Trump NATO pick was US military’s ally on Capitol Hill – POLITICO

Never mind keeping the peace. America’s new ambassador to NATO once had to pretend to keep the peas.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, the former United States senator from Texas who is Donald Trump’s new envoy to the military alliance, once delivered two tons of peas to American soldiers in Bosnia. Or perhaps more accurately, the peas delivered her.

Hutchison, 74, a Republican with long experience in military affairs and defense spending, described the episode during her farewell speech to the Senate in December 2012.

“Some of the most powerful moments that will stay with me forever were spent with members of our military,” Hutchison told her soon-to-be ex-colleagues. “Visiting them where they are in harm’s way across the world is one of the most moving of all experiences. I will never forget the first time in the early ’90s flying into Sarajevo in an undercover C-130 that was disguised as a Red Cross delivery of peas — 2,000 pounds of peas, which we actually had on the C-130.”

Hutchison, who is expected to take up her post at NATO headquarters in Brussels later this month, visited U.S. troops all over the world, including soldiers on active duty in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. And in nearly 20 years as a senator, she served on virtually every committee tied to the military, including the armed services committee and the veterans affairs committee. She also served as chair of the board of visitors of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“She is very smart, hard-working. She has got a lot of charisma. She can be very forceful and strong” — Retired General Wesley Clark

Her respect for the alliance and for troops, as well as her broad knowledge of military affairs, is likely to be a source of comfort for NATO allies still unsettled by Trump’s initial criticism of the alliance and wavering on its collective defense clause. At the same time, her appointment may serve as a loud trumpet blast, as allies realize that the woman now responsible for pushing them to raise defense expenditure is a tenacious Texan and battle-hardened veteran of some of Washington’s most bitter spending fights.

“I think she’s perfect,” said retired General Wesley Clark, a former supreme allied commander at NATO and Democratic candidate for president in 2004.

Clark, who accompanied Hutchison on one of her trips to the Balkans, said she held traditional Republican views on military policy and would undoubtedly press allies…

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