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Selling War in a Media AgeThe Presidency and Public Opinion in the American Century$
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Kenneth Osgood

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813034669

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813034669.001.0001

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Selling Star Wars

Selling Star Wars

Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative

Chapter:
(p.196) 8 Selling Star Wars
Source:
Selling War in a Media Age
Author(s):
Andrew L. Johns, Kenneth Osgood
Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813034669.003.0009

Ronald Reagan's proposal, officially called the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), dramatically illustrates the power of a president to shape the public discourse on issues of war and peace. It grabbed the attention of not only the military establishment, arms control advocates, nuclear strategists, and members of Congress but also the media and the general public. In a 1985 opinion poll, 84 percent of Americans said they had heard of Reagan's proposal. Reagan's nuclear abolitionism, while sincere, also involved wishful thinking, reflecting his tendency to blur reality and Hollywood fantasy. By suggesting that nuclear weapons could be rendered powerless through technology, Reagan played on American fears to manipulate public opinion in his favor.

Keywords:   Ronald Reagan, Strategic Defense Initiative, nuclear weapons, U.S. foreign policy, futuristic technology

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