Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Eisenhower Rolling in His Grave

Submitted by Rick Sterling: from today's 'Daily Californian'


Eisenhower Rolling in His Grave

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

In his farewell address on Jan. 17, 1961 President Dwight D. Eisenhower
warned, "We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence,
whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The
potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will

It is not only persisting; it is prevailing. The world's largest military
contractor appears poised to take over management of the birthplace of the
atomic bomb, Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is a sign of how much things
have changed that there is barely any mention of concern. The corporate
media, which made missing disks at the lab national news, is quiet.
Politicians who created an opportunistic witch-hunt of "Chinese spy" Wen Ho
Lee are silent. And a hand-picked panel goes through the motions of
evaluating whether the UC team or Lockheed Martin team will be the future
manager of the nuclear weapons lab.

UC has managed Los Alamos since its beginning in 1943. Under Robert J.
Oppenheimer, the scientific and technical team performed the remarkable feat
of designing and testing an atomic bomb in 27 months. The project began at
the height of WWII, when Nazi Germany invaded several countries under
"pre-emptive war" in "self-defense." Japan was already on its last military
legs when atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The work of the
nuclear weapons labs has been controversial ever since, especially after the
collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Eisenhower said, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as
one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity." His experience made him wary
of war proponents and profiteers. Lockheed Martin is just such a war
proponent and profiteer. Sometimes called 'the company that runs the
empire,' The company is intertwined with the Bush administration. Company
vice president Bruce Jackson, by his own account, wrote the Republican Party
foreign policy platform. The document "Rebuilding America's Defenses," which
guides U.S. military strategy, was principally written by former
communications director Thomas Donnelly. The current National Security
Advisor Stephen Hadley comes from the law firm representing Lockheed Martin.
Lynn Cheney is a former member of the company's Board of Directors.

The company's influence and its consequences can be seen in the invasion and
occupation of Iraq. As we now know, intelligence was grossly distorted. The
result is the current military-political situation, which even some
conservatives acknowledge is a disaster. Despite its role in promoting the
disaster, Lockheed Martin's business is booming. Prior to the war their
stock was about $40 per share. Now it is over $60-a 50 percent rise in two
years while most stocks fell.

With its great wealth, a corporation like Lockheed Martin undermines the
democratic process. They influence who goes to Congress and how they vote.
For example, Heather Wilson is New Mexico Congressperson on the House Select
Committee on Intelligence. According to www.opensecrets.org, Lockheed Martin
is her largest donor. Is it any surprise that she has pushed resolutions
calling for more nuclear weapons funding?

The National Nuclear Security Administration has been very "LM-Friendly" in
the bidding process. After the management contract was first offered by the
administration, Lockheed Martin announced it would not bid. This sent shock
waves through the administration and the company's friends in Congress. The
administration consulted with Lockheed Martin, then revised the rules and
contract to the company's liking. The cost of managing Los Alamos will go
from about $8 million per year under UC to nearly $80 million in the future,
a truly amazing increase especially since one of the goals is 'efficiency.'

Currently there is a panel called the Source Evaluation Board reviewing the
bids of UC and Lockheed Martin teams. The composition of the board suggests
there will be little independence or debate. Administration director Brooks
appointed administration attorney Charles Przybylek to head the evaluation
board. He in turn appointed the board members. There are no representatives
from Los Alamos staff. There are no independent representatives from the
military, academia or industry. The board is comprised only of
administration staff members, people with ultimately the same boss, working
in an administration known to prize 'loyalty' above all else. Instead of an
objective evaluation, it looks like a charade.

UC has not helped its own case. To retain management of Los Alamos, UC has
allied with Bechtel, a company infamous for its water privatization efforts
in Bolivia and huge no-bid contracts in Iraq. UC has made efforts to 'shape
up' the lab to meet the demands of critics. The appointed management has
been a disaster, compounding problems of image and morale.

Given all that, does it matter who manages Los Alamos? I think so. Whether
or not the daily management of the lab is better under Lockheed Martin,
there are bigger issues at stake. The outcome may influence U.S. foreign
policy and international relations. The company's potential takeover of the
nuclear weapons lab will be a milestone in "the disastrous rise of misplaced
power," where a military contractor steers government policy, conflict is
promoted for profit and nuclear war is more likely.

Richard Sterling is a UC Berkeley engineer. Reply to opinion@dailycal.org.

I don’t expect logic and consistency from the public at large, but I would expect it from people who are supposed to be our nation’s best and brightest.

This repeatedly expressed worry that having Lockheed Martin or Bechtel manage LANL will put it in the hands of the “military-industrial complex” is ludicrous. The weapons labs ARE part of the military-industrial complex and always have been. For over 60 years they have designed and built the world’s most powerful and fearsome military weapons. How much more military-industrial can you get?

The repeatedly expressed worry that having Lockheed Martin or Bechtel manage LANL will subject the labs to special interest groups is ludicrous. The labs already benefit from and are funded and protected by a special interest group so entrenched, powerful, effective and well-funded that it would even make the gas and oil industry jealous.

The repeatedly expressed belief that the whole process of putting the LANL contract up for bids is a Bush administration plot shows a woeful ignorance of how Washington really works. The president has a good deal less power, and Congress and the entrenched bureaucracy a good deal more on issues such as this than such conspiracy buffs believe. If you are really looking for plotters in this matter, look in Congress and the DoE.

There are real and serious issues about the future direction of LANL to be discussed, but serious discussion requires a good deal less undergraduate-level left-wing political cant and more realistic, clear-headed, practical thinking.

All that Cartesian-Baconian thinking just plays into the hands of the Republican Party. We need to get and stay angry at the world for making us unhappy. Remember: Katrina! Iraq! Halliburton! Karl Rove! Grrr!!!
Don't forget the spy in Vice President Cheney's own office. Do you suppose that the Office of the Vice President will be shut down for 7 months, while security practices are reviewed and everyone gets 8 hours a day of training? No? (Is the foregoing an example of a "left-wing" or a "right-wing" rhetorical question?)
Laws only apply to peons. The purpose of the LANL shutdown was to give congresscritters an opportunity to have on-camera alpha-male moments. Enjoy the political theater. We're paying over two trillion for it every year.
I don’t want to seem to be picking on just one side here. The right-wing nuts are just as illogical and inconsistent and off-the-wall as the left-wing nuts. It’s just that academia, and California academia in particular, seems to breed more left-wing nuts than right-wing ones.

It does always amuse and amaze me that people who can be clear thinking, intelligent, even brilliant in their field of specialization can seem to abandon all that logic and brilliance when they discuss other fields. Just demonstrates once again that when push comes to shove the primitive brain structures that mediate emotion are still stronger than the forebrain reasoning functions.
Good point, Bill. I see the lizard eyes of G.P. Nanos and Tom DeLay, and I think, what is it like inside their heads? Best not to go there.

The irrational Left has almost no power over us, so it's hard to pick out a fair-and-balanced example. But the attacks on the Lab in the past from the Far Left--more like annoying gnats--have hurt us far less than those more serious bites from our supposed "friends" in the recent past. I guess we should "just get over it" and move on?
Move on, yes, but I wouldn’t counsel the lab to ”just get over it”. There are lessons to be learned from the recent experiences, and the lab had better learn those lessons because we will always have the nuts (left and right) with us. My impression is that the lab doesn’t know how to market itself very well, and in today’s world marketing and image are critical to surviving the endless political battles and Congressional shifts in the wind.

It would be nice if science at the lab could proceed in a comfortable isolation from the turmoil of the outside world, but realistically that is never going to happen, especially with government-funded science. So the lab had better get a lot more proficient at handling the media and Congress, and in selling the importance of what it does to the nation’s long-term interests. That is (at least one of) the lessons to be learned from recent history.
Cleaning house in the LANL Public Relations office and putting in some
far better marketing staff would be an excellent start for LM to make
once they begin managing this lab. Bill, you are right. LANL needs
much better marketing about what it does for the nation.
Mr. Sterling: i understand your concern. We don't want this country ruled by a military dictatorship. However, you have framed this debate as a UC (scientific inquiry) vs L-M (M-I complex) debate. This is not the case!! A M-I complex player has already won!! (OK, unless CCNS or LASG wins) UT and UC are minor players. Maybe you should move to Canada. (Not a bad suggestion in my book)
In a visit last year to Canada, I found that it is a beautiful country populated by a surprisingly high percentage of rational people. That seems to be true of Norway, too, which I visited earlier this spring. Do you suppose that colder weather naturally selects for rationality?
In a visit to Vancouver a couple years ago, I found the most amazing thing. On the bridge from North Vancouver into the city, people just merged!! Holy crap!!! 5 lanes into 1! No middle fingers! no pushing and shoving. Just people alternating cars. What a concept for someone from NM.
Them later I saw a guy in a BMW stop to let a drunk homeless guy cross the road. WOW!!!!!
I would gladly pay the high taxes to live in an enlightened country
like Norway, where they at least think enough of their citizens to
look after their healthcare and welfare needs. Civility in the US
has declined of late. This may largely be due to the fact that we seem
to have become a country living some type of bizarre Darwinian social
experiment gone horribly wrong. The "I got mine" mentality seems to
have infected most of this country. Perhaps that is why polls now show
that a huge and growing number of citizens (~70 %) now feel this country
is headed in the wrong direction.
I love Canada too but would rather work here for positive change. As I see it LANL was born in a noble struggle against fascism. What is the noble struggle now? I like Cindy Sheehan because I think she shows what is great about America. She is honest and has guts. Rather than taking the easy road of pretending and wanting to believe her son died in a just cause she speaks the truth: her son died for a bad cause. Her honesty embarrasses the Dems. If one looks at the stated goals (new gen of 'usable' nuclear weapons)plus the influence and history of LM the direction is clear. That said, I agree with Boland that a M-I complex has already won.
"...LANL was born in a noble struggle against fascism."

I just hope that LANL doesn't die in a struggle against fascism.
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