Vandenberg Air Force Base:

For a while now we've been hearing about anti-war protestors who want to infiltrate the Vandenburg Air Force base near Santa Cruz. Vandenberg is apparently a major staging area for targeting and communications operations for the US military as a whole. Infiltrators hope to engage in sabotage operations, which they can do even if they are caught: military "force protection" protocols may require a lockdown of some secure areas if infiltrators are discovered. The idea is to disrupt military communications and operations at a time when troops are in the field.

A lot can be said about that. Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is this: It is precisely the advanced communications that have allowed this war to limit noncombatant casualties as much as it has. The "decapitation" strike we saw in the early minutes of the war show that plainly. Because of our communications capabilities, there is more of that kind of intelligence that is "actionable"--that is, intelligence that you can actually use for military targeting. Thus, a carefully aimed stroke against the murderous leaders of Iraq was possible. Without such communications, we're back to carpet-bombing in the hope of getting our boy.

Protestor Maia Ramnath completely fails to understand this. She says, "If our actions at Vandenberg succeed in delaying or disrupting the use of the world�s most formidable arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, in the conduct of a blatantly imperialist war, then we will have acted in good faith, in the interests of the human race." Leaving aside the questions of weapons of mass destruction and imperialism, the fact is that she's acting directly against the interests of the human race, and most especially of the noncombatant citizens of Iraq. By raising the intelligence bar for the US military, she not only endangers the lives of her bravest countrymen, but also the people she thinks she's protecting. Her actions do nothing to protect Iraqi citizens, but rather endanger them: those actions do, though, protect the generals and leaders of the Iraqi regime.

I have a different beef with Elden Boothe, but it is a smaller one. He, protesting the Vandenberg AF Base's policy that infiltrators may be subject to shoot-to-kill orders by base security. "The only time a law-enforcement official should shoot is when his life is in danger," Boothe said. "We are in the peace movement. We are not going to endanger anyone. . . . I suppose they could shoot you, but they would be doing it illegally."

Wrong on all points, sir. First, law enforcement officials--and, in most states, private citizens--are empowered to shoot to kill to protect any life that is in immediate danger, not only their own. The state of Georgia's title 16 describes this as "both [a] right and [a] duty." As mentioned, infiltrators are putting the lives of US military men and Iraqi citizens at immediate peril. Second, base security are not just "law enforcement" officers. Primarily, they are soldiers, and we are at war. Acts of sabotage against military installations have always merited "shoot-to-kill" status under these circumstances.

I still say the best policy would be to turn loose some Marine Corps Scout Snipers on the grounds of the base, with wax bullets and .50 caliber rifles. It would be good training for the Snipers (and good fun for them, too), and a good lesson for the protestors. No need to shoot to kill--a good beating with .50 caliber rounds will change hearts and minds pretty quickly too.

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