Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

“Beam the Bomb”

November 11th, 2009 · 3 Comments

After posting a vintage pro-SDI ad on Monday, we got to wondering about this “Coalition for SDI” that sponsored the spot. Who could be so bold as to create the risible “Peace Shield” euphemism?

We connected the dots back to Daniel O. Graham, who claimed to be the coiner of the term “Strategic Defense Initiative.” The Coalition for SDI was just one of the Astroturf groups he organized with the assistance of the American Security Council. The whole tale of Beltway intrigue is spun splendidly in the eleventh chapter of Reaching for the High Frontier, a history of America’s pro-space lobby from the Nixon to Reagan administrations. Our favorite snippet regards some of the unintended allies that Graham picked up along the way:

In May 1983, Congressman Ken Kramer of Colorado introduced a “People Protection Act,” which called for the creation of a directed energy systems agency, a military Space Shuttle fleet, a unified Space Command, a manned space station program, and consideration of new arms control regimes using strategic defenses. Armstrong introduced a parallel measure in the Senate. Newt Gingrich also was supportive, including the idea of space-based ABM in his 1984 book Window of Opportunity.

The Strategic Defense Initiative also drew strong support from the Fusion Energy Foundation and from the publication Executive Intelligence Review, both of which are associated with the Presidential candidacy of Lyndon LaRouche. These organizations, which had begun campaigning for a space-based missile defense system in May 1982 (possibly in response to the High Frontier report), emphasized the economic as well as the military benefits of the beamed-energy research that would be conducted. One of their slogans was “Beam the Bomb.”

Oddly, the lobbyist who fronted the Coalition for SDI on Graham’s behalf, an Alabaman named Rick Sellers, has since moved on to very different right-wing terrain.


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3 Comments so far ↓

  • scottstev

    If you have a chance, read Rick Perlstein’s works on Reagan and Goldwater. It’s a fascinating nuts and bolts description of how to build a political movement. It’s a delicate balance between excluding the true paranoids (John Birch Society) while keeping as big a tent as possible.

    Ron Paul is the best current politician embodying the many threads of the Goldwater era. That’s how Steve Sailer ends up on the staff of the most libertarian member of congress.

  • Gramsci

    I guess Beam the Bomb was better than their first attempt, “Make Lasers Not Love.”

    OT, the MK topic of suicide raised today by the heartbreaking death of Robert Enke in Germany. You have to feel terrible for his family and the doctors who thought he was beating depression.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @scottstev: Thanks for the Pearlstein rec. I know far too little about Goldwater.

    @Gramsci: I had dinner with a friend last night, a major soccer fan, and he talked about this a lot. What’s amazing is that Enke pretended that the treatments were working, solely so he could buy time to plot his suicide. Extremely sad, and further proof that our heroes are all-too-human.