On Air: Talk to the head of NATO

nato1 Hi from Brussels. We arrived at the BBC’s bureau yesterday after a quick visit to NATO. The only clue that this is home to the world’s most powerful military alliance was the national flags adding a touch of colour. Further evidence will come in the form of NATO’s secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer who’ll be hosting us from the NATO radio studio for the whole hour today.

He’ll answer your questions on any subject, but we only have an hour, so do get them in as early as you can.



A reminder of NATO in the news this week… Russia threatened to pull out of a meeting with it, if it goes ahead with exercises in Georgia next month. Georgia wants to join NATO, but Russia objects.

And two NATO ships chased and caught a band of Somali pirates over the weekend but then let them go.



55 Responses to “On Air: Talk to the head of NATO”

  1. April 14, 2009 at 14:31

    HI JAAP,



  2. April 14, 2009 at 14:46

    I am interested in the relationship of NATO and its EU members: Is NATO made more fragile by an EU that is still trying to work out its political potential, or is NATO a significant unifier of EU nations during a time when they are divided on other key issues? Or, to invert the question, does the fact that NATO includes Canada and the U.S. among its members hold the EU countries together with a common purpose and act as a model of compromise toward a greater end, or does the debate within NATO increase the conflict among EU nations to progress its internal unity?

  3. 3 Dan
    April 14, 2009 at 15:08

    Since the end of the Cold War NATO’s reason for being seems to have become more political than military.
    Has NATO developed a new model for its existence? If so, do you perceive the threat from the Middle East as the new threat?
    How will you get member nations to increase their financial and military participation within NATO?

  4. 4 Matthew Houston
    April 14, 2009 at 15:40

    Could you imagine NATO ever transitioning to a development force? Do you imagine that such a transition could be seen as a weapon against terrorism?

  5. April 14, 2009 at 15:46

    NATO was founded in the face of the Cold War, now that all that is over, are there any specific challenges that maynot be confronted, save in the context of NATO? Otherwise, please justify the existence of NATO
    Is NATO really a defensive, or an offensive army?
    If Russia, for example applied to be admitted into the NATO, will it be accepted and welcome?
    What advice can NATO give for the resolution of the conflict in Somalia?
    Is there really such a thing as a rogue state?

  6. April 14, 2009 at 15:47

    1-How good are the relations between Russia and NATO?

    2-How threatening are China and Russia to NATO’s current military supremacy?

    3- How influential is the USA concerning NATO policy making?

    4- Does NATO envisage expansion in Africa, now the majority of its members are in Europe?

    5- What is the interdependence between NATO military bases and those of the USA?

    6- How effective can NATO be in fighting terrorism around the world?

    7- Is the budget allocated to NATO enough?

    8- How can military recruitment problems in many NATO countries affect NATO’s functionality?

    9- Should there be a war between NATO members, say Turkey and Greece, how would NATO cope?

  7. 7 Matt in Oregon
    April 14, 2009 at 15:51


    President Obama wanted one thing from NATO during his trip to Europe a few weeks ago; more combat troops for Afghanistan.

    1. Why were many European NATO members not willing to send combat troops to a NATO mission they signed on to?

    2. How has the recent French (OVERT))reintegration into NATO’s military affected the institution operations?


  8. 8 sibghatullah shakir
    April 14, 2009 at 16:01

    well the NATO mission in afghanistan is based on so-called united nations charter, but the fact that there is a huge difference between what is being said and what is being done?
    tell me in which country or international law arbitrary arrest is being allowed, butchering of civilians without court’s verdict, taking away residents to unknown locations and the like.
    it must be borne in mind that this was something soviet union did some three decades back and everyone knows what was their destiny,
    history repeats itslef, NATO major players canada, usa, britian, australia, netherlands are repeating the same mistakes, so personaly i dont see any difference between ussr and natos’ missions in afghanistan.

  9. 9 Dan
    April 14, 2009 at 16:32

    A good question was almost raised.
    “As the Cold War is over, do you see NATO evolving into an active force helping 3rd world nations in Africa and the Middle East develop into modern functioning societies?”

    April 14, 2009 at 19:34


    I am Krishna Chaitanya V., from Spain.

    My question to NATO chief:

    Sir, as an Indian citizen I am concerned about the rise of Taliban in Pakistan as terrorists have now come into the heartland of Pakistan (i.e. Lahore, Islamabad) and are at Indian door steps. Does NATO has an clear cut strategy to deal with “complex Pakistan” which has so many power centers (Prime Minister; President; Army & ISI) ? If so, how credible is the strategy of NATO in tackling this massive problem of Terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan – Pakistan ?

    Thank you.


  11. 11 R. van der Meij
    April 15, 2009 at 00:44

    Since I am a victim too, I know that high-tech military equipment is being misused on worldwide citizens. Using long distance radiation they can prick in organs, muscles and brain, and sort of control people. These people can do what they want and nobody can see it.

    – Are you aware of this type of equipment?
    – How do you know that NATO members don’t use this type, new unknown type
    of (superior) equipment?
    – Who is responsible for controlling equipment like that?

    Thank you.

  12. 12 Dennis Junior
    April 15, 2009 at 04:13

    My question is: Does NATO gets enough resources for the services that the organisation does on a regularly basis…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  13. 13 viola
    April 15, 2009 at 06:41

    Mr. Scheffer,

    What is NATO’s mission statement?

    Has NATO become the military arm of the European Union?

    The United Nations relies on member nations voluntarily contributing to peacekeeping missions, and we all know the Rwandan genocide was the result of that policy. How do NATO’s member nations decide how many troops to contribute to a mission, such as in Afghanistan?

    Do you think a lot of people mistake NATO for a United Nations military force?

    Is NATO under civilian control?

    Can you tell us what NATO’s command structure is?

    Does NATO coordinate with the United Nations?

    Is NATO a democratic institution? If so, what form of democracy?

    If NATO is a democratic institution, how does that affect its effectiveness?

    Are NATO’s troops drawn from member nation’s national militaries?

    How are language differences among the members handled? Is communication hampered by language differences?

    If the mission in Afghanistan fails or is abandoned, what do you think will be the consequenes to the world?

    I hope you will answer these questions. Thank you. Viola (Canada)

  14. 14 Dinesh
    April 15, 2009 at 08:16

    What do we plan to achieve in Afghanistan, can we achieve what we plan – Afghanistan history says – NO. How do you plan to crush the terrorist movements such as Taliban when they have a safe heaven and room to build-up again and again in Pakistan. With the growing influence of Taliban in Pakistan – how will we be able to safe guard the nuclear weapons from falling in the hands of Taliban.

  15. 15 saad khosa, Jaffrabad Pakistan
    April 15, 2009 at 09:57

    Is Nato losing War in Afganistan as admiral Mike Mullen and Richard Hoolbroke has recently said”we are not winning in Afganistan” while contrary to this Talibans have loudly clamied that they are winning in Afganistan?. Does it mean Nato will suffer defeat at the hands of Taliban?

  16. 16 saad khosa, Jaffrabad Pakistan
    April 15, 2009 at 10:06

    Sir,Don’t you think that “drone attacks” inside Pakistan are having negative impact? Many sections in Pakistan are claiming that thses drones are responsible for breeding of Talibans to support their argument they are relating surge in Talibans to drone attacks. We are not seeing any fruitful results of drone attacks as militacy is on the rise and Pakistan is moving towrds Talibanisation.

  17. 17 saad khosa, Jaffrabad Pakistan
    April 15, 2009 at 10:09

    Sir, Would you be kind enough to tell us What is the durable soulation to the Afganistan problems?

  18. 18 saad khosa, Jaffrabad Pakistan
    April 15, 2009 at 10:17

    Does Nato believe in the credibility of ISI the Pakistan premier agency?. If not then what former is going to do to make latter more crediable?

  19. 19 saad khosa, Jaffrabad Pakistan
    April 15, 2009 at 11:59

    Pakistani media are holding “drone attacks in tribal areas ” equivalent to “get the fish by draining the water”. According to Pakistani press more civilian casualties can be seen in the wake of drone attacks then of those who are actual militants. sir Would you comment on this ?

  20. 20 VictorK
    April 15, 2009 at 12:09

    The NATO Charter calls for mutual aid when a NATO member faces armed attack ”in Europe or North America’ (articles 3 & 5). Are NATO members in Afghanistan operating there in pursuit of their treaty obligations, and if so what parts of the Charter justify those operations?

    What is the justification for the continued existence of NATO?

    NATO was originally a compact for the defence of ‘Western civilisation’ against the Soviet U. Weren’t its coherence & effectiveness in part due to the fact that – Turkey excepted – its members shared values and traditions? (Though the Turkish ruling elite’ if not the Turkish people, has always been ‘Western’ in outlook). Wouldn’t it therefore be impracticable for NATO to expand its membership to countries that lie far outside its civilisational scope, such as the countries of North Africa and the Middle East (Israel excepted)?

    Is NATO driven by an ideological wish to spread ‘freedom and democracy’?

    Is the fact that a country is volatile or likely to find itself drawn into military conflict a sufficient reason not to admit it to NATO membership (e.g. Israel, Ukraine)?

  21. 21 Jim Newman
    April 15, 2009 at 12:35

    Hello Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
    I would like to know what your job is precisely and what power do you have.
    As far as I know no country has ever aggressed another NATO country and the reason for which it was invented has now ceased to be.
    To give a good reason for NATO to continue existing wouldn’t it be a good idea for NATO to actively stop NATO members aggressing other countries?
    If you don’t think that is a good idea would you mind giving precise reasons why not.
    A last question. What is the pecise power of the USA inside of NATO?

  22. 22 Jim Newman
    April 15, 2009 at 12:50

    Hello again Mr. Jaap de Hoof Scheffen
    I forgot to be precise myself. Before you start waffling on about the fight against terrorism would you mind giving a precise definition of terrorism and of a terrorist and how that definition was arrived at. I want a definition that is wide enough to describe all cases of terrorism and terrorists that are known to NATO at this moment in time.
    I think a person in your position should be able to answer all of the questions I’ve asked.

  23. 23 viola
    April 15, 2009 at 18:56

    These seem to be days of assymetrical warfare waged by warriors and mercenaries who likely wear no uniform and don’t consider themselves bound by allegiance to any one nation.

    1. How well has NATO adapted to a battlefield where the enemy is indistinguishable from the civilians?

    2 Is the use of “drones” inside Pakistan one of those adaptations?

    3. Do NATO’s strategists consider intelligence gathering to be as effective a tool of warfare as is the kind of propaganda that targets gullible people?

    Thank you.

    Viola (Canada


  24. 24 Dennis Junior
    April 16, 2009 at 06:16

    in my earlier posting: I should have rephrased my question:

    Does NATO Countries….offered the Organisation in Brussels enough resources for the missions that are required…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  25. 25 Syed Hasan Turab
    April 16, 2009 at 15:28

    Since cold war is over, what are the objects & mission of NATO beside converting Afghinastan in to drug srtate?

  26. 26 Vijay
    April 16, 2009 at 19:33

    Does NATO have the ability to defeat Russia in conventional and nuclear warfare.

    Although NATO did defeat the USSR in the Cold War,don’t some people regret that the tanks didn’t roll across the european plain and a flag wasn’t hoisted from the Kremlin.Isn’t this a problem in Russia,some of them actually don’t think they were defeated, just because it didn’t happen on the field of battle.

    Can NATO take on any threat, anywhere,anytime.

    How have you managed the trust issue in integrating former Warsaw Pact countries and now France into NATO.

  27. April 20, 2009 at 15:15

    I would like you to answer the very first question on this blog. We already know that the Bilderberg group has an evil gloabilst agenda, and you are a Bilderberger. Are you trying to push global agenda’s through NATO.

    For those who are in doubt, the globalist agenda is Evil in it’s very nature. They want a one world economy, and a one world government. See David Rockefeller.
    The only way they can do that is by controlling what they want. Total control.

  28. 28 Okafor Cyprian-Tansi
    April 20, 2009 at 15:23

    Hi Sir,
    In order not to waste more ado let me hit the nail on the head_
    Please Sir,its’ seems to me that NATO is only operating and functioning only in EU…True/False
    What are the functions of NATO?
    Please Sir,I shall be glad if my questions are considered vital.
    Thanks to bbc,who had made it possible for us to lay down our complaints.Once more thank you very much.

  29. 29 Tom K in Mpls
    April 20, 2009 at 16:06

    This is a great opportunity! To a reasonable degree, NATO can be seen as the military arm of both the EU and the UN. But clearly neither has any true control over NATO. So, from your ‘central’ perspective, what possibilities and probabilities do you see with these two organizations related to merging towards an eventual world government?

  30. 30 Ibrahim in UK
    April 20, 2009 at 16:15

    An attack on one NATO nation is an attack on all NATO nations. What about an attack BY a NATO nation, is it to be considered as an attack by all NATO nations?
    What is the position of NATO when one of it’s members unilaterally and pre-emptively declares war on a non-threatening nation against the wishes of the United Nations?

    What is the relationship between NATO and the UN? Was NATO overstepping it’s authority when it rebuked Russia for the war with Georgia (a non-NATO nation)? Do you see a resurgence of an “Eastern” threat or have the sides of conflict become more fluid and blurred?

  31. April 21, 2009 at 10:52

    To the Head of NATO, Sir,
    Your are i am sure mentally fully equipped and informed.
    Please do your job the best you can with the help of your advisers ans officers.
    We are quiet and gentle people and are content with what we have but when emergency arises we live up to always.

  32. 32 Steve in Boston
    April 21, 2009 at 12:52

    Why are NATO forces setting captured Somali pirates free?

    Why are they not being imprisoned, tried, and hanged by the neck?

  33. 33 Sanjeev Prakash
    April 21, 2009 at 14:29

    Does a grand military alliance such as Nato increase the whole world’s security (obviously it increases the security of its own members) – or does it decrease it? Let’s do a little thought-experiment: if the Eastern Powers, China, India, Russia, Japan, Pakistan and the littoral states of SE Asia such as Singapore, for instance, had a similar powerful military alliance, would we think that increases the security of the world as a whole? Or decreases it? If the second, then what is Nato’s actual purpose in the absence of an opposing alliance of near equal strength? World domination? Only serious game-theoretic answers now.

  34. April 21, 2009 at 14:40

    James from Kenya

    Hello Hoop & Ros

    My question is how do you harmonize the NATO troops loyalty given that some of the member countries may have leaders who object to some of your missions? AND why is Russia so suspicious of NATO like an insecure teenager? explain

  35. 35 Hari.K.G
    April 21, 2009 at 14:58

    NATO forces have been operating in Afghanistan under the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force for some years now. The life line of the Taliban there is the drug business. Is it possible to use drones to pinpoint vast tracts of poppy cultivation especially in Helmand Province, and destroy them on a large scale, thereby disrupting the financial stability of the Taliban. NATO can consider compensating the conventional farmers to grow something like Jatropha in the wild and make their living. If the West decides, Afghanistan could easily have one huge biofuel extracting plant in their land and rebuilt their economy, it seems.

    Hari.K.G., Kerala, India.

  36. 36 Archibald in Oregon
    April 21, 2009 at 15:41

    Has NATO become more bureaucracy than benefit? How do you think NATO must evolve in order to remain a current and effective alliance, or do you think that the original premise of NATO is obsolete?

  37. 37 Vijay
    April 21, 2009 at 16:11

    Talk to the head of Nato

    Are there any neutral countries that you would like to join NATO?

    How could you persaude a country to join NATO?What are the benefits and responsibilties?

    If there weren’t any threats, what would be the purpose of the organisation?

  38. 38 Robert
    April 21, 2009 at 16:46

    I have two (or three depending how you look at them) questions:

    1) I seem to recall one of the main points in the charter of NATIO states something like: an attack on any single NATIO country will be viewed as an attack on all NATIO countries. Since NATO was founded the largest events which fall into this category are 9/11, the London bombings, and of course Madrid. All these stem from the terrorists out of Afghanistan. That being the case why are so few NATO countries willing to fulfill their NATO agreements by sending front-line combat troops to Afghanistan?

    1a) If NATO countries are unwilling to contribute combat troops for this mission what would it take? Therefore does NATO actually serve a purpose or would we be just as well served by having countries form alliances as needed.

    2) NATO expansion. I won’t restate the cold war issues which others have already done, but my question is a little different. Since NATO countries need to have compatible military equipment, is expansion just another way to get more “customers” for the western military industrial complex?

  39. 39 Peter Sc
    April 21, 2009 at 17:47

    Like all like minded participant in this forum I want to state that NATO is obsolete remnants of the cold war and serves as a imperialist pact to assert western dominance over the world.

  40. 40 Luci Smith
    April 21, 2009 at 18:06

    I don’t really understand the point of asking Hr. Schaeffer, since he has already got a successor, the former PM of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

    But I am eternally grateful to NATO and Obama for taking hr. Rasmussen off our hands! He was the most stubborn, spin-minded and evasive PM that I have experienced in my 30 years in Denmmark. Personally responsible for the terrible way that the whole Cartoon Scandal was handled, because he would not apologize to the Arab ambassadors in Denmark. Got Denmark’s troops into Irak and Afghanistan, where they lose more soldiers than any other country, because the Danish Army does not train people for guerilla warfare.

    How is NATO going to fare with this stubborn, single-minded little mincing man, who was in love with George W. Bush and now is taking hhelicopter rides at the expense of NATO as it’s now Secretary General?

    I can only say good riddance and I have now warned the WHYS listeners that this man is an oyster that the Danish press has consistently been unable to open during his 8 years as PM, where he has not shown any political consistency except changing strategies in order to stay in POWER.

  41. 41 Charley
    April 21, 2009 at 18:06

    If NATO and the E.U. expansion eastward has made Russia nervous, why is there no discussion of inviting Russia itself to join? After all, Russia has been a “European” power for centuries.

    Or is NATO still an organization to “Keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down”?

  42. April 21, 2009 at 18:06

    Mr Scheffer,

    I have two questions. As the chair of the Afghan Students association UK mine and my of our members main concerns are the current situation in Afghanistan.

    The first question is:
    What measures are you planning to implement to minimise civilian causalities in Afghanistan?

    What are your long term strategies in Afghanistan?

    Thank you.

    ASAUK Chair

  43. 43 amy in cleveland
    April 21, 2009 at 18:13

    A constant focus on military focused diplomacy will never result in world peace… NATO should be folded into UN peacekeeping forces and provide Aid and assistance not offensive military opeartions. Look at the progress made in just 90 days under President Obama using Soft Power as opposed to Hard power.

  44. 44 Luci Smith
    April 21, 2009 at 18:29

    Right on, Amy in Cleveland! Well said!

    As as pacifist, I think you could produce one major amout of food if all of the money spent on armies and weapons was redirected towards farming and building homes and hospitals and libraries and schools and providing education.

    I am personally very much against they system in the US, where young people need to join the armed forces in order to get an education and health care.

    L et the Russians join NATO. Let everybody join as long as it keeps them talking instead of fighting and then we can quit wasting all that money on wars. Co-operation and building a sustainable adn green future.

  45. 45 steve
    April 21, 2009 at 18:29

    The Secretary General is making the same arguments Israel makes re: civilians. IT seems the people calling in are secretly wishing that “all costs” to avoid civilian activities would mean not conduct any operations. That’s not a realistic possibility, as NATO is fighting the Taliban, and Israel fights with Hamas, who attacks Israel.

  46. 46 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala
    April 21, 2009 at 18:29

    Hi H.E NATO SG.Is the fights against Mr Osama Ben Laden/Terrorists operatives A SUCCESS or A FAILURE to the NATO?.

  47. April 21, 2009 at 18:32

    Afghanistan is a quagmire where Taliban and al Qaeda forces are gaining ground and have a strangle-hold there. How long is it going to take to dislodge their vicious grip given the fact they were allowed to consolidate their positions while American forces were busy in Iraq? Are you hopeful they will be annihilated given the fact they know every inch of the terrain so very well?

  48. 48 bouhammer
    April 21, 2009 at 18:40

    Another question for the Secretary-General from me.

    Since the fight and the combat operations are predicted to be worse
    this year than ever before, should the focus of ISAF switch to more
    active combat operations in order to provide security first, and if so
    then shouldn’t coalition countries be mandated to be more active in
    combat or leave the country?


  49. 49 Ogola Benard
    April 21, 2009 at 18:43

    What role has NATO played to eradicate the war in northern Uganda that has taken decades?

  50. 50 Simone van Beek
    April 21, 2009 at 18:47

    Why can’t the poppy harvest be transformed into a morphine supply for the medical world by international pharmaceuticals, thus giving the farmers a legal position in the economy and diminishing the military impact?

  51. April 21, 2009 at 18:57

    1: Do you think that NATO has achieved, what it was supposed to achieve in Afghanistan?

    2: Why even after years of operations by NATO forces, Taliban still exist and are in command of some of the areas in Afghanistan?

  52. April 21, 2009 at 19:00

    Dear Sir,

    Add life to needy through your contributions !

    Come forward to get a feel for, to the needs of children whose families do not have the means or the inclination to take proper care of them.

    Theoretically NATO is strong , I believe.

    No hard feeling.

  53. 53 Tom K in Mpls
    April 21, 2009 at 19:24

    To Simone van Beek: That option has always existed. It is up to the local producers and the pharmaceutical companies to pursue this. It is simple capitalism. My question to whomever is will the local heroin producers allow it to happen?

  54. 54 Ruud
    April 21, 2009 at 19:33

    Mr. De Hoop Scheffer,

    if the IC and especially those on the military planning levels know that a comprehensive approach is the only right way in a counterinsurgency-campaign, if we also know that doing just 1 thing has the opposite effect, especially if it is the kinetic one.. Why is it just that what is happening cross-border in PAK. Or are these negative effects exactly what is being looked for…

    How do you see the the visits by Mr. Zardari to China, already twice since he was inaugurated. Do we still consider PAK as an ally? And if so, why have the US strenthened their ties with India by intensifying the cooperation on nucleair issues?

    In what perspective do you see the enormous build up of forces by India at their borders with PAK? Do we see India as a future-ally and as the most wanted economic and military power in Central Asia?

    Does the US approach towars Iran also change the NATO opinion on Iran? And do you also see both Iran and Turkey being main players in the future concerning the transportation of gas&oil towards the EU?

    If because of the operations in AFG the cohesion within NATO breaks, would you still be conviced that NATO-presence was worth it?

  55. April 22, 2009 at 10:31

    whats the difference between NATO and AIG?and can NATO also buy a rival organisation like it,when its going under?…this could be possible but i just have to ask…incase of missiles from Iran to Afghanistan,how would you defend these Afghanees now that your defence system is in Prague?or is Afghanistan a 4th party that doesnt need extreme insurance from NATO,just bits.?

    david lulasa
    tambua village(TV),

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