“Reagan complicated matters still further with a bombshell speech in March 1983 proposing a Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a missile defense system employing lasers from space-based platforms that could intercept and destroy enemy missiles before they struck U.S. or allied soil…. SDI proved a typically Reaganesque stroke of political genius.  Scientists and many national security experts promptly dismissed it as outrageously costly and wildly impractical and dubbed it ‘Star Wars’ to highlight its chimerical nature.  But it also touched a responsive chord with the public.  Reagan shrewdly couched his appeal for SDI as a way to restore the sense of security Americans had enjoyed before World War II.” –George Herring, From Colony to Superpower, p. 869-70

Discussion Questions

  • How was SDI or Star Wars characteristic of what Herring calls President Reagan’s “political genius”?
  • Over the course of his two terms, how did Reagan’s approach to the Soviet threat evolve? What were the key turning points?