Editor’s note: This commentary is by Richard Czaplinski on behalf of the members of the Will Miller Green Mountain Veterans For Peace, Chapter 57. Czaplinski, of Warren, is a U.S. Navy veteran and the president of the group.
In all the controversy and discussion about the F-35s 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 F-35s 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 F-35s 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 F-35s 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 F-35s ($100 million 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 F-35s could be used to build our defense where it is sorely lacking – cyberdefense.