Obama NATO Pick Has Wrong Approach to Russia, Some Republicans Warn

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin
Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin / AP

Some Republicans believe that the Obama administration’s choice for NATO’s next deputy secretary general has not had the right approach to Russia.

According to a report in Bloomberg, Douglas Lute, the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, wrote in a letter to the North Atlantic Council Tuesday that the administration has recommended Rose Gottemoeller, currently the undersecretary of state for arms control, to become the next deputy secretary general of NATO.

Gottemoeller has played a large role in the administration’s "reset policy" toward Russia, which has widely been viewed as a failure given Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and military buildup in Syria.

Some Republicans have been critical of Gottemoeller, citing two of her appearances before congressional lawmakers as reasons for accusing her of not being forthright about Russia violating arms-control agreements while the administration was negotiating new treaties with Russia.

Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin reported:

The first was in 2012, when, according to two U.S. officials who saw a classified transcript, Gottemoeller told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russia had been developing a ground-based cruise missile whose ranges violated an existing accord, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. The administration didn’t brief NATO allies on it until January 2014 and didn’t publicly disclose the violation until July 2014. State Department spokesman John Kirby told me that the U.S. government did not have any information about the Russian violations of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty while the New START Treaty was being negotiated. It was signed in 2010. The second appearance was last December, when Gottemoeller publicly testified to the House Armed Services Committee about a different Russian military system, a long-range sea-based nuclear torpedo system called the Status-6. When asked whether she knew about Russian development of the Status-6 while she was negotiating the New START Treaty, Gottemoeller said "unequivocally no."

Rep. Michael Turner (R., Ohio), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, alleged in a letter this week that Gottemoeller "deceived members of Congress and grossly misrepresented the facts" during the December appearance and later "attempted to reverse such testimony" during a private meeting. Gottemoeller reportedly said later that she misunderstood the nature of Turner’s question. The committee plans to hold another hearing on the issue.

Turner further expressed criticism of Gottemoeller in his letter to Rep Mike Rodgers (R., Ala.), who chairs the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, citing the 2012 hearing as evidence of a pattern of deception.

"Unfortunately, this latest incident is part of a larger pattern of behavior in which Ms. Gottemoeller has repeatedly deceived members of Congress and our NATO allies. While working as the Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, she withheld information from NATO about Russia’s violation of the INF Treaty and only addressed the issue with allies after the story broke in the press," Turner wrote.

"Additionally, she has failed to impose any sanctions on the Russian firms involved with this violation of the INF Treaty, despite having twice promised to Congress that those sanctions would be imposed."

In his letter to the North Atlantic Council this week, Lute called Gottemoeller a "veteran diplomat" and said she would symbolize America’s strong commitment to NATO "during a period of heightened challenges." He also indicated that her gender was a consideration in her nomination.

"In light of today’s important discussions on gender equality, Rose’s nomination is also emblematic of the emphasis the United States places on the inclusion of women across all levels of the Alliance," Lute wrote.