FOR THE PAST 20 years, Stanley Weiss built up a prosperous mineral processing company. But today he has his mind on another subject and is asking: What are business executives doing about the specter of nuclear war?
His answer: virtually nothing.
Like you and me. Weiss reads the newspapers. He knows about the anti-nuclear arms race activities of organizations comprising the clergy. mothers, physicians. lawyers, students and even children. The last 18 months of activity in town halls, through referendums and inside churches have made a deep impression. “Now it is time for American business to do its part,” he declared. So in September Weiss launched a new association called Business Executives for National Security (21 Dupont Circle, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036).
Do Du Pont, General Motors, Lockheed and United Technologies take positions and action on tax, pollution, consumer and scientific policy in Washington? You bet they do. Do they have a position on defense spending? Yes, indeed, they want more of it for themselves. Why are they so silent on the world arms race? Because there is no money in it for themselves.
But there is survival, a prosperous economy and a state of peace for their children, says Weiss, in stopping the mad escalation of nuclear missiles. So this minerals processor is putting this challenge and opportunity to his business associates: You must take a stand; you cannot opt out by saying it is none of your business and that, in this case, you’ll just follow what the government decides: you have to use your immense power in this country toward the moral objective of arms control.
Weiss’ move is even more unusual. He wants business people to train their talents on this subject as business people.
Here is his manifesto:
“Business Executives for National Security (BENS) brings to the discussion of national security many valuable aspects of the business perspective: the desire to balance costs and benefits, to weigh risks carefully, and to change tactics and cut losses when necessary. And BENS members have a very large stake in this country and its future.
“The track record makes the compellingly clear case that Washington will not take the lead in reducing spiraling arms purchases and stockpiles. The ruts in the road worn by Executive Branch bureaucrats, defense lobbyists, and members of
Congress and their staffs are just too deep.
“No one wins in a nuclear war. There is insufficient justification for adding the proposed 10,000 new warheads to our present 26,000, nearly 5,000 of which are in well-protected submarines. Just 400 warheads would destroy the Soviet Union many times over. The endless search for numerical superiority simply increases the chances for accidental destruction of both countries.
“With the Soviets and ourselves placing these weapons less than 10 minutes from their targets, and with the economy wrenched out of shape to support at least $1.6 trillion in military spending over the next five years, who of us feels more secure today than we did a decade ago?”
Mr. Weiss’ point about politicians not knowing when to “cut their losses and change their long-term plans” as, presumably, business executives are trained to do, is an intriguing observation.
The next few months, when BENS intends to do heavy recruiting of members, congressional advocacy and polling, will reveal whether there are the expected 50,000 business members who want to join the non-partisan organization and strive for acceptance of what he calls “common-sense alternatives that could save billions of dollars and increase our real security.”
If you are a business executive or entrepreneur who wants to help organize local events and shape national policy on national security, phone BENS at (202) 429-0603. You’ll meet other business colleagues who have decided that the real bottom line is the horizon of a world at peace.