Who Will Be the Next NATO Secretary-General?

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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Hong Kong’s legislature approved a broad security law Tuesday providing the government with sweeping authority to crack down on political dissent and protests deemed national security threats. John Lee, the city’s Beijing-aligned chief executive, proposed the law in January, after which international observers and human rights groups swiftly condemned the proposal as a vehicle for authorities to further erode freedoms in the city. The Legislative Council adopted the bill in record time on a vote of 89-0. 
  • Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng suggested on Thursday that U.S. Special Forces have been deployed to Taiwan’s outlying islands—including an island just 3 miles from mainland China—to help train the island democracy’s troops. U.S. defense officials have not commented publicly on deployments to Taiwan, but Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen first confirmed in 2021 the presence of U.S. forces in Taiwan amid growing threats from China.
  • Retired Gen. Mark Milley, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the former head of U.S. Central Command who is also retired, both testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday in a hearing on the Afghanistan withdrawal. They blamed the State Department for delaying evacuation orders, contributing to the chaos of the military’s departure. Milley said the order to proceed with a noncombatant evacuation operation “came too late.” McKenzie agreed. “I believe that the events of mid and late August 2021 were the direct result of delaying the initiation of the NEO for several months,” he said.
  • House Speaker Mike Johnson reached an agreement with Democratic leadership Monday night on a second “minibus” spending package to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year—President Joe Biden signed into law a $459 billion package earlier this month funding part of the government, but the remaining portion will run out of money on Saturday. It’s unclear if lawmakers will be able to move the deal through both chambers before the deadline. 
  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a ruling to allow Texas to begin enforcing a state law that empowers local law enforcement to arrest and deport illegal immigrants, rejecting the Biden administration’s attempt to block enforcement. But hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit blocked its implementation again. Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra issued a preliminary injunction on the law, Texas Senate Bill 4, but the 5th Circuit issued a temporary stay on Ezra’s order, prompting the Biden administration to make an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that since the 5th Circuit’s stay was temporary, the case should remain in the lower court for now while the proceedings progress. But Justice Amy Coney Barrett, in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, noted, “If a decision does not issue soon, the applicants may return to this court.” The 5th Circuit quickly scheduled more oral arguments for Wednesday morning.
  • Florida, Ohio, Kansas, and Arizona held their presidential primaries on Tuesday. Biden and former President Donald Trump have already clinched their parties’ nominations, and they each easily won in Tuesday’s primaries. Down ballot, Bernie Moreno won the Republican Senate primary in Ohio. Moreno, the Trump-endorsed candidate in the race, beat out state Sen. Matt Dolan, who was backed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. Moreno will face Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown in November. 

The NATO Leadership Contest Takes Shape

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (left) and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis address members of the Romanian, French, Belgian and Dutch militaries on October 12, 2022. (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images)
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (left) and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis address members of the Romanian, French, Belgian and Dutch militaries on October 12, 2022. (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images)

The process of selecting a new secretary-general of NATO is shrouded in mystery, but one thing does seem increasingly likely to be true of the military alliance’s next leader: He’ll be tall. The two leading candidates—Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis—both stand at about 6-foot-4. 

Outgoing Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg leaves Brussels after roughly a decade on the job, and his tenure will be remembered mostly in the context of Russia’s invasions of Ukraine. NATO members formalized their pledge to spend 2 percent of their respective GDPs on their own defense in 2014, after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula. And he also oversaw Finland and Sweden’s accession to the military alliance in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. 

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