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Did You Know That Richard Nixon Once Got Drunk And Ordered A Nuclear Strike?

Many people have wild stories to tell when it comes to an evening spent enjoying fine spirits. However, few can reach the global magnitude that President Richard Nixon managed in 1969. No, it wasn’t a routine night out at the bar for Nixon – rather, he ordered a nuclear airstrike on a country that he didn’t like…

Photo: Press Photo

Rising Tensions Between The U.S. And North Korea

Tensions between the United States and North Korea were building throughout the 1960s. At the time, North Korea was led by Kim II Sung – the same man who founded the country. Ultimately, this was the man that would force the first foreign crisis of President Nixon’s presidency.

Photo: Editors

Kim II Sung Forgets Who He Is Dealing With

Many historians believe that North Korea’s founder, Kim II Sung, had a knack for provoking the United States. This may be what encouraged Nixon down such a dangerous path.

Kim II Sung failed to realize a few things that eventually proved to be a dicey combination for the well-being of his country. The first oversight was that Nixon was known for indulging in a few cocktails in times of stress and anxiety. The second miss was that the President of the United States wields the power to start a nuclear war on any country – all at the push of a button.

Photo: Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Site Office

Kim II Sung Chose The Wrong Time To Be Aggressive

In the early months of 1969, North Korea was deemed responsible for shooting down a United States spy plane over the Sea of Japan. Another aircraft, carrying 31 Americans, was attacked and destroyed by North Korean fighter jets on April 15, 1969. North Korea claimed that the downed plane had entered prohibited North Korean airspace.

The news of these devastating attacks, in combination with a few poorly timed alcoholic beverages, was precisely what President Nixon needed in order to push him to take drastic measures. Nixon demanded that his staff prepare for an immediate nuclear strike against North Korea. Eventually, this would become a drunken decision he’d be forced to recall.

Photo: Editors

Staff Scrambles And Manages To “Cool” The President

Immediately, the staff recognized that these plans of retaliation on North Korea were harsh relative to the committed wrongdoings, not to mention dangerous to the entire world. While still following Nixon’s commands in order to appease the angered president, the staff carefully planned their next steps in a way that allowed time for the President to sober up and rethink his course of action. Henry Kissinger, a man that had significant influence on Nixon, is credited with making it clear to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that everyone was to stand down until Nixon was clearheaded again. Fortunately, by the next morning, Nixon had returned to his right mind, and everyone stayed safe.