Cover photograph courtesy of Directorate for Defense Information, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (PA)
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND DEMOCRACY IN THE COLD WAR AND AFTER:
A Strategic Plan for Research in Science and Technology Studies
Symbolized so powerfully by the opening of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the collapse of communism brought an end to the four-and-one-half-decade, bipolar conflict known commonly as the Cold War. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991, the cessation of what President John F. Kennedy called the "long twilight struggle" left many questions not only about the future of the former Eastern Bloc nations and how international relations would develop in the post-Cold War world, but also about the past--about the Cold War itself.
Among the many sets of questions that connect the future with the past are those concerning science and technology and their role in the Cold War. How did the Cold War condition the institutions and conduct of science and technology? How did it mediate the pursuit of science and technology on the one hand and democratic thought and ideals on the other? How will the Cold War's end affect the pursuit of science and technology over the long run in the United States and those nations that were formerly its enemies?
The Cold War was fought on many fronts. The principal arena, however, was global, nuclear confrontation. Nuclear and thermonuclear weapons posed new and profound threats to the national sovereignties of the United States and the Soviet Union. These threats were so large that an arms race ensued after 1949, which ceased only with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Science and technology, the generators of these new weapons systems and shapers of military strategy and doctrine, were thus at the very center of the Cold War. In both countries, the stimulation of scientific and technological development and the application of scientific and technical gains to military problems became the focus of national policy-making and social resource allocation throughout the Cold War.
Although waged for many reasons, the Cold War was fundamentally a contest between economic and political systems--capitalist democracy on the one hand versus communistic totalitarianism on the other. The stakes of this contest were perceived to be so high in the United States that a national security system emerged that paradoxically flew in the face of many democratic principles and traditions. Openness and accountability in the conduct of governmental affairs, for example, were compromised in order to meet the communist challenge. Openness of knowledge and free exchange of information--fundamental ideals in science--also gave way under the imperatives of national security.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower identified incisively the dangers the Cold War science-technology-military dynamic posed to democratic traditions in the United States. He did so in a nationally televised farewell address to the American people delivered only hours before he, the nation, and the world witnessed the greatest outward symbol of democracy in action--a presidential inauguration and the peaceful transfer of power from one elected government to another. Fighting the Cold War, Eisenhower said, had produced two situations unprecedented in American history: the maintenance of a large military while the United States was not officially at war, and the creation and heavy reliance upon a large, permanent armaments industry. The conjunction of these two developments posed grave threats to American democracy. "The total influence--economic, political, even spiritual--is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal Government," Eisenhower said. "In the councils of government," he cautioned, "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."
A "technological revolution during recent decades," Eisenhower believed, had initiated the dynamics of the military-industrial complex. At the center of this revolution lay research, which had "become more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government." The American university, "historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery," noted the former Columbia University president Eisenhower, "has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research." The research revolution on campus had produced a dynamic whereby "a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity." Then President Eisenhower delivered his gravest warning: "The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present--and is gravely to be guarded.... [I]n holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technical elite."
President Eisenhower's words resonate in a recently published and widely hailed study of the development of atomic weapons in the former Soviet Union. There, Cold War science and technology might have actually served to foster democratic thought. Whereas the ideological need to make scientific thought conform to the trinitarian political doctrine of Marxism, Leninism, and Stalinism led to the effective destruction of Soviet genetics at the hands of Lysenko, Soviet nuclear physics flourished free of ideological conformity. Nuclear physics proved to be too critical to the state in its pursuit of the Cold War to impose ideological purity on the science and the scientists. Consequently, the community of nuclear physicists who were responsible for the Soviet atomic weapons program enjoyed a remarkable degree of intellectual and political freedom and served as a critical incubator for democratic ideas and idealism in a nation dominated by totalitarianism.
This paradox of nuclear weapons physics (among other areas of Cold War science and technology) being perceived as a grave threat to democratic ideals in the United States while being seen as a bastion of hope for democratic thought and conduct in the Soviet Union should give us pause. It points up in a profound way the centrality of modern science and technology to statecraft and raises burning questions about both the Cold War and the post-Cold War worlds.
What role did science and technology play in the Cold War, and how were science and technology shaped by the competing forces of democracy and totalitarianism? Did the Cold War pursuit of security through aggressive scientific and technological development pose serious threats to democracy as Eisenhower warned? Did scientific ideals of openness, internationalism, and free debate within the scientific community about what is "truth" serve ultimately to undermine totalitarianism? Was democracy ever captive to "technocracy" or "the military-industrial complex" during the Cold War? How can knowledge of the Cold War experience with science and technology be used as the United States seeks to foster democratic ideals and institutions in parts of the world that have been ruled by totalitarianism? What can scholars and policymakers learn about science, technology, and the Cold War such that our own nation's ideals and institutions can be strengthened and made more durable for the struggles that lie ahead?
These are but some of the central questions that emerged from consideration of the relationship among science, technology, and democracy during the Cold War by a diverse group of social science scholars who gathered for a workshop held at the Santa Fe Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, September 18-20, 1994. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Science and Technology Studies Program, the workshop sought to reappraise scholarship on the pursuit of science and technology during the Cold War. Among the specific tasks set before these scholars was to identify critical, researchable questions about the interaction of science, technology, and democratic ideals during the Cold War.
Motivated by the belief that the end of the Cold War and the events that have unfolded since the collapse of communism in the Eastern Bloc nations afford a unique opportunity for fresh research and thinking, this research initiative seeks to foster the intellectual and financial means for reappraisal of issues that have been central in scholarly debate and research on science and technology during the Cold War. At the same time, this initiative seeks to focus particular attention on the interaction of democratic ideals and processes with scientific and technological development during the Cold War. By understanding this interaction more thoroughly, scholars and policy makers alike will better understand not only the Cold War but also its legacies that will persist for a generation and perhaps far longer.
This research initiative also provides scholars with an opportunity to break down barriers that have developed between academic disciplines since the onset of the Cold War and to conduct interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary research on questions identified by the workshop.
Research Areas and Questions
Workshop members focused on six areas that broadly cover Cold War science and technology. Each area was introduced at the workshop by a scholar whose work has been closely related to the area. These scholars offered assessments of the "state of the art" in understanding their respective areas and suggested important questions for the research agenda. Small working groups then reflected on these expert presentations, formulated conclusions about what new knowledge should be pursued, and posed specific, researchable questions. The findings of these focus groups were conveyed to a rapporteur, who in turn presented a synthetic overview to the entire workshop for discussion, clarification, and refinement. The findings presented here received broad-based support in the workshop and are meant to encourage specific avenues of research.
1. The Interaction of Science, Technology, and Democracy in the Cold War.
The post-World War II commitment of massive public support for research and development represented, in many ways, a new social contract between the U.S. government and the nation's scientific and technological communities. While the bases of this unprecedented public-private cooperation were forged in such wartime "Big Science" efforts as the Manhattan Project, it seems clear that the Cold War served as the cement for a vast new scientific structure. On one hand, this relationship was monumentally productive, having led to, perhaps, the most intense period of scientific advance in human experience. Workshop participants welcomed more systematic analyses of the types and relative merits of Cold War research initiatives so that future research management might benefit from the lessons of the past. What types of Cold War research initiatives were relatively successful and which were relative failures? On the other hand, it seems clear that the consummation of the Cold War social contract threatened to compromise some of the very democratic traditions its technological products were intended to defend. As President Eisenhower warned, the conjunction of an immense military establishment, a permanent arms industry, and a scientific-technological elite promised to alter "the very structure of our society." The extent to which his concerns were legitimate is an issue of intense debate and one that holds grave implications for the future of the democratic system.
Of particular consequence for the operation of the American republic is the shroud of secrecy that enveloped much of Cold War decision-making and removed it from public scrutiny. Indeed, systematic research is needed to comprehend the effects of institutional secrecy on American democratic processes. Workshop participants found that secrecy is a salient feature of Cold War scientific and technological research that departed significantly from American democratic and scientific traditions. Although secrecy is fundamentally anathema to both scientific and democratic ideals and norms, the Cold War produced a long period in which secrecy prevailed. What implications did this have for the nature of American democracy given that theorists on the subject from as early as Alexis de Tocqueville have maintained that the United States would be unable to conduct many of its affairs in secrecy given the inherent nature of democracy in America? Also, in what ways do Cold War institutions use veils of secrecy to insulate and protect themselves from traditional political processes of oversight and control? What factors determine their ability to sustain secrecy over time? Such questions may help relate the consideration of institutional development to changes in American democracy.
Weapons systems and other tools employed in the Cold War have been researched and developed out of the purview of not only the public but also of the Congress. Classification and security concerns may have created an entirely new form of science that is sometimes called "Black Science." This term alludes to research conducted in secret, ostensibly to further national security. Black Science, some workshop members contended, developed its own career system, its own publications program, its own research system, and its own set of professional norms. Did this system of secret science exist? If so, how independent was it from the non-secret scientific community? How did it compare and contrast with earlier and perhaps overlapping industrial research practices? It is imperative that this world of Black Science, if it did indeed exist, be understood and weighed in light of democratic thought and ideas.
Also of central concern in the relationship between Cold War science policy and American democratic traditions are both the processes and implications of research funding allocation. Workshop participants concluded that the shifting locus and patterns of funding decision-making offer especially promising research opportunities. They found it imperative that scholars better comprehend the processes of research coordination, the patterns of resource allocation among public, academic and industrial research institutions, and the construction of research priorities in the Cold War environment.
Who made funding decisions and how were they made? Although much debate during the Cold War decades over science and technology policy took place in the public arena, at times even captivating the nation's attention, many of the crucial decisions regarding public resource allocation and thus the course of scientific effort appear to have been made outside the channels of traditional democratic processes. The implications of this for both the content of the knowledge produced and for American democratic institutions can hardly be understated.
The implications of the Cold War social contract for the structure of U.S. scientific and technological communities present further opportunities for research. Democracies, in theory, give freer rein to scientists and engineers than do totalitarian states. Initial studies, however, have indicated that the scientific communities in both the United States and the Soviet Union were deeply polarized by Cold War developments. What internal dynamics characterized the scientific communities of both superpowers? How did the rival governments seek to overcome the traditional reluctance of scientists to work under military control? The richness of military funding combined with the perceived imperatives of national security created new dynamics in the historical interactions between scientific independence and social responsibility. McCarthyism in general presented a severe threat to American democratic society and democratic traditions. How was science affected by McCarthyism? To what extent were the civil liberties of non-conforming citizen-scientists infringed upon throughout the Cold War, and how was science itself affected? What conditions might foster in the future the rise of similar societal and political pathologies that would threaten both scientific and democratic traditions and institutions?
Are democracies more appropriate or effective environments in which to foster science and technology than other political regimes?
How might the productivity of research under alternative strategies and organizational regimes be measured?
How do democratic societies balance the need for openness and accountability in science and technology with impulses toward "national security" that cloak research and development and remove them from public view?
Did Cold War science and technology serve to centralize or decentralize power in the United States and in the NATO nations?
What were the consequences for Cold War science and technology of policies that indirectly promoted national security, such as the National Defense Education Act and loyalty oaths?
Was citizen participation in the United States' science and technology policies enhanced or suppressed by the Cold War?
Did the penchant for secrecy during the Cold War produce anti-science and anti- technology sentiments among the public that adversely affected the nation's supply of scientists and engineers?
Are scientific and technical projects conducted in secret more efficient or effective than those pursued in the open?
To what extent did the veil of secrecy maintained during the Cold War exempt the federal government from environmental, health, and safety standards that it imposes on citizens and private corporations, and what effect did this have on democratic processes?
Did changing patterns of the socioeconomic backgrounds of scientists, engineers, and social scientists that engaged in Cold War research activities mirror larger patterns of socio-economic change in the United States? If not, how did these differential patterns impact democratic thought and action during the Cold War?
2. The Production of Knowledge During the Cold War:
The unprecedented level of research and development funds made available to universities and private contractors during the Cold War affected both the content and process of knowledge production in the United States. Workshop participants found that a critical task for scholars is to define more precisely the changes that occurred and the implications these hold for future science and technology. Such scholarship will not only provide insight into how American research institutions and agendas will fare in the post-Cold War era, but it will also help define the place of research in a peacetime, democratic society.
The subject of government, and especially military, influences on intellectual development during the Cold War has long attracted considerable scholarly attention, but in recent years an increasingly well-defined bifurcation of historical interpretation has emerged on this topic. On one hand, some scholars argue that massive defense sponsorship of research during the Cold War skewed the very content and nature of scientific development in the United States toward military-defined research imperatives. This argument was framed most sharply by historian of modern physics Paul Forman when, in 1985, he argued that the purpose and character of scientific research was altered by both the size and source of funds made available during the Cold War. Forman's ideas subsequently have been elaborated by other scholars working in the social studies of science and technology. In his recent review of Stuart W. Leslie's The Cold War and American Science, the interpreter of the American university Roger Geiger labeled the body of literature stemming from Forman's work, including Leslie's book, as a "distortionist" critique of Cold War science and technology. In contrast to this distortionist interpretation, historians such as Geiger and Daniel Kevles argue that scientific development was not distorted but largely complemented by military research expenditures. While this depiction glosses over subtleties within the extant literature, the emergent debate in this field has opened an important line of inquiry for scholars in the social studies of science and technology. Is it true that the nature of research funding during the Cold War, especially its heavily military character, "distorted" the production of knowledge? How might scholars evaluate this essentially counterfactual issue?
Taking this debate as a starting point, workshop participants sought to place the evolution of academic disciplines into a long-term perspective so as to highlight the continuities and discontinuities that distinguished the Cold War era. Participants found the gradual "scientization" of disciplines and educational processes to be characteristic of much of the twentieth century. The extent to which this process was accelerated or retarded by the circumstances of the Cold War, however, remains to be fully understood. Did the increased availability of funds merely allow academic fields to move more quickly along paths laid out before World War II? In the field of engineering education, for example, leading educators had been pursuing the transformation of engineering into more of an academic discipline through the institution of science-based curricula since before World War I. It appears that the abundant resources made available by government investment in research and development provided an opportunity for such educators to realize their ambitions.
Yet, discontinuities with previous patterns of knowledge development clearly exist. Workshop participants found that across the physical, biological, and social sciences the research funds made available by Cold War agencies not only expanded existing lines of inquiry but also directed massive support into new fields of study. In engineering education, for example, the nature and scale of Cold War funding created enduring ties between elite engineering departments, defense contractors, and the military establishment. Did this work to the detriment of lower echelon institutions? In engineering, as in nearly all fields of scientific and technological endeavor, the Cold War thus spawned new forms of intellectual entrepreneurship. Indeed, this new scientific entrepreneurship can be recognized in the growing research intensity that characterized American industry, government, and academia throughout the post-World War II period. Workshop participants wondered, however, whether the scientific and technical meritocracy fostered by the Cold War is consistent with democratic principles, and whether it will optimize the social benefit of knowledge production in the long run.
Researchers in this field must also concern themselves with the productivity of the nation's enormous investment in Cold War science and technology. Questions concerning the "output" of knowledge resulting from government initiatives and the "efficiency" of government-funded scientific and technological research are clearly critical. However, these raise the further issues of how scholars might measure the amount and quality of knowledge produced. Workshop participants found the assumption of a linear correlation between levels of funding and the amount of knowledge produced to be overly simplistic and in need of correction. Are there diminishing returns to investment in research? For much of the Cold War, American science policy-makers employed a linear model of research that differentiated between "basic" and "applied" research. Are these distinctions valid? If they are, what are the relative payoffs for support of "basic" and more "applied" forms of research?
To what extent did the efforts of the government and private foundations to improve education in the interests of national defense shape the development and content of scientific and technical disciplines? How did these efforts vary in scope, magnitude, and effectiveness from initiatives undertaken to achieve other objectives?
In each field of knowledge, what new lines of inquiry did defense funds make possible? How did the patterns of intellectual development represent departures from or continuations with earlier experiences'
What was the effect of the Cold War on fields of inquiry that were not of military interest to funding agencies?
As a baseline for understanding changes that might have occurred during the Cold War, what general patterns in the relationship between universities, industry, private foundations, and government agencies existed prior to 1940?
How did the patterns vary from one field to another? What changes occurred after World War II? After the collapse of communism?
How did the Cold War affect the distribution of knowledge production among government laboratories, academia, and industrial research centers?
How did funding agencies' preferences shape the development and diffusion of scientific and technical methodologies?
How can the amount of knowledge produced be measured? What can be said of the correlation between the amount of funds invested in research and the amount of knowledge produced?
Can consistent metrics be developed such that the productivity of publicly sponsored research can be compared to private sector benchmarks?
How efficient are Cold War science and technology institutions in stimulating productive research and development? How have they and how might they contribute to the rate of American technical development?
3. Institutions of Cold War Science and Technology:
One of the most visible legacies of the Cold War is the large and diverse body of institutions that were either spawned or fundamentally altered during the postwar period. Organizations that play central roles in American scientific and technological development, such as the National Laboratories, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the R&D units of the military service branches, R&D laboratories of defense contractors, and even the National Science Foundation, are largely products of the Cold War and embody its social, economic, political, and cultural values. An important challenge facing scholars is to comprehend more fully the implications of this heritage for the institutions themselves, for American science and technology, and for the future prosecution of national objectives such as sustainable economic growth and democratization of formerly totalitarian states.
A crucial research task for scholars is to explore the remarkably diverse forms and functions of Cold War institutions. Like all institutions, scientific and technological institutions are largely social constructions that are shaped by contemporary political, cultural, and economic forces. As such, those of the Cold War consistently incorporate normative components that reflect the societal values and attitudes of the period. Yet, the institutions of Cold War science and technology are quite diverse, for example, in their relations to government bodies, to universities, and to private organizations. Can a meaningful typology of these institutions be identified? If so, how did the various types of Cold War institutions emerge? How did they function? And how did they interact with one another to create a Cold War system of science and technology? Research is needed that will illuminate the structures, compositions, and functions of scientific and technological institutions so that we may better understand how they can contribute to a new, post-Cold War national agenda.
It is also clear that the scientific and technological institutions of the Cold War are far from monolithic. Instead, they have evolved over time with changes in American society and, particularly, with changes in the conceptualization of national security. Due to a complexity of factors, American ideas concerning the nature of national security and the problems related to national security changed substantially during the Cold War period. Because many Cold War institutions were intended to address national security problems, these institutions had to evolve with these ideological changes in order to remain relevant. This will continue to be true as stabilization and democratization of former communist countries replace bipolar military confrontation at the forefront of national security concerns. What are the primary sources of agency in American ideological change? How do these interact with institutional agendas and priorities?
Also, research is required to illuminate the ways in which individuals and collective sources of agency combine to shape institutional actions and agendas. On the one hand, individual actors, such as the new breed of Cold War scientific entrepreneurs, were critical to the construction and performance of scientific and technological institutions. What motivated these individuals? How did they take best advantage of social circumstances to further their personal goals? How did their personal goals mesh with the influences they sought to exert over their respective institutions?
On the other hand, individual actions were in many ways subsumed by the interests of collective actors, such as the scientific community, the military, and the federal bureaucracies. Like individuals, these institutional actors of the Cold War have life cycles, cultural predispositions, and objectives. Scholars must better understand these characteristics and the consequences they had for the course of scientific and technological development. How, for example, did the opposing collective predispositions of the military and the scientific communities towards secrecy play out? And how were these interactions shaped by the larger context of American democratic traditions and decision-making processes?
The processes of bargaining and negotiation, among both individuals and collective actors, are integral to institutional performance, and the nature of these processes during the Cold War raises important opportunities for research. Because many Cold War institutions were formed for national security purposes, the bargaining and negotiation in which they engaged differed substantially from the processes that prevailed in earlier periods. The evolution and operation of the Central Intelligence Agency, for example, bring together issues of scientific sponsorship, secrecy, and insulation from democratic oversight. How did the CIA interact with other Cold War institutions of science and technology? How did it build scientific and technical capabilities under a veil of secrecy given the cultural and democratic norms of American science and the larger society? How has the prominence of the CIA in Cold War policy making altered traditional patterns of institutional negotiation and democratic process? How relevant is the institutional charge of the CIA to post-Cold War national priorities? In a broader sense, how can the nation formulate criteria to determine which Cold War institutions will be preserved, transformed, or dismantled? Clearly these criteria must balance regional interests, scientific concerns, and national priorities.
How did the Cold War transform the system of higher education in the United States?
What is the nature of patronage for the various Cold War science and technology institutions, and how has this changed over time?
What role have Cold War institutions of science and technology played in past democratization efforts? What might be their most productive roles in post-Cold War efforts?
What political roles do these institutions play within the federal government and, especially, within the national security establishment?
How have Cold War institutions, especially those created specifically to address national security concerns, interacted with and influenced entrenched non-defense institutions?
What is the nature of management and decision-making in these institutions? To what extent do these patterns conflict with traditional American democratic processes?
How relevant are Cold War institutions of science and technology to post-Cold War priorities?
What has been the effect of Cold War scientific and technological institutions in the employment of technical expertise in the United States? Have these institutions on balance contributed to manpower shortages or, alternately, acted to encourage expansion in manpower supplies?
In what ways do these institutions represent expressions of or divergence from American democratic norms?
4. Economic Impact of the Cold War and the Economics of the Cold War.
From the outset of the Cold War, debate emerged about the level of funding for the national defense effort that could be sustained in the Cold War while maintaining--and indeed expanding--domestic programs. The National Security Council planning document that has become emblematic of the United States' strategy for fighting the Cold War, NSC 68 (1950), contains an explicit figure for the upper bounds of Gross Domestic Product that could be spent on national security without unduly compromising the nation's economic well-being. Thus, early in the Cold War economy the issue was not "guns or butter?" but rather "how many guns and how much butter?" Yet the deeper question, sometimes recognized but never adequately probed, is: How did these Cold War expenditures transform the American economy, business practices, industry structure, and our very understanding of the economics of technological innovation?
Clearly, the economic implications of the Cold War are complex. Workshop participants devoted attention to patterns of capital investment during the Cold War. In particular, they focused on the disagreement in the literature over the extent to which massive federal expenditures "crowded out" investment in market-oriented research and production. The notion of "crowding out" is the economic corollary of the "distortionist" hypothesis in the production of scientific and technical knowledge discussed in Section 2 above. On one hand, some argue that large-scale defense expenditures absorbed the preponderance of scientific and technical talent, thereby driving up R&D costs for non-defense sectors while not yielding compensatory spillover effects. Others disagree. They argue that many fields of research would not have been explored at all absent the Cold War and that defense spending provided critical initial support for such industries as microelectronics, computers, and nuclear power.
Massive federal spending on defense during the Cold War comprised, the workshop concluded, an implicit industrial policy that had profound consequences for the structure, performance, and location of American industry. Scholars must now explore the contours of this Cold War industrial policy, the means by which it was forged and coordinated, its consequences for American scientific and technological development, and how it affected the nation's position in the global economy.
A related area of research can be found in the problems associated with patents and intellectual property during the Cold War. Intellectual property issues had been contentious before and during World War II, but the massive federal sponsorship of Cold War research and development blurred the distinction between private and public intellectual property. How did the emergence of the Cold War and the perceived threat of the Soviet Union to U.S. national security alter ideas about ownership of intellectual property derived from publicly funded R&D? To what degree did actual intellectual property practices of military R&D organizations that funded private research conform to federal laws? How widely did these practices vary from agency to agency and why? How did other factors, such as anti-trust regulations, shape intellectual property policy and practices during the Cold War?
Defense spending also played a fundamental role in shaping the regional patterns of economic growth. Industrial development during the Cold War varied highly across the respective regions of the United States, due in large part to the uneven distribution of defense contracts. How did the Cold War shape the geography of industrial America? To what extent was this geographic distribution of contracts determined by such factors as climate, transportation routes, partisan politics, larger demographic changes, and strategic defense criteria?
Associated with the regional impact of Cold War defense spending are its social costs, especially its environmental degradation and very long-term risks that are inherent in the production of nuclear materials used for weapons. While earlier forms of industry produced considerable pollution and environmental degradation, these pale in comparison to the scale and tenacity of toxic contamination at many defense research and production sites. Scholarship on this topic has just begun to reveal the massive scale of contamination for which abatement costs run well into the hundreds of billions of dollars. These problems thus promise to extend the impact of Cold War investment decisions far into the future and impose lasting costs on American society. They raise fundamental questions about democratic decision-making in the context of national crises, such as war and the Cold War. How were decisions that bore significant long-term risks to the public's health and safety made during the Cold War? Did the Cold War itself shape or condition decision-making processes by policymakers and by the public concerning risk bearing and risk analysis? How did the Cold War contribute to or retard the idea of "informed consent"? How did the Cold War contribute to or retard debate about the federal government's role in the health and safety of the public?
Evolutionary economists have argued that diversity is an important element in the development of a national economy. Yet the Cold War constitutes a long period in which the federal government was the principal--and often the sole--customer for producers. What effects did this situation have on the national economy? How did policymakers during the Cold War deal with the issue of diversity in suppliers of scientific and technology knowledge and scientifically and technologically sophisticated products?
The workshop focus group also discussed the genesis of the sub-specialty in economics loosely known as the economics of innovation, which emerged during the Cold War. Much of the early research in this domain was funded by military agencies. How did the Cold War condition the content of basic knowledge in the economics of innovation? How is our basic knowledge in the economics of innovation shifting now that the Cold War is over?
In a general sense, a challenge remains to comprehend the ongoing relationship between democracy and industrial development. Over the past two and a half centuries, concurrent democratic and industrial revolutions have transformed much of world and promise to continue to do so far into future. Nowhere is this more true than in the United States. Yet, the Cold War posed unprecedented problems for the nation's economy and its political organization. In the post-Cold War period, it is imperative that we better understand the solutions that emerged during the Cold War and the ways in which these solutions have generated both new opportunities and pressing problems.
How might inter-industry comparisons between defense and non-defense industries be used to measure the net effects of military research funding, spillovers, and potential crowding-out effects?
To what degree has defense sponsorship of research and development affected the likelihood that firms will recognize and develop unexpected research results?
To what extent do the patterns of industrial development during the Cold War represent a continuation of or divergence from historical patterns? Did the Cold War facilitate new organizational forms in American industry (e.g., conglomerates), and what are the long- term prospects of such forms in the post-Cold War environment?
Given the role of defense spending in the growth of some regions in the United States and the problems of toxic contamination at many defense sites in these regions, what are the future prospects for these regions? Who in the United States should decide how the contamination problems will be dealt with?
What distinguishes defense from non-defense organizations, and how do firms that do both types of work balance these aspects and allocate resources to the respective sides of their business?
What are the economics of "dual use" strategies in defense procurement? What is the history of dual use, and what factors conditioned its emergence?
What were the consequences of the Cold War for the national debt of the United States?
How have the meanings of "economic security" and "military security" been determined in the United States, and how has national policy sought to balance these perceived needs?
5. Comparative and International Dimensions of the Cold War.
Comparative approaches to Cold War science and technology studies present both problems and opportunities. The workshop identified numerous problems in comparative analysis, including language and cultural barriers, uneven access to critical data sources, and greatly expanded research costs. Nevertheless, members concluded that comparative research offers significant opportunities to achieve deeper insight into national and international issues.
The workshop also underscored the important gains to be achieved through international collaborative research on Cold War science and technology, especially collaborative projects between scholars in the former Eastern Bloc and the NATO sphere. Such research promises not only to strengthen our knowledge of the issues but also to further democratic ideals by providing a model for how scholars in a democratic society appraise the performance of democratic ideals and institutions in periods of perceived national emergency.
The role of science and technology in the evolution of international relations presents many potential research topics. For example, science and technology transfer studies appear especially promising. An important facet of the Cold War confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union was the attempt by the superpowers to disseminate their respective economic and political systems. American strategies of democratization often revolved around the transfer abroad of U.S. science and technology, which involved the nation's diverse scientific and technological institutions. Issues of national prestige, scientific and disciplinary norms and ethics, and political, geopolitical, and economic considerations all shaped the international transfer of science and technology. One fruitful area of research is in comparative aspects of scientific and technical education for foreign students in the competing nations during the Cold War. How was scientific and technical education of foreign students used to further the goals of respective states? What patterns emerged and how did they change over time? Has the end of the bipolar conflict significantly altered the patterns observed during in the Cold War?
Studies of scientists and engineers as "agents" of political systems offer important opportunities to broaden and deepen our understanding of the dynamics of science and democratic processes. Moreover, the instrumental use of scientific and technical institutions in "statebuilding" programs before, during, and after the Cold War is a subject that has received little research attention, especially in its comparative dimensions. Such knowledge is critical to any larger initiatives in the transformation and democratization of formerly non-democratic nations.
The relationship of scientists to the state raises the general issue of international scientific organizations and their role in the Cold War. Scientists strove to remain loyal to their disciplines and to the state--an objective that became increasingly elusive as the Cold War deepened. Early on, scientists believed that despite a tension between national security interests and the dual ideals of international scientific freedom and open exchange of information, some compromise could be reached. Later, however, when professional issues such as restrictions on travel and membership in scientific organizations were raised, scientists began to see conflicts.
International scientific and technical collaborations, for example the International Pugwash program, present another promising area of inquiry. These were promoted by scientists and others as models for peaceful collaboration. What were scientists' motives and the impetus for collaboration? The use, willingly and otherwise, of international scientific organizations as fronts for other purposes (e.g., espionage) also presents research possibilities. How much did scientists know about these activities? What ethical and professional obstacles did such undertakings present?
The scientific and technical activities of such international organizations as the United Nations, NATO, the World Bank, the Import/Export Bank, and the United States Agency for International Development need to be examined critically in light of other research on Cold War science and technology. Such activities were, as a rule, highly politicized, and in some cases the quality of the scientific work presented was not high, reducing the disciplinary usefulness of such activities. What other purposes did they serve, and how effective were they?
Studies of the post-Cold War conversion of human and physical assets represent additional research opportunities. Many scientific and technological assets around the world were developed with Cold War-related objectives in mind. How are different nations coping with the need to adapt these assets to post-Cold War realities and possibilities? What are the opportunities and obstacles for the international transfer of scientific and technological knowledge?
How was the balance between international cooperation and competition in science and technology arrived at? How did the balance shift over time? What factors were important in determining the balance and in changing it over time?
How did R&D policies vary across NATO countries during the Cold War, and how can variations be explained?
How did the United States and the Soviet Union seek to use scientific and technical institutions and training to "export" their systems of government to Third World areas?
In what ways were Third World development efforts connected to Cold War rivalries? What might be the fate of such efforts in the post-Cold War era?
How have science and technology been built into theories of statebuilding? How were these theories shaped by the Cold War experience?
How did the scientific and technical systems of the United States and the Soviet Union reflect their contrasting political systems
6. The Cold War and American Culture:
The ideals, myths, and artifacts that shape one's view of the world and help transmit a particular view of it to others cannot avoid being affected by a war, however cold, that lasts more than forty years. Indeed, the imprint of the Cold War is perceptible in American culture at all levels, from intellectual endeavors and political ideals to engineering achievements and popular amusements. Understanding how such cultural forces are created and sustained, as well as how they are interpreted by different groups in the United States and throughout the world, provides an important window on how the Cold War shaped the role of science and technology in U.S. society.
Some aspects of Cold War culture are considered elsewhere in this report. For example, the impact of the Cold War on the nation's scientific culture is considered in the discussion of whether defense funding affected the production of knowledge in various fields. Similarly, research on Cold War institutions and the relationship between those institutions inevitably must address issues of organizational culture and how those cultures changed over time.
How the Cold War conditioned U.S. political and popular culture is a valid area of inquiry under this initiative, especially as it illuminates the role of science and technology in a democratic society. Understanding the complex interaction among popular views of science and technology, the formulation and implementation of science and technology policy, and the actual conduct of science and technology is important. The Cold War offers an important vehicle for research on these subjects.
Political culture and popular culture are intimately intertwined, each capable of reinforcing or undermining the other. For example, popular books, music, and films are media through which people express their ideas, hopes, fears, and the like, and they can play an important role in shaping attitudes toward science and technology. How was the Cold War treated in these media, and how did the treatment vary over time? How did popular culture during the Cold War reflect and shape understanding about science and technology and their relationship with the state and with democratic thought and institutions? How have images of science and technology as expressed in popular culture changed since the end of the Cold War, and do these changes bode well for nurturing and strengthening democratic institutions? Did works such as the book FailSafe and the movie Dr. Strangelove shape attitudes toward the government's prosecution of the Cold War or merely serve as a popular entertainment without political effect? What gives these images power and to what extent do different social groups and age groups interpret the same images in different ways? In what ways did the popular imagery of Cold War science and technology incorporate assumptions concerning racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes, the social relations of science and technology, and human nature?
At the simplest level, one can ask how the Cold War affected the popular view of science and scientists. How did popular culture's interpretations of the Cold War affect the trust that the public put in scientific and technical experts? Did the popular culture of the Cold War serve to strengthen public trust in science and technology, or did it help erode that trust? In a society where scientific and technical policies are increasingly complex--and susceptible to highly-charged interpretations--understanding how popular culture images are created and sustained is important. Did the state seek to shape or manipulate popular culture images of science and technology during the Cold War to strengthen its programs? Or was the state compelled to alter its policies and practices in response to such images?
How were Cold War science and technology embedded in popular culture on both sides of the "Iron Curtain?"
How did the state participate in the formulation of popular culture during the Cold War?
What is the relationship between propaganda, popular culture, and political systems?
How was the Cold War's penchant for secrecy expressed in cultural attitudes toward authority?
Did secrecy within Cold War science and technology insulate the scientific and technical communities from larger societal pressures for greater gender and racial equality?
Methods of Inquiry
Workshop members devoted considerable discussion to methods of research that can be employed to address the issues raised by the workshop. Because several different disciplines were represented and because these disciplines vary greatly in their research methods, no consensus emerged on "the one best way" to do research on Cold War and post-Cold War science and technology. If there was consensus, it was "we should employ all appropriate methods and overcome all obstacles in developing these methods." Similarly, workshop participants identified numerous sources of information and data that can be employed in this research initiative and concluded that all appropriate sources should be exploited. These things said, the workshop members recognized that research on Cold War science and technology presents special problems given the large volume of information spanning five decades that has been classified as secret, top secret, etc. Although the Clinton Administration has pledged to declassify much of this information, researchers face long delays in getting records and other data declassified. Some members of the workshop argued for pursuing cooperative approaches to declassification while others believed that employment of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) methods worked best. Still, the members who were experienced in conducting research in classified records argued that scholars who obtain security clearances can write interpretive or analytical studies based on classified documents and then have their studies declassified, thereby bringing into the public domain considerable information that otherwise would remain in classified documents. In spite of the problems of access to and use of classified documents, large volumes of records on Cold War science and technology have been declassified and remain unexploited by scholars.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc has led to a flood of new sources on that alliance's prosecution of the Cold War. Conditions in these countries, especially the countries comprising the former Soviet Union, have produced what are being called "information entrepreneurs persons who sell information (oral, written, and electronic) to the highest bidder. Such a phenomenon raises significant ethical issues, not to mention questions about the veracity of the information being sold in what is effectively a gold rush climate. These issues are currently (and sometimes hotly) being debated by various professional groups, from scientific societies and organizations to such groups as the Social Science Research Council and the American Historical Association. Researchers who seek data from the former Soviet Union and its allies must inform themselves of the issues that surround these data and their acquisition.
Oral histories of Cold War participants, especially scientists, engineers, and policymakers, present fewer ethical issues but raise a whole other set of issues that have been debated by historians for much of the last quarter century. This report is not the appropriate forum for rehashing these issues, but researchers should recognize that although oral history methods will no doubt be employed in answering many of the questions posed in this research initiative, the National Science Foundation does not seek to support projects devoted exclusively to oral history as part of this initiative.
Members of the workshop concluded that scholars now have a unique opportunity to conduct important multidisciplinary research on Cold War and post-Cold War science and technology. This is especially the case in fields that relate Cold War research to issues of democracy, democratic processes and values, and state-building. Whether the Cold War "distorted" the development of scientific knowledge and whether the arms race "crowded out" commercial economic development in the United States have become hotly debated issues. Workshop participants concluded that such questions can be answered definitely only through more extensive research in the new sources that are opening up as a result of the end of the Cold War. The nation's rapid retreat soon after the end of the Cold War from funding both the massive Superconducting Supercollider Project and the Space Station Project suggests that the social contract for science forged after World War II may be undergoing radical revision. Perhaps a new contract is emerging.
The end of the Cold War has also coincided with a growing number of revelations by the U.S. government concerning its activities during the previous decades. The use of perhaps uninformed citizens for human radiation testing and the extent and danger of toxic contamination at the nation's atomic arsenals are among the most widely known of these revelations. Indeed, the list of such disclosures promises to grow with the Clinton Administration's pledge to lift the veil of secrecy that has covered much of the Cold War era.
These revelations have been made as the nation witnessed what is perceived to be a rapidly expanding anti-government movement characterized by extreme paranoia about the government and fantastic global conspiracies against "ordinary citizens." Comprehending thoroughly the relationships among science, technology, and democracy during the period in which classified research was deemed vital for U.S. national security has become imperative, especially since the reign of government secrecy might have contributed to the deep distrust of government voiced in parts of the American body politic.
By understanding more deeply how the Cold War shaped science and technology and their institutions, practices, and practitioners and how these matters in turn shaped the course of the Cold War, we will strengthen our knowledge base and, in turn, our democratic traditions. It is hoped that through such introspection and examination the United States can also achieve meaningful transformation and consolidation of democracies throughout the world.
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