A little over 20 years ago, President Ronald Reagan managed to bluff the Soviet Union into abandoning the Cold War and snapping the lights off on the Evil Empire. This remarkable turn of events came thanks, in no small part, to an elaborate fiction--the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

Based on the appearance of science, a general gullibility, and convoys of cash, Star Wars--the Hollywood-inspired moniker for SDI and its plan to mount an impenetrable missile defense in space--ultimately led the old guard in the Kremlin to give up the ghost.

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