Meselson Fights CBW
A six-year behind-the-scenes effort by Matthew S. Meselson, professor of Biology, paid off last Tuesday when President Nixon announced his decision to curtail American chemical and bacteriological warfare (CBW) capability.
Meselson first became involved in the chemical-warefare controversy during a three-month stiut as a consultant in the arms control and disarmament agency in 1963. He campaigned diligently, though quietly, throughout the Kennedy and Johnson years.
By the time of the Nixon administration, he had become a prominent expert, and was able to persuade many people that chemical weapons are useless, given a nuclear capability, and that possession of them only furthers the danger of their proliferation. Informed sources give Meselson principal credit for influencing the recent policy shift.
The President said he would move toward ratification of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which binds nations not to initiate the first use of gas or germ weapons.
All of the NATO countries (except the U.S.), the Warsaw Pact nations (including the Soviet Union). the People's Republic of China, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon have already ratified the agreement.
Nixon also unequivocally promised that the U.S. would never employ germ warfare-not even in retaliation-and would destroy its present stockpiles of weapons.
Meselson said last night, however, at a meeting in Bernard Hall, that an American agreement not to use lethal or incapacitating gas might possibly exclude, if the Senate should so interpret it, tear gas and plant-destroying chemicals.
"We are the first nation to initiate the massive use of any kind of gas in war since World War I," he said.
The U.S. has employed 14,000,000 pounds of tear gas in Vietnam. he said, and has defoliated an area the size of Massachusetts with anti-plant chemicals used in "environmental warfare."
"Our long-range interests dictate that we not use any kind of gas in war, and that we seek an interpretation of the Geneva Protocol that forbids the use of all gas in war." Meselson said after the meeting.
Yesterday's meeting of Soc Sci 134, a scheduled debate between John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics, and two assistant professors of economics, Samuel Bowles and Arthur MacEwan, turned into an unheated discussion on the role of capitalism and bureaucracy in American society.
"I thought we were going to see the enfants terribles of radical economics with the leading capitalist economist, but this debate is diminishing into a Meet the Press Show," one student called from the audience.
Galbraith objected to being labeled as the leading philosopher of capitalism and said. "I'm attempting to move on."
Law Placement Protest
A group of law students calling themselves the "Presence" demonstrated outside the Law School placement office yesterday afternoon to protest against a law firm recruiting there.
According to the demonstrators, the law firm-Milbank. Tweed Hadley, and McCloy-is involved in aiding South Africa.
The "Presence"-composed of the Harvard Black Law Students Association, the Harvard Student Bar Association, and the Harvard Radical Law Students Group-stood outside the recruiting office from 3 to 4 p.m. yesterday, talking and occasionally chanting. Although students wandered in and out of the demonstration, there were never more than 15 protesters present.
The group had hoped to force the firm into a public debate where they might "delegitimize them and show students who might work for them where their money comes from." Although another law firm allegedly involved in South Africa had publicly debated students the night before, Milbank refused to do so. The interviewers declined to comment on the refusal.
Only one student showed up for an interview during the hour the demonstration took place.