Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Congressman Peter Welch could hardly contain their enthusiasm over the news that Burlington International Airport has been named as one of ten possible sites to house the Air Force’s new F-35 fighter jet scheduled to replace the Vermont Air National Guard’s aging fleet of F-16s in 2018. The new high-tech instruments of death will cost $115 million a pop in sharp contrast to the F-16s which cost a mere $20 million each. Vermont’s recent budget deficit came to $150 million, only a few million dollars more than the cost of an F-35.
From whom might these F-35s protect Vermont? Possibly, Canada, separatist-minded Quebec, upstate New York, the New Hampshire Free State, or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? Why on earth would anyone want to invade Vermont? Vermont has no military bases, no large cities, no important government installations, and no strategic resources unless you count an aging nuclear power plant. What if Canada, China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, or even the U.S. Marines were to invade the Green Mountain state? Just what would they do with it? Would all of the black-and-white Holsteins be confiscated, or perhaps the entire sugar maple crop be burned? Imagine trying to enslave freedom-loving Vermonters. Good luck!
Vermont is too small, too rural, and too independent to be invaded by anyone. It is a threat to no one. Furthermore, Vermonters, not unlike the Swiss, tend to stick to their own knitting rather than intruding into the affairs of their neighbors. Vermont has always been that way and probably always will be.
The local news media has tried to cast the debate over the F-35s as an environmental issue stemming from the expectation that the F-35s are likely to produce higher noise levels than the F-16s. But the real issue surrounding the F-35s is not an environmental issue but rather a moral issue. On a moment’s notice Vermont trained killers, euphemistically referred to as pilots, could be deployed to Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Russia, Venezuela, or any other country Uncle Sam has decided to demonize and begin annihilating innocent citizens including women and children. Do peace loving Vermonters want to be a part of something this grotesque?
At a public forum in April Major General Michael Dubie, Vermont’s principal warrior, expressed the hope that the Vermont National Guard might be morphed into a center for unmanned aircraft, otherwise known as drones. This would mean that Vermonters could become directly involved in killing civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iran through the use of pilotless drones controlled by well-trained, high-tech, gutless assassins seated in air conditioned comfort in front of sophisticated instrument panels at the Burlington International Airport. This form of neat, clean, precise, risk-free, sanitized, bloodless, desktop warfare could be waged by Vermonters who have never set foot on a battlefield or smelled the stench of death. Only cowards should apply!
Why would anyone in their right mind condone such nihilistic behavior? This is truly meaninglessness carried to its absurd conclusion. The 1990s heavy-metal, rock band Rage Against the Machine got right to the heart of the matter in their hit song “Killing in the Name.” Vermont based F-35s and pilotless drones would be all about killing in the name—killing in the name of the American Empire.
As Vermont independence gubernatorial candidate Dennis Steele often says, “The Gods of the Empire are not the Gods of Vermont.”
Thomas H. Naylor August 3, 2010