I was working out the plot for a science fiction novel, and developed a scenario in which nation-states get into a real competition, something like the Manhattan Project crossed with the space race. The nation that wins gets all the marbles. So what would you do with scientists in that kind of situation? The government needs them, but how could it make use of them?
The Feds could draft them, if they didn’t volunteer, just as we used to draft doctors.
They could be forced to do something useful, if they were capable of such. Build a sharashka in Alaska and stuff it full of string theorists. Explain that if they deliver, some day they’ll get to see a picture of a woman.
But who could the Feds trust? It wouldn’t be like the Manhattan project, where the researchers were anti-Nazi even if they weren’t loyal to the US. Ted Hall and Klaus Fuchs may have delivered the implosion design to Los Arzamas, but at least they didn’t help the Germans.
Could you trust Chinese immigrants? Mostly not. Chinese Americans? Certainly not all of them. But then, what do you do with them?
Let them go home? This issue has come up before. The Feds locked up H. S. Tsien [Qian Xuesen] back in the 50s because they thought he was pro-Chinese and would aid the Chinese rocket program. When they finally let him go, that’s exactly what he did.
There have been many cases in which key individuals have been allowed to go home and fight with their homies, due to chivalry or some other form of stupidity. in 1861, the Feds let many officers go home and fight for the Confederacy. Radomir Putnik, chief of the Serbian general staff, was taking the waters in Austria when the First World War broke out. They let him go home – were they ever sorry! Gernot Zippe, an Austrian POW in a Siberian camp, built a workable centrifuge for separating isotopes. Yet, to my lasting surprise, the Soviets let him go in 1956. He became the Johnny Appleseed of nuclear proliferation [along with Eisenhower – Atoms for Peace].
Seems to me that the right thing to do would be to get real, while staying reasonably humane. Discriminate. Don’t give out key information to people whose loyalties are plainly elsewhere (that’d be a change !) Arrest technically competent aliens and let them play chess for the duration.