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Volume 10, Issue 1.
President Reagan's announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in March 1983 took everyone but his closest advisors by surprise. In response, critics have declared the program to be a radical break from American attitudes toward nuclear weapons _ partly because of the suddenness of the President's announcement, and partly because it ... read moreappears very different from the more traditional U.S. strategy based upon retaliatory deterrence. In this article John C. Springer argues that SDI is in fact part of a logical progression in American strategic thinking. After a short history of American attitudes toward war and the role of force in international relations, Mr. Springer takes a closer look at the evolution of nuclear strategy from this historical perspective. He concludes that no matter how much SDI may deviate from the strategy of deterrence, the idea of creating a defense against nuclear weapons is deeply rooted in American culture and history.