A Missile-Base in Vermont


This week, the Vermont news media published stories stating that the Pentagon is considering building a Ground-based Midcourse Defense base in Jericho, Vermont, a small town near Burlington and Montpelier. When people think about Vermont, Jericho is what people think of; wooded lands, dairy farms, older houses and a blend of Yankee families whose roots go back generations and newer residents looking for tranquility, beauty and a good place to raise their kids. There is no reasonable argument for a missile base in Jericho, Vermont. Indeed, there is no reasonable argument for this missile base to be built anywhere.

It was barely twenty years ago that the United States shut down most of its silos containing missiles because their reason for being no longer existed. Even if someone believes that terrorists or another country will mount a major attack on the United States, the likelihood of this type of missile defense having any use is near zero. There is one big reason for this proposed site. That reason is profit for the corporations involved. The construction of this site is nothing more than a transfer of public monies to private corporations. It is very similar to what sports team owners do when they convince a city to build a new stadium except that missile sites are obviously quite lethal and with no redeeming social or entertainment value.

If one takes a look at the components of the system the Pentagon wants to place in Vermont, they will see that, besides the grotesque nature of the language describing certain parts of the system, the companies that will profit from its construction are quite familiar. Here are the basics:

Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) — Raytheon
Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) — Orbital Sciences
Battle Management Command, Control and Communications (BMC3) — Northrop Grumman
Ground Based Radars (GBR) — Raytheon
Upgraded Early Warning Radars (UEWR) (aka PAVE PAWS) — Raytheon
Forward Based X-Band Radars (FBXB) –Raytheon

According to a March 13, 2012 report in Business Insider, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman rank numbers five and three respectively in the list of the top US defense contractors. Orbital Sciences reported revenues of over a billion dollars in 2012, much of it made in the construction of missile systems components. These companies have yet to mount their campaign in Vermont trying to sell its citizens on the merits of having a missile base in their state, but when they do, it is essential to remember that their primary motivation is profit, not safety, security or Vermonters’ well-being. The amount of money this proposed base will cost to construct has not been published. However, the known costs to this point for the program average out to around $900 million per year. As of this date, only two such missile bases exist; one in Fort Greeley, Alaska and one at Vandenberg Air Force Base in southern California. A third base was proposed for Poland and was canceled.

Not only should this missile base not be built in Vermont. It should not be built at all. Its proponents will tell the communities the Pentagon has pinpointed as potential sites for the bases that these missile sites will create jobs and bring revenue to their regions. This is mostly untrue. The majority of the people working at the base will be assigned there from other parts of the country and will be military and or government contractors. The amount of revenue brought into the region is unlikely to offset the costs of the environmental damage the construction and basing of the missiles will cause. Furthermore, the fact that almost a billion dollars a year is to be spent on an unnecessary defense system is obscene in the face of the economic situation faced by so many in the US population.

Vermonters are currently engaged in a fierce debate over the basing of F-35 jet fighters in their state. Like the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the F-35 is an unnecessary weapons system designed primarily to transfer taxpayers’ money into the pockets of Lockheed Martin (the nation’s Number 1 defense contractor). Many supporters of basing the F-35 in Vermont sum up their support with the phrase, “It’s the sound of freedom.” This is patent nonsense. Neither the F-35 nor the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system denotes the sound of freedom. No, the sound they are making is the sound of our hard-earned money being stolen from our children’s schools, our nation’s infrastructure, our hospitals, and our futures. The other part of that sound these unnecessary and fear-mongering weapons systems is the sound of the defense industry CEOs, the politicians in their pockets and the generals at the Pentagon laughing at our gullibility and counting their coin.

Ron Jacobs is the author of the just released novel All the Sinners, Saints. He is also the author of  The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.  His third novel All the Sinners Saints is a companion to the previous two and is due out in April 2013.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press.  He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”