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.”