Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Size & Influence of the Military-Industrial Complex 2

Second of our series on the Military-Industrial Complex in America.
We continue with quotes from Eisenhower's speech.

"Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite."
Vannevar Bush
Have a scientific elite been created in the United States?  Probably the first Scientific Elite was Vannevar Bush (not a know relation to the Bush political family).  He was first named to the National Defense Research Committee formed in 1940.  The idea for this committee was formed in the mind of Bush and he managed to get a personal meeting with President Roosevelt.  Bush at the time was president of the Carnegie Institution.  Within 10 minutes Roosevelt approved the plan.  The statement Bush made in a 1970 interview is very interesting.  He stated:
There were those who protested that the action of setting up NDRC was an end run, a grab by which a small company of scientists and engineers, acting outside established channels, got hold of the authority and money for the program of developing new weapons. That, in fact, is exactly what it was.
Frederick Terman
If this is not a textbook definition of a scientific elite then we do not understand the term.  From there, Bush established himself as an even more powerful man in the Roosevelt administration.  He formed with Roosevelt the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) in June 1941, through executive order 8807.  This organization superseded the previous one and Bush had top clearance needing only to report directly to the President.  This clearance led him to supervise the most secretive project in United States history - the Manhattan Project.  Here are SOME of the projects Bush headed while managing 30,000 personnel being responsible for the development of over 200 weapons:
1.  High-frequency narrow-beam, high resolution radar
2.  SCR-584 radar
3.  M-9 director
4.  Proximity fuze
5.  the Weasel amphibious tracked vehicle
6.  2-1/2 ton amphibious truck
7.  Mine detector
8.  Flame thrower
9.  Bazooka
10. All sorts of rockets including a tv-guided bomb named Felix
11.  Torpedos explosive 50% more powerful and TNT
12.  smoke screens for land use
13. transfusions (plasma kit)
14. Insecticides
15. atabrine for malaria
16. Norden bomb sight
17. Atomic bomb

Over two thirds of all the physicists in the United States were working for him.  In some cases Roosevelt trusted him with sensitive materials rather than keep it himself saying,
I have read your extremely interesting report and I agree that the the time has come for a a review of the work of the Office on New Weapons...I am retuning the report for you to lock up, as I think it is probably better that I should not have it in your own files. **
Frederick Terman
Frederick Terman, who had been a former Ph.D. student under Vannevar Bush at MIT and future founder of Silicon Valley, would be another one who was instrumental in the formation of the military-industrial complex.  Terman represented a new generation of university administrators that after World War II began to see the importance of creating a working triangle of private industry, government and universities in scientific research.  Bush had begun the intimate relationship between universities and government during World War II, but Terman perfected it and included private industry.  Rebecca S. Lowen in her book entitled, Creating the Cold War University: the transformation of Stanford, states:
The forging of ties to patrons-industrial and governmental-required a reorientation of the university's role in society and an explicit commitment of "service" to specific patrons.  This redefinition of the university and its relation to the political economy, in turn, necessitated changes within the university, in the role of faculty members, and in the academic disciplines themselves.  Of these changes, the most recognized and commented upon has been the predominance in the multi-university of academic entrepreneurs-faculty members evincing little interest in, or ability to, teach, who devote their energies to attracting patronage and building research empires, who demonstrate little sense of purpose larger than obtaining the next research grant.
Thus, under Terman's leadership, Stanford University became the model of this new kind of complex between the military and the industrial with the universities supplying the brainpower.

Vanner Bush prepared in 1945 at the behest of President Roosevelt a report on the relationship between universities, private industry and government entitled Science The Endless Frontier.  This document was the foundation of the relationships that were forged during the years after World War II to form the Military-Industrial Complex of today.  Although this plan was finished by Bush after Roosevelt died, and, although it was not well received by President Truman, it did eventually gain acceptance.

For a more humorous view of the relationship between science and government we include a short youtube video.  If you cannot see this video that is embedded here is the link:

Terrence Kealey gives a fascinating talk based on his book, Science Sex and Profits, which we include here, where he develops his thesis, that the only connection between economic growth and funding of science exists when private industry funds it, and not when government does. If you cannot see this video that is embedded here is the link:

In the next installment of this series we will continue with an explanation of further quotes from Eisenhower's famous speech.

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