Marymount University and other D.C. area schools were allotted to attend a “Town Hall Meeting” of sorts with the Secretary General of NATO, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He is the 12th Secretary General and has been in this capacity since 2009. He was also the Prime Minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009. This was held at the National Defense University on Tuesday, February 28th. Secretary General Rasmussen was presented by other speakers to be excited for this experience, and willing to answer questions from any area.
Secretary General Rasmussen started with brief remarks on a variety of issues. He started with condolences to the families of the American and European service members who recently lost their lives in Afghanistan. He acknowledged that many in the crowd are currently serving, and some were specifically involved in Afghanistan. He used this as a transition to the mission of Afghanistan. He solidified that the country will be wholly in the control of the Afghan people by the end of 2014. Secretary General Rasmussen went into some of the other connections between the United States and Denmark, besides the contributions to Afghanistan and also there was a mention of the upcoming Chicago Summit for NATO. There was than a brief description of the four main points of NATO.
Secretary General Rasmussen said that “NATO is busier than ever.” This became clear at the variety of topics that Secretary General Rasmussen answered and touched upon during the Question and Answer session. One of the strongest issues was the possibility of new members, including Georgia and Russia. Marymount students were given plenty of floor time, and our questions seemed to illicit some of the best conversation. Lines of Marymount questions brought up the topic of NATO budgets in the world recession. Secretary General Rasmussen in response brought up the policy of “smart defense”, which is a way to trim down and pool resources to beat a tough budget, and went into more detail about the Chicago Summit.
Marymount students also kept the Russian issue of defense missile placement in the conversation. Secretary General Rasmussen responded by saying that missile defense is the main roadblock in Russian admission to NATO. According to Secretary General Rasmussen, it is an “absolutely, crazy idea” of the Russians that this missile defense is aimed and that threatening Russia is the main goal. A third Marymount question dealt with the Russian expanding budget, and NATO involvement or concern over Somalia. Both questions were well received by Secretary General Rasmussen. The Question and Answer session showed that our students can ask the hard questions, and get to the root of some of our biggest issues internationally. This was an excellent event for Marymount to attend, and will hopefully be just one in the many to come for the Politics Department to be involved with.