Friday (March 25th): Stoltenberg’s NATO

Name? Jens Stoltenberg

Westphalian identity? Norwegian

Age? 63

Why is he in the news? NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg agreed to extend his term as head of the alliance by a year as it faces the “biggest security crisis in a generation” due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Stoltenberg, an economist by training, was set to leave his post and become central bank governor of Norway by the end of 2022. 

Why do we care? Stoltenberg was asked by the NATO member countries to continue his position for at least one year during yesterday’s triple summit of NATO, the G7 and the EU. Debates about his successor were stalling anyways due to uncertainty about the French elections and Russian invasion of Ukraine; and NATO countries feared the potential ramifications of changing leadership during uncertain times.

Why should you care? There are some who are critical of the security alliance and how it impacts world security, those voices might see Stoltenberg and his NATO leadership as negative. But, there are others who disagree and as fans of NATO believe the alliance makes the world a safer place. Either way, you should care 6/10 about this personnel decision.   

Who else cares? Russian President Vladimir Putin. He invaded Ukraine over fears of NATO enlargement and because he sensed fragmentation in the alliance. But as Stoltenberg’s extension and the past 4 weeks show, Putin achieved the opposite of what he hoped for. 

Any further comments? One of the main talking points at yesterday’s triple summit was the potential use of chemical weapons by Russian forces in Ukraine. As a response, Stoltenberg announced that NATO members agreed to provide Ukraine with equipment to protect itself against chemical, biological, and nuclear threats from Russia. While NATO leaders described the use of chemical weapons as a red line, they never specified the consequences (to avoid another cost-benefit analysis opportunity for Putin), making it more of a Pantone-red or a Munsell-red line.

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordinator