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mister krabs
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on September 26, 1983...

http://www.mosnews.com/feature/2004/05/21/petrov.shtml
 
author
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That is a nice article.
 
Desperado
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I vividly remember the disclosure years ago of that event, in "60 Minutes" (or equivalent news program).

Amazing!
 
Ranch Hand
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It's nice, but I have a small issue with it. Map could probably clear it up.

The following paragraph:


Half an hour past midnight on September 26, 1983, he saw the first apparent launch on his computer monitor in a glass-walled room on the top floor of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) command and control post.



BMEWS is an American acronym based on American words. Add that the Cyrillic alphabet is different, there is almost 100% certainty that acronym would never appear in a Russian news article. It would seem, then, that the article is targeted to an American audience, particularly one famiiar with BMEWS (which would make it relatively small). Why do that?

The only thing I can come up with is they are trying to say it is "a room like our BMEWS.

But still a cool article and I am glad he didn't push the red button.
 
Leverager of our synergies
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Gregg: It would seem, then, that the article is targeted to an American audience, particularly one famiiar with BMEWS (which would make it relatively small). Why do that?

"Moscow News" is a Russian newspaper and it is published in Russian. I don't know what part they translate into English, and whether they add some articles to an English version. Here is the corresponding issue for May 21, 2004 and I don't see this article there. Maybe it's in printed version, I don't know.

There are two different questions:
1) whether the article itself was targeted to American audience
2) whether its translation was

My feeling is "both", because "surviving on a tiny army pension" wouldn't go too well with Russian audience -- army pensions aren't that "tiny". As for translation, then I suppose it's a common practice to translate to some equivalent. For example, there was no such rank as "Lieutenant Colonel" in the Soviet Army, the literal translation would be "Undercolonel", would you prefer to leave it "native" and confuse everybody?
 
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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BMEWS is an American abbreviation for our early warning system. My guess is that the author wanted to translate into something that Americans would understand.

We have discussed the issue of translation before. Suppose you were translating a story that takes place in Moscow and a part of the action takes place on Tverskaya Street. A person from Russia would know that this was the busiest shopping street in Moscow. Suppose knowing that fact was critical to understanding the story. Would you transalte the story and add that it is the busiest shopping street in Moscow? Would you say that it was the 5th Avenue of Moscow? (There is a street in Garden City called Franklin Avenue. All the signs say, "Franklin Ave. - The Fifth Avenue of Long Island".) Or would you just move the whole story to NYC? (The movie "The Magnificent Seven" is an example of this last option.) In this case it appears that author compromised by using an American name for the Early Warning System.
 
Tony Alicea
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The actual thing happened.

I saw years ago one of the "60 minutes" guys interviewing on camera the now russian peasant that prevented the annihilation of the world by good judgement.

That's the way it happened. He notices that only 5 nuclear missiles were "launched" from the USA (instead of the logical hundreds) and he made the call that it was a mistake of their equipment.

Maybe a more indoctrinated dude would have launched the Russian missiles and erroneously caused the destruction of a very good part of the world.

As the character played by Jon Lovitz in Saturday Night Live (the liar) said when he was told "but that's impossible!": He answered "And yet it happened!"

Signed,

Lorne Michaels,

Oops! I mean Me!
[ July 02, 2004: Message edited by: Tony Alicea ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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The whole story looks supicious.

I just couldn’t believe that just like that, all of a sudden, someone would hurl five missiles at us. Five missiles wouldn’t wipe us out. The U.S. had not five, but a thousand missiles in battle readiness.” It just didn’t seem like any scenario considered by military intelligence before.



So he is saying that a few fired missiles were never considered in any scenario and there was no instruction how to react? I would think where it comes to starting WWIII, all possible variants should have been covered. *Now* I am scared!
 
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Originally posted by Tony Alicea:
The actual thing happened.

I saw years ago one of the "60 minutes" guys interviewing on camera the now russian peasant that prevented the annihilation of the world by good judgement.

That's the way it happened. He notices that only 5 nuclear missiles were "launched" from the USA (instead of the logical hundreds) and he made the call that it was a mistake of their equipment.


Its incredible how close we would have all come to being vapourised. Makes you realise that all the business in Iraq is small-fry compared to the potential nuclear exchange that could have happened.

Probably a good thing that news of this didnt get out at the time - then another country may have thought "Well we can sneak five through because they'll think its a glitch."


As the character played by Jon Lovitz in Saturday Night Live (the liar) said when he was told "but's that's impossible!": He answered "And yet it happened!"


This reminds me of an incredible conversation I saw on telly once. A debate had been set up between a nutcase who thought that the moon landings were fake, and Buzz Aldrin. The nutcase was saying "I don't believe it, its all fake", and Buzz was replying "but I was there!". Quite amusing.
[ July 02, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
 
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
The whole story looks supicious.



So he is saying that a few fired missiles were never considered in any scenario and there was no instruction how to react? I would think where it comes to starting WWIII, all possible variants should have been covered. *Now* I am scared!



My guess is that on a limited launch his instructions were to notify higher headquarters who DO have the ability to launch a "measured response" as is is called by NATO.
From his story that's exactly what he did with the added commentary that in his opinion the warning was likely due to a glitch in his equipment.
Higher headquarters decided to wait before launching a counterattack and when nothing went BOOM and the shortrange sensors didn't see any incoming missiles they decided that it had indeed been a glitch.

I'm quite certain that similar scenarios happened more than once on all sides but most of those involved keep quiet about it.
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
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