Our Only Escape

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the focus of this issue of Sojourners, is the most pervasive historic fact of our time. In the United States, it has served to justify a permanent wartime economy, blacklisting and surveillance of dissenters, and military interventions against smaller and weaker nations from Vietnam to Nicaragua. In the Soviet Union it has been used to excuse a permanent state of economic austerity, the imprisonment and torture of dissenters, and military interventions from Hungary to Afghanistan. And on both sides the Cold War has provided the ideological underpinning and political momentum for a nuclear arms race that threatens the future of the entire human family.

The dramatic failure of the Reykjavik summit brought this reality home once again. The summit presented an opportunity to turn onto the path of political accommodation and coexistence. But the U.S. government rejected that prospect in favor of continuing military competition and hostility.

As the summit made clear, the greatest single obstacle to peace at this time is the Reagan administration's ironclad commitment to the Star Wars program. In the three years since he first announced it, President Reagan has promoted the Star Wars scheme with messianic intensity and clung to its promises with undying faith in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence. And the president's zealous faith is proving itself contagious among the American people.

Ultimately, Star Wars is a religious and theological issue. It holds out the promise of god-like creatures in the heavens to protect us from the consequences of our own sins. In so doing it asks us to put our ultimate faith and trust in the technological products of human minds and hands.

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