Mankind's only alternative 1   FEB.   23  
Mankind's only alternative

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

The Cold War Report December 6, 2007
Megatons and Memory Holes
Richard Rhodes, Richard Perle, and the Man Who Saved the World By Alexander Zaitchik Browse author Email

A couple of months ago I did something I’ve always wanted to do: I co-starred in a date-scene film montage. 

My acting partner was a kindly Russian pensioner named Stanislav Petrov, better known as “The Man Who Saved the World.” In 1983, Petrov bravely disregarded Russian military protocol during a false alarm and very likely prevented World War III. But more about that in a minute.

Stanislav Petrov

Stanislav Petrov: He saved the world, and for his effort was rewarded with a vacuum cleaner.

I met Petrov and a Russian tv news crew on a clear September afternoon at the fountain in Manezh Square, just outside the Kremlin walls. After microphones were clipped to our lapels, Petrov and I strolled arm-in-arm around the square, chatting about his military career and the night that made him famous. True to the genre, the final edit of the montage includes me buying Petrov a staged vanilla ice cream cone. 

The occasion of our meeting was the 24th anniversary of a historic nightshift Petrov worked at the Serpukhov missile command center. What happened was this: half past midnight on September 26, 1983, the radar screen in the Serpukhov bunker showed several missile launches on U.S. territory. Petrov was the ranking officer on site. The protocol that he himself had authored dictated that he inform his superiors immediately. They, in turn, would have contacted the ailing, paranoid, and hawkish Soviet premiere at the time, Yuri Andropov. 

With his computer screens beeping havoc, Petrov was forced to think fast. Under unimaginable pressure, he reasoned that because of the small number of launches, the alarm was likely false. “In a real first-strike, they would have hit us with hundreds of missiles,” he said. And so he sat tight and never kicked the alert up the chain of command. 

It was the right call. It turned out the alarm was the result of sunlight reflecting off low-altitude clouds above several U.S. missile silos. A satellite misread. 

When the story of Petrov’s (in)action came out in 1998, the world media descended on him from every direction, crowning him the “Man Who Saved the World.” A documentary film was made about the incident. There was talk of a Nobel Prize. The Association of World Citizens flew him to San Francisco and gave him a “World Citizen Award” and a $1,000 check. (Petrov bought a vacuum cleaner with the money, which in a delicious detail turned out to be faulty.)

When the producer of the Russian news program called and asked me to appear in the anniversary segment, I said where and when. Who wouldn’t want to meet the Man Who Saved the World? After I agreed to do the show, he began to brief me on the state of U.S.-Soviet relations at the time of Petrov’s fateful decision. I politely cut him off and told him I didn’t need any background. I was nine years old in 1983 and remember it all too well. For me and every other kid on my block, 1983 was an annus scared shitlessicis; the culture more drenched in nuclear dread than at any time since October 1962. 

The Great Fear of 1983 is the most vivid memory of my childhood. If I shut my eyes, I can still see Reagan administration officials on the old McNiel/Lehrer Report, which my family often watched during dinner, talking about “winnable” nuclear war—and my parents going pale. The weekly magazines had mushroom clouds on their covers. Freeze activists came to our Boston door. I tried to block out the news, but it was impossible. There was no avoiding the test-patterns on the airwaves or the suddenly ominous black-and-yellow fallout shelter signs dotting my public school hallways. Compounding things, that summer I purchased a collection of old Mad magazines from the 1950s and early-1960s, which dumped an earlier wave of panic onto the one I was living through. 

SHARE:  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit
Browse author
Alexander Zaitchik is an editor at The eXile. Email him at

The Christ Cup 2002: Pregame Show! :

Russian Academia Under Fire :

Moscow Nitelife Roundup :
Will you be her pension?
Diktionary : eXile word of the day


Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...


    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442