The Origins Of Sdi, 1944-1983

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Most people think Star Wars was Reagan's idea, but its roots reach decades farther back. Military historian Don Baucom traces them to the dawn of the atomic age in 1944.

In this first scholarly account of the origins of SDI, Baucom brings together the political, technological, and strategic forces that have shaped the history of ballistic missile defenses from World War II to the present day. He chronicles major technological developments and shows how SDI emerged in 1983 from the technological and strategic legacies of the ICBM, ABM, SALT, and SAFEGUARD programs.

Surprisingly, Baucom concludes that arms control was the primary impetus for Star Wars. He argues that the SDI program grew out of Reagan's desire to see the country defended against nuclear attack, his strong faith in technology, his concern about the impact of Soviet SS-18 missiles, and most importantly, his realization that the policy of offensive nuclear deterrence was increasingly unpopular.

The Origins of SDI is not an evaluation of the Star Wars program. Instead, it is both the story of a policy and a case study of presidential decision making. Baucom bases his conclusions on historical research as well as interviews with the participants in the decision making process. As a result, he provides both the broad historical context for the emergence of Star Wars program and an insider's account, unique in its level of detail, of presidential decision making and the search for consensus.

"This work will take its place as a standard and important reference work in the field.—"Stephen J. Cimbala, author of The Technology, Strategy, and Politics of SDI.

"Baucom has done some real spade work and has come up with the most thorough and likely most accurate version of events that I've seen or the closest we are likely to get for some time."—Gregg Herken, author of The Counsels of War and The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700611003
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 12/19/1992
  • Series: Modern War Studies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


List of Abbreviations

Part One: Dawn of the Missile Age

1. The Origins of Missile Defenses: From V-2 to NIKE-X

2. Fielding an ABM System: Decision and Debate

Part Two: The SALT Decade

3. SALT I and the Institutionalization of MAD

4. The End of the SALT Era: Strategic Crisis

Part Three: an American Phoenix

5. The Death of SAFEGUARD and the Reorientation of America's ABM Program

6. The Reemergence of Ballistic Missile Defense as a National Issue: 1977-1981

Part Four: Strategic Crisis, Presidential Response

7. The High Frontier

8. The Presidential Decision

Epilogue: Triumph and Transition


Selected Bibliography


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