The U.S. May Need to Maneuver Around NATO Article 5

The U.S. May Need to Maneuver Around NATO Article 5

State of the Union: President Trump was right: We should not automatically protect an ally actively courting a nuclear showdown.

Credit: Alexandros Michailidis

One cannot name names, but I recently had some conversations in private with some northwestern European officials, and, more than at Trump or Biden, they are livid at their Baltic counterparts. 

And for good reason, one might add. Never in recent memory have there been more hawkish and reckless protectorates. So much so that it appears to be almost a natural law that the smaller a protectorate located in close proximity of a peer rival, the greater the hysterical lunacy of its political leaders. 

Consider the recent statements. “Just as Czechoslovakia did not satisfy Hitler, Ukraine would not satisfy Putin,” Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda recently said, adding that Putin can only be stopped with force. 

Not to be outdone, the president of Latvia, Edgars Rinkevics, tweeted his support for President Macron: “We should not draw red lines for ourselves, we must draw red lines for Russia and we should not be afraid to enforce them. Ukraine must win, Russia must be defeated. Russia delenda est!” 

Remember when someone wrote how Finland’s addition would finally allow the U.S. to quit providing for continental Europe? Here’s the Finnish foreign minister refusing to “rule out” Western troops in Ukraine. Kaja Kallas, the prime minister of Estonia, echoed the sentiment. 

Why do we listen to these lunatics and treat them as our equals within NATO? Why are we to take people seriously when they claim they want to give a country with 6,000 nuclear weapons the Carthage treatment? The total combined population of the three Baltic states and Finland is under 12 million people. What do you mean “we,” kemosabe? 

Of course the main culprit of this sudden flare up is France. Emmanuel Macron—sensing that Germany is weak as a leader of EU, seeing the British Tories facing an electoral massacre, and himself facing a tough election at home—has suddenly changed his tune and is trying to form a bloc within a bloc, aligning France with the Baltic states. The Americans, the British, and the Germans rightly understand how reckless it is, and are opposed to it. POLITICO reported that “France’s top NATO partners, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, [had] to clarify that they would not be sending troops.”

But that is France being France, a historic great power with nuclear weapons, trying to take advantage of the European vacuum. Macron’s rhetoric dubbing Russia an existential threat is just that: rhetoric. There is no way Macron believes what he says, and it is purely to make a power play for EU leadership, to be the primus inter pares within Europe against Britain, and especially Germany. Granted, that rhetoric itself is reckless. On the other hand, the motivation for the Baltics are entirely different, as I have written.  

There is a simple way to stop this nonsense. The president of the U.S. and his NSC have so far specified their refusal to send troops to Ukraine under any circumstances, outside of NATO being under direct attack. This situation demands they go a little further. If any Baltic country decides to go to war with Russia, alongside France, they are free to do so. Any retaliatory attack on their home-soil or military assets in the high seas, however disproportionate, will not automatically invoke Article 5 of NATO. 

And that should be made explicitly clear to both the West and East Europeans. NATO is a defensive alliance. Once you’re in the club, you’re in it. But if you open the doors and try to punch someone outside, only to expect the other club members to go and defend you, then apologies, but you’re on your own. Clubs have walls. You can stay safe inside, on the condition that you don’t pick a fight outside the club. 

President Trump was correct. We should not defend anyone who is cavalier about collective security and seeks a nuclear confrontation. Given that the president’s ethical obligations are primarily towards defending his people and keeping them safe, that includes minimizing the chances of a nuclear conflict. Time for the protectorates to internalize that. If they want to drag America to war, or initiate a nuclear conflict, they will be treated as enemies of the American people. 

The post The U.S. May Need to Maneuver Around NATO Article 5 appeared first on The American Conservative.

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