Waking Up to Star Wars

IF ONE OF THE MOTIVES behind the initiation of the Star Wars weapons program was to divert the thrust of the U.S. peace movement, then the program must be considered at least a partial success.

As indicated by public opinion polls, the significant opposition that was evident shortly after Star Wars was announced has now faded. Recent polls even show the program steadily gaining public support. Ironically, public support began to increase after the aborted disarmament showdown at Reykjavik. With the reality and expense of a new arms race so apparently distant, the U.S. public is, at the moment, choosing to believe the president's dream.

Support for peace movement initiatives such as a nuclear freeze has always been broad but shallow, and that vague anti-nuclear sentiment has yet to translate into an anti-Star Wars constituency. Building that kind of constituency will require the mobilization of a morally rooted and politically determined movement of conscience working on every possible level, including congressional letter-writing, lobbying, and electioneering; boycotts, divestment, and other forms of non-cooperation; and more active forms of nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience.

The first stirrings of such a movement can already be discerned in the highly publicized actions of scientists who are refusing to accept Star Wars research contracts and grants. The scientists' non-cooperation has called into question the feasibility of the president's dream. Their opposition, based on an assessment of the technological possibilities, is stated in the "Anti-SDI Pledge": "The program is a step toward the type of weapons and strategy likely to trigger a nuclear holocaust."

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