Sunday, 19 March 2017

Star Wars


Such determination as displayed by the Anarcho Punk bands was going to be much needed in the face of what one of the world's most powerful Christians was about to announce. Since his entry into the White House, President Ronald Reagan had been successfully proving himself a good friend to all his loyal supporters who had aided him in his election victory. For the rich he was pro-tax cuts, for the conservatives he was pro-family, for the Jewish lobby he was pro-Israel, for the Christian Right he was pro-life, and for all of them he was pro-national defense. In the eyes of all these people, the enemy of freedom and of all that was good was Russia and after 40 years of Cold War, Reagan was determined that it would be his Administration that would finally see the end of it with western democracy emerging triumphant.

Having already escalated the arms race to an unprecedented level, without any prior warning given to his allies Reagan suddenly announced the spear-heading of a programme of research into a new defense against ballistic nuclear missile attack - the Strategic Defence Initiative.
The basic idea was to develop satellites with the capability of firing deadly laser beams at nuclear missiles, either at their point of launch or before point of impact. Controlled by a sophisticated computer system on earth, the satellites would provide an ultimate shield against nuclear attack from Russia. In all but name, Reagan was advocating the future militarisation of space where science fiction would become science fact and where science fact would become science dystopia. Critics immediately dubbed the whole idea 'Star Wars'.

Whilst obviously escalating the arms race further, Reagan tempered this fact by suggesting the Strategic Defence Initiative would actually supersede nuclear weapons as a deterrent and ultimately make all nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete. As a firm believer in the 'mutually assured destruction' doctrine, Thatcher was appalled at the talk of a nuclear weapon-free world. According to her, it was absolutely due to nuclear weapons that there had not already been a third world war and the idea of a world totally free of nuclear bombs was neither attainable nor even desirable.
For their own (unspoken) economic reasons, Russia too was dead set against the initiative and for them the whole issue would soon come to dominate all talks on arms control. Due to the ultimate impact it would have on the nuclear arms race and Russian/American relationships, Thatcher would years later say that Reagan's original 'Star Wars' decision would be "the single most important of his presidency". At the time, however, it was yet another mad leap down the rapidly spiralling path to Armageddon.

Clearly, something was going very wrong with the world. The nuclear nightmare was growing ever more real, propelled by the Right-wing political agendas of both the Reagan Administration in America and the Thatcher government in Britain. In the name of peace - on land, at sea, in air, at home, abroad and now potentially in space - a war was being waged against all things politically left-of-centre. The forces of conservative power and control were on the march and no longer was there the option of ignorant bliss or of splendid isolation. The only question now being 'What to do?'.

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