Richard Tillema: Legislators should openly debate F-35s

The Capital Times  |  15 Jan 2020  |  Richard Tillema


Dear Editor: The time for vigorous debate about national security has come to Madison. Here, politicians want to locate F-35s.

F-35s’ purpose is to destroy others’ defenses and clear the way for larger, less mobile bombers, thus preventing the kind of disaster that befell Britain’s Royal Air Force trying to bomb Sevastopol during its World War II occupation by German forces. No way can they be viewed as purely defensive weapons.

Locating a first strike force in Madison opens it up to a first strike by enemies of all types. Even if such an event does not occur, Madison — otherwise a military target of little value — clearly becomes one in time of war.

The armed services are subject to civilian control. The proposal to bring nuclear enabled, first strike aircraft here gives state legislators a rare opportunity to express their preferences about involving civilians in national security.

Does your legislator prefer cyber security as the best hope for defense in the 21st century or expanding the availability of 20th century weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems? Does your legislator view war as a last resort or a first strike opportunity? Does your legislator believe that defense is best maintained by locating F-35s in widely distributed, remote places or densely populated areas where attacks limit civilian efforts at recovery?

Legislators in Wisconsin have not openly debated these issues. Apparently convinced that F-35s make us invulnerable or invincible, almost all politicians appear quite comfortable with the idea of warfare that turns civilian populations into military targets and the claim that locating F-35s in the state capital is the best way to return federal tax dollars to an already thriving economy. What do you think?

Richard Tillema