Considering the drastic proliferation of nuclear arms during the Cold War it is an absolute wonder how we didn’t manage to blow up one another. Thankfully so-called military strategists had us and the rest of humanity in their carefully considered thoughts and actions. After all, an errant nuclear missile mistakenly sent rocketing toward Moscow would have been the beginning of the end, World War III — the war that will actually end all wars (and mankind along with it).
To prevent wayward nuclear warheads the best and brightest from our military devised a secret code, which would need to be entered into an antique computer before a nuke could be launched. In modern day terms, the missile silos were all password protected. This reduced the embarrassing likelihood of accidentally blowing up another country.
For a 15-year period during the height of the Cold War, however, this eight-digit nuke password was frighteningly simple. As reported by an esteemed British newspaper earlier this month, all that was needed to fire nuclear arms from every American missile silo was the entry of the ridiculously easy secret code: 00000000.
When I first read it I heard the Count from “Sesame Street” in my head. “Eight zeros, boys and girls, count them all with me, ah-haha! Nuclear winter is so much fun, isn’t it children? Ah-haha.”
The reasoning provided by the Strategic Air Command was also surprisingly simple. In the event of nuclear war they wanted the ability to launch missiles to be as quick and effortless as possible. That’s what I like to hear. Think of anything in the world that needs to be quick and effortless. Logging into Internet sites, shaving and signing up for Obamacare all come to mind — so does conveniently starting Armageddon.
I don’t think there is a website on the information superhighway that will even let a person choose “00000000” as a password these days. Think about that for a moment. Between 1962 and 1977 in this country our nuclear launch codes were less secure than a Hotmail account. These days the secret code would need to be at least 13 characters long, contain an uppercase letter, at least one number and a special character.
What if other countries had similar secret codes. I wonder what the password was in Russia. Password? What about ABCDEFGH? Wait, wait, I bet it was 12345678.
The next time you’re in front of a computer punch the zero button eight times. That’s how easy it would have been.
Think Iran or North Korea is causing too much trouble? A few keystrokes on a social networking website will let everyone in the world know about it. Or, you could just punch the zero key a few times and make either country (along with the entire hemisphere) a non-issue.
A missile silo would be no place for me. I am the last guy civilization would want because I have a button addiction. I am not sure I could resist the temptation. To me, seeing a button is synonymous with pushing a button. This is why I strongly advise you to never ride an elevator with me in public.
How would you like to be the dimwit who accidentally launched a nuke? I mean those military members that man those silos live in underground bunkers. The mind naturally tends to wander. After awhile the fatal combination of boredom and cabin fever would persevere. Before you know it it’s snowing in July, your flesh is falling off of your body and the sun is blotted out. Suddenly the paranoid morons on the show “Doomsday Preppers” don’t look so foolish anymore.
Who knew that causing W00000000rld War III was just that simple?
Talk about dropping a bombshell!
To contact Will E Sanders email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Will E Sanders, to read past columns or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.