While the F-35 jets based amidst densely populated Vermont cities and towns are currently injuring children and adults with their ear-shattering noise, the potential damage to human life from basing soon-to-be-nuclear-capable delivery vehicles in a city could dwarf even that danger as the Burlington airport is targeted by other nuclear powers.
Ordinary military law principles described in the US military’s own Department of Defense (DoD) Law of War Manual prohibit positioning such a weapon adjacent civilians. In particular, the basing adjacent civilians violates the military law principle of “Distinction” under which “military commanders should avoid placing military objectives in densely populated areas.”
The DoD Law of War Manual emphasizes that “distinction enjoins the party controlling the population to use its best efforts to distinguish or separate its military forces and war-making activities from members of the civilian population.”
To its credit, last year our Vermont Senate responded to the basing of a potential member of the Pentagon’s nuclear-triad at the airport by holding a hearing and adopting a resolution opposing the basing of nuclear bomb delivery vehicles in Vermont.
But House action has been frozen solid. Our local Chittenden County legislators, including the House Majority Leader, who comes from a Burlington district that voted overwhelmingly to cancel the F-35 basing in the referendum on the town meeting ballot in Burlington two years ago, are the perfect ones to initiate the defrost.
States have a constitutional responsibility to provide a check and balance on federal power. So, it is appropriate for our Vermont Legislature to hold a hearing to consider whether the health and safety of Vermonters living in the cities and towns near the runway should be ignored.
As the basing of F-35 jets in a Vermont city is dangerous, immoral, unjust and illegal, action by the House to schedule a hearing is urgently needed.
James Marc Leas