Statement circulated November 29, 2004, and May 1, 2005, to UH faculty, UH administrators, Honolulu newspapers, and others regarding proposal under consideration by UH administration for additional military research including classified projects.
Arguing the Case in Favor of Military Research at UH?
As we all well know, the University of Hawai`i has repeatedly suffered painful budget cuts for many years, and recently millions of dollars in flood damage. From this economic perspective alone, the prospect of the UH becoming even more closely aligned with the military for research purposes is surely a gift from heaven, and the timing couldn’t be better, just weeks after the national election and coinciding with the American holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is hard to even begin to imagine all that might be done with tens of millions of dollars of federal money for research.
Leftists, socialists, communists, radicals, peace addicts, Quakers, whimps, environmentalists, traitors, and any other types who may be concerned about such research really needn’t worry. Following the long standing tradition at UH, such research can be conducted by university personnel off campus and completely out of sight. Furthermore, some of it will even be classified, not just hidden away, thus our community will be spared from knowing all that is involved. Anyone with scruples about a university as a place for open research simply needs to keep silent, given the far more serious matter of homeland security. Military research is merely another expression of intellectual curiosity, academic freedom, and community service. In the instances where the research is classified, it can still be accessible to students, we only need to develop classified courses in which enrollment is available through government clearance.
If this all seems almost too good to be true, just think how it will help advance security, peace, human rights, and prosperity in Hawaii, the USA as a whole, and even in the larger world. More research and development for the military will help support our troops in Iraq and other alien lands as the coming years stretch into decades while the U.S. promotes American style freedom and democracy throughout the entire world. This military R & D will also facilitate the global war of terrorism by our Christian President who just received an overwhelming mandate from a little over half of the voters on November 2. He embodies so well Christian moral principles, such as blessed are the peacemakers (Holy Bible, Matthew 5:9).
Bigger and better weapons will allow the military to make bigger and better wars for the sake of security, peace, and prosperity. As every intelligent person knows, the only way to make peace is through war. Just look at Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the future prospects of Iran, North Korea, and other evil empires. In turn, these wars will feed back into further military R & D, something so perceptively envisioned by President Dwight Eisenhower, the industrial-military complex. Here at UH we will enjoy the university-industrial-military complex. In turn, UH will continue to reap the profits of death and destruction throughout the world. There isn’t any better way to deal with the terrorism of religious fundamentalist fanatics, no matter what country they might be in. As our civilization and technology advance, soon cluster bombs and similar modern methods of high tech mass murder will seem primitive by comparison, thanks in part to the intellect of UH researchers. A recent scientific study reported in a highly respected medical journal estimates that up to 100,000 deaths have resulted from the U.S. invasion of Iraq (The Lancet, October 29, 2004). The collateral damage is unfortunate, because dead people won’t vote in the elections in January, but then at least they are enjoying peace. Also UH physicists, engineers, and others can help develop new technologies to locate weapons of mass destruction, given that the U.S. war against Iraq was initially justified on the basis of cleaning up such weapons. Most conveniently, UH researchers can practice finding WMD right here at home in Hawai`i.
The new military money could even profit the social sciences at UH. For example, psychological research could help improve interrogation techniques at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and this could even have wonderful applications in US prisons and future detention camps for the sake of homeland security. Research by faculty in Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, and Sociology could help improve methods for racial, ethnic, and religious profiling to enhance homeland security. Faculty in Urban and Regional Planning could help develop new methods for U.S. initiatives like urban renewal in the recent case of Falluja Other divisions of UH can use their imaginations to pursue grants for military R & D. There should be enough money to go around for every body, no one needs to be greedy. Don’t think of any of this federal funding as a bribe, but as a gift from U.S. taxpayers, just like the helping hand of Halliburton.
Surely this is the greatest challenge in the entire history of our beloved university. All members of the university as well as the broader community must unite in this common cause to make the most of this imminent windfall of money. We can do nothing less for the welfare of all citizens of this great Aloha state. Even Native Hawaiians will benefit, just consider the record of environmental stewardship and cultural respect by the military in sacred places like Kaho`o`lawe and Makua Valley. We need to make this big investment in research for an unprecedented future. Generations to come will marvel at the intellectual, moral, ethical, and social responsibility, not to mention sheer courage, of the faculty and administration of UH at the beginning of the 21st century. Historians will record our selfless affirmation of the military and the liberal endorsement of the application of lethal force to resolve any disputes wherever and whenever they might arise. Americans are not barbarians, but civilized humanitarians with a culture of respect for life as demonstrated in Falluja among many other places. Like our President, at UH we too understand the difference between good and evil, and it is clear who is on which side. Just pause to consider the possibility of grants totalling $50 million for military research, and much more to come for decades, then go for it! Help diversify the state economy through further militarization. This great opportunity could even lead to an improved motto for UH--- above all nations and humanity are the oil and weapons industries.
The above statement is in no way intended to demean the service, loyalty, bravery, and sacrifice of the U.S. military who are simply following orders down the chain of command from our Commander in Chief. It is in no way intended to diminish the shock and awe of terrorism, nor its tragedy, inhumanity, immorality, and criminality. However, this statement is certainly intended to call into serious question the possibility of UH military research contributing to the growing culture of violence, death, and destruction. Instead of a feeding frenzy on military research money, UH might prioritize the Institute for Peace, the Program on Conflict Resolution, the Center for Hawaiian Studies, and other initiatives aimed at constructive scholarship to promote peace, justice, and welfare for all of humanity.
The above was written months ago, but is more relevant now than ever.
Dr. Les Sponsel, Professor, UH Manoa
Founding Member of the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace
Faculty member since 1981
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