NATO Considers Naming Brussels Headquarters after McCain

Military officers from NATO and other countries parade during the opening ceremony of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit, at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)
Military officers from NATO and other countries parade during the opening ceremony of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit, at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)

NATO is considering a proposal to name the alliance's new Brussels headquarters after the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, an idea that has support from three former leaders of the security pact.

British parliamentarian Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the foreign affairs committee in the House of Commons, is pushing to name the $1.4 billion headquarters in honor of McCain, who was a fierce advocate of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

"Few argued more passionately for a shared commitment to each other's security or understood better that we are all part of one great experiment in freedom," Tugendhat wrote in an online petition at Change.org. "Honouring him would signify our determination to stand together for a new generation."

The move could put NATO's current leader, Jens Stoltenberg, in a difficult position with Trump, who has expressed antipathy toward the Arizona senator and ambivalence toward the alliance.

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Three former NATO secretary-generals -- Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Javier Solana and George Robertson -- back the effort. They said McCain was a "beacon for all of us who believe that transatlantic unity is the only means of ensuring peace."

"We urge NATO to repay this lifetime of service to its mission by naming its new Brussels headquarters after Senator McCain," the former alliance leaders wrote in a joint letter released Thursday.

For more than a year, Trump has blasted NATO and key members like Germany, which he accuses of being security free-riders that don't invest enough in defense.

Tensions spilled over during the July summit in Brussels, where Trump made threats to withdraw from the alliance because of spending disputes.

NATO said that the name change would be given consideration.

"Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has received a letter from Tom Tugendhat MP and his proposal will be considered carefully," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in a statement. "The Secretary-General has tremendous respect for Senator John McCain."

Shortly after McCain's death, Stoltenberg tweeted: "John McCain -- soldier and senator, American and Atlanticist. He will be remembered both in Europe and North America for his courage and character, and as a strong supporter of NATO."

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