Yes, it is possible for one person to hold the fate of the entire world in his hands.
This is not a philosophical question, but should resonate today with erratic autocratic man-child leaders having the ability to set off a nuclear holocaust in an instant, or on an impulse.
But it happened. And in that instant when the button could have been pushed – should have been pushed — on Sept 26,1983 — Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defense Forces and the duty officer that night in the Serpukhov-15 bunker outside Moscow, which housed the command center of the Soviet early warning satellite system, watched as one, then two, three, four, then five nuclear missiles were flying toward the Soviet Union from the United States, capable of killing 100 million Russians in a flash.
With only 90 seconds until strike, then 60, then 30 seconds, protocol demanded he launch his missiles back at the United States.
But he did not. And when they didn’t go off, the false alarm was confirmed.
The incident had been a classified secret for 25 years, on pain of death or being sent to a gulag, but decades later, in revealing interviews documented in a movie, “The Man who Saved the World,” he revealed that in that moment, even if the missiles had turned out to be real, he could not bring himself to unleash a holocaust on 100 million Americans and not saved the 100 million Russians, inviting a retaliatory strike that would have killed 1 billion more and rendered planet Earth uninhabitable.
nd the thing is, he wasn’t even supposed to be on duty that night.
Another soldier, more mindlessly devoted to protocol, would have launched the missiles at the U.S..
As it was, Petrov paid the price: rather than being hailed a hero, he was chastised, left the military, lost his wife to cancer, and became a cantankerous drunk.
I have never felt so terrified at the real possibility of extinction by out-of-control morons who have no business having such ultimate power.
We no longer have President Obama, who made nuclear disarmament a mission, particularly controlling the loose nukes in the Ukraine that could easily be acquired by terrorists (and who had to twist Republican arms to get the Senate to approve a New Start Treaty).
Instead, the man in command is Donald Trump who has been cavalier about the notion of a nuclear missile striking Europe, who did not know what the nuclear triad or the Start Treaty are, who said he wants to beef up America’s nuclear arsenal (to the tippy top) rather than reduce it, and that other countries including Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia should have their own nuclear weapons.
His campaign benefactor, billionaire Robert Mercer (at whose bequest Trump installed Steve Bannon, KellyAnne Conway, Michael Flynn) believes that nuclear weapons do not pose a health or existential risk and that “outside of the immediate blast zones [of Hiroshima and Nagasaki], the radiation actually made Japanese citizens healthier,” writes Jane Mayer in “The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency,” in the New Yorker. (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/27/the-reclusive-hedge-fund-tycoon-behind-the-trump-presidency).
Trump has actually acknowledged that he is more than willing to restart a nuclear arms race — and shift America’s resources away from such things as Meals on Wheels and school lunch toward that effort, as his budget “outline” evidences.
Trump has done nothing to address Russia’s violation of a 30-year-old treaty that bans intermediate-range missiles based on land that has unnerved European allies.
“An American decision to withdraw from the treaty, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or I.N.F., would be disastrous,” stated the New York Times in an editorial .
This is why it is so vitally important to get to the root of the collusion between Trump’s campaign and inner circle advisers with Russian state actors — not just to win the presidency but in his domestic and foreign policies which serve Putin’s, not America’s, interests.
Trump, an autocratic narcissist, willfully ignorant man-child is pitted against an equally moronic, narcissist, man-child who also controls a nuclear arsenal and has said he is more than willing to use it, in North Korea’s tyrant, Kim Jong-un. Trump’s so-called Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson has already thrown down a gauntlet, saying the U.S. won’t bother with China intervening and “all options are on the table.”
Trump is spoiling for an epic fight — bigger than Pearl Harbor, bigger than 9/11 — because, like all autocrats, he thinks it will give him that ultimate power and control.
One man, indeed, can save the world. One man can destroy it.