A change at the top of NATO

Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has been named as the new NATO Secretary-General, and will take up the position on January 1st when George Robertson steps down. From the reports, it would seem he’s a sensible choice for the role, and seems likely to continue the work of Robertson and his predecessor, Javier Solana, of developing and defining NATO‘s role in the 21st century.

I must admit that I don’t know much about Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, so if any of our Dutch readers want to share information with other FOE readers about him, then please go ahead!

7 thoughts on “A change at the top of NATO

  1. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer:

    For a Wikipedia summary (in Dutch) see http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaap_de_Hoop_Scheffer

    Brief summary (in English):

    Born 3 April 1948 in Amsterdam, studied law, underwent military service (the Netherlands had the draft until 1995 IIRC – EO), after which he worked at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was detached to (among other places) Brussels and Ghana.

    From 1979 to 1982 he was a member of the D66 (smallish centrist secular political party – EO), after which he stepped over to the CDA (Christian Democrats – centrist nominally non-secular party – EO). In 1997 he became opposition chairman of the CDA, but had to step down in 2002 because of an internal conflict with Marnix van Rij about rankings in the candidate list (in Dutch elections voters vote not only for the parties themselves, but may choose to assign their vote to a particular candidate from that party; lists for these candidates are drawn up in party preference order, which is why this leads to some infighting -EO) for the Dutch Second Chamber (house of representatives – EO) elections.

    He was minister of Foreign Affairs in both coalition cabinets after 2002 (the first cabinet lasted only a year before internal conflicts tore it apart – EO).

    Personal impression: De Hoop Scheffer is a career politician pur sang, is fairly colourless, is wholly lacking in personal charisma, is not an ideologue, is reasonably pragmatic, has centrist to mildly right-wing views (by Dutch standards) was not particularly impressive as opposition chairman, and is not known to be particularly strong-willed in the way that, say, Frits Bolkenstein or Ruud Lubbers are.

  2. Addendum: De Hoop Scheffer is favourably inclined towards the US and US policies, and supported (morally, at least) the current war in Iraq. He is most unlikely to want to steer NATO on a more independent course, and is not a person the Americans will have any difficulties with.

  3. EO – As a consensus candidate, JdHS is by definition not a person any member of the Alliance will have difficulties with.

    Any particular reason you chose to single out the Americans?

  4. Doug,

    No particularly strong reason. There are two defacto sides in NATO: Europe (or more particularly, France-Germany and satellites) and the US, as we have recently seen. De Hoop Scheffer is an European candidate but his instincts are to integrate, not to divide. As you point out, he is a consensus candidate anyway.

  5. “a career politician pur sang, is fairly colourless” “centrist to mildly right-wing views “. That describes the guy correct in my opinion.
    To add on “supported (morally, at least) the current war in Iraq”.
    The “political not military support” for Bush’s coalition of willing was formulated when CDA was talking with the social-democrats to form the new government. (the talks were terminated later and now we have a governent of CDA and VVD). Before these talks however de Hoop Scheffer and pm Balkenende declared that the US did not need UN-approval to attack Iraq even BEFORE the Bush-administration tried formally to convince the security-council!

  6. “Before these talks however de Hoop Scheffer and pm Balkenende declared that the US did not need UN-approval to attack Iraq even BEFORE the Bush-administration tried formally to convince the security-council! ”

    A point of view which is actually correct. He sounds like good man for the job.

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