The debate on whether to bring the F-35 war plane to be based at Burlington Airport has often had proponents focusing on the fact that this new technology is the only way to have a future for the Vermont National Guard once the F-16 is phased out. Recent media reports indicate that there is good reason to think that this has been the focus in order to use patriotism and the public support for the Guard to push through a broader agenda that includes major airport expansion. (see Harper's article and WPTZ TV coverage).
However, it's time we had a bigger debate about what does it make sense for our communities for the future of the Vermont National Guard and what should national security really focus on. As we wrote in our statement "Why stationing F-35 war planes in Vermont is incompatible with human rights" its clear the enormous resources proposed to be spent on these war planes should redirected "toward the public goods that help meet the significant unmet needs in our communities, such as healthcare, housing, jobs, education, food, and social security."
But its becoming soberingly clear, the greatest security risk that our communities face is climate change and the growing ecological crisis. The Vermont National Guard did extraordinary work for our communities in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, and its far more likely that the most dangerous attacks coming to our region in the future will be extreme weather events of this sort.
War planes like the F-35's make the world more dangerous on many levels, and we need to retool national security to preparing our communities for climate change and helping people recover from extreme weather events. Vermont National Guard should be focused on helping Vermont lead the way in response to extreme weather, building resilient healthy communities and transitioning to systems for a healthier way to live.
There is a petition at the Stop the F-35 Coalition website where people can add their voice and also get info on weighing in during public comment period on basing F-35's in Burlington which ends July 15th.