SANE/Freeze, Issue Status, and Rhetorical Diversification
Michael F Smith
When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, it meant the beginning of the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union and the need for massive military arsenals. Pundits wondered how the United States would spend the "peace dividend" that was expected from reduced military expenditures. Most agreed, however, that there would be significant changes in the environment in which the military-industrial complex would operate.
While the Pentagon and weapons producers adjusted to this new set of national priorities, there was another group that also had to adjust to the "new world order." SANE/Freeze, an activist organization that focused on nuclear weapons and disarmament issues, found that its primary issue had dropped from the national agenda. With the specter of nuclear war gone and arms control agreements signed, the media and most Americans turned their attention to other issues. This left SANE/Freeze to ponder the question: If you are a nuclear weapons activist group and nuclear weapons is not an issue, what do you do?
This was not merely an academic inquiry for SANE/Freeze, because the organization had lived through drops like this before. Founded in 1957 as the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, SANE/Freeze had enjoyed both great success and great strife as an activist organization. After successfully pushing the United States and the Soviet Union to sign the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963, SANE watched as the nuclear weapons issue all but dropped from the American agenda