Magazine article Insight on the News

Short-Term Pain Promise Long-Term Gain

Magazine article Insight on the News

Short-Term Pain Promise Long-Term Gain

Article excerpt

Advocating military cutbacks or downsizing when the United States stands on the brink of a "war" with the world's terrorists, and when flag-waving is supplanting baseball as the national pastime, might seem like a politically perilous position to take. But the Senate recently voted 53-47 to create a commission to recommend military bases that should be closed. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the potential savings from streamlining was needed now more than ever.

If that list of obsolete bases ever is approved (a big "if," given the political sensitivities), it will be the fifth round of base closures since 1988. But a 1995 effort by the Clinton administration to manipulate the process for electoral advantage had put any talk of further closures on ice.

"In the wake of the terrible events of Sept. 11, the imperative to convert excess capacity into war-fighting capability is enhanced, not diminished," Rumsfeld recently wrote in a letter to Congress. "We owe it to all Americans ... to seek every efficiency in application of those funds. …

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