Getting the NATO base in Iceland to close was no easy task, former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld (shown above with Shimon Peres in 2002) recalls in his new book, largely due to resistance from the Department of State.
In his book, Known And Unknown, Rumsfeld says that during Bush’s first term, he came to find that operational costs for the NATO base that used to be in Keflavík were running at 225 million USD per year. Rumsfeld says he sent a memo to then Secretary of State Colin Powell recommending a change be made.
Rumsfeld pointed out – as many had at that time – that the aircraft in Iceland were originally there to monitor Soviet submarines in the North Atlantic. But the Soviet Union was no more, and Rumsfeld estimated that some 2 billion USD had been spent on the Iceland base since the closing of the Cold War in 1989, with costs rising in the future.
Despite these facts, Rumsfeld says it took three years of pressuring and cajoling the State Department, at a cost to US taxpayers of some 700 to 800 million USD, to finally get the decision made to close the base, which would happen in 2006. The lesson Rumsfeld took away from this was that if it took this much effort to shut down a small base in a country of little strategic importance, it would be much more difficult to change the US military presence elsewhere in the world.
You can check out more about Rumsfeld’s book at Amazon.