Madison Veterans for Peace opposes bringing F-35s to Madison

Capital Times Newspaper Op-Ed Column
John Fournelle: Madison Veterans for Peace opposes bringing F-35s to Madison

Second from left.

[John is an associate member of Veterans for Peace.  VFP has both veteran and non-veteran members.  The chapters are required to be at  least 80% military veterans.]




Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin

When I opened a recent copy of the Wisconsin State Journal, I found that Madison is being considered as the future “home” of the latest aerial war-fighting machine, the F-35A. The public is invited to comment on its “environmental impact” over the next month.

I would find that somewhat incongruous if it were not such deadly serious business. Looking up the F-35A, I found that it is a combination stealth fighter and bomber, and can carry several B61 nuclear bombs with a range of less than one kiloton of explosive mayhem to 50 kilotons. That seems to be a lot of environmental impact, when compared to the 12-kiloton bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Is the hundreds of billions dollar cost of this latest child of the military-industrial complex worth it? As a low-flying stealth bomber capable of carrying nukes, it is an extremely risky and potentially destabilizing war machine in an already unstable world, whether you consider the Middle East, the near east, or the far east. One error in deciphering a tense situation could set off a nuclear tit-for-tat that would produce the worst environmental impact statement of all. One only has to read nuclear war planner Dan Ellsberg’s recent “The Doomsday Machine” to learn of the horrors American cities could experience, and that we have been living on the brink.

The Pentagon has hyped the F-35 as a “computer that happens to fly,” and Lockheed Martin says there are 8 million lines of software code which control weapons deployment, communications, radar and flight controls. Given the extent of computer hacking continuously going on, what could anyone have to fear with a flying computer carrying nuclear weapons?

Every year at the end of May, Madison Veterans for Peace and supporters set into place thousands of tombstone replicas along Atwood Avenue in Olbrich Park. There are almost 7,000, the number of U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq (and the war still goes on). We do this to increase public awareness of one of the costs of war — the loss of life. And if there were tombstones for the civilians killed, they would stretch around Lake Monona.

Another mission of Veterans for Peace is to end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, and to abolish war as an instrument of national policy. We do not want to see nuclear-enabled stealth fighter bombers stationed here in Madison — or anywhere, for that matter. Come to the public hearing at 5 p.m. on Sept. 12, at the Exhibition Hall of the Alliant Energy Center.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

Dwight Eisenhower,  Farewell Address to the Nation

January 17, 1961

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