For & Against

For & Against: Lockout Lockheed

14 August 2018


IMAGE by David Zeleznikow-Johnston

FOR by Lockout Lockheed

Students at the University of Melbourne ought to be informed about a lot of things. First, that their university is making secretive deals with transnational arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and BAE. Second, that these partnerships incentivise war by institutionalising and normalising the presence of weapons developers on our campuses. But third, and perhaps most relevant, that neither of these companies are Australian-owned.

Lockheed Martin is the largest US military contractor in the world, a surprising feat given their notorious budget blowouts, tax evasion, environmental fraud and espionage. It’s hard to believe that their lab will be applying AI, radar and robotics to friendly non-lethal drones. Do we want multinationals funnelling money, research and graduates into the all-consuming web of arms research? It’s difficult to get research jobs when your CV is “classified”. In the game of realpolitik played by some of our critics, using US corporations to break free of US influence seems like a (excuse the pun) misfire.

As evident in our campaign work, there’s more to our fight than Australian self-reliance. Our mission isn’t to end war, but to draw a line at public institutions. Having weapons developers on campus promotes a specific brand of war, one defined by the pursuit of profits (not defense), where collateral damage is just an overhead. This is because when sales—and student jobs—are dependent on the deployment of weapons, there is an incentive to violence.

Meanwhile, we stand in resistance. As part of the larger community-based Disarm Unis campaign, the work of Lockout Lockheed goes beyond student-based issues, with a scope that stretches from Melbourne to Cairns and Pine Gap. The University claims to act in the “esteem of future generations”, whilst continuing to prioritise corrupt industries like weapons and fossil fuels. This legacy of environmental destruction and destabilisation is not one to be held in high esteem. Research into “technologies crucial to future prosperity” does not and should not require funding by amoral, polluting, corrupt megacorporations. After all, let’s not forget who invented war for profit—that one certainly wasn’t an accident.

As for those brave champions of the destructive status quo, we cordially invite you to redirect your intellect to uniting the student body and broader community against the military industrial complex, and come to our meetings at 12pm Wednesdays, in Graham Cornish A (level two, Union House).

AGAINST by Louis Devine

Students at the University of Melbourne ought to be informed about their fees being used to develop joint research facilities with arms manufactures Lockheed Martin and BAE. On this point I am in full agreement with Lockout Lockheed. I dispute however, their premise that these partnerships somehow actively promote warfare, and the assumption that weapons and warfare are intrinsically wrong.

Lockout Lockheed have reduced the complexity of this issue such that it resembles the myopic campus parochialism that often plagues student politics and espouses a moral absolutism that makes this philosophy student blush.

When it comes to the belief that Australia should stop participating in American led wars, Lockout Lockheed and I are kindred spirits. Our defence policy shouldn’t hinge in its entirety upon the obsequious preservation of ANZUS. Yet so long as this reality continues, Australia defence planners will be forced to conclude (rightly or wrongly) that the only way to guarantee American protection is to follow them into war across the globe. In order to rectify this, we must develop an advanced domestic defence manufacturing industry. Self-reliance means less US dependence. For example, as the situation currently stands, if Australia were to acquire nuclear submarines for their long-range capacity necessitated by our geography, a lack of domestic knowledge and technology would mean that an American nuclear technicians’ constant presence would be required.

I am not so naïve as to believe that the University’s partnership will achieve this overnight, yet when viewed in the broader context, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Lockout Lockheed’s reductionist and narrow view would make sense if the research facility with Lockheed (STELaR) were devoted solely to making bigger and better guns. Of course, something so simplistic isn’t true. The STELaR Lab will provide Australian industries (both civilian and military) and students with access to the technologies that are crucial to future prosperity and security, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing and robotics. It is simply a fact of reality that many of the technologies we utilise in modern society were initially developed in response to military or strategic needs. After all, it was the Pentagon who invented the Internet.

One may wish this were different, but although such naïve idealism is clearly a recipe for success in student politics, it is lacking in its ability to be applicable in the real world.


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