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Whither freeze?

How should the peace movement respond to Reagan's re-election? Last weekend in St. Louis, more than 750 delegates to the Nuclear Weapons Freeze campaign's fifth annual national conference grappled with that question. According to our reporter Micah Sifry, the results are an important indication of what lies ahead.

Inspired in part by the success of the antiapartheid protests in mobilizing public opinion, the delegates approved the use of select acts of nonviolent civil disobedience in their push for a comprehensive and bilateral ban on testing--a first step in stopping the technological momentum of the arms race. By a wide margin, the conference endorsed a plan put forward by religious groups to block the entrance to the Nevada Test Site, where all American nuclear weapons testing takes place, from August 6 through 9, in commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The conference overwhelmingly endorsed a measure calling on local freeze groups to explore cooperative efforts with labor and the Rainbow Coalition. And the freeze movement took a giant step toward coalition with anti-intervention forces by supporting a Central America Contingency Plan developed by religious organizations and endorsed by dozens of peace, human rights and Central America solidarity groups, unde which national protests would be set in motion in the event of major American military escalation in the region. A significant, and somewhat risky, attempt to broaden the tactics and goals of this solidly mainstream peace group is under way.

The campaign will continue to focus on educating the public and Congress about the need for a freeze--a job made harder by the fact that a sizable number of voters thought Reagan was pro-freeze, or that his Star Wars plan might make nuclear weapons obsolete. When the Reagan peace offensive begins in January with the Shultz-Gromyko talks in Geneva, their task will be even more formidable. But activists correctly sense that the American public's love affair with defense spending is waning and that the mood is for arms control. The question is, On whose terms?

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Title Annotation:how the nuclear freeze movement should respond to Reagan
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:editorial
Date:Dec 22, 1984
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