Tuesday, April 7, 2009
It's an interesting choice to give up being the premier of your country in return for leading an organisation fattened by bureaucracy and facing the greatest challenge to its existence.
By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
But like his Viking ancestors Anders Fogh Rasmussen is clearly not a man shy of steaming into battle.
Unlike the more reticent Nato countries, he has led Denmark as one of the few European countries that has proved a stalwart in the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq with 28 Danish soldiers killed in operations.
Although it has received little recognition, Danish troops in both countries happily placed themselves under British military command and have come to be respected as a very useful resource on a par with their fellow Anglo-Saxon professionals.
On a number of occasions in Helmand the Leopard 2 tanks of the Danes have provided the muscle to help out the British so it augurs well for both London and Washington that someone who appears to be in their camp is robust and his own man.
It is just as well too because Nato is starting to be regarded with increased disdain by the Americans and there is much staring at the ceiling by British commanders when the alliance's name is mentioned during operations in Helmand.
Thus it is interesting that southern Afghanistan, which is probably now the key area for fighting the counter-insurgency, will have British, American and Danish troops in the forefront of fighting the Taliban.
This will work well for Mr Rasmussen because by now he will surely understand the challenges and frustrations in trying to court greater resources out of the more reluctant powers. He will know too that Germany, France, Italy and Spain have not stepped up to the plate in Afghanistan so he will be a useful ally to the Anglo-Saxon cause when he replaces the smooth but ultimately limited Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
It will be interesting to see what Nato might become by the end of Mr Rasmussen's tenure. An organisation designed to fight off the Soviet hordes is struggling to fight a counter insurgency for which the military alliance was clearly not designed.