Rasmussen! The day’s tractations in Strasbourg have been interesting, and I’m sure one day in Peter MacKay’s memoirs (a few chapters after Chapter 5, “Quick! Rent a Dog!”) we’ll read all about them. Two things seem to have happened in the final hour, one public, one private: First, the Americans put word out that they were in “no great hurry” to name a NATO secretary general — which meant there was no way alternatives to Rasmussen could hope for some kind of last-minute, ill-advised, pressure-cooker switch away from the Danish heavy favourite to some dark horse. This was going to get settled the majority’s way, or it would wait — and get settled the majority’s way.
Second, the Turkish prime minister is saying he received “guarantees” from Barack Obama in the home stretch. It will be interesting to see what those guarantees were.
Elsewhere at NATO: This long lede-all from the NYT tells us membership for Ukraine and Georgia is receding. “The door to membership will remain open for other countries that meet NATO’s standards and can make a meaningful contribution to allied security,” Obama said. Oooh, that’s cold. Quibble about “NATO’s standards,” which can be hard to define except in the breach, but surely the first condition of a “meaningful contribution to security” is that you’re not a massive security pit where security goes to die. Yes, we mean you, Georgia. And assorted member states have ponied up 5,000 troops, most of them probably only through the summer election period, for Afghanistan.
Back in Washington, Robert Gates is preparing a substantial overhaul at the Pentagon, to shift away from Donald Rumsfeld’s strategic goals (Shock and Awe/ Stuff Happens) and toward counterinsurgency.