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The Nuclear-Freeze Movement of the 1980s

Malaise set in with the assassinations of Dr. King and RFK. American atrocities in Vietnam, such as the My Lai massacre, exploded the myth of US integrity (Meadlo 552-4). At Kent State University in 1970, Ohio National Guard troops fired on antiwar student protestors (McCormick 161), killing four. Then there was the Nixon administration's project of domestic espionage against American dissidents (McCormick 160). These elements combined in various ways to shape popular antiwar opinion.

After Vietnam, there was a "flurry" of peace activism, but activists and peace institutions went their various ways (Waller 26-27). Activism on such issues as dTtente and nuclear arms limitation treaties came from opponents of rapprochement, such as Ronald Reagan. The nuclear-freeze movement as a movement, however, originated as a 1979 think-tank white paper (Waller 21 et passim). The paper's author (Randall Fosberg) systematically lectured on the subject, first to other activist organizations but always with a view toward attracting the middle class--the same big group whose opposition to the war in Vietnam hastened US withdrawal--to the idea that the US and USSR should negotiate mutual and verifiable stoppage of nuclear proliferation, deployment, and production (Waller 33ff). Freeze opponents said that verification was impossible and that the Soviets could not be trusted anyway (Muravchik 204). Meanwhile, some peace activists wanted to radicalize the movement, and others wanted their elite institutional structures to model it. According to Waller's account, the Freeze Campaign, as it came to be called, achieved critical mass because its leadership consistently pursued local organizing efforts and because its narrow issue focus enabled people to adopt the freeze idea without limiting their own peace agendas. That was how congressional interest in the nuclear fr


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The Nuclear-Freeze Movement of the 1980s. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:36, August 19, 2017, from
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