DENMARK

A "personal friend" of George Bush at the head of NATO

A backer of the Iraq invasion, a defender of the infamous Danish cartoons, a "personal friend" of former US president George W. Bush... and now, the secretary-general of NATO. Is Anders Fogh Rasmussen really the right man to lead the Atlantic Alliance? Our Danish Observers react. Read more...

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Image: Kevin Andersen on Flickr.

A backer of the Iraq invasion, a defender of the infamous Danish cartoons, a "personal friend" of former US president George W. Bush... and now, the secretary-general of NATO. Is Anders Fogh Rasmussen really the right man to lead the Atlantic Alliance?

Rasmussen, 56, was prime minister of Denmark for over eight years. Despite supporting George W. Bush in his destructive search for Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction, the economic liberal still enjoys relative popularity in his home country after his staunch defence of daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005, brought him back into favour.  

The cartoons were not received so favourably in the Muslim world, however, and became the main reason for NATO member Turkey's initial rejection of Rasmussen's nomination. Reluctance eventually subsided after hard lobbying from Washington and London, and the former Danish PM stepped into the role of NATO chief this Monday

Rasmussen in caricature

 

 

Image from "The Liberators" satirical card game. Each supporter's card number relates to their involvement in the Iraq invasion.

Anti-war banner displayed in 2007. (Copenhagen mayor) "Ritt breaks the house, [referring to the closing down of an extremely popular, slightly anarchistic, youth venue], Fogh breaks the country, Bush breaks the world".

“Even my non-liberal friends feel very proud”

Annika Stenom (not her real name) is a business student in Copenhagen. She supports Venstre, the Danish Liberal Party, of which Rasmussen has been the leader for over a decade.

This is the most important position a Danish person has ever achieved. The Danish can be very jealous of success, but this time, even my non-liberal friends feel proud.

Rasmussen is the man of the moment. He always does the right thing at the right time. The press calls him ‘Stoneface'. He always does his job for the sake of the country without letting his emotions show. Of course he used to walk hand to hand with George W. Bush. But memories of the Iraq invasion have faded away because he did so much for the country after that. All the positive reforms he put into place overshadow that minor mistake."

“He’s the most calculated politician when it comes to spinning”

Sanne Larsen (not her real name) is a student from Copenhagen. She prefers to remain anonymous.

Rasmussen is a bit like a Danish Tony Blair. He's affected Denmark a great deal. It shouldn't be forgotten that he got elected as prime minister on the issue of immigration. He then governed a centre-right coalition, which was supported by the Danish People's Party - a far-right party.

He's still very popular in Denmark. His supporters, who exist largely due to small-country-syndrome, are extremely proud of his nomination. He's a real control freak; obsessed with his image and how he communicated with the people. He always manages to win over the public, the press, and sometimes even the opposition. At the time of the Iraq war many people demonstrated against sending Danish troops. But they no longer hold it against him. Once more, he's managed to twist public opinion in his favour. He's the most calculated Danish politician when it comes to spinning. He only talks to the press during his carefully planned weekly press conference. So it's hard to get to him."