipated in the 1959 movie On The Beach, starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner, filmed in Melbourne, Australia. I wonder if Stanislav ever saw that movie? On The Beach didn’t paint the US in a good light, so maybe the Soviet censors permitted its screening.

Sadly, Mr Petrov died last May. He was 77.

If anyone is looking for a new monument to erect, can you think of a person who saved more lives than Stanislav Petrov?

This might also be a good time to remind Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump of something else from the Cold War. It’s a slogan that could do with more air time right now – instead of the recent broadcasts that have discussed possible Korean casualty scenarios and compared North-South firepower – “No one wins a nuclear war.”

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