South Burlington resident James Leas on war, F-35 ‘crisis’
Jan 5, 2023
For most of his life, James Leas has been proverbially shaking his fist at the sky.
Actively involved in the opposition to the F-35 fighter jets now based at Burlington International Airport, the South Burlington resident frames the current conversation about the war planes as a struggle that began nearly 10 years ago.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, patent lawyer, and lifelong activist, Leas is no stranger to the ins and outs of anti-war demonstrations.
“I was part of the ‘60s generation. I went to my first demonstration against the war in Vietnam in 1965, that was in Boston Common,” he said. “That war really did shape my thinking a lot because so many millions of people in Vietnam were killed and tens of thousands of American soldiers were killed there. What was it even really all about?”
In the 80s, he joined the fight against apartheid in South Africa, mainly against International Business Machines, or IBM, one the world’s largest information technology companies and the biggest supplier of computers to South Africa, which had a plant in Essex Junction.