No one in the White House sees the Chicago summit “as an opportunity for making major” changes in NATO

Obama and Rasmussen

From Harlan Ullman, the New Atlanticist:  The White House is preoccupied with the election and is in full campaign mode. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with U.S. President Barack Obama two days ago in Washington. But because of the November election, NATO isn’t going to remain high on the agenda even though Chicago is our commander in chief’s hometown and he will want to be seen as a strong and confident leader at that summit.

“Zero” refers to the number of people in the administration who see this summit as an opportunity for making major and even transformational change in the alliance.

As former White House Chief of Staff — and now Chicago’s Mayor — Rahm Emanuel famously pomposed, “never waste a crisis.” NATO is at a potential crisis point. Yet, almost certainly, the summit will be overshadowed by the Group of Eight meeting coming immediately before and the November election later become grounds for making the NATO meeting a bully pulpit for the presidential campaign and not a forum for presenting bold ideas.

Clearly, Libya could become “Exhibit A” touting NATO’s prowess and remarkable alacrity in taking on the U.N.-and Arab League-sanctioned mission to protect civilians that ultimately toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi — unless things go very badly over the coming months in creating a new government. If that happens, then the May summit could become more wake than rite of passage. And other “black swan” events particularly regarding Afghanistan could likewise cast menacing shadows on the summit.

Hence, Chicago will be viewed by the White House as something to get through rather than as a vehicle for making NATO more viable in the 21st century.

If, however, the White House were to embrace some creative ideas for hosting a transformational summit, what might they be? And while risks in taking any bold initiatives are real, Britain’s Special Air Service motto should become NATO’s: “Who dares, wins!”

Harlan Ullman is senior advisor at the Atlantic Council, and chairman of the Killowen Group that advises leaders of government and business. This article was syndicated by UPI. Photo courtesy of UPI.

Image: Obama-Rasmussen-NATO.jpg