This is scary:
At the end of the Cold War both sides pledged to point their missiles at the open ocean. But it would take just minutes to change back to real targets.How many times have we almost nuked somebody accidentally? It seems like a lot. We were very lucky in the Cold War.
That provides a small hedge against an accidental war triggered by a false alarm of the kind Perry experienced in 1979 when a watch officer mistakenly inserted a training tape into a computer.
William Perry: It looked like 200 ICBMs were on the way from the Soviet Union to the United States. Happily we got that situation figured out before we had to go to the president. But had we not he would have received a call at 3 o’clock in the morning and said, “Sir you have seven or eight minutes to decide whether to launch those before these missiles land on our ICBM silos.
David Martin: And what was the fail-safe there? What stopped it from going to the president?
William Perry: What stopped it was an astute general who sensed something was wrong.