US President Joe Biden reportedly favors European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as the next Secretary General of NATO, according to sources cited by The Telegraph. Biden and von der Leyen have developed a strong bond over the past few years, particularly in their shared concerns about China, Ukraine, and climate change.
The report suggests that the White House appreciated von der Leyen’s decision to rely on Washington for intelligence rather than European agencies, which failed to properly assess Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. This move could play a significant role in Biden’s preference for von der Leyen as the next NATO chief.
Additionally, von der Leyen’s fluency in French could help secure the backing of France’s Emmanuel Macron, another key player in NATO. This support from France would further strengthen her position in the race for the Secretary General role.
Although NATO’s incumbent Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had his tenure extended for another year, the search for his successor has been ongoing. Last month, NATO members failed to agree on a replacement for Stoltenberg, and the candidacy of British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace was reportedly blocked by the US and France. Both countries supposedly desire an EU official to take on the role.
The Daily Mail previously reported that Biden opposed Wallace’s candidacy, possibly due to his involvement as a British soldier in Northern Ireland during ‘The Troubles.’ The report suggests that Biden’s southern Irish roots and lack of pro-British sentiment played a role in his opposition to Wallace.
While von der Leyen previously stated that she was not particularly interested in the NATO role, doubts have emerged regarding her ability to continue leading the European Commission after next year’s European Parliament elections. The US believes that this uncertainty could bring the NATO job into discussions about Europe’s other top positions.
However, there are potential obstacles to von der Leyen becoming the next Secretary General. The Telegraph highlights her “poor handling” of the German Defense Ministry from 2013 to 2019 as a potential hurdle. The paper recalls a 2015 report that claimed German soldiers had to replace heavy machine guns with broomsticks during NATO drills to hide their lack of proper equipment.
In conclusion, President Biden’s preference for Ursula von der Leyen as the next NATO Secretary General suggests a strengthening of the relationship between the US and the European Commission. While obstacles and uncertainties remain, such as her handling of the German Defense Ministry, her fluency in French and Biden’s trust in her stance on issues such as China, Ukraine, and climate change could tip the scales in her favor.