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What is SDI?

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SDI stands for the United States' Strategic Defense Initiative, the program proposed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 to the nation as a response to the Soviet Union's actions of aggression during his terms of office around the globe. SDI is based on space-based ICBM interception capability - it was quickly nicknamed "Star Wars" by the popular media. It signaled a fundamental shift in U.S. Foreign Policy concerning Nuclear Weapons and the START negotiations as a whole. While previous years had been based on the MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) principle, SDI was meant to be a pro-active "shoot-em while they're in the air" doctrine based on surviving a Nuclear Attack by the USSR.
Although there were many Soviet actions of aggression in Reagan's time, the one act that really brought things to a head was the Soviet downing of Korean Air Lines (KAL) flight 007. The deliberate destruction by a Soviet fighter jet of a civilian airliner with both South Koreans and Americans on board, including Congressman Lawrence McDonald (Georgia) prompted Reagan's "Evil Empire" speech directed at the Soviet Union not long afterward. SDI was announced at another speech to the nation 5 months later. Tensions during that period were the highest they'd been since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

By pursuing SDI, Reagan angered the Soviets by abandoning the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, in which the U.S. agreed not to pursue any Ballistic Missile Interception system capability. That treaty was seen and regarded by many to be a major hindrance to real peace in the age of Nuclear Missiles. However, in the end, it proved to be the final straw that broke the Soviet Bear's back and forced then Soviet President Gorbachev to make major concessions with Reagan at a summit in Iceland. Financially incapable of competing with the development of such a large scale techonological project, the Soviet military all but became bankrupt several years later, leading to withdrawals in countries they had occupied for years, and the eventual fall of Communism in Russia altogether.

The downside - by forcing the Soviet hand, their withdrawal from east-bloc countries uncorked the lid on centuries old ethnic tensions that had been put aside because of WWII and Soviet occupation afterward. It's always much easier to plan to defend against an enemy you know well, but not so for many enemies you hardly know, which is the state of the world today. While the first answer "State Disability Insurance" might be correct for the State of California, it does not fall into the Technology category.
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