The Winter 2006/07 issue of the Dayton Engineer, an alumni magazine at UD, includes a powerful letter from an alumna which criticizes an earlier letter of mine. My initial letter raised the same arguments I raise in this site. This reader’s response:
“It must be nice to have the childlike naivety of Eric Timar [“Research’s gorilla,” Dayton Engineer Summer 2006]; however, I do not have that luxury nor do my children. For them, the war on terrorism is the white noise of their lives. We do not openly discuss the war, but we merely answer their questions as they arise. We do not allow them to sit and watch the evening news, but they roam freely through our house while it is on. You see, my husband, John [Stanley] (’95 MET), has had his boots on the ground for nearly 22 months since Sept. 11 fighting what he has seen as pure evil everywhere from the Philippines to Afghanistan and Iraq. As I write this, he is awaiting orders that will send him away from his family for 18 to 21 months as he trains Iraqi forces to protect their own country.
“While deployed, he has seen women and children used as human shields, he has seen bombs explode without concern for innocent victims, but the constant through all of this has been top-notch engineering. This engineering has saved his life and that of the innocent time and again. He has seen laser-guided munitions hit their precise targets, reducing unnecessary loss of life and other collateral damage. Bulletproof glass has stopped the bullets as he drove head on into an ambush. Kevlar and high-impact plastics have kept his eyes and body protected when an IED exploded. Night vision devices have given him an advantage over his enemy. These along with many others, including satellite, encryption and communication systems, are the reason my husband is alive today and the reason I pray he will return safely from his upcoming deployment. For this, no engineer at UDRI or anywhere else needs to apologize. Keep up the good work!”
Ann Arens Stanley ’95
My response to Ann Arens Stanley:
I will also pray for the safe return of your husband. I put up this site because I do not believe that our current habits of military spending and military actions are ever going to allow brave fathers like John Stanley to be able to stay home with their children instead of spending three and a half years–-or more–-abroad engaged in wars.
I believe we overemphasize military answers to our security concerns. The United States accounts for half, or more, of what is spent by the entire world on militaries, and I believe this spending makes it too easy for us to become mired in places like Iraq and the Philippines. Why do I say “mired” in the Philippines? Because (as I am sure you and your husband are aware) one hundred years ago we were in that same nation fighting precisely the same people, Muslim guerrilla fighters, in the Moro Rebellion. I respect the fact that your husband is willing to risk his life–-quite possibly out of a desire, in part, to protect my free speech, and to protect my own children-–but when I step back and look at the big picture, I just don’t believe that the boots on the ground with unmatched weapons and armor are going to settle the Philippines for the long term any more than they did a century ago.
You mention laser guidance systems which may have been developed, in part, at UD, and which allow us to avoid collateral damage. It is not enough for UD to help avoid collateral damage in a war which should never have been started in the first place. Iraq had no ties to the September 11 attacks which you mention, and it had no weapons of mass destruction. Collateral damage would have been zero had we avoided this war, and I believe the war would have been easier to avoid had we not been devoting so many of our best minds and bravest men and women to the development and use of arms.
The following alumni agree that UDRI should stop accepting military contracts:
James A. Lucas, attended UD 1949-52
Frank Swift - attended UD 1951 and 1955; USAF 1951-55
John Judge '69
Mary Sue Gmeiner '73
Margaret Knapke '85
Dan Kovalik '90
Meagan Doty '05
Marisa Morrison '05
Mike Heller '07
To add your name, please email the address below . . . current students also welcome.
Questions about UDRI have been raised by other members of the UD community, of course. A former professor in the Department of Philosophy, Joseph C. Kunkel, wrote the following in 2001 in “Justice, Peace, and God: My Search for Truth at a Catholic University:”
“As various issues arose on campus I was disheartened by the lack of fresh air on the part of the administration of the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI). I realize that the study of engineering since its inception has had strong ties with war research. I also understand that since just war doctrine allows morally justified wars to be fought it also has to allow research to be done so that justified wars can be fought effectively. My difficulty has been with a UDRI that does $40-$50 million dollars in research annually that is 70-80 percent contracted with the U.S. defense apparatus. In this capacity we have been the only Catholic or Christian research center so heavily involved in military research.
“I am reminded of one of my older son's interviews for his first job after getting his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. The interviewer asked, Would it bother you if you spent all of your time working on better ways to kill people? I apply this same question to administrators of UDRI. I realize that UDRI does not build military weapons, but that is not the point. If we, as a Catholic university, wish to do some defensive work for patriotic reasons, then fine, but could we not broaden out our research agenda so as to spend more than half our research efforts in the furtherance of life?”
(Note: Dr. Kunkel's statement that "UDRI does not build military weapons" has since become obsolete; see the "UD's Weapons" page.)
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The internet has proven itself to be a medium of respectful dialogue where persons who hold differing opinions debate one another with dignity and objectivity. If you would like to comment on this site, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Eric Timar and I graduated from UD in 1990. I am disturbed by the size of the U.S. military budget and by its growth over the past several years, and by the willingness of the United States to enter avoidable wars.
I believe this military spending drains money away from other work which would do more to keep our citizens safe, healthy, and respected by our neighbors. I also believe the spending makes it more likely that we will enter avoidable wars which needlessly kill our soldiers, break apart our soldiers' families, kill tens of thousands of civilians, and make us less safe by sowing the seeds of terrorism.
The overemphasis of the United States on our military to accomplish our goals in the world makes me think of a carpenter with just one tool in his truck. This was hammered (sorry) home for me when I read the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission report. The recommendations do acknowledge a use for military power but I was struck by the Commission's calls for diplomacy and international aid. The report recommends building "a relationship beyond oil" with Saudi Arabia; offering Muslim parents a dream better than the "visions of violence and death" offered by Bin Laden; communicating and defending "American ideals in the Islamic world, through much stronger public diplomacy to reach more people, including students and leaders outside of government;" and offering "an agenda of opportunity that includes support for public education and economic openness." (Should a Marianist university be working in these four areas, or improving warplanes?)
Meanwhile, we are spending 20% of our national budget on our armed forces and 1% on foreign economic assistance and the maintenance of our embassies (these statistics from my 2008 1040 form).
Some of this military spending takes place in my own academic back yard, the University of Dayton. It happens that the current and previous popes have issued many statements raising precisely these issues, and that the doctrine of the Catholic Church proscribes the type of war we are now waging in Iraq. The University of Dayton is Catholic; I put up this web site to document the inconsistency.
I work in low-income housing in Arlington, Virginia.
"It's right outside your door/ Now testify" - de la Rocha