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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Susan Dutson, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Susan Dutson was publisher of the Millard County Chronicle Progress in Delta, Utah. In this interview, she describes her involvement in the public controversy over MX missile basing plans for Utah. The biggest problem she recalls about the project was the repeated lies told by the Air Force and others. While Gen. Guy Hecker was personally likeable, she found him to be “quite a salesman.” Among her objections to the plan itself was that it would have closed off large portions of desert to the many local inhabitants who relied on the land and its resources for their living. She describes herself as deeply skeptical about the military’s ability to manage such sophisticated technology, and says she was less frightened at the time over the potential dangers than angry at being considered “so insignificant.” Overall, she found the two-year opposition effort exhausting and “devastating,” but the lesson to be drawn was that “our rights still work.”

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Reagan's Shield
Program Number



Interview with Susan Dutson, 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

Raw video

Media Type


Laxalt, Paul
Chayes, Antonia Handler, 1929-
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Nuclear weapons
Garland, Cecil
Donahue, Phil
United States
Hecker, Guy L.
MX (Weapons system)
Caldicott, Helen
Perry, William James, 1927-
Reagan, Ronald
Zieberg, Seymour
Moyers, Bill D.
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Dutson, Susan (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Susan Dutson, 1987,” 11/14/1987, GBH Archives, accessed June 19, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Susan Dutson, 1987.” 11/14/1987. GBH Archives. Web. June 19, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Reagan's Shield; Interview with Susan Dutson, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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