I know nothing about US Admiral James Stavridis. I don’t know whether he attained his high rank because he’s a brilliant military strategist or just another political hack. I don’t know if he believes in a strong America, or believes America’s best defense is to role over and play dead. Indeed, as of this minute, I only know two things about him: (1) He is the person Obama appointed as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and (2) Obama deeply offended America’s NATO allies by his unilateral decision to appoint Stavridis to the position:
US Admiral James Stavridis is expected to take command of NATO forces soon. Obama’s decision to appoint him has astounded many in Europe, but the nominee brings important experience to the Afghanistan mission.
For Europeans at least, President Barack Obama’s choice for the new NATO commander comes as a surprise.
On Wednesday afternoon, e-mails circulating between Brussels and Berlin suggesting that, within the course of the day, Washington would name General James N. Mattis as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. The commander is in charge of all US troops in Europe as well as NATO deployments, including the ISAF security force in Afghanistan.
Traditionally, the United States appoints the supreme commander and the Europeans pick the NATO secretary general. The decision to appoint Mattis appeared to be a logical one. He has long carried the title “Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.”
In the end, though, Mattis didn’t get the appointment. Instead, Defense Minister Robert Gates announced that Admiral James Stavridis would be nominated for the highly prestigious position. The US Senate and the NATO Council must approve his nomination, but it appears likely he will get through. Gates said Stavridis was “probably one of the best senior military officers” in the US.
In Brussels, though, many felt bluffed. “America treats this like it’s purely an American matter — and they didn’t even give any hints about the appointment,” one NATO employee said. “The conspiratorial manner of the personnel search was almost reminiscent of the way the pope is selected,” Stefani Weiss, a NATO expert at the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation in Brussels, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
If Stavridis is truly the best person for American interests, so be it — America’s security is certainly my priority.
But didn’t the Obama promise us that, once he was President, he would heal all those myriad psychic wounds Bush had allegedly opened in relations between America and its existing allies in the rest of the world? So far, Obama has offended the Brits, offended Israel, offended Brazil, offended Poland and the Czech Republic, and now he’s offending Europe en masse. Remind me again how this is supposed to recalibrate America’s standing in the world?
UPDATE: I just got word from one of my friends who’s in the know that Admiral Stavridis is probably one of the good guys (not to mention being a blogger himself). My friend gave me some links to support this conclusion:
As I said to my friend in response to this information, I’m glad to hear Stavidris is one of the good guys. That means that Obama probably did put America’s interests first, even if it meant offending the Europeans. Still, it’s clear that he could have handled the matter more tactfully.
UPDATE II: Add France to the list of countires the radiant One was going to charm but, instead, managed to offend.