Coffee House

Is José Manuel Barroso after the top job at Nato?

24 July 2013

1:30 PM

24 July 2013

1:30 PM

José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, put on a suspiciously big-time press conference today to launch what were really no more than some modest proposals to standardise the European defence industry.

On the podium with him at the Berlaymont, and you’d have to ask why, since they ended up looking like backing singers, were Michel Barnier, commissioner for the internal market, and Antonio Tajani, commissioner for industry. One of Barroso’s 24-hour on-call film crews was under his podium, of course, plus news broadcasting crews, and as good a turnout of the Brussels press corps as you could expect this close to beach time.

All this to repeat the usual call to standardise the defence sector?


Not everyone thought so. First question out of the press, after Barroso had made his pitch about needing to eliminate the duplications of programmes: would this announcement have anything to do with the fact that ‘another organisation across town’ – Nato – is looking for a new secretary general?

Because of course the rumours around Brussels are that, ever since Barroso figured out last year that he wasn’t going to be given an unprecedented third term as president, he has been pitching for the Nato job.

So, was he pitching? Was that why he was making a full-cast performance of his call today for ‘more defence cooperation?’

‘This has nothing to do with my future,’ he insisted. ‘What I do can do or not do in future is simply speculative.’

Sounds like a ‘Yes’ to me.

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Show comments
  • Ringan

    The clumsy way in which Barosso overplayed his hand on Scottish independence demonstrates that he is totally unsuited to the NATO job. He’s a clown.

  • caver38

    I agree with various comments , Barroso is a clown who made a mess of Portugal , and not much better in the EU .
    Ad what experience does Barosso have in running an organisation like NATO , well ZERO.
    As has been pointed out , a lot of these third rate politicians go from high paid job to high paid job . This has to stop

  • David Lindsay

    He would need to move neither house nor anything else. NATO and the EU practically merged years ago.

    When did anyone last seek membership of either without seeking or already holding membership of the other? Sweden and the EU, I suppose. But see below on that one. And even in its own terms, that was altogether exceptional. Can you imagine either body acting without the prior approval of the other? Iraq or Libya was not a NATO mission, and even if it had been.

    NATO ought to have been wound up 20 years ago. Normally, one says that it ought to have been wound up because it had served its purpose. But the reality is that it ought to have been wound up in some ignominy, since that purpose had turned out to have been what any non-hysterical person, such as Enoch Powell no less than Tony Benn, had always known, said and explained that it was: a complete fiction, there never having been either any means or any will on the part of the Soviet Union to invade Western Europe.

    Shorn even of that justification for its existence, NATO has been doing no good, and much harm, for a generation. The appointment of Barroso as Secretary-General might cause certain organs of British opinion to turn against NATO, either genuinely or
    pretendedly unable to comprehend that his pro-Bush foreign policy when he was Prime Minister of Portugal was entirely of a piece with the agenda that he advances in his current office.

    That would be the wrong reason for those minds to change. But if that was what it took, then so be it.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Well, as someone who once spent a considerable amount of his time pondering active and pre-emptive Warsaw Pact war plans, such as OP-61 which relied heavily on the use of tactical nuclear weapons, your dismissal of the threat is tripe and denigrates many brave men who put their lives at risk or died to undermine them as well as those who trained long and hard to defend us to the best of their abilities.

      “It is desirable to consider (…) nuclear attacks on such centres as Hannover or Brunswick, Kiel and Bremen. The destruction of these cities will likely cause a complete disorganization of political life, the economy, etc. It will significantly influence the creation of panic in areas of nuclear strikes. The exploitation of the effects of strikes by our propaganda may contribute to the spread of panic among enemy armies and populations (…). In order to exclude Denmark from the war as quickly as possible, nuclear strikes should be launched at Esbjerg (an important strategic point in the NATO system) and Roskilde (Zealand Island), and subsequently a widespread special propaganda action aimed at deepening the existing panic should be conducted to warn Denmark’s troops and civilian population of the consequences of further resistance and the threat that, in the event of continuation of the war, further atomic strikes will occur.”
      (Excerpt from a presentation by the commander of the Polish Front, General Zygmunt Duszyński, in 1961)

      You are far too intelligent to be subscribing to the modern British left’s benign revisionism of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. I respectfully suggest that you spend less time writing poisonous waffle about it and more time studying the documented historical reality. You could start here:-

  • thanksdellingpole

    Bring back capital punishment.

  • thanksdellingpole

    Bring back capital punishment.

  • Smithersjones2013

    That’s NATO finished then. The Yanks won’t put up with that arrogant puffed up little despot!

  • chudsmania

    For standardised read ‘control of’ . Thats all you need to know.

  • Greenslime

    I just felt a shiver run down my spine when I read this one. It is a joke, right?

  • HookesLaw

    Perhaps Britain should be promoting Liam Fox?
    Rumours suggest that the front runner is the German defence secretary but the way Germany has performed its NATO role hardly makes that a brilliant option,
    Maybe Barruso is not such a bad idea
    Canadian defence minister Mackay is being touted, others suggest a Romanian or a Turk….

    NATO is a broad church

    • the viceroy’s gin

      NATO is not a “broad church”.

      NATO is the US.

      It’s as broad as the US wants it to be.

      If the US doesn’t want it to exist, it won’t.

      Which, come to think of it, may be the reason Barroso is being pushed for this job. The US wants NATO to implode.

    • MirthaTidville

      Fox would be a very good choice as would the Canadian…The rest, especially the Germans, could`nt fight their way out of a paper bag

  • Joshaw

    Ask Farage what he thinks of Barroso.

  • Fergus Pickering

    He’s not up to it

    • Noa

      Since when has incompetence ever been a bar to such positions?

  • Colin

    Interesting; in another age, his political affiliations would have had him marked out as an enemy.

    Do leopards really change their spots?

    • itdoesntaddup

      I thought he is an enemy?

  • allymax bruce

    Barrosso is a liability; NATO is well warned of this clown. His own country peoples are protesting & rioting at his horrid austerity programme puppetry, all the while Barrosso acts like some purposely estranged Portugues monarch.

    • MirthaTidville

      Quite so..I would`nt put this self serving pratt in charge of taking my dog for a walk

  • Normandee

    It’s the inevitability that’s depressing, as in the civil service in the UK these guys just wander from one extremely high paid job to another, never doing a decent turn in any of them, and we keep paying them. Politics in the world has become a joke, I defy anyone to name a successful leader in place now anywhere that isn’t sucking up to some kind of support group or another.

  • Noa

    NATO became obsolete with the fall of the USSR.

    It’s time that it, and the multinational parasites on and within it, suffered the same fate.

    • HookesLaw

      Since countries like Hungary and Poland are now members of NATO I would say it has become stronger since the fall of the USSR.

      Many defence contracts are multi national.
      The next option might be a family of APCs I guess.

      • Noa

        Like all bureaucracies it perpetuates itself.

        Poland and Hungary’s desire to protect themselves under the US nuclear umbrella from their traditional enemy in the East provided it with a lineline.

        However the new reality is that ‘an attack on one will not be an attack on all’. The US, Britain and France will not adopt MAD and are unlikely to use conventional forces to protect the ex Iron curtain members.
        The real reason now for its continuation is to undertake and operate the long planned role of EU armed forces integration, control and depoyment.
        That in itself is sufficient reason to abolish it.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Well, by any objective judgement, Barroso has presided over the slow death of the EUSSR project. So it’s probably fitting that he now go over to NATO, as that sick patient appears to be in need of the Liverpool Care Pathway, as well.

  • William Haworth

    European defence is almost standardised already.

    Only the French and UK armies will ever fight to defend their national interests, the rest are too small/cowardly/uninterested to join in any action. So, the shape of the rifles may differ, but the likelihood of their being used is standardised across the continent.