So, at the moment of writing all signs point to Anders Fogh Rasmussen not becoming the next Secretary General of NATO today, tomorrow or at any later point in time.
Question #1: Why did the Turkish government block the nomination of Anders Fogh Rasmussen?
I’m not really competent to answer this one but let us note that two, partially competing explanations have been pit forward – first, the cartoon thing (“Turkey as the spokesman of the United Muslim World”), second the ROJ TV thing (Turkish nationalists vs. Kurdish political forces – Juan Cole notes that nationalist parties gained in the recent local elections in Turkey).
The Turks probably play a longer game here. A SG really isn’t that important and it is a case of manifesting the country’s importance internally and externally. Calls for a permament future exclusion of Turkey from the EU isn’t that much of a real-world threat.
Question #2: What will the ditching of Anders Fogh Rasmussen mean for Danish politics?
First, AFR and the Liberals are left with a nasty problem. For all effects, AFR has publicly stated that he wants to leave as Danish PM, and I cannot recall a situation where a PM has managed to return with his authority even remotely intact. From now on, AFR is damaged goods and he cannot lead the Liberals into the next elections. If I was AFR’s spin doctor, I would advise him to make a graceful exit as soon as possible and make way for Lars Løkke Rasmussen. The alternative will be a dirty struggle for the Liberal leadership. (I intend to get back on this one in a later post).
Second, I would imagine the Danish People’s Party to make the most of the situation. If the Turkish government plays the Muslim card internationally, DF will play the Muslim card nationally and they’ll do so big time. Heck, DF would even defend the Kurds if they had to.
Third, ever since the outbreak of the cold war, Liberals and Conservatives in Denmark have tended to have a very romantic view of the US in general and US-Danish relations in particular.
Now we’re in a situation where loyal Danish support for US foreign policies hasn’t paid off – okay, the SG thing is perhaps more symbolic than material, but still: If you were Barack Obama and had to choose between taking the side of Denmark (5,5 million and bordering on Sweden ) and Turkey (76 million and bordering on Syria, Iraq and Iran), which country would be most important to accommodate? Denmark isn’t the most relevant of countries.
Participation in the Afghanistan and Iraq missions as well as a number of other out-of-area missions since the mid-1990s have stretched Danish military capacities and the question is if the ideological perspective (support the US at all costs) or a more realist small-state perspective (is there anything in this for us or should we rather go with France and Germany?) will prevail in Danish security policy for the coming years.
Update: You might not think so, but I am in fact ROFLMAO. Maybe it was my visit to the laundry room which sealed it. Anyway AFR for GS and a Turkish deputy – that is a classic and a Thing of Beauty. But ask Barack Obama, and he will say that this was the important part of the summit.