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National security requires military research

To the Editor:

The last two issues of The Tech have carried columns by Daniel J. Glenn G under the title, "A Crack in the Dome." Although I have seen many articles in the past expressing Glenn's position on military research at MIT, it disturbs me greatly every time I see or hear such dangerous views because our very survival could be at stake.

Unfortunately, there are those who hold forth a pacifist do-nothing view, thinking that they are upholding the concept of peace. In reality they are saying, de facto, that bowing to oppression or other evil is better than resisting it. "We're unarmed, so there is no need of you to fight us," is a most pathetic statement to an enemy. Can Glenn really be so naive as to think that we have no real enemies or that they would not take advantage of an unarmed state?

Yes, we should invest much of our effort in projects to improve the condition of mankind (even though we have been counterproductive at times by stumbling into traps on the road to "progress," such as the depleting the ozone layer). We have the responsibility to be judicious in every endeavor, and each of us has a different calling in our society. Some of us must answer the call to protect our society, and this call can have varied forms including military service and military research and development.

Our economic structure is such that it would be absurd to divorce military and "civilian" R&D. Not only would it be prohibitively expensive (yes, military R&D is expensive), but the military would be denied the technical input from the civilian sector. In reality, institutions such as MIT are in a unique position to provide much of this sorely-needed R&D.

Although our history is not without blemishes, we are basically neither aggressive nor colonial. Teddy Roosevelt was very wise when he said, "Speak softly, but carry a big stick." But some would abandon such an admonition and seek to prevent us from developing "sticks" that our enemies can see and respect.

A logical extension of these arguments is to parallel the cause of the military vs. foreign threats with that of the police vs. illegal drugs. In both cases, the enemies are real, and the countering agencies must develop many resources to minimize the threats. Sometimes the "defense" tactics are not "nice," but very necessary.

Glenn refers to "the concerned majority," but he has put the label on the wrong people!

Ralph Burgess->

Research Engineer->

Mechanical Engineering Department->