Even Donald Trump aborted the operation. He canceled his plan to attack Iran last week after Pentagon lawyers told him that the large number of expected Iranian casualties would violate the law of war principle of “proportionality.”

By contrast, certain Vermont political leaders pressure the military to base F-35 jets in our city, in violation of several law of war principles.The laws of war are designed to protect civilians from military operations, whether overseas or at home, and whether amidst a shooting war or during peacetime.

The U.S. Air Force admits that thousands of Vermonters will be severely harmed by the blasting noise of the F-35 based in the city of South Burlington (Source: 2013 Environmental Impact Statement, Vols. 1 and 2): impaired learning of children, hearing damage, property devaluation, housing loss and high crash danger.

Not to mention turning the  Burlington airport into a legitimate target for Russian and Chinese nuclear missiles because the F-35 jets were designed for delivering a pair of B61-12 atomic bombs.

This is all in violation of the principle of distinction, which requires separation of such military operations from populated areas to avoid harming civilians; and in violation of the principle of military necessity – the Air Force itself described five other locations for the F-35 basing, all remote from cities full of civilians; and in violation of the principle of honor, which prohibits making airport passengers and neighboring civilians into human shields for military equipment, like F-35 nuclear bomb delivery vehicles.

Even if the basing in a city was legal under those principles, the principle of proportionality would require aborting the basing of the F-35 in a city because the harm to Vermonters far outweighs the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from basing the jets in a city.

Donald Trump set a perfect example of aborting a planned military operation when he found it would cause a disproportionate number of Iranian casualties. Vermont political and military leaders must similarly call for aborting the plan to base F-35 jets amidst Vermont’s largest cities, and request instead another mission that won’t harm thousands of Vermonters.

James Marc Leas

South Burlington

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