The Computer Simulation That Almost Started World War III

Remember the 1983 movie WarGames? The film is about a computer “game” with the potential to start thermonuclear war. But strangely this scenario is more truth than fiction. Because in 1979 programmers at NORAD almost started World War III when they accidentally ran a computer simulation of a Soviet attack.

In the early morning hours of November 9, 1979 Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security advisor to President Carter, was awakened by a horrifying phone call. According to NORAD, the Soviet Union had just launched 250 missiles headed straight for American soil. Brzenzinski received another call not long after the first, and NORAD was reporting that it was now 2,200 missiles. This was the moment that every American living through the Cold War had feared. And U.S. officials had no plans to notify the public.

Brzenzinski didn’t even bother waking up his wife. He assumed that he and everyone he knew would soon be dead, so there was no sense in troubling her. One can only imagine the dismal post-apocalyptic world flashing before his mind’s eye as he thought about his next steps.

“I knew that if it were true, then within about half an hour I, and my loved ones, and Washington, and the majority of America would cease to exist. I wanted to be sure that we’d have company,” Brzenzinski told a biographer in 2011.

What Brzenzinski meant was that he wanted to make sure if the attack was real that the Soviet Union would be little more than a giant hole in the ground. If we were going down, our Commie adversaries were going down with us.

Full article: The Computer Simulation That Almost Started World War III (Gizmodo)

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