I read in the DEluxe rules:
If a card play triggers an opponent’s Event, but the event results
in no effect, the Event is still considered played, and would
still be removed if it has an asterisk.
EXAMPLE 4: The USSR player plays ‘Star Wars’, but the US player is
ahead on the Space Race track. The result is no effect and the ‘Star Wars’ card is returned to the discard pile.
Is there a contradiction?
First, the EXAMPLE 4 in the book should read: "but the US player is behind on the Space Race Track...".
(The 2nd Edition rules read "ahead": http://www.gmtgames.com/living_rules/TSRules2nd.pdf. The Deluxe Edition reads "behind": http://www.gmtgames.com/nnts/TSRules-2009.pdf.)
So, assuming the latter conditions (US is behind):
The Star Wars card reads: If the US is ahead on the Space Race track, play this card to search through the discard pile for a non-scoring card of your choice. Event occurs immediately.
USSR plays the card for Ops. Since the US player is behind on the Space Race Track, the USSR cannot "play this card" as an event. So, as the card is not played for the event, it is discarded.