Thursday, March 12, 2009

Peter MacKay, our face to the world?

While I still really don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance on Kandahar of Peter MacKay being tapped as the next NATO chieftain, with US VP Joe Biden supposedly stumping for him I suppose I need to take it at least semi-seriously.

While I really don’t think it should be Peter MacKay, I do think there’s no reason why a Canadian shouldn’t be given due consideration and no reason why there couldn’t be a Canadian in the NATO post.

The commonly-held view is that a Canadian could never hold the top NATO post, for reasons of geography. The NATO military head is usually a US general and so the NATO civilian head must be a European. So fairness supposedly dictates, and so the tradition has been.

That’s all well and good, but what about Canada? Why, for reasons of geography, should Canada be excluded from playing a leading role in NATO, an organization that we have made a major commitment to since its founding? We had a substantial military presence in France and Germany during the Cold War (and by the way US, we left when it was over) committed to NATO. We’ve been a strong contributor to NATO missions over the years. Most notably, the current Afghan mission, where we’re punching substantially above our weight with the largest commitment after the US and the UK.

So, absolutely, a Canadian should be considered a serious contender for the NATO role. To exclude us for reasons of politics and geography is insulting and unacceptable.

That said, Peter MacKay? I’d like to think we could do better. His record as defence minister hardly inspires faith in his competence for the position, which will require the incumbent to deal with some major challenges, such as getting more support for the Afghan mission, NATO expansion in EasternEurope, and an annoyed Russia.

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Olaf said...


Have an alternative in mind? The only one that pops into my head is Manley, but I know you're not a big fan right now. So, who would you appoint, if given the power?

Jeff said...

An excellent question, and one that occurred to me as I wrote this post but one I didn't really have time to give the needed thought. And I still don't really, darned work.

If it needs to be a politician, then the list is indeed short.

MacKay I'm not a fan of.

Manley is indeed the first name to come to mind. I've disagreed with some of his decisions (and his party loyalty) but defence policy-wise we're not too far off base on most issues, at least those within NATO's purview, and he has the international respect, and certainly is much more a serious player than Peter.

Bill Graham was a pretty good defence minister actually, and has diplomatic experience for his stint in foreign affairs.

After that, I'm blanking. Axworthy is probably too much of a lefty. Trying to think of another Conservative with diplomatic/foreign affairs creds, I can only come up with Barbara MacDougall and Joe Clark, neither ideal candidates to be sure.

Wasn't Kim Campbell defence minister at some point?

sjw said...

Well, how about an ex-military personage? That would seem to make some sense and with it Lewis MacKenzie immediately comes to mind. Or better yet, what of Rick Hillier? I'd much rather see that hater moved across the sea to sit as NATOs headwaiter then have him as a TD Canada Trust advisor. I'm sure many found that little appointment glorious, but it had me take my financial business elsewhere.

Tom said...

What, McKay.
Hes not even a Liberal !!!!!!!

Jeff said...

I'd considered mentioning ex-military types. Lewis MacKenzie and Romeo Dallaire would be names I'd consider. Rick Hillier, I think, probably lacks the diplomatic graces for what is a very political job.

I didn't mention military types though because I think there is something to be said for not having a military type in both the Secretary-General and military leader roles. I think you want either a politician or a career diplomat in the sec-gen role so you don't have two people coming from the military perspective.

geo said...

Joe is just having a bit of fun I think. Maybe to see if we dour Canadians have any sense of humour. Joe likes a good laugh and there wasn't many when Steve went down there. Sure things are tough but hell, they have ten times the problems we have, even more and they are trying to stay up beat about it. The sun will come up again!

Is that picture from when Belinda dumped Pete and he borrowed his neighbours dog for the photo op? So sad, and to think he was almost PM. hehehehe

Jeff said...

Is that picture from when Belinda dumped Pete and he borrowed his neighbours dog for the photo op?

Yes indeed.