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December 3: Cold War Ends

On this day in 1989, the Cold War officially ended. Man, that was a long one. It wasn’t as hot, as it were, as the other big wars, but the non-stop brooding threat of full-scale  nuclear destruction was exhausting. And you might not know this, but we came very close to nuclear war six years after the Cold War was over, and were saved by sweet mother booze. It’s true. In 1995, Norway launched a research rocket that came close enough to Russian territory to cause Russia’s nuclear missile forces to jolt into their version of DEFCON 1. They assumed it was the beginning of a preemptive strike by US missile subs and were two meager minutes away from retaliating with a nuclear strike against the U.S. and NATO, but, according to Kremlin rumors, Russian President Boris Yelstin was too drunk to effectively access the launch codes. The delay was sufficient for the Russians to identify the threat as a false alarm and call off the attack. Whew.


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