Peace Time: June 11, 2001


All wars incur costs that have to be paid long after the fighting stops. The Cold War is no different, except in terms of what the bills are for. During the Cold War, the United States established hundreds of firing ranges so that millions of troops to practice with their weapons. Now many of these ranges are being abandoned. But first they have to be cleaned up. In particular, the ranges used for artillery and bombing must have the unexploded stuff removed. The experts are still arguing over how much this will cost. The military are worried because even the low estimates (about $14 billion) will put a serious dent in their budgets. Some have suggested that the most contaminated ranges simply be fenced off and allowed to become nature preserves. The Korean DMZ (border area fenced off for the last half century) has turned into an untended nature reserve that now harbors several rare species (except for a few each year that have fatal encounters with old munitions.) But this approach is unlikely. Too many pressure groups (anti-pollution, pro-animal, anti-military, Etc.) want the military to pay whatever it takes to clean up these sites. For this reason, the military is now reconsidering abandoning some bases. It would be cheaper to keep them and leave a small security staff there to try and keep the locals out. 


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