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The Military Software United States

KGB Software Almost Triggered War In 1983 (arstechnica.com) 210

An anonymous reader writes: Who here remembers WarGames? As it turns out, the film was a lot closer to reality than we knew. Newly-released documents show that the Soviet Union's KGB developed software to predict sneak attacks from the U.S. and other nations in the early 1980s. During a NATO wargame in November, 1983, that software met all conditions necessary to forecast the beginning of a nuclear war. "Many of these procedures and tactics were things the Soviets had never seen, and the whole exercise came after a series of feints by U.S. and NATO forces to size up Soviet defenses and the downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 on September 1, 1983. So as Soviet leaders monitored the exercise and considered the current climate, they put one and one together. Able Archer, according to Soviet leadership at least, must have been a cover for a genuine surprise attack planned by the U.S., then led by a president possibly insane enough to do it." Fortunately, when the military exercise ended, so did Soviet fears that an attack was imminent.
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KGB Software Almost Triggered War In 1983

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  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:06AM (#51001667)
    How is this suddenly news? I have watch TV documentaries years ago about this event.
    • by Crowd Computing ( 4269575 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:39AM (#51001997)
      The news is about the downloadable partly declassified document that pertains to the event. So the difference is like watching a CNN news report about a government scandal and then reading for yourself the Wikileaks source. Of course in this case it's not a leak but an official release:

      National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 533
      Edited by Nate Jones, Tom Blanton, and Lauren Harper
      Posted - October 24, 2015

    • I second that. I knew about this incident at least 10 years ago. The Internet is plastered with information about this.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Hi Jf, the AC who got this old news about early 1980's war games on slashdot can even see this plot in a TV series called Deutschland 83 with references to Able Archer
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
  • Then there was Romald Reagan doing a mic test "We have outlawed Russia forever, we begin bombing in five minutes"

    • Re:Reagan's mic test (Score:5, Interesting)

      by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:21AM (#51001795) Homepage
      And a few years later, Lt. Col. Oliver North would propose how the president could declare martial law in the U.S. if THE PEOPLE opposed the administration's policies. For a news junkie, it was fun era to live in.
      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        Not sure why this is being flagged as off topic. If the Reagan Administration was willing to overthrow a democratically elected government in the United States, no wonder the Soviets were scared.

        http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=abefore86rex84 [historycommons.org]

        • Even if some Marine Lieutenant Colonel writes a memo advocating actions to take during nuclear war or mass insurrection, that doesn't either make it national policy or legal. It is nonsense.

          Report says North authored plan to suspend Constitution [upi.com]

          Reached by telephone Sunday at his home in northern Virginia, Brinkerhoff denounced as 'ridiculous' the report involving him and the Marine now at the center of the Iran-Contra scandal.

          Saying he left government in 1982, Brinkerhoff added, 'There never was a plan to install martial law or martial rule. The whole purpose of emergency preparedness is and was to maintain civil rule.

          'A lot of memos and lot of plans were written. We have a responsibility to plan for mobilization in case of emergency or war. As far as some evil plot ... it simply is untrue.'

          The missing idea is known as MILITARY SUPPORT TO CIVIL AUTHORITIES: THE ROLE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE IN SUPPORT OF HOMELAND DEFENSE [loc.gov]

          That's not martial law.

        • If the Reagan Administration was willing to overthrow a democratically elected government in the United States...

          Please stop and think about what you just wrote. The Reagan Administration by definition couldn't overthrow the democratically elected government BECAUSE IT WAS THE DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT. (For the pedantic, yes, Reagan was part of the government, not the whole thing, but North's plan wasn't to arrest Congressmen.)

          • by creimer ( 824291 )

            You haven't been paying attention to the Right Wing echo chamber in recent years. President Obama will suspend the Constitution via executive order (never mind that George W. has issued more executive orders), activate the FEMA camps (hello, Oliver North), send all the white men to be executed by guillotines (paper cutters) and send all the white women to be raped by black men (white fear). Angry old white people believe this will happen any day now (For the pedantic, a democratically elected government can

            • Nobody with any stature on the right believes any of those things. The fever swamp left thinks that the Military Industrial Complex planned and executed the 9/11 attacks so Bush would have an excuse to steal Iraq's oil. It's not fair to hold that against Democrats in general because most Democrats (and indeed anyone with two brain cells to rub together) recognizes that theory as bullshit.
              • by creimer ( 824291 )

                Nobody with any stature on the right believes any of those things.

                No Establishment Republican believes that BS, but the base that listens to conservative radio does and they are the voters. Which is why Congressional Republicans are suffering a massive case of swamp fever and can't get anything done.

                • No, the conservative wing doesn't believe it either. Limbaugh et al's call screeners hang up on those nutjobs.

                  Do you think vaccines cause autism? Because apparently all liberal Democrats do.

                  • by creimer ( 824291 )

                    Do you think vaccines cause autism? Because apparently all liberal Democrats do.

                    You seem willfully ignorant of liberal Democrats, as they believe in government healthcare. Republicans, not so much.

                    http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-02-04/why-do-republicans-have-such-a-hard-time-with-vaccines- [bloomberg.com]

                    • Do you think vaccines cause autism? Because apparently all liberal Democrats do.

                      You seem willfully ignorant of liberal Democrats...

                      No shit? That's the entire point of the thread.

                      OF COURSE it's unfair to accuse all liberal Democrats of being 9/11 Truthers or thinking that vaccines cause autism. There's only a couple people in the dickhead left that believe those things, and that set includes NOBODY with any power. You're doing the converse, by claiming that a few people on the dickhead right represent all conservatives. And you're doing this because at this point, you're obviously a fundamentally dishonest person.

                      Since you're arguin

                    • by creimer ( 824291 )

                      And you're doing this because at this point, you're obviously a fundamentally dishonest person.

                      I used to be a Republican. I'm speaking from experience. Doesn't help that my Tea Party relatives in Idaho keep emailing every little thing that comes out of the right wing echo chamber.

                      Don't even bother typing a response.

                      You accused me of being a dishonest person and don't want me to respond? You must be new around here.

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @12:17PM (#51002383) Journal

      I was at an event where someone asked Gorbachev about the major economic changes in the early 1990s as the Soviet states re-organized into various coalitions after the USSR dissolved. In his reply, Gorbachev's main point was that it took longer for private industry to ramp up than had been hoped. I don't remember the exact words from the meat of his response; it was an "unimportant" preface clause that caught my attention. He replied:

      "After Reagan defeated us Perestroika wasn't moving as quickly as we had anticipated and ..."

      "After Reagan defeated us", that's how Gorbachev thinks of the fall of the Soviet Union. I'm no expert on US-Soviet relations in the 1980s, but Gorbachev certainly is. He knows the private discussions of the Politburo that historians can only guess about. And his four-word summary of the Soviet Union's fall is "after Reagan defeated us". Very interesting, I thought.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        summary of the Soviet Union's fall

        The main reason for all the Reagan hatred. The US knew SDI wouldn't work, but the soviets didn't and spent themselves into history trying to keep up. They were kinda in awe of US technology. I was there. Very interesting times indeed.

        • For any like me that didn't know, SDI most likely refers to this:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      • by halivar ( 535827 )

        I think all the players knew that, by the early 80's, the Cold War would never be fought with guns (except by proxy), but rather by the manipulation of spheres of influence and politics. In chess, you never actually take the king; rather you maneuver the opponent into an untenable position. To some degree, you might call the Cold War one of the most civilized contests in human history, and certainly one of the most cerebral.

        • > I think all the players knew that, by the early 80's, the Cold War would never be fought with guns (except by proxy), but rather by the manipulation of spheres of influence and politics

          I think HOPED it would end without nuclear war. The Cuban missile crisis, the events described in TFA, etc suggested that it was entirely likely that one day, eventually someone would fire a missile which would in turn trigger nuclear armageddon- unless one side won before that happened. The trick was how to win with

          • by halivar ( 535827 )

            I also believe their Soviet counterparts deserve half the credit. Both parties (Kennedy vs Kruschev, Reagan vs Gorechav) were matched pairs necessary for the resultant peace.

            • One thing that makes Kennedy and Reagan stand out to me is that they did precisely the right thing at the right time -despite- everyone around them pushing to do the opposite. During the Cuban missile crisis, a lot of top people wanted to basically start WW3. The Soviet government, headed by Kruchev, pushed the US that direction.

              Later, as the USSR was weakened to the point that the US could actually win the Cold War and end it, all of Reagan's advisors wanted him to play nice, to get along with the USSR

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Sounds like confirmation bias to me. Other interpretations:

        1) Any collapse of the USSR would be a win for the USA, and vice versa because they regarded themselves as enemies fighting each other. The reason was irrelevant. Even if the USSR's collapse was mostly internal, it'd still be regarded as USA - hence Reagan - "winning", because the USA outlasted it.

        2) Gorbachev was a traitor to Communism and wanted to see Russia move to a Western style system (like FW de Klerk was conservative for decades until sudde

      • What should not be forgotten is how bad the CIA estimates were on the Soviet economy. They were utter crap. I cannot stress this enough, and I encourage anyone interested in the topic to read the highly-rated (at the time) US texts on Soviet economy.

        Virtually all highly rated US texts in 1980-1999 on Soviet/Russian economy were garbage.

        So, what does this say about the CIA?
    • I loved Reagan, but one thing I didn't like was his conflating 'Soviet' w/ 'Russian'. Since the latter meant the Russian people, whereas Soviet could more accurately capture not just the entire USSR, but the Warsaw pact as well. Countries like Bulgaria and East Germany were about as much controlled by the CPSU as was Ukraine or Uzbekistan.
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @11:20AM (#51001773)

    The man who saved the world [wikipedia.org] in 1983.

    • by Xiaran ( 836924 )
      Except War Games is based on a incident that happened in the US. A test tape was loaded into a computer that simulated a Russian launch and thankfully people actually phoned up the radar stations reporting the launch and asked them or the US woudl have returned fire.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        General Beringer: Dr. Falken, you picked a hell of a day for a visit!
        Stephen Falken: Uh-huh... General, what you see on these screens up here is a fantasy; a computer-enhanced hallucination. Those blips are not real missiles, they're phantoms.
        McKittrick: Jack, there's nothing to indicate a simulation at all. Everything is working perfectly!
        Stephen Falken: But does it make any sense?
        General Beringer: Does what make any sense?
        Stephen Falken: That!
        General Beringer: Look, I don't have time for a conversation ri

  • LOL! You gotta love these libs! So stupid, it's funny.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      LOL! You gotta love these libs! So stupid, it's funny.

      For something comparable, the tough talk of Iran's leader affects our decision makers here and now. His quotes are quite often used by the GOP to argue their stance.

      Either GOP is heavily bluffing, or they would factor in his blustery talk if there were a related international issue that required a snap judgement.

      It's not silly, as you imply, it's dead serious.

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      In what fantasy realm is the destruction of all life on earth the act of a sane man?

    • by _merlin ( 160982 )

      You can't have been alive at the time. It really did seem that Reagan may have been crazy enough to attack the USSR under the belief he was doing gods work.

  • And anyone with any sense thought it was insane for him to ratchet up tensions with the USSR, as though being President was actually some kind of movie.

    Yes, a lot of us *did* think he was nuts enough to do it. And if his handlers hadn't held him back, none of use would be reading or writing this.

    Fscking psychotic arsehole.

                          mark

    • And I remember all of Reagan's years, and Carter's too. I remember that after he had been president for 4 years, he won by the biggest landslide in history.

      So apparently most of the voters disagreed with your characterizations. That's historical fact, no opinion required.

      If I throw my opinion into it, I'd have to say we valued intangibles like human rights, economic opportunity, peace, ... far more than you apparently do today.

  • by cant_get_a_good_nick ( 172131 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2015 @01:44PM (#51003221)

    ...Blame the model.

    I read this article, the model was flawed, based on a "we'll attack when we pass some threshhold". Everything else was just to feed the model. They added a lot of things, so the model could only be calculated on a computer. But its a modeling error, the tool was a computer.

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

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