Strategic Defense Initiative:
29 Years Later
On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan changed the world by delivering the following brief message at the close of his nationwide televised address:
"In recent months," the President said, "... my advisors ... have underscored the necessity to break out of a future that relies solely on offensive retaliation for our security. Over the course of these discussions I have become more and more deeply convinced that the human spirit must be capable of rising above dealing with other nations and human beings by threatening their existence.... Wouldn't it be better to save lives than to avenge them? Are we not capable of demonstrating our peaceful intentions by applying all our abilities and our ingenuity to achieving a truly lasting stability? I think we are--indeed we must!
"After careful consultation with my advisors, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I believe there is a way. Let me share with you a vision of the future which offers hope. It is that we embark on a program to counter the awesome Soviet missile threat with measures that are defensive. Let us turn to the very strengths in technology that spawned our great industrial base.... What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack; that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reach our own soil or that of our allies? ... Isn't it worth every investment necessary to free the world from the threat of nuclear war? We know it is!
"... I clearly recognize that defensive systems have limitations and raise certain problems and ambiguities. If paired with offensive systems, they can be viewed as fostering an aggressive policy and no one wants that. But with these considerations firmly in mind, I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace; to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.... We seek neither military superiority nor political advantage. Our only purpose—one all people share—is to search for ways to reduce the danger of nuclear war.
"My fellow Americans, tonight we are launching an effort that holds the promise of changing the course of human history. There will be risks, and results take time, but I believe we can do it. As we cross this threshold, I ask for your prayers and your support."
'At Last, Hope'
The following day, March 24, 1983, in a public statement issued from Wiesbaden, West Germany, Lyndon LaRouche offered his personal congratulations and support to the President with the following words:
"No longer must Democrats go to bed each night fearing that they must live out their lives under the threat of thermonuclear ballistic terror. The coming several years will be probably the most difficult of the entire post-war period; but, for the first time since the end of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, there is, at last, hope that the thermonuclear nightmare will be ended during the remainder of this decade.... Only high-level officials of government, or a private citizen as intimately knowledgeable of details of the international political and strategic situation as I am privileged to be, can even begin to foresee the earth-shaking impact the President's television address last night will have throughout the world.
"No one can foresee what the exact consequences of the President's actions will be; we cannot foresee how ferocious and stubborn resistance to the President's policy will be, both from Moscow and from the nuclear freeze advocates in Europe and the United States itself. Whatever those reactions and their influence, the words the President spoke last night can never be put back into the bottle. Most of the world will soon know, and will never forget that policy announcement. With those words, the President has changed the course of modern history.
"Today I am prouder to be an American than I have been since the first manned landing on the Moon. For the first time in 20 years, a President of the United States has contributed a public action of great leadership, to give a new basis for hope to humanity's future to an agonized and demoralized world. True greatness in an American President touched President Ronald Reagan last night; it is a moment of greatness never to be forgotten."