Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Reformer in the NATO Henhouse

…what a surprise the ambassadors were dealt two months ago when the new secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, entered the alliance headquarters
writes Judy Dempsey.
Mr. Rasmussen, who gave up his job as prime minister of Denmark — the first time that a politician of such rank has taken over NATO — lost little time before he tried to change the internal workings of NATO.

There are fewer meetings. Agendas are shorter. Discussions are to the point. And Mr. Rasmussen, with pen in hand, ticks off what has to be done, by whom and when.

To the U.S.-led military alliance, whose structures and procedures have barely changed since it was founded 60 years ago by only twelve member states, these developments amount to a revolution.

And they come at a time when NATO, fighting its biggest war yet, in Afghanistan, urgently needs more efficiency in its deliberations.

“I am here as a reformer,” Mr. Rasmussen, 56, said in an interview. “I want to modernize, transform and reform so that NATO adapts to the security environment for the 21st century.” That means, he said: “In a rapidly changing security environment, we have to make sure that NATO is able to make rapid moves. Otherwise NATO will not maintain its relevance in the future.”

Previous secretary generals have attempted reforms. But they quickly came up against an unshakable lethargy.

… NATO is still agonizing over a new strategic doctrine to reflect its changing role. This is made more urgent by the war in Afghanistan. NATO also is involved in counterpiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and is still heavily committed to Kosovo in the Balkans. And even though Mr. Rasmussen wants NATO to reach out to China and India, can it really do so if it lacks a new doctrine to explain its role in the 21st century?

That is why Mr. Rasmussen broke with tradition in yet another matter: He appointed an outsider, former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright of the United States, to lead a group of 12 experts, independent of the ambassadors, to work out a new strategic concept for NATO. Mr. Rasmussen did so to break down the wall of exclusiveness and secrecy that is often associated with the alliance. The panel will be answerable to him, not to the ambassadors.

“I want discussions over NATO’s future to be the most open, the most inclusive consultation process in NATO’s history,” he said. “We have to address properly the new threats such as proliferation, cyber security and climate change, and move away from Cold War thinking.”

…Mr. Rasmussen wants to tackle other internal workings of the organization: What to do, for example, with the plethora of committees, “300 at least,” he said. All require decisions by consensus.

Then there is the sheer size of the military command structure, which has 13,000 personnel scattered across Western Europe at NATO’s many military bases. When France rejoined the integrated military structure in April, it was hard pressed to send 900 top-notch military staff to the various NATO commands. It needed them at home. Mr. Rasmussen said slimming down the military staff and all the NATO military headquarters “was included in my plans for transformation.”

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Anders Fogh Rasmussen répond aux questions du journal Le Monde

Dans une interview avec Nathalie Guibert et Jean-Pierre Stroobants, Anders Fogh Rasmussen répond aux questions du journal Le Monde. Par ailleurs (and totally unrelated), le tout premier numéro du nouvel hebdomadaire, Le Monde Magazine, a le Danemark en couverture…

Saturday, April 04, 2009

We Are Red, We Are White, We Are Danish Dynamite!

Denmark's Anders Fogh Rasmussen becomes the next head of NATO, writes Berlingske Tidende (nearly all links in Danish). If finance minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen replaces the George W Bush ally (this [English-language] link seems to be proof that all (?) Bush administration photos seem to have disappeared from Obama's White House web site) as prime minister, as planned, he will be the third Rasmussen in a row (after Fogh and Poul Nyrup Rasmussen) to be prime minister of Denmark (Danish PMs have tended to be known by their middle names, recently — Nyrup, Fogh, Løkke)… In any case, you gotta love a guy who (for whatever reason) cancels a meeting with Barack Obama

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I strongly believe in the American dream: Danish common sense on "the type of witch hunt that is going on now"

I strongly believe in the American dream: Everyone should be allowed to pursue their goals in life through hard work, dedication and free choice and, just as important, they should be allowed to be proud of what they have achieved.
From Hellerup, Denmark, Peter Guldberg writes to the editor of the International Herald Tribune (last letter on the page, after a series of often much less sensible letters):
Even though I’m from Denmark, for a long time I have thought of the United States as my second home — at least in spirit. I have worked for a large part of my career either in the United States or abroad for American firms. My youngest daughter was born in New York and is an American citizen, a fact of which I am immensely proud.

I strongly believe in the American dream: Everyone should be allowed to pursue their goals in life through hard work, dedication and free choice and, just as important, they should be allowed to be proud of what they have achieved.

It is with this in mind that I feel ashamed when following the current debacle surrounding the A.I.G. bonus payments and reading the resignation letter of Jake DeSantis.

There have been a few low points in American history, which thankfully have been exposed and debated for a long time. Unfortunately, the type of witch hunt that is going on now has the potential to become another one.

It is so wrong that Congress should be allowed to circumvent legally binding contracts in order to cater to mob anger.

Statements made by the attorney generals of New York and Connecticut about making lists of people that should be publicly named and shamed are just frightening.