Apparently NATO has turned it into a habit of picking former Scandinavian prime ministers to the important post of being their general secretary. The current GS is a former Danish prime minister and the next one is a former Norwegian prime minister.
So what is the world getting when we have Jens Stoltenberg looking out for us? We’re getting this guy (Putin, be afraid. Be very afraid):
Yes, this picture was from his youth and the origin of it is actually pretty cool. It was part of a campaign to show the diverse roles of a modern man and that you’re not less “manly” just because you clean the house (yes, there was a time when even Scandinavian men were afraid that cleaning and vacuuming would make their testicles shrink). Here is another picture from the same campaign:
Who is Jens Stoltenberg?
Apart from appearing in cool campaigns and being Norway’s former prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg is actually quite a remarkable person. I’ve never voted for him myself – mainly because I can’t vote since I’m not Norwegian and because I’m not a fan of his party – but I’ve always felt kind of …. safe …. knowing that he was managing things. I hope the world will end up feeling the same.
He is the man who:
- Showed us compassion and sense of community instead of anger and thoughts of revenge after the Oslo bombing and the killing of innocent young people on Utøya in 2011.
- Discovered Twitter and other social media back when he was stranded on an airport in the US when the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted back in 2010. He is now a prominent user of especially Twitter but also Facebook.
- Took paternity leave as one of very few men (today most Norwegian men take paternity leave but when Axel Stoltenberg was born, it was indeed a rare thing).
- Has a wife with her own career and who is allowed her anonymity. Now, this shouldn’t be strange or weird or anything to write home about (the current Norwegian prime minister has a husband with his own career) but if you look at prime ministers elsewhere, you won’t find many with wives with as important careers as Ingrid Schulerud – or wives who are allowed to escape the limelight to the degree she has.
- Used to lead an organization that was against NATO. Yes, you heard me. Jens Stoltenberg was elected leader of AUF – the youth division of the Labor party he later led – back when AUF was against NATO. He was pro-NATO himself and managed to change AUF’s views on the organization he is now going to be general secretary for.
- Loves to ride his bicycle. I’m not sure if he’s going to put his NATO chauffeur on unemployment benefits but Jens Stoltenberg is a man who loves his bike. Even as a prime minister you would see him ride his bike everywhere.
So NATO is getting a man who does not consider revenge when terror strikes, who can put his career on hold for the sake of his children and who supports his wife’s career, who is for gender equality, who is accessible through social media, who is for NATO but not blindly and who is both concerned with his personal health and the environment.
I’m not sure these are the most important parts of Jens Stoltenberg or if they’ll describe our future NATO general secretary in full, but they do describe a likable man, I think. And who is better to steer NATO in times of trouble than a man you truly like?
I can’t think of any.