- Nuclear disarmament advocate
- During the Cold War, she launched the nuclear-freeze movement, a Soviet-inspired initiative that would have frozen Soviet nuclear and military superiority in place.
- Opposed U.S. plans to install a national missile-defense system
- Died in 2007
See also: Institute
for Defense and Disarmament Studies
Forsberg (born Randall
Caroline Watson) was born
in July 1943 in Huntsville, Alabama and grew
up in Long Island, New York. After
with an English degree from
Barnard College in 1965, she became an English teacher at a private school in
Pennsylvania. In 1967 she married a Swedish student named Gunnar
Forsberg and moved
with him to Sweden, where she
at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute from
1968 to 1974.
1974 Ms. Forsberg, who by then was divorced, relocated to
Boston, Massachusetts with her five-year-old child and began studying political
science (with a specialty in defense policy and arms control)
at MIT, where she earned a Ph.D. in 1980.
the 1970s Forsberg conceptualized
the idea of a nuclear freeze―a
mutual and verifiable halt by both the United States and the Soviet
Union on the testing, production, and deployment of all nuclear
weapons. The idea gained
increasing public support in the U.S. and Europe during the late Seventies and early Eighties.
1980 Forsberg established the Institute
for Defense and Disarmament Studies
(IDDS) in Brookline, Massachusetts and went on to serve as its executive director for the next 27 years. Also in
to Halt the Nuclear Arms Race," a position paper that
the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. At its root, this campaign was a Soviet-sponsored initiative that would have frozen the USSR's nuclear and
military superiority in place, and would have rendered the new
American President, Ronald Reagan, unable to close the gap which the Soviets had opened in the post-Vietnam era. Representative Patricia Schroeder and Senator Ted
helped to promote
the nuclear freeze movement in Congress.
The movement reached
its apex on June
12, 1982, staging a mass march through Manhattan and then
assembling more than 700,000
people in New York's Central Park, where Forsberg was a
keynote speaker. That same year, however, the movement was dealt a serious blow when a resolution urging President Reagan to negotiate a bilateral freeze with the Soviet Union failed
by two votes in the House of Representatives.
the so-called “genius
award” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
May 24, 1983, Forsberg participated in a "US-USSR
Bilateral Exchange Conference" in
Minneapolis, an event sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies.
At this gathering, Forsberg advised the Soviet delegates to have their
government make, for public-relations purposes, some sort of "meaningless gesture"―such as to destroy
some 250 obsolete missiles―that would not
compromise Soviet military capabilities but would serve as
a useful “bargaining chip” with which to pressure the U.S. “to delay the
deployment of [its own] new missiles ... until
November 1984, when we will elect a new government.”
Reagan's reelection in 1984, which derailed this plan, was described
by Forsberg as a “shock” that left the nuclear-freeze movement “reeling.”
In 1986, Forsberg's Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign merged with the
Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy, which, according to a Senate
Internal Subcommittee, had been infiltrated by Communists.
1988 Forsberg charged that America was “feed[ing]” Soviet “mistrust” by
“deploy[ing] conventional forces” to “occup[y] the whole world
outside of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union,” and by “intervening
in civil wars in Third World countries, to try to make sure the
non-communist side wins.” Depicting as a “great
myth” the notion
that the USSR wished to establish a worldwide empire, Forsberg held that the Soviets merely “want to win friends and
influence people in the Third World”―not
unlike the United States. She chastised American leaders for not recognizing that “since the death of Stalin,” Soviet
foreign policy had grown far “more open, more reasonable … more
willing to make concessions, less reliant on military forces ...” Forsberg further disputed the claim that the Soviets had been engaged in a
massive military buildup; rather, she said, their activities could be characterized as nothing more ominous than “modernization” ― something which America likewise pursued “all the time.”
the fall of 1994, Forsberg was listed in a publication
of the New
(NP)―a socialist political coalition―which named more than
100 activists “who are building the NP.” Other notable
among the list of 100+ were: John
Fox Piven, Zach
Ritchie, Joel Rogers,
1995 President Bill Clinton appointed Forsberg to the Director’s
Advisory Committee of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
From the mid-1990s through the early 2000s,
Forsberg criticized U.S. plans to develop and deploy a National Missile
Defense system. She derided the scheme as both unnecessary (claiming that so-called "rogue states" such as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea posed no
serious nuclear threat to the United States) and counterproductive (warning that Russia and China would perceive the move as an existential threat).
In October 2002 Forsberg denounced
U.S. Senator John
vote to give George W. Bush pre-approved authority to attack Iraq if the President felt that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to American national security. To protest Kerry's vote, Forsberg in 2004 ran unsuccessfully as a write-in candidate for
Kerry's Senate seat in Massachusetts.
Forsberg was appointed
to the Anne and Bernard Spitzer chair in political science at City
College of New York.
addition to her work with IDDS, Forsberg also served as a board
member for the Arms Control Association, the Journal
of Peace Research,
Action for New Directions.
of cancer on October 19, 2007.
For additional information about Randall Forsberg, click here.