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Vandenberg AFB: Friend or Foe?

Controversy surrounding VAFB continues. Activists call for summer rallies.
Vandenberg Air Force Base: Friend or Foe?
By Dan Fortson May 17, 2004

To some, Vandenberg Air Force Base is the economic powerhouse that drives the northern end of Santa Barbara County. To a steadily growing number of concerned citizens, VABF is a staging ground for all out nuclear annihilation, which puts the central coast at security risk and causes untolled suffering around the world. About 45 such concerned citizens were on hand at the gates of Vandenberg last Saturday to protest activities which, they say, are part of the U.S. military’s plan for world domination through the militarization of space by the only remaining corporate-driven superpower.

During the rally, I asked VAFB spokeswoman Major Stacee Bako for the official version of what went on at the Base. “We do two things: Primarily, we launch commercial & military satellites, and then the second thing we do is we operate the Western Test Range which extends from the coast of California out to the Quagelin Atoll in the Marshal Islands.?

Researcher Loring Wirbel, author of the book Star Wars, had a darker account of the base: “The Western Range management that the Major discussed is actually a very big deal because they are responsible for testing all the major strategic missiles including the missiles of the Missile Defense Agency and that will entail working on future systems that will be just as dangerous as the MX missile. There is a new revitalized mobile missile called the MinuteMan IV that they’ll be working on testing. Sooner than that, they’ll be taking on at least four of the interceptor missiles for the ground-based mid-course missile defense weapons, and those weapons will be permanently stationed at Vandenberg making it, in effect, a missile field for strategic nuclear war.? Wirbel also noted that the satellites have been quietly shifted in recent years from spying and treaty verification to offensive first strike activities and are an integral part of the US’s illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Asked if this makes Vandenberg a terrorist target and puts central coast residents at risk, he responded: “By all means.?

And what of this Quagelin Atoll? Just some uninhabited backwater in the central Pacific? Hardly. Check out what Peter Lumsdain, cofounder of the Vandenberg Action Coalition had to say: “What’s really significant about Quagelin is that this is a place where thousands of Marshalleze Islanders have been forcibly relocated from their ancestral homes & fishing grounds by the U.S. military, specifically the U.S. Strategic command that runs Vandenberg Air Force Base, and every Intercontinental Ballistic missile that Vandenberg test fires is launched from Vandenberg as a dress rehearsal for World War III and the depleted uranium Warhead, lands in the middle of Quagelin, the largest corral atoll in the planet. So it’s really an incredible scandal that the U.S. has kept this thing very quiet and has kept those people under this kind of military apartheid system in the central Pacific."

Bud Booth, a World War II veteran and local activist was also present at the rally. I asked him why he stays involved. “I think it’s the right thing to do. I participated in WW II which was, presumably, the war to end all wars after WW I was the war to end all wars, and we knew when Korea came along and then Viet Nam and the others, that the leaders of the world are not interested in peace. They’re interested in power and power is what our government is now engaged in in Iraq. So I’ve protested for the last twenty some odd years because I realized that that was what my life should be dedicated to.? I asked Booth if he was pleased to see so many young people out at the protest. “It’s their world and if we don’t do something about the direction our government is headed, then there may be no world left for them, so I truly am happy to see the young people go out and protest for the future that they will have to live with…or die for if we don’t succeed.?

Across the street from this rally were about thirty pro Vandenberg people with flags waving. Bruce Melton offered this comment: “I’m out here today because I feel that you guys protesting against the military is like protesting against mothers on Mother’s Day.? Thanks for your thoughtful words Bruce, and for the record, if my mother had half as much gunboat morality and contempt for international law as the U.S. military, I’d shut her down too.

Speaking of morality, Major Bako confirmed that Air Force personnel are instructed not to follow orders that are immoral and/or illegal, which begs the question. What are they doing in an illegal invasion of Iraq, entirely without international precedent (at least since the Germans invaded Poland), killing tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, led by an illegitimate minority “President? who was never democratically elected, and all based on lies? Predictably, she avoided the question. “Actually, I Think what you’re talking about is matters of policy that you’re going to have to talk to my superiors about.? Well Major, your superiors aren’t returning my phone calls but, except for those who have resigned in protest, I think we all know where they stand.

So the standoff continues. The Pentagon continues its path of world domination for the benefit of corporations, and the citizens continue to protest. Organizers are calling on all citizens to get active and say they have several events planned for the summer, leading up to the big rally on September 25th. Those interested in More information should visit for further info.

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