Pentagon officials contend the planes, remnants of an operation started four decades ago to guard the North Atlantic against a Soviet threat, no longer need to be based in Iceland and can be used better elsewhere. But Iceland, which has no military, regards the aircraft as essential to its air defense and, even more important, as a symbol of a U.S. commitment to defend the nation.
….While U.S. officials argue that the threat in the North Atlantic is no longer what it was during the Cold War, Icelandic officials warn of leaving their country without any air defense.
“September 11th wasn’t supposed to happen, either,” Agustsson said. “An enemy always looks for the weakest link.”
The background here is murky, and it could be that the Bushies really did screw up the diplomatic spadework on this. It would hardly be a surprise.
But surely I can’t be the only one who thinks that if Iceland feels like (a) they are the weakest link in NATO, and (b) they need military protection, then maybe they ought to have a military of their own? I mean, I’m happy that they’ve pledged $4 million in reconstruction assistance to Iraq, but I’m sure we’d also be willing to sell them a few F-15s of their own if they really think they need them.