Find inspiration and hope reading this full-page ad from the July 29 Wisconsin State Journal.
In an expression of moral solidarity, 39 leaders of local faith organizations clearly state why they oppose bringing F-35 Striker Force jets to our county and our country. Calling on our Senators to stop supporting these deadly war machines, these leaders call on us to demand state and federal officials oppose their deployment and find a new mission for the Wisconsin National Guard at Truax “more in keeping with the humane values of peace, equity, sustainability and concern for the health and security of our community.”
What you can do:
- “Tell Leader Pelosi: NO COVID-19 relief money for weapons of war!” on Win Without War’s Action page.
- Contact your House and Senate members and tell them to reject the Pentagon giveaways in COVID-19 relief.
Text of Wisconsin State Journal Ad, 29 July 2020 (PDF of scan):
We, the undersigned faith leaders, wish to publicly raise our voices in opposition to the basing of an F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Force in the Madison community. For a number of reasons, we find this deployment morally offensive and feel compelled to speak out against it.
First, the F-35 is not just the most expensive weapons system in the history of our planet. It is also a critical component of our country’s new nuclear strategy. This plane is sometimes called the most dangerous weapon in the nuclear arsenal of the United States because it is designed to carry the B61-12 guided nuclear bomb, a bomb small enough to be considered “usable” in the minds of some war planners.
Starting with Barack Obama and continuing with Donald Trump, the horrifying idea of a “winnable” nuclear war has been revived as official policy and the F-35 is at the heart of this nightmare notion. Defense analyst Pierre Sprey has pointed out that the F-35 was mentioned eight times in the Nuclear Posture Review released by President Trump and the Department of Defense in 2018.
(See Nuclear Posture Review, Office of the Secretary of Defense, February 2018)
The Air Force has assured us that the jets coming to Madison will not be equipped with nuclear weapons. Pierre Sprey, who helped design two previous jet fighters, said that, while no F-35s are currently equipped for nuclear bombs, all of them could be in the future. One year ago, Sprey addressed the state legislature in Vermont, where residents were also assured that their airbase would have no nuclear mission. The F-35 “will be the first weapons system deployed with this whole new emphasis placed on small nuclear weapons,” he told the legislators. “The F-35 is the opening wedge for the small nuclear warhead and the supposed ability to fight a small nuclear war, and that will be coming here.”
(See Public Testimony by Pierre Sprey, Vermont Senate Government Committee Hearing, May 7, 2018 and Vermont Senate Resolution 5 adopted by Vermont Senate, May 23, 2018)
We find the F-35 to be a morally offensive weapon system not just because it threatens the planet and its people but also because it claims funds desperately needed to address urgent human and environmental needs. As Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis of the Poor People’s Campaign and Stephen Miles of Win Without War wrote recently, “funneling trillions of dollars into institutions designed to violently protect the status quo – be they police or military – does not make ourselves, our loved ones, or our communities safer. As cities and states face budget crises, education and healthcare find themselves on the chopping block while police budgets are protected and even increased. This makes us less, not more secure.
“As demands to demilitarize the police and redistribute funds to programs of social uplift gain traction across the country,” they continued, “we call to similarly reimagine our approach to national security. To create real security, we must slash the Pentagon budget, dismantle the war economy, and invest instead in meeting everyone’s basic human needs.”
We also oppose this project because it will have a disproportionately negative impact on low- income people, people of color, and children, groups whose well-being is one of the highest priorities of our faith communities. The Air Force itself made this clear in its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). It admitted F-35s will bring more air and noise pollution to parts of the north and east sides of Madison which are home to significant populations of poor people and people of color.
Low-income residents and people of color have long fished in Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona, some for subsistence. Their children play in the creek, now one of the most polluted bodies of water in Wisconsin. Their health is at risk because the creek, the groundwater (and some of our drinking water) has been contaminated with Per and Polyfluoroalky substances (PFAS) and other toxins related to Truax Field.
We are also concerned about the noise the F-35s will bring. There has been much debate about the severity of this noise, but two things are clear: the noise from the current F-16s is nearly intolerable now for those who live under the flight path. The noise from the F-35s is likely to be considerably worse.
There is a growing body of evidence, including that cited by the Air Force EIS reports for Vermont and Madison, that the negative impact of noise on children is far greater than on other people. Heightened noise interruptions for children – in school, on the playground or at home – can lead to delayed speech development, reduced attention, and impaired concentration. It can also cause long-term memory problems and decreased math and reading comprehension.