military research and science and war 3039

1970s and 1980s. In the early 1990s the Republic
of South Africa became the first nuclear state to
disarm, followed by Belarus, Kazakhstan, and
the Ukraine after the breakup of the Soviet
Union. The proliferation of nuclear weapons
led many scientists to take a political stance
against further development. The most recog
nized forum of this politics is the Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists, founded in 1945 by scientists
who worked on the Manhattan Project at the
University of Chicago.
In the US, the Manhattan Project affected
post war science in three distinctive ways.
First, it created a number of R&D facilities that
survived the project and continued to play a
critical role in the development of US science.
Second, it created an operating philosophy a
set of operating procedures that various agen
cies adopted on a range of scientific endeavors,
including space and weapon systems develop
ment. Third, it influenced the post war US
science policy of locating large government
sponsored research projects in the private sec
tor, the rationale for which was that it would be
the best way to assemble quickly the labor
power necessary to accomplish goals of national
importance and then (in theory) disperse them
when the goals were achieved.
Internationally, the effect of the nuclear arms
race along with the collapse in USSoviet rela
tions was the Cold War (194989). For many
observers, the Cold War was an R&D war. The
intense rivalry between the Soviet Union and
the US motivated government investment in
R&D that was sustained, massive, and gave rise
to projects that may have not been possible
otherwise. In countries like the US and the
UK, more than half of government funded
research in the last half of the twentieth cen
tury, and close to a quarter of the national total,
was funded out of defense budgets. By interna
tional standards, the UK remained a high
spender on military R&D (although an order
of magnitude behind the two superpowers, the
US and the USSR) at least until the 1980s. In
part, this pattern arose from Prime Minister
Clement Attlees decision after World War II
to leap a generation and begin major R&D
programs in atomic weapons, new aircraft,
guided missiles, etc. In contrast, Germany,
Italy, and Japan were limited by treaty from
engaging in certain defense activities and the
French recovery in military R&D did not begin
until the 1960s.
Increased government/state spending on
evermore sophisticated, evermore destructive
weapon systems was part of what Paul Baran
and Paul Sweezy termed the permanent arms
economy. In her seminal work The Baroque
Arsenal, Mary Kaldor echoed many of Baran
and Sweezys concerns when she reflected on a
runaway military technological machine that
absorbed increasing amounts of public money
on gross, elaborate, and very expensive hard
ware, but which produced little in the way of
benefit, even for the military itself. For Kaldor,
the emphasis on evermore costly and complex
weapons systems could only be explained in
terms of the structure of the military industrial
institutions: the competitive dynamic of the
armorers combined with the conservatism of
the armed forces. To keep the whole system
going new systems are continually dreamt up.
Within this environment, science, especially
state sponsored science, often took on Cold
War aims as its own. Military or quasi military
R&D frequently received the highest priority,
which, along with massive projects like the space
program, diminished the difference between
civilian and military science by encouraging
scientists who were looking for funding to sug
gest that even so called pure or basic research
had potential practical applications. As such,
many observers have noted that it is difficult to
make a distinction between military and civil
R&D and that it is probably better to describe
a spectrum with the extremes at either end
rather than make any clear division.
Perhaps one of the most renowned sociolo
gical texts on military science and technology
is Donald MacKenzies Inventing Accuracy
(1993). Tracing the development of nuclear
missile accuracy, MacKenzie revealed the inner
dynamics of military research and develop
ment, showing how individuals and group
interests drive institutional patterns of organi
zational and technical change. Questioning
ideas of both technological and political deter
minism, Inventing Accuracy illustrates how the
missile revolution involved not only transfor
mations in science and technology, but also the
reworking of national defense strategies as well
as military organization. Against the interests of
the US Air Force, who were committed to