Sitting in Washington, it is often too easy to look across the Atlantic and think there is no one serious about defense. European leaders are preoccupied with internal questions like the future of the European Union. Their publics remain skeptical of using military force. And despite years of stern warnings by U.S. defense leaders about the capabilities gap between the U.S. and Europe and demands that Europeans boost defense investments, most countries still spend less.
But it would be a mistake to belittle the defense debate in Europe – in fact, recently a new generation of European defense leaders has emerged. They are offering bold defense ideas and willing to take political risks. Although they don’t represent a new consensus yet, they are injecting fresh dynamism and creativity into the Transatlantic security alliance. Watching and listening to them, one can envision a different future.
One such leader is Norway’s Defense Minister, Ine Eriksen Soreide. In office since 2013, she has quickly established herself as one of NATO’s rising young (age 38) stars. She is well respected in Washington’s defense circles in and out of government and has pushed Norway to spend more on defense, hold tough against Russia and stay engaged in the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS.