War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Fred Wertheimer, 1987
Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.
Fred Wertheimer was President of Common Cause from 1981-1995. In the interview he discusses the political battle over the MX missile system. He explains his opposition to the MX missile, which he saw as a means both to fight an ineffective weapons system and to change the way weapons systems are chosen. Bringing citizen groups and Congress into the debate, he asserts, moved the country towards a more pro-arms control stance. He describes the Reagan administrations original nuclear strategy as building as many weapons as possible, but notes that this approach changed in response to the new civil awareness of nuclear issues. He recalls the fight against the Scowcroft Commissions recommendation of 100 MX missiles, and comments on the roles of key players on both sides of the debate, specifically Les Aspin, Norm Dicks, Les AuCoin, Nick Mavroules, and Barney Frank. He closes with his views on additional topics, including dense pack and the freeze movement.
- War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
- Reagan's Shield
- Program Number
Interview with Fred Wertheimer, 1987
- Series Description
The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.
In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989
- Program Description
President Reagan introduces the controversial Strategic Defense Initiative, an idea he believes will make nuclear weapons”Impotent and Obsolete.”
In 1983 President Reagan envisioned a Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) that could intercept and destroy Soviet strategic ballistic missiles before they reached the United States. Skeptics dubbed the idea “Star Wars.” It was hard for Reagan to accept the idea of deterrence based on mutual destruction. He believed SDI offered a solution. His science advisor George Keyworth says SDI was “thoroughly created and invented in Ronald Reagan’s own mind and experience.” According to defense scientist Ashton Carter, “The concept is fine. What is not fine is implying to the public that the solution to the nuclear puzzle is at hand.” SDI became the focus of a national debate about nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy, and a stumbling block in strategic arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union. The final months of the Reagan Administration brought a drastic reduction in the scope and size of SDI efforts.
- Asset Type
- Media Type
- Antinuclear movement
- Democratic Party (U.S.)
- Reagan, Ronald
- Weinberger, Caspar W.
- Midgetman Missile
- AuCoin, Les
- Mavroules, Nicholas
- United States. Presidents Commission on Strategic Forces
- Frank, Barney, 1940-
- United States. Air Force
- Dicks, Norman D.
- Strategic Defense Initiative
- Nuclear weapons
- United States
- MX (Weapons system)
- Aspin, Les
- United States. Congress. House
- United States. Congress
- Nuclear arms control
- Global Affairs
- War and Conflict
- Wertheimer, Fred (Interviewee)
- Publication Information
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Fred Wertheimer, 1987,” 12/04/1987, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed June 25, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_92B1730AC6D24C4F87E3973BE5CACC53.
- MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Fred Wertheimer, 1987.” 12/04/1987. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. June 25, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_92B1730AC6D24C4F87E3973BE5CACC53>.
- APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Fred Wertheimer, 1987. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_92B1730AC6D24C4F87E3973BE5CACC53