Why Reagan's 'Star Wars' Defense Plan Remained Science FictionBreaking News
tags: nuclear weapons, Ronald Reagan, Star Wars, nuclear history
It was a plan that read like science fiction: A system armed with an array of space-based X-ray lasers would detect and deflect any nukes headed toward the United States.
President Ronald Reagan saw the proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) as a safeguard against the most terrifying Cold Waroutcome—nuclear annihilation. When Reagan first announced SDI on March 23, 1983, he called upon the U.S. scientists who “gave us nuclear weapons to turn their great talents to the cause of mankind and world peace: to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.”
From the start, politicians and scientists argued that SDI was overambitious. The technical hurdles required to achieve SDI (which included a number of proposed designs and weapons—not just space-based lasers) seemed so incredible at the time that Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy referred to it as ''reckless 'Star Wars' schemes.'' The ‘Star Wars’ moniker stuck. Over the course of 10 years, the government spent up to $30 billion on developing the concept, but the futuristic program remained just that—futuristic. It was formally scrapped by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Despite criticisms from politicians, many scientists and others that the SDI was impractical, expensive and dangerous, the concept was developed during a frightening era.
comments powered by Disqus
- New Evidence on the US Response to Decolonization in Indonesia, Southeast Asia
- The Transcontinental Railroad, African Americans and the California Dream
- The 50th Anniversary of Warren Burger's Appointment as Chief Supreme Court Justice
- House Democrats, With Pelosi’s Support, Will Consider a Commission on Reparations
- The House Hearing on Slavery Reparations Is Part of a Long History. Here's What to Know on the Idea's Tireless Early Advocates
- Mary Fulbrook Wins Wolfson History Prize 2019 for Revelatory Holocaust Study Reckonings
- Trump and the Changing Power of the Presidency with William Howell
- Historian and Civil Rights Activist Paul Gaston Dies at 91
- How Accurate is HBO's Chernobyl? Experts Weigh In
- Anthony Price, British author of thrillers with deep links to history, dies at 90