NATO Leadership Change: Mark Rutte Set to Succeed Jens Stoltenberg as NATO Secretary-General

As Jens Stoltenberg hands over to Mark Rutte, it's the outgoing Dutch prime minister's personal motto of go with the flow, come to life. It's hard to imagine a successor more similar in nature to the stoic Norwegian who led the alliance for a decade. They're pragmatic, they're likable, they're very capable of of forging coalitions and and bringing difficult positions together. Ruta is famously low key. He lives alone in a modest apartment in The Hague, teaches weekly at a local school and gets around the city by bike. A few years ago, a video of him cleaning up his own spilled coffee went viral. This image of calm competence plus familiarity after more than a dozen years as Dutch Prime Minister won him early backing by most allies, dashing the hopes of Estonian Prime Minister Kaya Kalis that it was finally time for a female secretary general from an eastern flank country. Romanian President Klaus Johannes, meanwhile, did throw his hat in the ring, holding up consensus until now. That also allowed regular EU consensus spoiler Viktor Orban to exploit a personal grudge against Rutte, with whom he had clashed bitterly over the years on rule of law issues. The Dutch man is the real responsible man. The goal is to bring Hungary to its knees. This time, Ruta had to compromise by signing a letter confirming he would maintain a pledge made by Stoltenberg to allow Hungary to opt out of supporting Ukraine at NATO. That deal is a controversial start to Ruta's term. In a way, you erode the unanimity, the consensus rule at NATO. So I hope Ruta will not make more of these kind of concessions to national leaders. Depending on the outcome of US elections in November, Rutte may have bigger problems. Allies backing his candidacy seriously evaluated his ability to assume Stoltenberg's mantle of Trump whisperer. I think the most important task of any secretary general is to make sure that there's unity within the alliance. That's going to take all Rutte's considerable maneuvering skills, with now 32 allies, political shifts underway, and a war next door that's bound to run on long into his tenure. Expected to begin October 1st. Subscribe to 1I Channel and never miss an update.

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