The Battle to Save SEI

“And so as this century closes, it is in America’s hands
to determine the kind of people, the kind of planet, we will become
in the next. We will leave the Solar System and travel to the stars.
Not only because it is democracy’s dream, but because it is
democracy’s destiny. ”

President George Bush, 11 May 1990

Throughout the fall of 1989, President Bush had not been heavily engaged in the evolution of SEI within his administration. He had largely delegated responsibility for the initiative to Vice President Quayle, while he addressed more pressing events on the international stage—most importantly, the virtual implosion of communism in Eastern Europe. International tensions remained a fact of life during the coming months as reunification efforts began in East and West Germany; independence movements gained momentum in several Soviet republics; President Gorbachev proposed that the Communist Party give up its monopoly on power in the U. S.S. R.; and Panamanian dictator General Manuel Noriega overturned democratic elections that had effectively ousted him from power. Regardless, during the early part of the new year, President Bush was able to return his attention to domestic mat­ters—including the fate of the American space program.1 [263]