Partisan feuding is undermining America's ability to use our
leadership in science in technology to advance U.S. foreign policy and
That was the message delivered today in Menlo
Park by a panel of stellar scientists and political leaders, including
president emeritus of CalTech and Nobel Prize winner David Baltimore
and former Secretary of Defense William Perry.
Some of the most important work done on nuclear security happened
far from the negotiating table through unofficial scientific diplomacy,
and it's time to revitalize those unofficial channels. "We tunneled
beneath government bureaucracy," Siegfried Hecker, former director of
the Los Alamos National Laboratory, told the group in describing his
meetings in 1992 through 1994 with Russian nuclear scientists. Those
meetings led to a program to keep track of nuclear fissile material
during the years the USSR was dismantling and the Russian economy was
Perry said scientists working in similar scientific exchanges will be key to the success of future foreign policy endeavors.
panel applauded President Obama's move to appoint three science envoys
to begin work in Muslim-majority countries. Their mission is to use
American expertise in science to support technological development and
create new jobs in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Baltimore likened contact in the Muslim world today to the early days of opening China.
It was not lost on anyone that the meeting was held in Silicon
Valley, which leads the nation and the world in scientific endeavors,
but, Hecker said, demonstrates little interest in participating in
international security issues. Partnership for a Secure America,
a coalition of scientific and governmental leaders, organized the event
with funding from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, and the support of CRDF and AAAS.