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Manufacturing Death


By Eric M. Breindel

DURING THE YEARS of the Vietnam War--between 1964 and 1973--the American military establishment apparently used Indochina as a laboratory in which to test the latest technological developments, in the manufacture of combat weapons. The nature of this war, in which a conventional army was compelled to fight a guerilla force on the latter's terms, demanded advances not merely in standard weaponry, but also in a relatively now and expanding form of warfare antipersonnel weapons.

The challenge to develop now and increasingly more sophisticated and personnel weapons has been eagerly accepted by American corporations. In the lead in Honeywell, whom contracts for anti-personnel weapons in 1972 totalled $73.7 million. According to Fortune Magazine. Honeywell is America's 53rd largest corporation. In 1971 it was employing nearly 100,000 people.

The United States Air Force dictionary defines anti-personnel weapons is devices designed to destroy of obstruct personnel. and, in fact, that is exactly what they do. The Fuel Air Explosive Weapon. In military parlance the FAEW, is a cluster bomb, which when it explodes, sends out a massive shock wave that destroys both people and vegetation. In October 1972, an Air Force officer told the American Ordnance Association. "You may have seen some of the pictures of the sheep that were in the foxholes when the FAEWs hit and it didn't do their innards Any good." The officer might have added that the FAEWs were died against people in Indochina and not just sheep.

The BLU-61/B is a fragmentation bomb with incendiary particles. It has the capacity to cover a wide area and set people afire. Honeywell was awarded more than $10 million, in 1972, to manufactures their weapon. These are, of course, only two of many Honeywell's work in this area continues the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam notwithstanding. Just three weeks ago, the corporation received Army and Navy contracts totalling $4.5 million. According to the Pentagon, this money was for "ammunition fuses and metal parts and for acoustic deception devices," the latter being a Pentagon euphemism for hidden mine.

The Plain of Jars is an area in northeastern Laos that was bombed consistently by American planes from 1964 to 1969. The people of the Plain of Jars, who suffered the experiences of direct contest with Honeywell's military inventions, as well as those of other corporations, can best convey how the United States government put them weapons to use. A 16-year-old student wrote:

I couldn't go into the woods any more because they had been sown with anti-personnel bombs--some hadn't yet exploded. Sometimes in animal would kick one and it would go off. Consequently you could only come and go along a single path. If you left the path just a little ways there was a good chance of your stepping on an anti-personnel bomb.

One day my father was ploughing when unexpectedly, the fog shrouding the mountain all disappeared suddenly. In no time at all a plane flew over, but it appeared as though it wouldn't fire. My father stood in the field with the buffalo, watching for the plane to pass so he could unhitch the buffalo. But suddenly four planes of the F-4H type flew over and immediately released their bombs. The bombs destroyed my village. All six houses burnt and a bomb fell about fifteen meters from where my father was ploughing, causing the blown-up earth and the shrapnel to kill my father instantly.

But Indochina is a rather remote place, and it is very difficult for people to get excited about a corporation that simply works for the government. Honeywell, after all, doesn't send its employed to drop bombs; the Air Force takes care of that. And Honeywell is active in many areas, not just weapons production.

In fact, last summer the director of the Honeywell Information Systems Technical Office. Ugo O. Gagliardi, received a three year appointment at Harvard as McKay Professor of Practice of Computer Engineering. The Honeywell Output, the information systems' employee publication, greeted the appointment with the announcement that it "reinforces a mutually beneficial relationship between the Harvard and HIS communities." This relationship consists basically of sharing facilities such as computers, and it raises a substantial moral question. Should scientists at Harvard use Honeywell computer systems and thereby establish a "beneficial relationship" with a corporation with Honeywell's record as an accessory to war crimes?

Also, Professor Gagliardi helped Honeywell develop its series 60 computer line, which includes the level 6000 computers. These computers, according to Air Force Magazine, are "at the heart of the World Wide Military Command and Control System."--known as Wimmix. Little is known about the exact purpose of Wimmix, or about the Pentagon's plans for it, but it is apparently intended to be a massive military intelligence system which would be used in the event of military conflict. The Honeywell Information System was awarded $8 million Wimmix contracts in 1973 and was scheduled to receive another $8 million last year. It does not really matter how direct Professor Gagliardi's connection with Wimmix is, nor how serious the Harvard. Honeywell relationship actually is the ties are there.

It also seems that Honeywell will not be stopped front its military work by pressure from inside the corporation itself. A Honeywell employee, who asked not to be identified, told The Crimson: "Most Honeywell employees are dead asleep. They just don't want to be bothered. Some middle level workers, who are at least aware of the anti-personnel weapons issue, have told me that bombs in Indochina are simply too far away for rank and file people to concern themselves with. They are too busy with their day to day work."

This employee also said that Honeywell executives use many different rationales to justify their creation of these destructive weapons. "People view making the weapons as a military necessity something that simply has to be done. "There is also a prevalent notion that if it is scientifically related work it must be legitimate, that science of any sort, in and of itself, must be a good thing. In addition, racism is an important factor; people think that whatever happens is somehow different because the victims are Orientals."

There is another key reason why Honeywell workers, aware of what the company manufactures, fail to protest. No single employee, even on a high level, is willing to acknowledge that just by performing his job on a day-to-day basis, he is participating in a criminal organization. This is far too conceptual a notion for an individual to come to terms with on his own, lacking the impetus of a Honeywell. And though many demonstrations have taken place and much has been written, no such movement yet exists. There is also the official Honeywell position on anti-personnel weapons, the impact of which inside the corporation should not be underestimated. In short, it expounds the theory that American soldiers in the field deserve and require all possible support.

Bleak though this project now seems, the best hope for halting Honeywell's destructive and murderous endeavors is still to strive toward creating a movement among employees which would compel the organization to end its manufacture of weapons. In the interim, Harvard must be reminded that unprincipled alliances, like the one it has established with Honeywell, no matter how limited, are always unacceptable.

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