Compromise could pave the way for MacKay
With the election of the replacement for NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoof Scheffer slowly approaching, a breakthrough that would allow Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay to win the job seems to be on the horizon.
“I don't think that traditions, in the sense of geography, should be a restriction on any position with NATO,” MacKay has recently said.
An unofficial NATO tradition is that a European will hold the office of Secretary General, while American commanders will maintain control of various military commands throughout the alliance.
American Vice President Joe Biden has reportedly offered a compromise to European leaders that may finally put this tradition to rest. Under Biden's compromise French commanders would assume control of several NATO commands in exchange for MacKay being elected Secretary General.
The likelihood that Biden's offer could be accepted is enhanced by the lack of a consensus amongst Europeans about which European candidate should be elected.
Polish Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski appears to be the strongest of the European candidates, but agitation between himself and Russia may undermine his candidacy.
Then again and by the same token, MacKay's recent verbal joust with Russia over bomber flights near Canadian airspace may make his own candidacy more questionable, considering that NATO is currently trying to strengthen its relationship with Russia.
MacKay has never lobbied Biden for his support. “I've never had a discussion with Vice-President Biden about this,” MacKay explained. “What I can tell you is that there is growing appreciation and I would even go so far as to say renewed respect for the role that Canada plays in NATO, not just in Afghanistan, but the fact that we have been an active participant and a founding nation for NATO in its 60 year history.”
Not to mention the direct leadership role Canada took in the creation of NATO.
With Biden's support -- knowing that Barack Obama isn't that far removed -- MacKay's candidacy for the job is far from a done deal, but it's become solidly within the realm of possibility.
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