Defence secretary Ben Wallace out of race for NATO boss role

Ben Wallace in Russia
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UK defence minister and former soldier Ben Wallace is out of the race for NATO’s top job. The Tory MP, a vocal proponent of massive military spending hikes, was touted to replace current chief Jens Stoltenberg.

Wallace told the Economist, “It’s not going to happen”. Stoltenberg, an ex-Norwegian PM, is favoured by the US to stay on for another year.

The UK government has been pushing for Wallace to get the job after he played a unrelenting role in providing Western arms to Ukraine to fight Russia’s invasion.

But Wallace conceded that his bid has run afoul of the politics of the NATO role and competing visions for the alliance from US president Joe Biden and French president Emmanuel Macron.

Stoltenberg’s eventual successor “is going to have to please both Macron and Biden”, he said in the interview.

No NATO consensus

However, there is so far no consensus on a clear pick among the 31 NATO countries, and diplomats are increasingly talking up the chances of Stoltenberg being asked to stay on.

The alliance faces strategic choices. The United States has ramped up aggression towards China, while France has pushed for greater self-reliance within Europe.

Read on...

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“The French have a point in lots of areas,” Wallace said, highlighting the need for more collaboration among Europe’s defence industries:

The answer to everything is not America first, when it comes to procurement.

Wallace’s record

One of the reasons Wallace stood out as a future NATO chief was his belligerence over Ukraine. He has been a driving force in delivering deadly weaponry including long-range missiles. He’s also been a key advocate of sending more warships to Asia to challenge China.

Wallace also worked for arms firm Qinetiq before he got into politics.

However, his military past was recently questioned by our colleagues at Declassified UK. Wallace was mentioned in Dispatches (a form of military award) for capturing terrorist bombers in Ireland in 1992. Recent police disclosures show none of those captured were ever convicted, despite his claims to the contrary.

With an opaque military record and a long history of snuggling up to arms firms, Wallace looked like a shoe-in for the role. But not this time, it would seem. Rather, the US – the dominant power in NATO – seems to have decided for itself that Wallace isn’t their man.

Additional reporting by Agence-France Presse.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Russian Defence Ministry, cropped to 1910 x 1000, licenced under CC BY 4.0.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Defence secretary Ben Wallace out of race for NATO boss role

      Ben come on your not that bright are you Sunak on his visit possibly
      put the backstab into the mind of U.S. President on you getting this post
      so, he keep control of U.K. Armed forces spending you keep ask for more
      (this is good ben)

      But your party Sunak -Hunt do not wish the U.K. people to be safe come a war Sunak -Hunt just like cash to waste elsewhere like on immigration needs not the safty of the U.K. islands and us that live here.

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