1st Edition

NATO and the Strategic Defence Initiative A Transatlantic History of the Star Wars Programme

Edited By Luc-André Brunet Copyright 2023
    260 Pages
    by Routledge

    260 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the largely neglected issue of responses to the US Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI, or the 'Star Wars' missile defence programme) across NATO.

    The chapters here explore the reactions of different Western allies to the announcement of the SDI in 1983 and especially the 1985 invitation to participate. While existing studies have explored the origins of the American programme and the role it may have played in ending the Cold War, this volume breaks new ground by considering the impact of the SDI on transatlantic relations in the 1980s. Based on newly available archival sources, this volume re-evaluates the responses of eight NATO member-state governments, as well as the Soviet leadership, to the SDI. In addition to looking at ‘top-down’ governmental reactions, the volume also explores the ‘bottom-up’ response to the SDI of civil society and peace activists on both sides of the Atlantic. The volume examines how the American initiative – derisively named ‘Star Wars’ by its detractors – provoked a crisis in relations with its allies during the final decade of the Cold War and how those tensions within NATO were ultimately resolved.

    This book will be of much interest to students of Cold War history, strategic studies, foreign policy and international history.

    1. Introduction: The Strategic Defence Initiative and the Atlantic Alliance in the 1980s

    Luc-André Brunet 

    Part 1: SDI and the Superpowers

    2. Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative

    James Graham Wilson

    3. The Soviet Response to the Strategic Defense Initiative

    Svetlana Savranskaya 

    Part 2: Government Decision-making behind SDI Participation

    4. Britain, SDI and the United States, 1983-6: A Guarded Relationship

    Edoardo Andreoni

    5. Germany and SDI, 1983-86: Anchoring US Extended Nuclear Deterrence and Westbindung for an Offence-Defence Future

    Andreas Lutsch 

    6. Italy and the SDI Project: Envisioning a Technological Breakthrough for the Whole Alliance?

    Marilena Gala 

    Part 3: NATO Governments' Rejection of SDI

    7. France’s Reaction Towards the Strategic Defense Initiative (1983-1986): Transforming a Strategic Threat into a Technological Opportunity

    Ilaria Parisi 

    8. Canada’s "Polite No" to the SDI: A Question of Sovereignty?

    Luc-André Brunet 

    9. The Netherlands and SDI, 1983-87: We Have to Do the Research

    Ruud van Dijk 

    10. Danish and Norwegian Responses to the SDI: Between Low-Voiced Scepticism and Outspoken Opposition

    Jakob Linnet Schmidt 

    Part 4: Civil Society and the Peace Movement

    11. The SDI: A Further Challenge for the US Anti-Nuclear Movement?

    Angela Santese 

    12. SDI as a Contested Imaginary in British Culture and Society: ‘Winning in Space’

    Jonathan Hogg 

    13. British and International Peace Campaigning against the Strategic Defence Initiative: Folly’s Comet

    Patrick Burke

    14. Star Wars: Views from the Commentariat

    Sir Lawrence Freedman


    Luc-André Brunet is a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary International History, The Open University, and Co-Director of the Peace and Security Project at LSE IDEAS, UK.