Vermont’s Military Mafia

by THOMAS H. NAYLOR

Who could have ever imagined that tiny Vermont, the home of “socialist” Bernie Sanders and once considered to be the most left-leaning state in the United States, would now find itself under the political control of five hard-core military superhawks committed to transforming Vermont into the Pentagon’s flagship state for reinvigorating and expanding the military’s presence in the Northeast.  But that is exactly what has happened in the Green Mountain State.  Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch, Governor Peter Shumlin, and Adjutant General Michael Dubie have teamed up to form what is effectively a defacto Vermont Military Mafia for promoting increased defense spending in Vermont and the rest of the Northeast.

The VMM first revealed its hand when the Air Force announced that it was considering replacing the Vermont Air National Guard’s aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets with controversial new, state-of-the-art F-35 jets which cost a cool $115 million a pop.  Led by Major General Dubie, the five members of the Vermont Military Mafia soon became the state’s leading cheerleaders for the F-35s manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor.

Leahy, Sanders, Welch, and Shumlin all pretend to be political liberals, which they are not.  General Dubie heads up the Vermont National Guard where he has been responsible for recruiting and training young Vermonters for deployment to
Afghanistan and Iraq.  His brother Brian was the Republican Lt. Governor of Vermont for eight years.   Brian is a member of the Air Force Reserve and an American Airlines captain.

One of the Vermont Military Mafia’s most successful ventures to date involved recruiting the U.S. government-owned Sandia National Laboratories to Vermont.  Sandia, whose historical origins can be traced back to the Manhattan Project in World War II, designs, builds, and tests weapons of mass destruction.  It recently entered into a partnership with the University of Vermont to develop a center to study energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric grids.  UVM received a $9 million grant from Sandia.  Senator Sanders was the point man on this project with support from General Dubie.  Sandia is operated under contract by Lockheed Martin. Dubie is close to Lockheed Martin and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the UVM Board of Trustees.

As evidence of how effective this cozy relationship has been, Leahy, Sanders, and Welch recently announced that President Barack Obama had nominated Michael Dubie to be Deputy Commander of the U.S. Northern Command, NORTHCOM, based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  During an interview on Vermont Public Radio on May 15th the general with the teddy bear like demeanor revealed to the public for the first time what he is really all about and most likely why Obama chose him for such an important job in the first place.  Dubie expressed the view that the F-35s were critical to the future of Burlington International Airport, regardless of the environmental consequences, and that he was concerned over the number of Air Force bases which had been closed in the Northeast over the past two decades.  He felt that beefing up the Vermont Air National Guard with F-35s was a step in the right direction towards strengthening the Air Force’s presence in New England.  Although he refused to discuss his new job, he showed considerable passion over the future of the Air Force in the region.

Dubie indicated that his political handlers had advised him not to talk about his future responsibilities at NORTHCOM prior to confirmation by the Senate.  Several years ago NORTHCOM attracted a lot of attention when it was revealed that if martial law were ever declared in the United States, NORTHCOM would be responsible for planning and organizing it. Maybe General Dubie didn’t want to get near that topic.  Also, he once proposed that the Vermont National Guard be morphed into an international center for drone aircraft.  No doubt drones are an integral part of NORTHCOM’s agenda.  Incidentally, not surprisingly, Lockheed Martin is a major player in the drone aircraft market.  All five members of the VMM are enthusiastic supporters of drones.

It’s hard to believe this is really happening in Vermont, the state in which 180 towns passed resolutions calling for a nuclear freeze in complete defiance of President Ronald Reagan back in the 80s, the state where 50 towns voted to end the war in Iraq in 2005, and 36 towns demanded that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney be impeached in 2007.  It’s all about money, jobs, political power, and Lockheed Martin.  Could it be that Lockheed Martin hopes to replicate in New England the political clout which Boeing wields in Chicago using the Vermont Military Mafia to pave the way?  It has happened so fast that it is breathtaking.

One unanswered question remains.  How is it possible that the career of the unassuming head of the National Guard of the nation’s second smallest state could take such a quantum leap forward?  Dubie was basically an undistinguished Pentagon apparatchik doing his nondescript bureaucratic job in Vermont.  The answer lies with Leahy and Sanders who are very close to Obama.  Dubie may soon be in Colorado, but he can still do a lot for Vermont and in so doing lay the groundwork for a 2014 run for governor, when Shumlin runs for the U.S. Senate following Leahy’s retirement.

At a recent public hearing on the environmental impact of the F-35s representatives of the VMM justified the noisy, expensive, high-tech instruments of death with the quip, “Freedom is not free.”  But does it mean that the state of Vermont must sell its soul to Lockheed Martin and the American Empire to support war against the enemy of the month chosen by our sociopathic leaders to demonize.  Apparently, so.

Thomas H. Naylor is Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of AffluenzaDownsizing the U.S.A., and The Search for Meaning.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future