ICELAND: Pulling Out

The U.S. base at Keflavik, Iceland, is set on a dreary, lava-strewn peninsula in a place previously inhabited only by a legendary headless ghost, 35 miles west of Reykjavik. Since 1951, when the U.S. concluded a defense agreement with NATO partner Iceland and sent in 5,000 troops, relations between them and the 170,000 taciturn, insular Icelanders have been nearly as bleak as the landscape.

Though the Americans came by invitation, Icelanders treated them as unwelcome intruders. The Icelanders, jealous of their independence and insistent on their racial purity, have never cottoned to outsiders, coming as occupiers or defenders. For the...

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