– By Richard Czaplinski, President Will Miller Green Mountain Veterans For Peace, Chapter 5
In all the controversy and discussion about the F35s coming to Burlington (jobs, noise, dangers to surrounding homes, schools and businesses, reliability, need, cost, to name a few), the real question has not yet been asked – How will the F35s foster peace? And will these planes really be a good defense?
The best war, from everyone’s standpoint, is the war that is not fought. So the real question is how do we avoid war and foster peace? We have heard it said that the best defense is a good offense. However, in the present world of nuclear weapons proliferation, this adage is no longer true, if it ever was. A nuclear first strike, or a lethal mistake, assures certain retaliatory strikes and the result is Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).
What is truly bizarre about the weapons game we are playing is that we keep upping the ante when we know that a much smaller percentage of the nuclear weapons than exist now would still ensure MAD.
That the F35s with nuclear capability are to be stationed in Burlington, means, quite frankly, that Burlington becomes a first strike or a retaliatory target by foreign powers to take out the nuclear weapons and the F35s to prevent a counterstrike. The hope is that it never comes to such a nightmare. Increasing our nuclear capability when there already are more than enough nuclear weapons ready to fire makes no common, strategic or economic, sense.
In fact, the economic and human resources lost by building and maintaining the F35s (100 million dollars or more each, plus ongoing maintenance and operational costs) could be spent on diplomacy to reduce tension and to help reduce the conditions that are causing the tensions and problems, namely climate change and the refugee crisis being caused by climate change and war. And, more practically and more effectively for our defense, the resources wasted on the F35s could be used to build our defense where it is sorely lacking – cyber defense.
For example, only a small part of the funds for one F35 could be used to hire and keep the best cyber security personnel. Currently, the US military pays a salary of about $86,000 for cyber experts while their civilian counterparts receive $200,000 and more. This is not building a good defense against the new type of warfare – “cyber warfare.”
How will the F35s foster peace? This is the prime question because the world can no longer afford war, the costs are too great. In my opinion, the F35s will not foster peace, but instead will do the opposite.
I hope that our Congressional delegation, all three of whom were for the basing the F35s in Burlington, would admit their mistake. This decision is not about jobs. It’s not about defense. It’s about money going to the wrong places. It’s the wrong decision and the F35s won’t be of
any help In fighting the new war, cyber war, and those resources won’t be available to help meet the challenges and impacts of climate change.
The decision to base the F35s in Burlington should be reconsidered and reversed. I sincerely hope that the powers that be can admit to such mistakes and keep such decisions from being made in the future. If we keep “upping the ante” for an outdated defense, it is literally a dead end.
We cannot be enemies anymore amongst ourselves and against nature. We have a large, serious and fast moving common enemy in climate change. It is fueled by non-other than ourselves. Climate change will not call a truce until and unless we get our act together for peace and mobilize our resources for our common good.