Sunday, May 22

How Star Wars contributed to the end of the Cold War | Digital Trends Spanish

Can cinema influence reality in a decisive way? Can a movie change the rules of the game off screen, in the so-called “real world”? In 1971, a young director named George Lucas released THX 1138a dystopia science fiction that describes a society in a police state. The film was something like the original model of starwarswhich would not be released until 1977.

Six years after the arrival of this filmPresident Ronald Reagan, a conservative Republican who might well find similarities to the various politicians of the Galactic Empire, alluded to starwars to promote a missile defense system in the aftermath of the political confrontation with the Soviet Union known as the Cold War.

The Force is with the United States

Ronald Reagan was president of the United States between 1981 and 1989. Before that, he was governor of the cradle of entertainment in the world, California. Precisely, his stay in that state, where he moved in 1937 (he was a native of Illinois), earned him work as an actor in various film and television productions.

With that charisma and character of insider of the cinema, Reagan invoked on March 23, 1983 to the famous saga created by George Lucas to promote the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a fleet of satellites designed to intercept with laser beams the launch of Soviet nuclear missiles that I call Star Wars.

“If I may steal a phrase from the movie…the Force is with us,” Ronald Reagan said in introducing SDI.

The truth is that as in starwars, where the construction of the Death Star and its laser superweapon destroys planets, the development of the SDI was also handled in secrecy. Its leader was the theoretical physicist Edward Teller, a scientist with unconventional ideas, to put it mildly, who had proposed reducing political dependence on the Panama Canal by building another in South America with the detonation of a hydrogen bomb.

Reagan, whose popularity was declining in 1983, saw in Teller’s project the salvation of his administration and also the way to balance the delicate balance of military power between the United States and the Soviet Union, recorded in the chronicles of the time like having two bullies point their guns at each other’s heads and perpetually threaten to pull the trigger.

Reagan presented the project not to the Pentagon or NATO, but to those who really mattered for an announcement more fantasy than reality: the voters. In his television message of March 23, 1983, Reagan alluded to the future of humanity and assured that futuristic weapons would make nuclear weapons obsolete.

The SDI system was never built.

Science fiction at the service of the United States

The speech given by Ronald Reagan to announce his anti-missile satellite system was rich in references to starwarswho was months away from seeing the premiere of The Return of the Jedi. Initially, the report opened with the phrase “a new hope” in clear allusion to the title of the first film released by Lucas.

An image of the SDI defense system that former President Reagan alluded to as Star Wars

Satellites were also called battle stations, plus Reagan called the USSR an “evil empire.” Those far from cryptic allusions earned the Republican president criticism from Democratic lawmakers, such as Senator Paul Tsongas, who flatly said that the United States would possibly end up being governed by R2-D2.

In the end, Reagan’s speech served a political end. The message was clear, it resonated with the masses, it earned him a cover in the magazine TIME and, although more due to external factors than to Reagan’s own policy, the Cold War ended without a nuclear holocaust.

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