Tuscon and the F-35

By: Mary DeCamp – Tucson, AZ

Mary and BirdieTucson, AZ has been my home for a couple of decades now. I’m very fond of “the Old Pueblo” and have taken an active role in local politics, including running for City Council in 2009 and for Tucson’s Mayor in 2011.

What propelled me into the political arena was a growing concern over the health and vitality of our natural world. Friends in the Green Party schooled me in how rapidly our physical planet is changing due to human activities that have overtaxed the carrying capacity of earth. The status quo’s rallying cry is “Growth! Growth! Growth!” with both major party candidates catering to the moneyed interests that fund political races.

The thriving industries in Tucson include sectors of the military-industrial complex. We have Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Raytheon, and Bombadier. Of course, the American military is the world’s leading producer of pollution, and since industries associated with the military headquarter in Tucson, the negative environmental effects pop up there.

In the past, our water table was polluted with TCE, a chemical used to clean military aircraft. We have acres upon acres of land devoted to a “bone yard” where the shells of decommissioned planes sit in tidy rows. We have a big Veterans Administration hospital to serve those soldiers who were wounded in service or have other medical needs. There are so many ways the military makes its presence known and so many taxpayer dollars being spent in Tucson.

One of the biggest boondoggles in military spending involves the F-35 fighter jet. The military wants to use Davis-Monthan as home to the F-35, despite vocal opposition from many Tucsonans who live near the base and who do not want to hear the ear-splitting noise and the increased chance of flight failures.

Proponents of the F-35 view those opposed to the aircraft as “job killers.” This is an absurd and inaccurate view. We want jobs – we just want green, life-affirming jobs instead of funding an ever increasing cycle of violence and destruction. Raytheon could be re-purposed to produce light rail systems rather than weapons of mass destruction. Soldiers could be re-deployed to the homeland to install energy retrofits on all our homes and businesses.

For more information on the fight against the F-35 in Tucson, check out www.TucsonForward.com. For ideas on how to redirect war dollars, visit www.codepink.org. For more information on the Green Party in Pima Country, the only political party that refuses corporate campaign donations, visit www.pimagreens.org.