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Reagan And The Star Wars Essay

1563 words - 6 pages

The collapse of Soviet Russia (USSR) and the overall end to the Cold War can be greatly accredited to a program conceived during the Reagan administration known as Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Proposed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983 the program was eventually nicknamed "Star Wars" by many in the media after the popular 1977 film by George Lucas. The idea was, simply put, a defensive shield surrounding America that would use ground and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. Soon after its debut many declared that it would accomplish nothing more then increase military spending and create friction among the world's “super powers”. Although the program was very expensive it did help, if not result in America's success in the the permanent end to the USSR already ailed by wars in the middle east and nuclear disasters on Soviet soil.
The idea for the Strategic Defense Initiative program spawned from a casual conversation between Dr. Edward Teller (the widely recognized scientist known as the "father of the hydrogen bomb") and President Reagan. Dr. Teller told Reagan of an idea he had about using a system composed of x-ray and chemical lasers as well as ray guns in space to shoot down enemy missiles. Reagan became interested because the program could potentially created a impenetrable defense system, giving America a permanent upper hand in future wars and ensuring our position as the top “super power”.
Regan unfortunately was not aware that the technology required to make SDI a functioning program did not even exist in the laboratories and almost 10 years of dedicated research would be needed to determine if the laser and ray gun were even possible. Furthermore it was required to explode “an atomic bomb simply to provide the energy for the laser. (School of Champions)” Regardless of the technological inability of the program, President Reagan began to scheme.
President Reagan's idea was to launch a large number of space satellites that would target and destroy ballistic missiles and other projectiles. The satellites would detect the launch of an enemy missile and then shoot down that missile during all stages of flight. Essentially, he wanted to form a protective shield against possible missile attacks from the Russians. SDI was "widely criticized as being unrealistic, even unscientific" as well as for threatening to destabilize the program Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) and re-ignite "an offensive arms race" between the US and USSR.
Before the launch of SDI, both the US and Soviet Russia followed a policy dubbed MAD. MAD is when two or more “forces achieved nuclear equality” and “each side could destroy the other many times.” The most significant problem with following through and further developing SDI was that it was against existing treaties (Like MAD) we had signed with countries like Russia. The treaties allowed us to do research, but we...

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