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  Randall Forsberg, 64; founder of nuclear freeze movement in '80s
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CategoryObituary
News DateFriday, November 2, 2007 03:45:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionRandall Forsberg, 64; founder of nuclear freeze movement in '80s

By Elaine Woo
November 01, 2007 in print edition B-10

Randall Forsberg, who founded the nuclear freeze movement of the early 1980s and wrote its manifesto, died Oct. 19 of endometrial cancer at a New York City hospital. She was 64.

An arms control expert and political science professor at City College of New York, Forsberg launched the movement in 1980 when she wrote the "Call to Halt the Nuclear Arms Race," a position paper that outlined the devastating potential of the arsenals possessed by the United States and the Soviet Union.

Its simple message -- to improve national and international security by stopping the superpowers' buildup of nuclear weapons -- unified disparate peace groups and sparked a nationwide grass-roots campaign that resonated with middle-class Americans as well as with policymakers in Washington.

"She was a generating, originating and inspiring force" whose ultimate aim was "to roll back war itself," Jonathan Schell, author of the 1982 bestseller about the nuclear dilemma "The Fate of the Earth," said in an interview this week.

After the Reagan administration reopened arms control talks with the Soviets in the mid-1980s -- a change of course that Schell and other historians attribute to the nuclear freeze project -- the movement waned, but Forsberg remained devoted to the cause. For 27 years, she headed the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies, a think tank she founded in Brookline, Mass. She advised two presidents on arms control issues and discussed disarmament with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988.

Her work was recognized in 1983 with a $204,000 MacArthur Foundation "genius award," given annually to individuals who have demonstrated unusual artistic, intellectual or social creativity.

Forsberg was born in 1943 in Huntsville, Ala., and grew up on Long Island in New York. She was the daughter of Larkin Douglass Watson, an actor who appear
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