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September 13, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-13

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4

OPINION
Tuesday, September 13, 1988

Page 4

The Michigan Dolly

Academic

freedom

and military research

By Daniel Axelrod
The big issues on campus these days
are militarism and racism. And as these
issues continue to play out, we hear a lot
about what various individuals on the
campus have the right to do or not to do
with regard to weapons research or racist
behavior, and so the whole discussion be-
comes wrapped up in the notion of what's
called academic freedom. I want to exam-
ine the close relationships among these
topics of campus militarism, racism,
individual freedom and collective
responsibility.
This whole issue of militarism on
campus arose again a couple of years ago
when Republican Regent Deane Baker an-
Uounced at the Regents meeting as to how
enamored he was of the Star Wars Pro-
gram and how he worried that the Univer-
sity guidelines might stand in the way of
;accepting the Star Wars money that was
jvaiting in Washington to be showered
Qpon research institutions. Those univer-
sity guidelines, you may recall, prohibited
.research that was harmful to human life, at
;least if the research results could not be
,ublished within a year. Strangely
,enough, there was never any restriction
against research harmful to human life as
"long as it was rapidly publishable. As
weak and ambiguous as they were, those
guidelines were a compromise in response
to mass opposition to the Vietnam War
on this campus in the late sixties and early
seventies.
But three years ago, the Regents dis-
covered a double opportunity beckoning
them: first, a whole new wave of money
to be had from the military, as the Rea-
ganites greatly expanded military funds,
and second, an apparent increase of student
apathy as concerns foreign policy. The
University then seized the opportunity by
setting up a committee to reexamine the
old guidelines. The committee members,
who of course were carefully selected by
the administration, scrupulously avoided
discussing the issue that created the com-
mittee in the first place, namely the pos-
Axelrod is a Prof. of Physics in the
College of Literature, Science, and the
Arts.

sibility of Star Wars money, and instead
confined the discussion to something
called "academic freedom." To make a long
story short, the committee suggested some
even more watered-down guidelines. The
Regents then proceeded to immediately and
totally reject the official committee's rec-
ommendations out of hand and replace
with their own formula, which is basically
watered-down water. The Regents packed
their formula with such exquisitely mushy
language that it is essentially no guideline
at all.
In other words, after two years of de-
bate, the Regents did what they originally
wanted to do anyway, which was take the
Star Wars money and run. By running a
fruitless debate and sinking months of
faculty, student, and administrator time on
committees and forums, they didn't make
a long story short; they made a very short
story two years long.
So the door is now open to the
University greatly increasing its research
services for the U.S. military. It has not
done so yet; military funding still ac-
counts for less than 10% of all outside re-
search money here, but there is always a
delay in these things. Other universities
that got an earlier start have already been
drafted by the military: more than half of
the funding at Carnegie-Mellon University
in Pittsburgh comes from the military.
They are already addicted.
So with less than 10%, what's the
problem? Well, take a look at some of the
projects that have recently been carried on
at the University. There was recently a
project in the Pharmacology Dept. funded
by the Army's main lab for Chemical and
Biological warfare, Fort Detrick, to study
the effects of known nerve gases. To do
this, hundreds and hundreds of laboratory
animals were poisoned by nerve gases,
some at lethal doses, and some at sub-
lethal doses, causing immense suffering,
just to see the effect. This established a
baseline. Then, in the later years of the
grant, various antidotes were to be tested
on hundreds more poisoned animals.
Finding antidotes to nerve gas sounds
fine at first until you consider how such
an antidote is likely to be used in the bat-
tlefield. It is completely unfeasible to dis-

tribute it to civilian populations caught
near a battle in a timely fashion. Even if
the civilians already had it in their pock-
ets, there is no time to give notice that
they must consume it in the precious few
seconds before vomiting, and paralysis,
and asphyxiation set in. It is not even fea-
sible for the defending military force to
protect its troops with an antidote because
of the short time between a surprise nerve
gas attack and death, and the fact that the
defenders probably won't even know
which nerve gas was being used against
them in time for them to make a judicious
selection of antidotes.
By far the most likely use for nerve gas
antidotes, and the only use that has
enough military value to interest the
military, is to protect the aggressors: the
side that is applying the nerve gas. In
other words, antidotes in the hands of the
U.S. military, antidotes developed by UM
researchers, are most likely to be used by
U.S. soldiers against unprotected popula-
tions while making themselves immune
to its effects. The side using nerve gas
must be equipped with an antidote. The
nerve gas project at U of M may not be
just what the doctor ordered, but it is what
the military ordered. It is a research project
that tortures and kills animals so that the
military may figure out how to best tor-
ture and kill people.
Of course, one could argue - as did a
congressional aide quoted in the Detroit
Free Press - that "...(nerve gas) is the ti-
diest way to wage war. Nothing is good.
At least this spares the buildings."
Just as with nerve gas antidotes, Star
Wars seems peaceful at first glance. Isn't
it just a technological system for making
nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete?
Unfortunately, that view of Star Wars has
no technological basis whatsoever, and the
only reason that view is even presented is
for pure public relations. The actual pur-
pose of Star Wars, in fact the only pur-
pose it could have technologically, is by
no means peaceful.
Star Wars is an offensive system. It is
designed not for defense at all, but for
making a first strike nuclear attack safe for
the attacker. It is for making the threat to
start a nuclear war look good.

Even the knights of old, mindless as
they were, knew enough to suit up in
heavy armor to protect themselves should
any of their opponents attempt to retaliate.
Star Wars is the shield that goes with a
sword. Every single scientist in the coun-
try who has taken a public stand on Star
Wars knows that the system cannot
possibly protect the American people from
a full scale Soviet nuclear attack. Even a
slight leak in the nuclear umbrella and all
American cities would be destroyed.
But as a shield against a Soviet retalia-
tion - now that's a aifferent story. A
Soviet retaliation is likely to be quite fee-
ble, after they have been hit by several
thousand first strike MX and Trident mis-
siles. Star Wars can shoot down most of a
feeble retaliation. The U.S. would then
lose only 20 million - according to gov-
ernment nuclear strategists - a quite ac-
ceptable loss.
Star Wars is the missing link to a first
strike. This is not a strange idea, not even
to Reagan. He said only last year that a
Soviet Star Wars system would be very
threatening to the U.S.:
"America can't afford to take a chance
of waking up in 10 years and finding that
the Soviets have an advance defense sys-
tem ...and our deterrence is obsolete be-
cause of the Soviet defense system."
Of course, the possibility that the So-
viets might see our Star Wars system in
just this way was not mentioned by Rea-
gan. I guess you just can't say everything
in one speech.
Weinberger knows the true meaning of
Star Wars too:
A U.S. Star Wars system "would pro-
vide insurance against a world in which
the Soviets - and the Soviets alone -
could brandish their sword from behind the
protective shield they are continuing to
develop."
Again, no mention of how this works
in reverse.
A first strike capability is impossible
without Star Wars. Sure, it is a bonanza
for military contractors; sure Reagan may
think it is his personal crusade or he's
confusing astronomy with astrology; sure,
University administrators see it as a
feather in their caps as they praise

nonviolence and the neutral pursuit of
knowledge as they promote one-sided high
tech violence; but fundamentally Star
Wars is an essential part of a first strike
nuclear offense.
People say, look, it's only research.
Maybe research on Star Wars or radar in-
visible missiles will lead to something
good of it. Anything is possible. Perhaps
consumer electronics items - home
stereos - that can withstand accelerations
equivalent to smashing into a brick wall at
25,000 miles an hour. That sounds like;a
joke, but the kinds of projects worked on
for Star Wars have few immediate peaceful
applications.
The professor who works on radar in-
visibility for missiles was once asked if hie
thought his Air Force funded project had
any military applications. No, he said, but
he could think of a civilian application.
You see, when planes land at the airport,
they disrupt TV reception in the local area,
and his research results might fix that.
Was he trying to make commercial jets an
not nuclear missiles radar invisible? Was
his research sponsored by CBS and not the
Air Force? Who is he kidding?
The fact is, these are weapons projects.
Perhaps there will be some useful spin-off
someday. 'But why not put the money into
peaceful research and student fellowships
today to work directly on products useful
to people? This siphoning off of talent and
making their work classified does little for
keeping this country at the'forefront of
useful civilian technology.
What you can or cannot do in univer-
sity research is not just an abstract or
philosophical question. It is not just a
question of wasting or not wasting money
or talent. We are talking about research
which has an impact on real warfare, an
impact which can literally kill thousands
or millions of people.
The text is from a speech to doctoral
students given on May 13, 1988. It is the
first of three part series.

4

4

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vo. IC No.4 420 Maynard St.
Vol. IAnn Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.

Do not ignore

ethics

I

Retainstudent
IN THE OPPRESSIVE heat of late July, According to
delegates from two dozen progressive policies are th
student organizations began holding campaign by th
weekly meetings in the sweltering its sovereign au
chambers of the Michigan Student As- and silence dis
sembly. Only one item was on the administration':
agenda: the University Regents' approval the concerns a
of a five-point plan to restrict political and workers,r
expression on campus. This plan agreed on andi
included approving potentially repressive mands to the U
guidelines on free speech and protest; gents:
deputizing security officers; and - that it imme
suspending the regental bylaw that gave tization of camp
students a voice in the establishment of .ithat it ii
campus policies. guidelines on
By the end of the summer, the various adopted at its Ju
delegates found they had ample common . that it abid
ground for a powerful coalition. They and use the Un
have emerged this September as the nism for establi
highly visible Campaign for a Democratic
Campus (CDC). From the Guild House campus.
Campus Ministry to the Black Student CDC also w
Union and from the Michigan Alliance possibility of
for Disarmament to Ann Arbor Tenants which could be
Union, CDC now represents over 500 violations of t
students, faculty and workers. All actions are pres
indications are that its ranks will grow CDC convinc
larger as alarm and outrage over the new form these act
conduct rules mount. administration
In spite of the diverse political agendas control over the
of the individual organizations in the History indic
coalition, CDC has formulated a clear and can be fragile a
principled platform which represents the in response t
interests all parties involved. discriminatory
Their position papers and educational formed from
program promise to provide concerned organizations pi
members of the University community This coalition1
with both an understanding of the current the issue of
developments and a means for expressing protection or
opposition to the new policies. Their First Amendme
planned activities include informational However, re

rights
CDC's analysis, the new
e culmination of a long
e administration to assert
uthority at the University
;sent. In response to the
s increasing disregard for
nd opinions of students
members of CDC have
issued the following de-
University Board of Re-
ediately rescind the depu-
pus secunity;
mediately rescind the
free speech and protest
ly meeting;
e by its own bylaw, 7.02,-
niversity Council mecha-
ishing any and all policies
iarns students about the
formal punitve actions
c levied against them for
he new guidelines. Such
sently undetermined. But,
ingly argues, whatever
ions eventually take, the
will likely retain arbitrary
ir implementation.
ates that student coalitions
nd transitory. Last winter,
to the administration's
acts policy, a united front
many of the same
resently comprising CDC.
broke down in part over
racial slurs and their
non-protection under the
-nt.
strictions on protest and

By Maria Comninou
Academics and scholars in general,
commonly hold the view that academic
freedom implies unrestricted license to
pursue any field of inquiry they please.
This view is not only unrealistic, but it
may also lead to disastrous results, and
this is the reason that already some types
of scientific or engineering research are
regulated, and new restrictions are sought
for others.
Some claim that research is neutral, and
it is the way people use it that makes it
good or bad. There are others who claim
that we should examine the purpose of re-
search to determine its ethical significance.
According to this view, research that leads
to the development of a gun is bad, be-
cause the purpose of a gun is to kill, al-
though it may also be used to blast a
locked door and save a child's life in an
emergency. This type oftresearch is de-
bated frequently by the university
community in the context of weapons or
classified research. Indeed, the university
seems periodically to go into convulsions
and produce one policy, if only to reject it
at its next convulsion.
However, there is another kind of re-
search which is prevalent at the university
of Michigan, and its stated purposes are all
good, but its execution most often in-
volves suffering, loss of freedom and loss
of life. Every year, 100,000 lives are taken
at the university in the name of scientific
research that has exemplary goals.
We all know that life is cheap in our
society. When the lives in question are
those of other species, life seems to have
no value at all.
Ethical issues related to the use of ani-
mals by humans have been raised in all
aspects of their use by individuals usually
characterized as "fanatics", "people haters",
"misguided do-gooders" and so on. It is
impossible to discuss all the separate is-
sues here. The use of animals in research
is, however, of special significance for the
university community, since we do engage
in animal research and experimentation,
and not in veal production, for instance.
Pb ilcmirnrbi"l rnrci tnrcn 'imnin r to r n-?if

however). This position has been called
speciesism. On the other extreme, there
are those who claim that animals have in-
trinsic worth, and should not be deprived
of their rights to life and freedom, merely
for the benefit of humans. Finally, a mid-
of-the-road position aims at balancing the
benefits to be derived for humans with the
harm done to animals. As most people
tend to agree with a moderate position,
this position will serve as the underlying
principle in the following discussion.
To ensure the proper use and care of an-
imals in laboratories, the federal govern-
ment has enacted the Animal Welfare Act.
This act covers those warm-blooded ani-
mals designated by the Secretary of Agri-
culture. Currently mice, rats and birds are
exempted. In addition to minimum stan-
dards of care stipulated for each projected
species, this Act requires each institution
receiving federal funds to establish a
committee to oversee the process.
It is specified that such committees will
include at least one member of the com-
munity (not affiliated with the institu-
tion), and a veterinarian. At the University
of Michigan this committee is called Uni-
versity Committee on the Use and Care of
Animals (UCUCA). Currently UCUCA
has sixteen members. At least eleven of
the members are animal experimenters.
The members are appointed by the Vice-
President for Research. The rationale for
appointing so many animal experimenters
seems to be that they are better equipped
to understand the experimental uses of
animals. Accepting this assumption at
face value, and going even further to con-
cede that animal experimenters are equally
well-equipped in identifying and requiring
the best care for animals, we may still
raise the following question: Are they the
best judges to hold the scales that balance
human benefits and animal harms? Even
allowing that they have the best inten-
tions, the answer cannot be an unequivocal
yes. Justice, as we perceive it and try to
practice it in the United States, requires
the absence of potential conflict of inter-
ests, and requires a jury as free of con-
scious or unconscious prejudice as possi-
ble.

Psychology Dept. lab rats

surface). If, however, we wish to adhere to
a code of costs to animals/benefits to hu-
mans, we cannot take such a casual view.
What is to be done? Given that our powers
of prediction have not substantially im-
proved since the time of ancient oracles,
we must examine the results and conclu-
sions reached by the experimenter at the
end of the project period; we must look for
measures that point to potential impact,
such as dissemination of results in confer-
ences, publications, or citations of work
published. Although the means of accom-
plishing this goal are best left to the ex-
perts, the decision to proceed or not along
the goal rests with everybody. Failure to
act: perpetuates the claim that animals do
not matter.
This proposal has been criticized by
UCUCA on the grounds that it is not
necessary: the funding agencies will not
fund a project unless it ranks high in sci-
entific merit, and will not fund a scientist
unless he or she has produced adequate re-
sults. There are the following flaws with
this argument: a) it confuses the issue of
scientific merit with the ethical question
of harms and benefits; b) it leaves the door
open for blaming the individual investiga-
tor for what may very well be a
shortcoming of animal experimentation,
and allowing similar research to continue

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