Ad Campaign Launched by Advocates of Star Wars
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Advocates of the Pentagon’s hotly debated missile defense program on Monday launched a $1.7 million television ad campaign that employs a time-tested cold war media theme: childrens’ fear of nuclear war.
The Coalition for the Strategic Defense Initiative announced the purchase of a dozen 30-second slots on two Washington television stations and plans to buy even more time for a commercial countering anti-SDI spots put on the air several months ago.
In commercials prepared for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a child gazing from his bedroom window sees a burst of light in the night sky - implying that the strategic defense program, often called ″Star Wars,″ will increase the possibility of nuclear war.
″In our commercials, the little girl gets saved by SDI,″ said retired Lt. Gen. Daniel O. Graham, chairman of the coalition sponsoring the pro-Pentagon campaign.
The commercials open with a child’s crayon drawing of a house, car, trees and stick figures, over which a dome-like crayon shield is drawn. Suddenly, incoming missiles are destroyed by the shield, which turns into a rainbow. Frowning faces in the picture begin smiling.
Through it all, a child’s voice says, ″I asked my daddy what this ‘Star Wars’ stuff is all about. He said that right now we can’t protect ourselves from nuclear weapons and that’s why the president wants to build a peace shield.
″It would stop missiles in outer space so they couldn’t hit our house. Then nobody could win a war ... and if nobody could win a war, there’s no reason to start one. My daddy’s smart. Support the peace shield.″
Graham said he hopes his commercials will popularize the term ″peace shield″ as a replacement for the phrse ″Star Wars″.
He acknowledged that use of the term ″peace shield″ in the commercials might be attacked as a misleading slogan now that Reagan has dropped the idea of producing an umbrella-like shield over the United States.
″Sure they’re going to jump me,″ Graham said. ″I expect it. But you have to use something people will understand.″
Graham said the campaign opened with a time-buying warchest of $175,000, but he hopes to raise and spend $1.7 million before the effort ends. After the opening in Washington, 20 major media markets nationwide will see the commercials between Oct. 28 and Nov. 19, when President Reagan goes to Geneva for a summit meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Though the campaign is aimed at the American public, it’s also part of a drive by conservatives to keep reminding the Reagan administration of its pledge against renouncing SDI to reach an arms control agreement with the Soviets.
The Soviet Union has said the price of an agreement to reduce the numbers of offensive weapons is a U.S. halt to SDI, a program to harness revolutionary technologies on earth and in space to stop incoming missiles. Critics of SDI say it can’t be done, will cost too much and will increase the danger of war.
Contributions to the coalition are tax-deductible and Graham said he would not rule out donations from companies benefitting from the multi-billion- dollar SDI program.
″I’ll be raising money wherever I can get it,″ he said.
Members of the coalition include 81 members of Congress and dozens of veterans’ groups, fundamentalist Christian organizations and conservative associations.
The Union of Concerned Scientists spent about $100,000 on its anti-Star Wars commercials, which are no longer appearing on television, said Howard Ris, executive director of the group.