Cover image for Shutting down the Cold War : the politics of military base closure
Shutting down the Cold War : the politics of military base closure
Sorenson, David S., 1943-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xi, 308 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
UA26.A2 S67 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In a process described by its critics as 'brutal' and 'heartless,' a group of faceless commissioners closed down almost 100 military bases between 1989 and 1995. The process was hailed as a means to 'take politics out of base closure,' and it succeeded insofar as surplus bases closed after a ten-year hiatus. But, as this book indicates, the politics of base protection continued. In Shutting Down the Cold War , David Sorenson finds that the most powerful congressional representatives protected bases in their states and districts, and as a consequence the military never got as many bases closed as they desired. In this volume Sorenson unveils the political factors behind the process of military base closure, using three analytical models to examine the different levels of response to the procedure. He also reveals the ways in which base closure is a classic example of governmental reduction, to be studied for lessons about both the benefits and the hazards of government contraction.

Author Notes

DAVID S. SORENSON is Professor of National Security Studies at the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama. His publications include The Politics of Strategic Aircraft Modernization (1995) and numerous articles and chapters in professional journals and edited books. He has served as chair of the International Security and Arms Control Section of the American Political Science Association and of the International Security Studies Section of the International Studies Association.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

At the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military had far more infrastructure than it could support, given the competing needs for resources to modernize and fund the increasing levels of contingency operations. Four rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) actions eventually had the effect of closing almost 100 military bases in the United States, with sometimes negligible and sometimes catastrophic effect on nearby communities. Sorenson, professor at the prestigious USAF Air War College at Maxwell AFB, describes the unbelievably complex processes and motivations that Congress, local politicians, military establishments, veterans, environmentalists, preservationists, and other stakeholders went through in base closings. The analysis is not simple but should be read closely in all communities that have military facilities. Highly recommended.¬ĎEdwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Though pork barrel concerns and partisanship cannot be eliminated from difficult decisions that attempt to close superfluous military bases to save billions in defense spending, significant initiatives have been introduced to minimize political interests in the process. The most important development has been the creation of Base Realignment and Closure Commissions (BRACs). Despite the establishment of supposedly impartial BRACs, numerous calculated and frenetic political attempts were made to save those bases because hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of communities were at stake. A great many of these attempts failed as more than 330 bases were eliminated between 1988 and 1995. Much has been written about the politics of pork barrel legislation, but few analytical studies explain just how and why some efforts to slash unnecessary programs actually succeed. That is why many scholars will value this fascinating book by an Air Force scholar who examines the politics (as opposed to the administrative process) of military base closures over an eight-year period and explains what happened. This is not an unmitigated success story, but it suggests useful lessons about organizational learning and the role of the Congress in American defense policy making. Highly recommended to students, researchers, and educators interested in such questions. P. G. Conway; SUNY College at Oneonta

Table of Contents

Explaining Base Closure
Bases and Politics
Select Bibliography