The Ice Man Cometh …

Even the simplest of questions can cause a general meltdown or freeze-up.Recently, Supreme Allied Commander U.S. Army Gen. Bantz J. (John) Craddock, who also heads the U.S. European Command spoke positively about NATO and the working relationship among the nations in an interview with WAMU National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm. The interview itself was a snoozer: Craddock was straightforward but seemed disinterested, lacked personality, and was unable to connect with his audience.

Ah, but the Ice Man Cometh …Things got interesting toward the end of the show when a listener wrote in asking about the possibility of a nation other than the U.S. leading NATO (a flag-rank from Great Britain, France, or Germany, specifically). Craddock’s feigned tone of friendship and cooperation immediately turned to cold contempt. He tersely explained that the numbers of flag positions at NATO are divided based on a nation’s (troop) contributions. If the nations want a greater share of the high-level leadership slots, then actual participation would need to increase — not just promises from these countries, which, from the strain in his voice, seems to be a major challenge. Craddock was emphatic that the U.S. would retain overall leadership, which he sees as key to NATO’s success.Discussions among NATO members on issues like manpower support are no secret. Canada recently has threatened to pull out of the Kandahar region of Afghanistan if NATO nations don’t cough up more troops for the mission. But it is rare to hear the U.S. pointman melt down. The topic of equitable participation versus leadership opportunities is one of the primary challenges facing Craddock and crew and probably will plague his successor (whom speculators have dubbed as U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus.)Listen to the interview.






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