A ‘NATO Nerd’ Thrown Into the Crisis Over Russia and Ukraine

A ‘NATO Nerd’ Thrown Into the Crisis Over Russia and Ukraine

“If one person can help NATO recover from the PTSD syndrome from Trump, it’s her,” Ms. Domenach said. “She is the right person, long awaited, coming at time of crisis, which is so hard, but she is empowered.”

Ms. Smith is already making inroads to better consultation with allies, which is the key to U.S. leadership in the alliance, Ms. Domenach said.

“She represents the enduring commitment of Washington to NATO and to the principles of an alliance, however difficult that is,” Ms. Domenach said. “The moment is very challenging, and it’s not an easy thing to show the right balance of leadership and consultation, and she has both.”

However long in the planning, the move to Brussels has hardly been easy, Ms. Smith said, with a husband, David Black, two sons, Liam, 11, and Dylan, 7, and Scout the dog.

After she was finally confirmed, Covid got in the way. It was already bizarre, she said, to be working from home and unable to travel.

“I would literally be speaking to Joe Biden and my son’s, like, walking behind me. I mean, it was a very weird world, particularly as working parents, just weird things would happen.”

And then, she said, there was “the delight that is moving a family during the Christmas holiday.” She grew up in Michigan and wanted to say goodbye to her family — parents, sister, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles. So they flew there and got the lieutenant governor of Michigan, Garlin Gilchrist II, to swear her in ceremonially in front of the family.

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