Friday, 20 March 2009

All Change in NATO's Leadership

If the Danish newspaper Politiken is correct in this article, then the US has dropped the possibility of supporting Canadian Defence Minister Peter Mackay as the new NATO Secretary General. They are now, along with major European powers, supporting Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

That should about sew things up for Rasmussen, but will leave some important constituencies to be mollified, notably Turkey which has opposed the appointment. The Eastern Europeans will also be somewhat miffed, as they are beginning to feel like second class citizens within the Alliance. The Poles, in particular, were convinced that their man should get the job.

Another big change is the American announcement of a new Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), the Alliance's top military post. The current SACEUR, General Craddock, is widely perceived as being too close to ex-President Bush's political outlook. His replacement, Admiral James Stavridis of SOUTHCOM, was a surprise. (Here is the Pentagon press release about him).Most observers were expecting Admiral Mattis of NATO's Allied Command Transformation to get the job.

According to Der Spiegel, some in Germany at least were upset that the Pentagon made the appointment out of the blue without reference to European sensibilities. However, I certainly don't recall big debates in the Alliance about this in the past, and this job is in the gift of the US President. Any potential fights about the next Secretary General will be more significant in the short and longer term.

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